BABYMETAL Bringing Kawaii Metal to Denver September 27th

By: Jason Myers 

The heavy metal touring circuit in the U.S. is about to get a facelift over the next month. Kawaii metal kingpins BABYMETAL are heading out on their first U.S. headlining tour and it’s slated to hit 20 cities across the country from September 4th to mid-October. 

Photo per BABYMETAL.

Photo per BABYMETAL.

Seamlessly blending elements of death metal, black metal, and J-pop music, BABYMETAL have created a sound that is uniquely their own. As pioneers of the Kawaii metal genre, the band has released 2 albums to critical acclaim and has performed 4 world tours. Their new album, Metal Galaxy, will be released on October 11th, 2019. Check out their newest single, “Elevator Girl” to see what we mean.

BABYMETAL will be backed on tour (except 10/15-10/16) by Swedish heavy metal juggernauts Avatar. After 18 years as a band, Avatar have little, if anything, left to prove. They've released 7 albums, 2 EPs, and have garnered a faithful following through their chaotic and relentless live performances. Check out a live performance of their 2018 appearance at Graspop here.

Want to catch them in Denver Friday, September 27th at The Ogden? Get tickets for the tour here!

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

Premiere: Rose Room's New Single “Fighting Feeling" Will Dig Into Your Bones

By: Julia Talen

Self-proclaimed “electronic soul duo” Rose Room recently finished up recording 7 singles, which they’ve been periodically issuing. In their latest release, “Fighting Feeling,” the Boulder/L.A.-based pair, Thomas LaFond and Dmitry Bolotny, have sculpted an alluring tune with delightful influences (think Childish Gambino and Glass Animals). 

The single opens up with LaFond’s smooth, breathy vocals, backed up by Bolotny’s funky, electronic keys. When the chorus hits, LaFond’s sexy vocal range shines through, as instrumentals pick up and the song takes off with the catchy lyrics, “Some inclinations bout the world you built for them/ you took too much/ you took too much.” 

Rose Room.

Rose Room.

The song unfolds into a narration about feelings; addictive feelings that entice and strangle. The track seems to follow a subject, and a voice hangs about which offers commentary that the subject is running from something. That sort of inner voice resounds throughout the tune instrumentally, as LaFord and Bolotony layer and escalate their instrumentals and vocals incorporating all sorts of stirring and soulful nodes.

After the second chorus, the song dives into a bridge that pulls listeners under. It’s murky and feels like we’re submerged below water, coming down from something. As the song continues, we swim up and the instrumentals and crescendo toward a soulful choral burst of air, booming the lyrics from that inner voice, “I know just what you need.” Is it a reprieve from the feelings? Is it facing the feelings? The track leaves this ambiguous, but its groovy vibe traverses many musical terrains and digs deep into your bones. You’ll want to listen again right away, so don’t be afraid to hit that repeat button.

The track’s out today! Keep up with Rose Room here.

-Julia

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

Vicoda Bring New Life to Classic Alt-Rock with Singles “Storms” and “Wild”

By: Will Baumgarter

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.  

Vicoda.

Vicoda.

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.





The Velveteers Kickoff Their Third UK Tour with an Electric Farewell in Denver

By: Emily Shuey

Last Saturday night, Boulder natives, The Velveteers, kicked off their headlining show in Denver at The Bluebird Theater to inaugurate their third UK tour, which begins in less than a week. The three-piece band includes frontwoman/lead guitarist Demi Demitro, a 21-year-old with a unique sound conjured as a mix of Joan Jett and Bonnie Tyler, and a siren-esque raspiness defining her personal brand. Her long curly hair (think Claudio Sanchez), jewel-encrusted jacket, and leather pants, accompanied with the bands’ goth-like decor set the scene for a Tim Burton meets Zeppelin-era inspired ambiance.

Demi Demitro of The Velveteers.

Demi Demitro of The Velveteers.

Demi is always accompanied by two drummers, John Demitro (her brother) and Adrian Pottersmith, who have crafted their own unique dual-drum kit, bring a reverberant and flexible base to all of the band’s performances. 

Adrian Pottersmith & John Demitro.

Adrian Pottersmith & John Demitro.

Fans were prefaced by support including The Bitter Suns, The Kinky Fingers, and Boot Gun, but it was obvious The Velveteers have been pulling a loyal crowd following at their shows since the band’s birth in 2014. Fans were decked out in DIY band t-shirts, appropriate goth punk rock attire, and were ready to throw down for an intimate and interactive experience that The Bluebird is known for creating. 

A fan in the band’s merch.

A fan in the band’s merch.

As soon as Demi plugged her guitar into its amplifier, the crowd anxiously waiting, went wild. Moving into their first song, she embodied a confident and nonchalant presence that puts the crowd at ease, but also gives the go-ahead for madness. The crowd hosted fans of all ages, united over their mutual love for moshing, head banging, and theatrical rock. 

Pottersmith in the crowd.

Pottersmith in the crowd.

The band played favorites like the provoking “Death Hex,” and their catchy single “Eyes Tell Lies” sending the crowd into a full-blown, relentless circle mosh, which was a common scene for most of the show. (I might have a few bruises and worn quite a few PBR’s to prove it). The show was made even more intimate with the absence of a pit, allowing fans to cheer and be involved from just inches away. The drummers kept the energy high throughout the show, especially when Pottersmith removed one of their snares, placed it in the crowd, and performed an interactive, punk rock-style drum solo. 

