The SIR Band Brought Power and Passion to Their Globe Hall Set Last Saturday

By: Will Baumgartner

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect when attending Saturday’s concert by The SIR Band at Globe Hall in Denver last Saturday. I knew they were a local band getting some buzz, playing at a venue I’d also heard enough about to want to check it out, and that was enough reason to go. In this sense, being a music journalist is the same as being a dedicated music fan, because if you only listen to and go to shows by bands and artists you already love, you’re limiting yourself and not helping the scene to grow. Of course there’s always a chance of being underwhelmed, but without exploration there would be no discovery, and I happened to discover a local treasure Saturday night. An unassuming little trio with a rather innocuous name, The SIR Band will surprise you with the amount of power, passion, and artistry that can be packed into such a small frame.

Speaking of small packages, the band’s frontwoman Sarah Angela doesn’t come bounding onstage looking larger than life. A rather petite woman dressed simply in cutoff jeans and a white blouse, SA (as she is also known to fans) let her voice and songs do the business of winning us over, which she most emphatically did, without resorting to any flashy theatrics or excessive costuming. She didn’t just stand there, of course, but her onstage energy was something that seemed to come up organically through the depth and richness of her singing with the simple beauty and layered architecture of the songs themselves, and with her interaction with the formidable talents of her bandmates Kim O’Hara (guitar/backing vocals) and Luke Mehrens (drums/percussion).

The SIR Band. Photo Credit: Joel Rekiel of   BLDGBLKS Music Company .

The SIR Band. Photo Credit: Joel Rekiel of BLDGBLKS Music Company.

Most of the material performed during this show came from the band’s stellar debut album So Cold (released January 2018 and available through iTunes and other digital platforms), but I was also impressed by their choice of covers and unique takes on those songs, including a rousing version of The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face,” enhanced by two more exceptional female talents who’d already graced the stage that night, R&B/Pop powerhouse Chloe Tang and Vicoda’s firecracker of a frontwoman Shivani Bhatt. There’s something about getting that much female energy and talent onstage that’s just overwhelmingly beautiful and inspiring. These women clearly enjoyed it at least as much as the audience did, and that was an awful lot.

Overall, it’s difficult to say what I was most impressed with during The SIR Band’s performance. Between SA’s bits on synthesizer and acoustic guitar and her dynamic and varied use of her vocal skills, O’Hara’s switching between different guitars and settings, and Mehrens’ precise and expansive drumming, there was so much going on. But I’d have to say that the moment I was most affected emotionally was definitely the quietest part of  an otherwise pretty rocking evening, and that was the performance of “Abby’s Song.” It was an achingly beautiful piece that I knew nothing of except that it got to me, to the point of creating a lump in my throat and a bit of mist over my eyes. As is so often the case with live performances, I wasn’t devoting a lot of my attention span to the lyrics either, but when I mentioned the song afterward to Kim O’Hara, she told me the bittersweet story behind the song, and all I could say was, “Well done.” Without any intellectual knowledge of its subject matter, I was still able to feel the love, beauty and heartache that went into its creation.

Sarah Angela. Photo Credit: Joel Rekiel of   BLDGBLKS Music Company .

Sarah Angela. Photo Credit: Joel Rekiel of BLDGBLKS Music Company.

Another reason I wanted to see this show was because I saw Chloe Tang’s name on the bill, along with the note that it was her last Denver show before moving to Los Angeles. I had the pleasure of being introduced to Chloe’s music about a year and a half ago when I wrote Millennial Wise: Chloe Tang’s ‘Passion//Aggression’ for BolderBeat, but in the time since, I’d regrettably not gotten around to seeing her live. I can now say unequivocally that it was worth the wait, and I’ll be continuing to follow her closely. Talk about little bombs: this young woman packs an incredible punch into her small stature, and her material has continued to grow into something even more powerful than the great stuff I’d already been exposed to, as evidenced by her recent EP Stranger. Wherever you are, listen to her and go see her when you get any opportunity to do so; you will not be disappointed. This bill was truly a satisfying evening of sounds, and wouldn’t have been so complete without Vicoda and Shivani Bhatt who are hurricane of a band with a lightning rod of a singer at its center. They blew me away not only with the joyful fury of their performance, but also with the precision and skill of their attack.

Denver is one of the most happening places in the whole wide world of music right now, so I cannot encourage you enough to take your chances more often than not. You may be fearful of the possibility of wasting an evening, but as The SIR Band and their wonderful guests showed me again this weekend, it’s much more likely that you’ll end up grateful, happy, enriched and the exact opposite of “underwhelmed.”

