The Malai Llama Lit Up The Fox Theatre's Stage Like A Wild Fire

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Spring has sprung, and Colorado has been keeping it as colorful as ever with vibrant sunsets, cool breezes, and music that won’t quit. Friday night at the Fox Theatre was one for the books, as experimental rock’s bad mama jamas The Malai Llama put on a headlining performance that exploded with color and rhythm.

The Malai Llama at The Fox Theatre last weekend. Photo Credit:   Kaotic Design Productions

The Malai Llama at The Fox Theatre last weekend. Photo Credit: Kaotic Design Productions

The venue was packed with new grads and rascals alike, all greeting the weekend with smiles, twirls, and yes- even a few dance-offs. Local improvisational rock group Intergalactic Peace Jelly took to the stage first, inviting attendees onto their spacecraft and blasting off for the night. Their experimental, jam-heavy set was the perfect launching point for the remaining performances.

The second act, Woodshed Red, brought up the energy in a totally different way, covering a variety of songs, with my personal favorites being “Ramble On,” “Nuthin’ But a G’Thang,” and “Colt 45.” The way they incorporated the fiddle and standup bass to create gritty twists to classic tunes made my heart sing.

By the time The Malai Llama took the stage, the crowd was fired up and ready to be wooed- and this band absolutely did not disappoint. There were so many aspects of Malai Llama’s set that blew me away: Jennifer Hartswick’s slay-worthy vocals in the “Immigrant Song” cover, the band’s mesmerizing onstage chemistry, and of course, the incredible lightwork with colors galore. However, what stood out to me the most was their dynamic force that made each song so unique. They managed to fill their two-hour set with so many different emotions and energies, playing songs such as “Allocamelus,” “Gentle Giant,” and “Cockeyed.” They toyed with metal-like riffs, hip-swaying funk beats, and electrifying dance music. Progressions were seamless, and no two songs sounded the same, leaving the crowd feeling satiated and at peace.

The band finished their performance with a cover of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” which had everyone embracing and feeling the love. The vibes were strong on Friday, as The Malai Llama welcomed the crowd acapella sing-along to their closing song.

Jennifer Hartswick. Photo Credit:   Kaotic Design Productions

Jennifer Hartswick. Photo Credit: Kaotic Design Productions

As an established musical dynamo within the Colorado scene, The Malai Llama has fearlessly put their killer chromatic tunes out in the world for all to hear. Their music moves as freely as the wild winds of Colorado, and the even wilder people living here. Be sure to check them out next time they hit the stage!

Connect with The Malai Llama on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

-Jura

All photos per Kaotic Design Productions. All videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Tenth Mountain Division Blend Genres and Define "Ski Rock" on Debut Release, "Cracks in the Sky"

By: Eric Martin

TMD is going to make you love "ski rock".

As my friends and I stumbled out of the Boulder Theater adorned in all the green clothing we own and drunk on Irish car bombs, we headed in the direction of home. Or so we thought. It had been a successful enough St. Patrick’s Day. We all agreed, alarms already set and ready to wake us in a matter of hours, that home was the direction to go. But we didn’t make it far. Mere steps from the Theater, we were drawn elsewhere: the music was loud, the crowd was huge, and there was a buzz of energy in the air from more than just the alcohol.

We found ourselves stumbling into The Lazy Dog, and immediately, I noticed that I’d never seen the place so crowded. It was shoulder to shoulder; toes on toes. I couldn’t see the stage. I had no idea who was playing. It was rock music and the crowd was definitely into it. Was that a mandolin? I made my way closer to the stage.

Tenth Mountain Division.

Tenth Mountain Division.

The band was Boulder’s Tenth Mountain Division. And that was a mandolin. The eclectic mix of musicians onstage included MJ Ouimette, Campbell Thomas, Winston Huega, Connor Dunn, and Tyler Gwynn. I soon realized maybe this wasn’t “rock music” after all, because according to the band “well known amongst small groups of people”, this was “ski rock”. And it just so happened that I had walked into TMD’s ski rock album debut. Gnarly.

The release, Cracks in the Sky, features the 5-piece group on guitar, keyboards, mandolin, bass, and drums, as well as a handful of guest musicians on saxophones and banjos; oh my! The album starts a little slow paced, picks up early, and drives it home.

Much like the band itself, this release seems to effortlessly blend genres. At any moment, it drifts from String Cheese-inspired jams to Shakedown Street funk, to traditional bluegrass breakdowns to sax-heavy jazz beats, all without ever digressing too far from the true Hercules of this band’s repertoire: fun. “Storm of the Century” is the perfect example of this, a funky ballad beginning with a driving drum beat accompanied by a mellow, instantly catchy piano riff, joined in perfect harmony by funk-rock bass lines and high energy mandolin chops.

The track “Eskimo” sums up more than any other tune what “ski rock” is all about. It is probably the most improvisational song on the album, and features their now (kind of) famous catchphrase, “A man could go crazy in a search of snow”.

Though the energy found at their live shows seems a little lacking in the album, several songs, including “Drunk Man’s Blues” and “Camp Hale”, serve to keep live performance fans happy with the high energy TMD they’ve come to appreciate.

Cracks in the Sky closes out with its title track, a banjo/mandolin-heavy tune that once again perfectly blends and bends (genres that is). This album is definitely worth a listen, but even more so, get out there and catch these guys live! You can find their upcoming show dates here.

-Eric

Connect with Eric on Instagram and Facebook.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.