Saturday’s UK tour kickoff show proved that The Velveteers are capable of holding their own as headliners, and seemed symbolic of good things yet to come. They are currently self-managed, self-taught, and sans record label. The European market is volatile for even some of America’s most successful outfits, but with perseverance, it can be career defining. The band will be kicking off their third international tour in Glasgow on September 10th. 

See more photos from this show here.

-Emily

All photos provided to BolderBeat by the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Rocky Mountain Folks Festival 2019 Honored the Folk Tradition of the Past, Present & Future

By: Riley Ann 

Planet Bluegrass just wrapped up their festival season with the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, and they truly had something for nearly every flavor of folk. True to its tradition, the music at Folks Fest was by, for, and about the people. 

Ben Folds.

Ben Folds.

Headliners included household names from the past 30 years, such as Ani DiFranco, who’s songs feel just as relevant as when she was topping the charts in the late 90s and early 2000s. The Violent Femmes had the packed crowd dancing and hollering, and Ben Folds’ set felt like an intimate house concert on Saturday night. Josh Ritter’s band closed out the festival Sunday night with many families enjoying summer’s last hurrah before the start of the school year.

Hayley Heynderickx.

Hayley Heynderickx.

For the folks who want something old and something new, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, The War and Treaty, and Kira Small all fused throwback soul and R&B flavors into modern songwriting. The Oh Hellos shared the poppier side of folk, and Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards paired modern grooves and melodies with lush harmonies of the women’s voices and stringed instruments. Hayley Heynderickx demonstrated the songwriting tradition through the voice of a millennial with her quirky, dark tunes, and The East Pointers showcased their reinvention of traditional Celtic music by intertwining old time fiddle and tenor banjo with drum machines and synthesizers.

The folks who appreciate the early traditions could sing along in four-part harmony with Ysaÿe Barnwell’s spiritual set, which kicked off Sunday morning. The Canadian duo The Small Glories blended old time clawhammer banjo and traditional song forms with their own telling of historical events, many with modern-day connections.

Patty Larkin.

Patty Larkin.

While the phrase “folk music” generally connotes acoustic instruments, bands like Daniel Rodriguez (formerly of Elephant Revival), Gasoline Lollipops, and St. Paul & the Broken Bones featured ripping electric guitar solos. In contrast, Patty Larkin practically played a solo rock set on acoustic guitar (though she interspersed a few ballads and shook things up playing a violin bow on her electric guitar). The music was as musically diverse as the tastes of the listeners, providing a well-balanced palette of folk music. As Dylan once crooned, “Times, they are a changin’,” and Planet Bluegrass continues to curate folk festivals that honor the folk tradition of the past, present, and into the future.

Although their festival season is over, there’s still another chance to tap into the magic at Planet Bluegrass for the Autumnal Equinox on September 21st with Bonnie Paine & Friends. More information and tickets are available at the Wildflower Pavilion website here. Stay tuned for next year’s Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, as well as their Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Rockygrass Festival on the Planet Bluegrass website here.

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

All photos provided to BolderBeat by the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.




Day N Vegas Just Might Have the Ultimate 2019 Festival Lineup

By: Luis Castro

With a star-studded lineup, Day N Vegas is bringing together some of the best names in hip-hop, and is making a strong case for festival of the year. Dreamville, Astroworld, and Top Dawg Entertainment will join forces during the weekend to bring fans the best experience possible. Kickstart the weekend with Dreamville's J. Cole, J.I.D, Bas, Earthgang, and Saba. The energy will only continue with Juice Wrld, Denzel Curry, Lil Mosey, Comethazine, and Lil Uzi Vert (who, if he drops Eternal Atake beforehand, fans are in for a treat.)

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Saturday, we'll be left stargazing after Travis Scott, Migos, 21 Savage, Da Baby, and Sheck Wes, who are definitely must-sees as their festival experience has taught them how to master a crowd and keep the energy high. Lil Nas X proved he's way more than just a one hit wonder with his new 7" EP this year too, and we can't wait for this young talent to perform it! 

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Sunday really will be a fun day for Day N Vegas’s close-out with a TDE heavy lineup. Ab-Soul, Isaiah Rashad, Jay Rock, School Boy Q, and Kendrick Lamar will put the cherry on top to an already amazing festival lineup. Tyler the Creator will pay Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver a visit just a month before Day N Vegas, which will likely be a great preview to what will surely be an energetic set. Brockhampton, Ski Mask the Slump God, and Flatbush Zombies will make sure all the jumping and hype is well alive throughout the day too.

Overall, this is one fest we can’t wait for! Close out the 2019 music season with us in Vegas for more than just a day. Get your tickets here

-Luis

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

Kiltro's 'Creatures of Habit' Is Enchanting, Mysterious & Masterful

By: Julia Talen

If you haven’t heard Chilean-American musician Chris Castillo’s music project, Kiltro, now is the time. This past July 6th marked the release of the latin-indie group’s latest LP, Creatures of Habit, on which listeners can catch the single, “The Hustle,” named best new song by NPR.

