I’ve been a fan of Denver’s hard-driving, melodic rock band Vicoda since about two minutes after they took the stage at Globe Hall a couple of years ago as openers for another band I’d gone there to review. The energy and precision of their playing, the high craftsmanship and emotional impact of their songwriting, and the absolutely electrifying singing and stage presence of Shivani Bhatt had me immediately hooked. Every performance I’ve seen since then, and every recording they’ve put out, have served to further lock me in as a diehard Vicoda lover.
The group recently had to take a hiatus as members had babies and other life events, but rather than taking the wind out of their sails, what might seem on the surface to have been a fallow period was actually more pregnant with new life: their recently released singles “Storms” and “Wild” present Vicoda as an even stronger vessel than the already mighty ship of a band I’d first encountered.
The nautical metaphors here aren’t random, as from the first listen to “Storms,” I envisioned a boat sailing into heavy weather, with all its attendant fear, adrenaline, and determination to emerge intact from the other side. Shivani confirmed that the song is, indeed, about a part of her life where she faced the challenges of entering grad school as one might accept having embarked into something perhaps more formidable than she could handle, while still remaining determined. The lyrics “somehow I see/a future me/through the glass” refer to looking at street traffic through the window of a building, but one of the great things about an evocative song like this is that the listener can picture whatever fits their metaphorical vision of the story being told, and it’s no less valid than the lyricist’s original intent. I saw her looking through a porthole at the raging seas— and that worked just fine for me. So from the way the song begins, with a lilting cross-picked guitar line reminiscent of the beginning of Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” through the crashing chorus and bridge sections (replete with what sounds, ingeniously, like a guitar’s simulation of quick stabs of lightning), and the periodic returns to the more peaceful and sun-dappled verse sections, I felt myself privy to an ocean journey that begins with clear skies and an expansive view, through violent upheavals and possible disaster, all while being held somehow steady by a determined human spirit.
The just-released follow-up to “Storms” is the song “Wild,” which Shivani told me is Vicoda’s “first love song,” but don’t expect a silly or sweet tune. The title is telling because “Wild” speaks at least as much of animal instincts as it does of tender human emotions. The track is urgent and alive with desire and abandon, perhaps because as Ms. Bhatt sings, “I’ve been waiting far too long,” she urges the intended recipient to “let your love go wild around me.” It’s also a very danceable thing, starting with funky, scratchy insistence and exploding into a gyrating release, very much like a feral creature finally allowed out of its restraining cage.
In these two songs we have a neat encapsulation of what makes Vicoda so irresistible: while their music is finely crafted, with nothing that feels arbitrary or formulaic, the band still consistently pays tribute to its biggest influences like Led Zeppelin, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Rage Against The Machine by keeping it all intensely immediate and in-your-face. The fact that they were able to capture in the studio what makes their live shows so outrageously wonderful tells me they’re here to stay, and always, to arouse.
Vicoda has big plans for the rest of this year and continuing into 2020. You can catch wind of them this Thursday, September 5th by tuning into Evergroove Live.
Keep up with Vicoda here.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.