-Will

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

The 2017 Underground Music Showcase Announces Second Round of Artists

The Underground Music Showcase 2017 just announced their second round of artists for this year's festival! Additions include: Headliner Zola Jesus and artists like Bad Licks, Chocolate Diamond, Dear Rabbit, Decatur, Edison, HERESTOFIGHTIN, The Hollow, innerspace, The Kinky Fingers, Ned Garthe Explosion, Retrofette (we should mention here we're premiering something awesome from this band this Friday), Sleepy SunSIR, Sugar Skulls & Marigolds, Sur Ellz, Treehouse Sanctum, Turvy Organ, & more! Make sure to get your tickets for the July 27th-30th festival in the heart of Denver here. And see our previous story for initial lineup announcements at our original announcement link.

Reminiscing on last year's UMS? Peek back at our coverage of 2016:

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

The 2017 Underground Music Showcase Initial Lineup Has Arrived

By: Hannah Oreskovich

The long-awaited and highly anticipated Underground Music Showcase 2017 lineup has arrived. With headliners Benjamin Booker, Red Fang, & Esmé Patterson, this year's fest will take place July 27th-30th. Colorado’s Bandits, Britt Margit, This Broken Beat, Bud Bronson & The Goodtimers, Brent Cowles, The Burroughs, Chloe Tang, CITRA, Coastal Wives, Colfax Speed Queen, Corsicana, déCollage, Dirty Few, Dragondeer, Wolf van Elfmand, Evan Holm & The Restless Ones, Gasoline Lollipops, Get Along, Jilly.FM, Joseph Lamar, King Cardinal, Last of the Easy Riders, Loretta Kill, Mawule, Modern Leisure, One Flew West, The Other Black, Povi, RL Cole, The Savage Blush, Silver and Smoke, SIXXXD, Slow Caves, SYCDVK, Television Generation, The Velveteers, Whiskey Autumn, Whole Milk, Wildermiss, and Yasi are just some of the acts on the bill we've featured in the last year, so needless to say, we're stoked on this lineup. And there are more artists still TBA!

Stay tuned for more UMS info and get ready to join us on Denver's South Broadway for one of our favorite events of the summer! Tickets here.

Reminiscing on last year's UMS? Peek back at our coverage of 2016:

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Millennial Wise: Chloe Tang’s 'Passion//Aggression'

By: Will Baumgartner

Louis CK, the brilliant comedian and social critic, has a bit in which he explains why a 50-year-old garbage man is more interesting than any 21-year-old with four degrees (or something to that effect). The bit is spot on, though like most philosophies, it does have its exceptions. Sometimes this baby boomer meets a millennial who feels wise beyond their years, and beyond “interesting” to the point of being rather fascinating. Though I haven’t met Chloe Tang in person, listening to her new EP Passion//Aggression is like meeting a young person who exceeds expectations and defies stereotypes.

Chloe Tang.

Chloe Tang.

The five-song disc begins quietly, and overall, the feel of the EP is just a bit more introspective than rocking. Still, each of the songs has a drive and momentum that’s infectious. “No One Will” has a lilting beginning, a building verse, and a breakaway chorus marked by its relatively stark instrumentation. Like several of the songs here, it’s about love gone awry, regret, and acknowledgement of the good in a sad situation. It’s a hallmark of all these songs that shows how a young woman can be wise: looking at herself as well as her lover, asking important questions, and sparing herself nothing in her reflections on the scene described. This girl pulls no punches, even when they’re aimed at herself.

The second song, “Electrified,” is one of my favorites for several reasons: as befits the title, it rocks at least as hard as any of the other tracks, it has a killer chorus, and I love a song that declares independence from a relationship that was more unhealthy than the other way around, or at least that’s what this listener got from the lyrics. Maybe Tang herself would tell me I read it wrong, but that’s another great thing about these songs: for the most part, her lyrics are sparsely imagistic and leave at least something to interpretation and imagination.

Watch Chloe Tang’s music video for “Forgive You Again”:

“Forgive You Again” is the release’s centerpiece, the first single, and there’s a great video you should watch: I defy any sentient person to resist choking up a little seeing it; I certainly did. The song itself is a power ballad with a kind message: “When ghosts return/we always learn to find a way to balance and burn/They will make you confess your worst and your best/but maybe they’ll forgive you again.” It’s an undeniably sweet and powerful song; it also features what’s been dubbed the “Millennial Whoop”: a wordless refrain that uses the fifth and third of a major scale. When I chatted with Chloe on the phone, I mentioned this, and she was genuinely surprised that she’d used this device she’d never even heard about. To me, that’s further proof that she is overall a genuine and sincere soul; there’s no guile in her songwriting, just a lot of heart, and a songwriter doesn’t exist who hasn’t used common devices like this, whether consciously or not.

“Tell Me I’m Wrong” returns to the theme of self-examination and self-confrontation. Like I said, Chloe pulls no punches with lines like, “My excuse is I wasn’t awake” and “I woke up every day with a lie and a bluff.” Again, it’s a song that begins quietly, builds through the verse, and hones in with a powerful chorus, like having a frank conversation with oneself.