Each track on Creatures of Habit tells a story that travels through intimate corners of Chile. The way Castillo builds each song and connects the tracks makes this album feel like a rich, musical novel of sorts, haunted with a variety of interconnected characters and scenes.

The first track off the album titled, “If I Lead,” immerses listeners into the ambient quality of Castillo’s music. The way Castillo layers and loops his instruments gently coerces listeners into an imaginative scene in South America where the narrator hauntingly asks another, “If I lead, would you follow?,” almost asking the listener the same thing. The transitions between almost every song on the album collapse the notions of beginning and end, folding each track into the other and highlighting the album’s cohesion. The second track, “Curicó,” which follows an unreliable narrator having seen a ghost, before flowing into a favorite of mine, “Mi Capitán.”

“Mi Capitán” opens with an upbeat guitar that Castillo loops to create dimension as his dynamic voice sings about a character’s reckoning with proving their own worth. His quick-paced, upbeat voice softens, slows, and wails as the song perpetuates, straining to keep up with the instrumentals. His vocals then drift into a ghostly, alluring moaning and crooning, cushioned in a high pitched, soft ringing.

Kiltro.

Kiltro.

The song spills into a slower, sparse tune, “Corner Beat (Hair of the Dog),” before heading into “Lovers,” an echo-y, dreamy track that reiterates the first song on the record with lyrics, “wherever you lead I’ll follow.” The guitar and percussion build and become almost volatile, engulfing the song before pittering out delicately and returning to its original melody and tempo. 

The only breath of silence on the album hits before the next song, “Julia,” begins, again, echoing a character we meet in “Curicó,” earlier in the album. “The Hustle,” a song about navigating difficult relationships and the self-assurance that breaking from it requires, follows “Lovers” and “Julia,” returning to a more upbeat, rhythmic tone.

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The album ends with odes to “Ursula,” who reminds me of an enchanted figure, as well as “The Drunk,” about an inebriated individual pondering assumptions about himself. These final tracks circle back on this motif of the album that questions what is real and what is an apparition, and how does memory and time construe these concepts and create stories in our minds, and, furthermore, how can the way music builds mirror these ideas.

This LP is honestly masterful. Kiltro forms songs that are each their own gems and has joined them into a beautiful first LP. It’s no surprise this band’s been getting a lot of buzz lately- it’s well deserved and Creatures of Habit proves that. Listen to this album now and keep up with Kiltro here.

-Julia

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

Rockygrass 2019 Had Attendees Debating the Identity Politics of Bluegrass

By: Riley Ann 

Another sold-out Rockygrass Festival went down in the books last weekend, culminating with Punch Brothers’ much-anticipated Sunday night headlining set: “Punch Brothers Play & Sing Bluegrass.” However, festivarians left with differing attitudes - some in awe, some confused, some disappointed, and some even downright angry who claim, “That wasn’t bluegrass,” which begs the question: What is bluegrass?

The Punch Brothers.

The Punch Brothers.

Planet Bluegrass continues a track record at their bluegrass festivals of booking acts that represent the different generations of bluegrass. This year’s first-generation legends include the Del McCoury Band and Larry Sparks & the Lonesome Ramblers, second-generation folks including Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan, and Tim O’Brien, and bands from the more progressive era of Bluegrass (and arguably beyond), including Sam Bush (while considered to be second-generation, the “Father of Newgrass”), I’m With Her, Hawktail, and, of course, Punch Brothers.

Bluegrass, a hybridization of various styles, is historically attributed to Bill Monroe, the “Father of Bluegrass,” and his music remains the standard for comparison of the genre much like Robert Johnson’s music defines the origins of blues. When people read “Punch Brothers Play & Sing Bluegrass” on the program, the crowd generally assumed the set would showcase tunes from the canon of traditional bluegrass (i.e. first generation). However, the band played Tony Rice’s 1983 album Church Street Blues in its entirety. The album, which Chris Thile (Punch Brothers) proclaimed is “...the best Bluegrass album ever made,” is noted for its creative songwriting and Rice’s iconic progressive guitar playing, remarkably different from Monroe’s prototype of bluegrass. The band accentuated the album with their own flavor.

I’m With Her.

I’m With Her.

Punch Brothers wasn’t the only band playing a different kind of Bluegrass. Noted fiddler Brittany Haas’ supergroup Hawktail performed an entire set of instrumental compositions. While the group describes their sound rooted in old-time Scandinavian fiddle, their intricate arrangements and virtuosic solos indicated neoclassical and jazz elements. Kevin Slick, President of the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society (CMBS), comments, “Hawktail is Americana chamber music, and Punch Brothers have always been a more urban, more sophisticated band. Some people seem to think ‘Bluegrass’ has to come from the rural South and feature simple song structures.”

While some could argue that Punch Brothers and Hawktail have deviated “too far” from the origins of bluegrass, Slick suggests a different perspective, saying, “Bill Monroe played music that nobody else was playing, at least not in that style. He incorporated jazz and blues into country music and created bluegrass. Nobody was taking extended improvised solos in country music at the time or extending harmonies like that, and it was incredibly inventive. The music that Hawktail and the Punch Brothers are making is probably closer to the original spirit of bluegrass because it’s continuing to be inventive and doing something new, just like Monroe was doing.”

Sam Bush.

Sam Bush.

Though Sam Bush is unquestionably accepted as a pillar of bluegrass today, he also battled his own trials and tribulations when launching the New Grass Revival in 1971, and heard similar complaints in the early days. Regardless of his bands’ initial reception decades ago, he has indisputably become a major player of the bluegrass realm, and his headlining Saturday night set at Rockygrass was met with open arms of the crowd despite having a full drum set and electric bass, a very different feel than Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys

Slick asserts, “Any musical genre that survives will diversify; at one point in time, jazz music was only what they played in New Orleans. There was no Miles Davis or Coltrane. Rock’n’roll was Chuck Berry and Little Richard, but now those genres are incredibly diverse- we can have Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones. So if bluegrass is a genre- within that genre, it’s probably going to be pretty diverse.”

Certainly people have different reasons for resisting new developments in the genre. A common one is rooted in the fear of cultural extinction. Slick counters this, saying, “New music won’t sound like Bill Monroe, and that’s fine. The music won’t ever go away. You can still pull up Bill Monroe’s music online and listen to it. A million different artists play the blues and people do all kinds of different things with it- B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan. In Kendrick Lamar’s music, you might not hear Robert Johnson anymore, but people still respond to it. I just see it as we’re expanding the buffet.”

With change often comes resistance, whether that’s in our sociopolitical climate or a genre of music. The question is not how we divide ourselves, but how we maintain the discourse of our differences. 

The Earls of Leicester featuring Jerry Douglas.

The Earls of Leicester featuring Jerry Douglas.

Planet Bluegrass still has one more festival this year, and tickets and volunteer opportunities to Folks Fest are still available. The lineup includes Ani Difranco, Ben Folds, Violent Femmes, Josh Ritter, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, and more. More information is available on the Planet Bluegrass website here.

See more photos from Rockygrass at this link.

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

All photos provided to BolderBeat by the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Denver's Underground Music Showcase Proves It's Once Again Unlike Anything Else in Denver

By: Adrienne Thomas 

Denver’s Underground Music Showcase truly is the highlight of the year for many local music lovers, and this year was no exception. As far as multi-venue festivals go, UMS is a well executed one, and was a smooth experience for concertgoers. The “official” UMS venues spanned about 7 blocks down South Broadway, and included 3 separate outdoor stage areas. Most venues had their own vibe, like the punk and modular synth daytime-dark shows at the Hi-Dive, late-night crooner showcases at Skylark Lounge, house and techno dance parties at the 303 Magazine “Green Rom” below 3 Kings Tavern, and the intimate singer/songwriter serenades at South Broadway Christian Church. Simply put, there was always a place to go for everyone, with plenty of food trucks and friends to run into along the way. The heat, once accepted, couldn't hinder the excitement of seeing dozens of local gems and national touring favorites. 

Some of our UMS 2019 local highlights included Anthony Ruptak, Maya Bennett, and Kiltro, who drew devoted fans out in large crowds. Claire Heywood sang to us in church, Pout House jammed out at the Hi-Dive, and Ramakhandra and Emma Mayes & The Hip gave all their energy to a packed 3 Kings Tavern crowd. Favorite touring acts included Earthgang, who included the new J. Cole collab “Dreamville” in their set and even brought crowd members on stage for a very real dance-off. The latin rhythms and energy of Y La Bamba and Chicano Batman also made for a great time, and LA-based soul duo Annabelle Maginnis smiled in a furry two-piece through a killer R&B, upbeat soul set. Still, while the national touring acts may help sell tickets, we all know it’s the local artists who make the UMS something special. There’s no Colorado festival quite like the UMS, so here’s ‘til next year!

See more photos from UMS 2019 here.

-Adrienne

All photos per the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Kyle Emerson's New "I Can Change" Video Combines the Desert’s Psychedelic Mystique with Slick Indie-Folk Flare

By: Julia Talen

Currently featured as one of Indie 102.3 FM’s Local 303 Artists, indie rocker Kyle Emerson has been building anticipation of his sophomore album, Only Coming Down, out this fall. He dropped his first single from the forthcoming album, “May You Find Peace,” earlier this year. His second single was just released with a stop-motion collaged music video for the song “I Can Change.” Emerson says that the tune was, “written very quickly and demoed acoustically shortly after. Not overthinking the lyrics and letting them be more on the raw, personal side of the spectrum felt like the only place to exist lyrically… and it influenced the direction of the album from there.

The track feels very personal, and the music video alludes to that rawness while also being playful with a hodgepodge of colorful imagery that adds to the story behind this captivating piece. The video opens with a woman lying down facing a window of a moving van, as viewers look over her shoulder and see the van passing from the city to the suburbs to the sea and eventually to space, as the window frame melts away. Dawn breaks, and a grizzly head rises over a mountain like the sun as Emerson begins to sing, presumably connecting Emerson to this grizzly face. 

The lyrics offer a plea, seemingly to the girl in the van, that the protagonist of the song can change his partying ways, but as the music video evolves, we see less of that girl and more of a grizzly bear-headed man playing music. As the collaged video evolves and ebbs with cut-out butterflies swooping over backdrops and colorful layers that shift like a kaleidoscope, listeners realize this song has transformed into a plea no longer to the girl, but to the protagonist’s own self that he can change. 