The EP’s closer, “Till I Get Up,” is in a lot of ways the strongest song here. It begins with a groovy soul bassline and proceeds to rock righteously through the verse and chorus. The lyrics stress persistence through difficulties leading to a strong resolve, and the overall result is a song that feels like an anthem you want to shout along with. “It’s me against myself and all my ghosts;” “And it keeps pushing waiting for me to make a fuss/but I breathe, I breathe, I breathe till I get up.” Tell it, sister!  

Chloe Tang is indeed 21 years old, and I didn’t ask her much about her education, but I don’t think she has any degrees yet, let alone four: she currently studies songwriting at CU Denver, and went to a charter arts school in her native state of Arizona prior. She began playing piano and singing at the age of five, and started writing songs at about age 15. She grew up on folk (her Dad’s influence), is a fan of James Bay, Kaleo, Of Monsters and Men, and Amber Run, and has been lately getting into classic rock. She also confesses a love of “corny pop from the eighties.” I may not share all her tastes, but I’m sure we could have at least one long and fascinating conversation about music, and yes, about life: she might even teach me a thing or two! I’m definitely going to be at her EP release show at the Hi-Dive this Thursday March 9th because after listening to this young woman’s music, I just have to see what she does with it live. Join me; tickets here.

-Will

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

The Weekend Six: Six Shows to See 08/26, 08/27, & 08/28

By: Hannah Oreskovich

TGIF yo. Here’s The Six:

Today (Friday 08/26):

RiNo Music Festival at RiNo Neighborhood in Denver 430PM-Close

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Channel 93.3, Westword, and Twist and Shout are throwing a festival bash for you today in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood, and it’s just in time for happy hour. The music lineup includes Silversun Pickups, St. Lucia, 888, Bishop Briggs, and A Silent Film. Tickets are $40 for the whole shebang, and you can nab ‘em here. Festi while you can, folks.

Watch 888’s official music video for their song “Critical Mistakes”:

Local Songwriter Showcase at Club 156 in Boulder 7PM-9PM

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CU’s Program Council is putting on a cool event tonight at Club 156 that features several local talented singer/songwriters, including Cameron Bailey, Jobi, Jarocki, Ethan Cohen, Nate Harvey, and Sophie Kloor. The event is free and open to the public, so whether you’re new to CU and wanting to learn more about the music scene, or a longtime Boulder resident wanting to check out some new tunes, get to this show! 

Listen to Sophie Kloor’s demo for her song “Losing Myself”:

Kutandara Kombi at The Laughing Goat in Boulder 8PM-Close

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Boulder’s Kutandara is a world music group, fusing “African music traditions with indie-pop, rock, jazz, gospel, [and] classical” sounds. And tonight, they’ve got a gig at Boulder’s LG that is sure to make your spirits dance. Kutandara are well known for their eclectic sets, playing every show with the intent of “exchanging energy of music and movement with our audiences”. Sounds like a rad time- and it’s free! Head on down.

Sample some Kutandara tracks here.

Tomorrow (Saturday 08/27):

Eros and the Eschaton Album Release Show at Larimer Lounge in Denver 8PM-Close

Colorado Springs’ Eros and the Eschaton dropped their sophomore album Weight of Matter recently, and we have been diggin’ on it. Major. Read more about it in our review of the album, and celebrate with the band tomorrow at their Larimer show. Denver’s I Sank Molly Brown and Maybe Baby & The Bitch Boys are joining the party, and OpenAir CPR is putting on the show. Tickets are only $10 in advance. Get ‘em now, and while you’re at it, get Weight of Matter. Your ears will thank you.

Listen to Eros and the Eschaton’s single “Rxx”:

Mayhem Gulch at Conor O’Neill’s in Boulder 10PM-Close

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If you’re looking for a solid bluegrass show for the weekend, look no further Colorado! Boulder’s own bluegrass/newgrass five-piece Mayhem Gulch will be strummin’ at Conor’s tomorrow night. The group describe themselves as “a whiskey-fueled campfire jam”, which sounds pretty perfect for a summer Saturday. So get to it!

Listen to Mayhem Gulch’s “Run for the Hills”:

The Next Day (Sunday 08/28):

Magpie, Ethan Griggs + Sonder Ensemble, & Chloe Tang at Lost Lake Lounge in Denver 8PM-Close

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Back in March, we featured Denver’s soulful folk outfit Magpie. The “orchestral folk rock” project, led by Zach Dunn, is playing The Lost Lake this Sunday, headlining a bill that features Ethan Griggs + Sonder Ensemble and Chloe Tang. The show starts at 8PM and is only $8, so ease into the week with a good drink and the sweet sounds of these Denver acts. More info here.

Watch Magpie’s live performance video of their tune “Trembling”:

See you at a show CO! Xoxox

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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