Kyle Emerson.

Kyle Emerson.

The refrain swells at the same time the viewer sees the words “I Can Change” in white, bold font scroll over the vibrant background like film credits, while voices harmonize and instruments explode. Emerson cries the lyrics, “I can change/ I can change/ I can change.” He continues singing, “I’ll just hit the highway/and start all over again,” when the van from the beginning appears and drives through the forest, the mountains, San Francisco and Joshua Tree. As demons symbolized by images of fire, bats, caves and booze continue to follow the grizzly-headed character, there is a heightening of tension between adventure, nature, escapism, and haunting thoughts- all the themes of this memorable song.

Given Emerson’s success with his first album, Dorothy Alice, it’s no surprise that this local artist continues to create music rich with elements of the desert’s psychedelic mystique welded with his own slick indie-folk flare. Check out Emerson play this tune and others as he performs on the Main Stage at the Uundergound Music Showcase this Sunday, July 28th at 3:20PM.

-Julia

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

Our Top Picks to See at Denver's Underground Music Showcase 2019

By: Adrienne Thomas 

During the last weekend in July, the Underground Music Showcase brings out Denver’s local music scene, along with a handful of national headliners. Affectionately known around town as UMS, the festival came to life in the early 2000s when The Denver Post decided to ask local music experts to name the region’s “Top 10 Underground Bands” in an effort to rouse more interest and support for the local scene, as well as to cultivate a city that successful bands want to stay in. The festival’s evolution continued last year, when Two Parts took ownership of the festival under the direction of Tobias Krause, exciting supporters at the potential for new spins by the local event and marketing agency.

Headlining names this year definitely worth checking out include Chicano Batman, Black Mountain, Still Woozy, Y La Bamba, and Earthgang. Also worth checking out are two hip-hop wild cards from Chicago: Rich Jones and RapperChicks. Let’s dig into these acts, shall we?

Y La Bamba.

Y La Bamba.

Chicano Batman is a Latin psychedelic soul and funk four-piece, so bring dancing shoes to this wildly percussive show. Stoner rockers Black Mountain will show up for the lovers, heady beach followers, and spirited grunge rock fans inside all of us. Still Woozy joins soul/pop melodies and raps together with smooth electronic bounces for a uniquely lovable style. Y La Bamba is an incredibly diverse indie folk/pop outfit from Portland featuring eclectic, female-fronted jams. Earthgang, the fresh and unrivaled hip hop heroes from Atlanta known for collabs with J. Cole, 6LACK and J.I.D., will definitely be a UMS highlight to close out Sunday night.

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The lineup of local bands is beautifully long, and sometimes overwhelming, but mostly a glorious scroll through the talented musicians who walk our Broadways and Colfaxes every day. The heart of UMS is really just a big party where all the best local shows you’re invited to all year happen again- this time all at once- throughout the course of one weekend. Don’t sleep this time. Organize an interactive schedule of your own for the weekend here. But if that’s too much, here’s a list of favorites: 

FRIDAY 07/26

6:00 Corsicana @ Skylark Lounge - Ambient shoegaze that will make for a smooth start to the festival

6:20 Sophie Meiers @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Dreamy electro-pop from Durango

7:00 Extra Gold @Hi-Dive - Kickass country y’all

7:20 Still Woozy @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Playful and melodic chill-hop with a devoted following

7:20 RapperChicks @ Odyssey Stage at Import Mechanics - Self-described as “3 badass women who rap, sing, play & melt faces all by ourselves” from Chicago

8:00 Claire Heywood @ South Broadway Christian Church - Raspy bird songwriter known for poetic lyrics and soulful vocals and melodies

8:30pm Black Mountain @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Stoner rockers, go for a worthy rock show

9:00 f-ether @ Blue Ice - Electronic compositions, house music, dance party and big mountain energy

10:00 Motion Trap @ Denver Drumz & Music - Dreamy synth dance grooves 

11:00 The Velveteers @ 3 Kings Tavern - Heavy grunge-rock trio, double drummers, powerful female lead

11:00 The Hollow @ The Hornet - Alt rock with horse blinding attitude 

11:00 LITELVL @ Denver Drumz & Music - Triptastic soundscapes 

12:00 Oko Tygra @ The Irish Rover Pub - Dark and dreamy 80’s pop

1:00 @ Skylark Lounge - Shred rock with indie, Latin & ska feels

SATURDAY 07/27

12:40 Kiltro @ The Irish Rover Pub - Experimental folk mixes with Chilean guitar, makes dance party

2:00 Oxeye Daisy @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - A nod to the 90’s, youthful synth/guitar rock band

2:40 Slowcaves @ The Irish Rover Pub - Indie rock with beach vibes 

3:00 Whole Milk @ Skylark Lounge - Surf jazz

4:00 Erin Stereo @ Blue Ice - House/Club DJ extraordinaire

5:00 Chicano Batman @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Latin psychedelic soul/funk 4-piece

6:00 Sur Ellz @ Blue Ice - Future space funk R&B

7:00 OptycNerd @ Blue Ice - Electro indie pop 

7:30 Rich Jones @ Odyssey Stage at Import Mechanics - Prolific Chicago hip hop artist and evolving pop/soul creator, legendary presence

8:00 Decollage @ Denver Drumz & Music - Kaleidoscope avante-garde pop

9:00 Whiskey Autumn @ The Irish Rover Pub - “Prom jams from the future” meets indie psych synth surf rock

10:00 Anthony Ruptak @ Denver Drumz & Music - One of Denver’s singer/songwriters that we just can’t get enough of

10:00 Definitely, Maybe @ Moe’s Original BBQ - Lush percussive and vocal layering makes this psych rock duo very important to experience live

11:00 Random Temple @ Denver Distilling Co. - Electronic and acoustic instrumentalist known for diverse harmonies and eclectic, high-energy sets

12:00 The Cosmic Ball @ 3 Kings Tavern - A mix of Denver bands partnered with psychedelic production company Synesthesia which is likely to promise awesome visuals and glitter vibes

1:00 Retrofette @ 3 Kings Tavern - Part of the Cosmic Ball lineup, this synth group is not one to miss

SUNDAY 07/28

12:00 Laura Goldhammer @ Ross-Broadway Branch Library - Classic Americana merges with quirky styling to create socially-conscious folk music often accompanied by her stop-motion videos

1:00 Katie of The Spirettes @ Ross-Broadway Branch Library - Ethereal guitar-driven rock

2:20 YaSi @ Odyssey Stage at Import Mechanics - Much like her Iranian-American upbringing, her music is a melting pot, with a mix of R&B, hip-hop, and pop 

3:20 Kyle Emerson @ Goodwill - Buzzy indie rock

4:00 Bellhoss @ Denver Drumz & Music - Female-led folk meets DIY punk

4:30 Flaural @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Spacey psych-rock band best known for drifting and dancing

5:00 Levi Double U @ The Irish Rover Pub - NuDisco beats 

6:00 Moon Hammer @ 3 King Tavern - A ragtag supergroup of unpredictable and wavy tunes

6:20 Y La Bamba @ Knockout State at Punch Bowl Social - Diverse indie folk/pop outfit from Portland featuring eclectic, female-fronted jams

7:00 Big Dopes @ The Hornet - A modern 90s alt-feel with steady grooves 

7:55 Earthgang @ Odyssey Stage at Import Mechanics - Hip hop duo from Atlanta known for collabs with J. Cole, 6LACK and J.I.D

8:00 Bun Bun @ Baere Brewing Company - Future Shock Bee Wave G-House

9:00 Cheap Perfume @ Denver Drumz & Music - Long-standing feminist punk-rock band from Colorado Springs

9:00 Emma Mayes & The Hip @ 3 Kings Tavern - “Highly Important People” making highly important music, a soul/funk/jazz band joining complex horn arrangements with lush harmonies

10:00 Los Mocochetes @ 3 Kings Tavern - Latin gypsy-funk band

11:00 Ramakhandra @ 3 Kings Tavern - Hip hop/soul fusion, with a pedal harp!

12:00 The Guestlist @ 3 Kings Tavern - Modern blues & soul

1:00 Ned Garthe Explosion @ Hi-Dive - Kinda bad, kinda rad but definitely a party to end the weekend

Whether you create a guide this year for your own UMS, follow ours, or just wander, discover, and repeat, give my Underground Music Showcase playlist a listen on Spotify. And if you haven’t yet, get your UMS tickets here!

-Adrienne 

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

The Growlers Bring Beach Goth to The Mile High

By: Taylor Naiman

On Friday night, Orange County’s The Growlers brought their Beach Goth 2019 tour to Denver’s Ogden Theatre for the first of two nights in the Mile High City. After their last sold-out show in Denver, it was time for a double-feature. 

The Growlers at The Ogden Theatre.

The Growlers at The Ogden Theatre.

The show had a minimalist stage, with the only vibrant color coming from the lights and a large “The Growlers” banner on the back of the stage. There was nothing that was outright ornate about the stage; this isn’t a band who needs to dwell in “extra.” Looking around the room, people were dancing or drinking with friends. This was a relaxed set, and it continued to maintain the chill throughout its entirety. The band’s stylistic approach channels a mixture of the surf and embodies sounds of a beach with a splash of disco, but all the while, this is a band steeped in their California roots and the laid-back energy that goes along with it. 

The crowd.

The crowd.

Watching frontman Brooks Nielsen onstage with his thick, messy black hair, outfitted in Vans and a striped shirt, he easily oozed cool. Even when the band made a mistake on “Vacant Lot,” he went with the flow and molded the verse to what he wanted it to be in that moment. He’s someone who clearly feels at home in his role. With such a versatile vocal range and a voice dissimilar to anyone else in the industry, it is quite an experience to see this band live with Nielsen at the helm. 

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The Growlers sound is unique, and with over 10 years in this industry, they are continuing to gain new influences in their music. It’s funky, groovy, and gives us a slight nostalgic tinge of the 70s right here in 2019. Of course the setlist was comprised of work from their newer releases, but it was a major highlight hearing the gems from their 2016 album, City Club, such as “When You Were Made,” “Dope On A Rope,” “I’ll Be Around,” “Night Ride,” and the title track “City Club.” 

From crowd-surfing to seeing someone storming the stage for the last setlist, The Growlers shows are a blast to be a part of. If you haven’t yet, get on your California groove and listen here.

-Taylor

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

Premiere: Listen to Moon Hammer's New "Unravelled" + the Band Tells Us How This Track Was Sewn Together

Moon Hammer. (Left to right: Reed Fox, Megan Crooks, Ishka Bee Phoenix, Mark Emmons) Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Moon Hammer. (Left to right: Reed Fox, Megan Crooks, Ishka Bee Phoenix, Mark Emmons) Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

Denver’s Moon Hammer, an ever-changing collection of Moon Magnet-affiliated artists, is playing Denver’s Underground Music Showcase on Sunday, July 28th at 3 Kings Tavern at 6PM. In anticipation of their show, they decided to premiere their new song “Unravelled” with us today before it drops on all streaming services this Friday, July 19th. The song has been created and “destroyed” several times over to near its final completion, so take a listen:

“Unravelled” was mixed by Neil Lyons and frontman Reed Fox, and mastered at Moon Magnet Studios, but prior to that, a lot went into the actual writing and recording process of this track. Says Fox, “Moon Hammer is a writing collective and most of our shows feature a lineup of different members. Everyone can bring songs to the group to play and it's usually Megan Crooks (Ancient Elk) or Ishka Bee Phoenix (Ghost Tapes) because they're genius songwriters. Megan showed us her song ‘Unravelled’ two years ago and everyone was eager to bring it to life. Usually the songs are recorded and released quicker, but this one took longer because we kept reimagining it and adding stuff to it, which is ironic because it is the most minimalist recording I've ever been a part of. The process was a lot like the quote I'd never credit because it came from Bono: ‘Making records is like making sausages, the end result is palatable but you don't want to see how it's done.’ Basically we recorded a ton of things and all agreed it was best to scrap almost all of it.”

Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

Oddly enough, “Unravelled” almost became a House track at one point in the process. “We recorded it live initially with Dylan Johnson (The Other Black/Dandu) on electronic drums. Derrick Bozich (House of Aura/Sound of Ceres) came over and was recording mellotron months later and since the drums were recorded through an SPDS and every drum pad sound was mono on one channel, Derrick re-recorded the drums on separate tracks. With this project, Neil and I email projects back and forth frequently so I sent it over to him and he remade the drums again and re-recorded some awesome 808 bass. I think it was our third reiteration of drums and bass. He made it sound incredible and chopped up Megan Crooks’ vocals and threw the samples on pads and played them like an instrument (just like you hear in the recording). Then he emailed it back and I made a House version of the song. We considered using it for the chorus when Neil and I met up again at his studio to mix it some more and ended up realizing the House version was a terrible idea.” says Fox.

So how did “Unravelled” finally become sewn together?

“We scheduled a session for Megan, Ishka, Jeremy Averitt (Esmé Patterson), and Kevin Netz (Jurassic Netz/Fever The Ghost) to come over to Moon Magnet Studios and record more stuff, because we still were unhappy with [the song], but little did we know that a version from a year prior was our favorite, and the one you hear now is pretty much that. Kevin recorded gazillions of synths and bass (again) on it. Jeremy recorded xylophone over the whole thing. Ishka recorded vocals. Months after that we listened back to the version from a year prior and realized that was the best version and that we just needed to release it. Then Neil and I met up at the Magnet and I tried to include all the people that had recorded on it which was virtually impossible because that version had scrapped everything.

What you hear now is Neil on the beat, vocal chops, and 808 bass. Neil, Jeremy Averitt, and I co-produced it. Neil did a ton of the snazzy creative things. Derrick's mellotron is on the end of it, and you can hear Kevin's synth on the chorus. Ishka's harmonies are on the chorus and Megan sang and wrote the song of course. Jeremy's Xylophone is on the intro. We kept exploring options and didn't realize the song had already been finished and ended up having to dig up an old project file to get back to how it was before we ruined it.” Fox told us. 

In the end, the complex, two-year recording process of “Unravelled” almost mirrors the lyrics Crooks wrote from the start. Adds Megan, “This song is about letting the force of change and chaos take control and gracefully bowing to its power with faith that things will fall back in place for the better. I wrote the [lyrics] on a whim two years ago, pulling the knowledge from the ether, not knowing I was preparing myself for exactly this time in my life.”

Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

After letting the force of change take control over their final product and battling their creative demons to get to the gold, Moon Hammer’s “Unravelled” is finally ready for eardrums everywhere. As for what this collective is up to next, Fox tells us, “Moon Hammer is performing on the MCA rooftop with Wes Watkins August 2nd at 7pm! We're also unleashing two more singles before the year’s over, so check out our Spotify to hear our recent releases!”

Keep up with Moon Hammer here.

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

Lyle Divinisky Tells Us of His Journey with The Motet Before They Headline Red Rocks Amphitheatre This Weekend

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Once upon a time, in the small town of Boulder, Colorado, hippies roamed freely, love was abound, and it gave birth to a music scene rich with homegrown, grassroots vibes where people jammed for the love. After a while, that Boulder scene died out and moved to a place called Denver, where the music community urbanized and became more serious. Today, Denver holds one of the most unique music scenes around. From this community of awesomeness came the band The Motet. Their first album came out in the year 2000, and since then, they’ve been expanding their musical family and crushing it. In lieu of their headlining Red Rocks Amphitheatre show this Friday, July 12th and their massive upcoming fall tour, I phoned frontman Lyle Divinisky to chat about what we should expect to see from their upcoming shows. Read on:

Lyle joined The Motet sometime in 2014-2015, just when the band was looking for something fresh and new to add to their mix. Already a part of the extended grassroots music scene, Lyle was recommended to The Motet by his friend Ryan Zoidas from Lettuce and Dave Brandwein and Taylor Shell from Turkuaz

“The Motet reached out to the guys from Lettuce and Turkuaz when they were looking for a singer, and those guys recommended me. I guess you can say the rest is history. The guys from The Motet had me collaborate on a couple of songs, which turned out to be the songs on the Totem album and we vibed so well that shortly after that, they asked me to join them on tour, starting with a headlining show at Red Rocks with the likes of Vulfpeck and Medeski Martin and Wood. At that time, I was skeptical about leaving my goals as a solo soul singer, but I knew I couldn’t pass up that kind of offer. I think I made the right decision,” he laughs.  

The Motet.

The Motet.

And that he did! For Lyle, the most exciting part of becoming the lead singer of The Motet was exactly the Colorado vibe I mentioned earlier. As he says, “Being able to come into that built-in grassroots, home legacy, and to be welcomed so deeply and quickly, I think, is a really special thing about this band and the Colorado scene in general. The Colorado lifestyle, the Colorado excitement, the Colorado loyalty and investment in music; the music experience and culture created around this community is my favorite part.” 

Lyle grew up on R&B, hip-hop, and soul. His dad, Phil, was his biggest influence. “Yeah I got these pipes from my dad. He ended up choosing the home route and he’s been a teacher his whole life, but while I was growing up, he would play gigs on the weekends and at home, he would have friends come over who would play guitar and sing and I would be around all of that.” 

How he chose to be a singer by profession was a purely instinctive inclination. “I never took any singing lessons, but I grew up around it and was really good at listening. When I finally got old enough to be left alone around the house when I was about 12 or 13 years old, I started singing by myself. But even then, I was just kind of doing it for fun. I didn’t really start becoming serious about singing until I was 17 when I realized a basketball career for a slow, barely-six-foot-tall white guy who can hadrly dunk wasn’t going anywhere. Naturally, I chose the next most successful job placement and that was to be a soul singer,” he laughs. And honestly, we both laugh at that one, but sometimes a strong dedication to what feels right, despite the odds, pays off. So far, in Lyle’s case, it’s been a successful ride that shows no signs of stopping. 

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Lyle and I spent a little time talking about The Motet’s history and how the feel, sound and direction of the band has changed over the years. On that topic he says, “The coolest thing about The Motet’s history is a supreme lack of fear in constantly changing. There’s no thought of trying to build walls or boxes around who the band is. It started as a worldly music with heavy bass and percussion, then moved into afro-jazz and afro-beat, then it went straight funk and right now, with the configuration of the people in the band like Parris on the trombone, Drew with a reggae vibe, and me with a heavy R&B and soul influence… it was inevitable for the band to journey more into that realm than ever before.” 

Parris Fleming, who Lyle mentioned, is also the newest addition to the band. Only 27 years old, he is truly a breath of fresh air for the band as a whole. He took Jazz Instrumental studies at Columbia College in Chicago and played in Dumpstaphunk before joining The Motet. Adds Lyle, “We all feel really lucky to have Parris in the band. He is a superb musician, but he also brings some calm energy to the group. To be only 27 years old and to be such a mature and well-rounded, calm, and confident dude is pretty amazing.” The age range of the band members of The Motet is 27 to 51, a nice mix of experiences where everyone has something worthwhile to bring to the table. 

As far as the band’s live performances, they don’t seem to be stopping. The Motet will be doing the weekend warrior thing this year, playing shows every weekend from now until Thanksgiving. Even though the band’s been on a headlining streak at music festivals and big venues across the nation for several years now, their out-of-the-box approach to making music is unwavering. Staying as a cohesive whole, made of different parts, their performances remain engaging and aspire to connect and impress every time. “We really don't want to box ourselves in. Everything we write and create we want to be genuine. It comes from all of our inspirations coming together and we all have different influences that we bring to the table. As we present that music to the audience we know that we want to create an experience and we know that we want to take the people on a journey, whether that’s to give them the freedom to be as weird and wonderful as they want to be or to nerd out to Garrett Sayers being the most ridiculous bass player and Joey Porter being the funkiest dude ever… you know, we want to create moments and scenarios with the music are very proud of and share it with the audience.” says Lyle.

As for their upcoming headlining Red Rocks show this Friday, they're playing with Galactic and Moon Hooch. Lyle is pretty stoked, saying, “Headlining Red Rocks, once again, is such a dream come true. You hear people always say, ‘Oh man that is such a cool venue!’ And yeah, they’re not wrong! It never gets old and it’s a magical experience, one I am honored to be a part of. This time around, we will have a few special guests and it will be a non-stop-funk-filled dance party. It’s really what we try to do every time and what we do best. The band as a whole is in a really cool place right now. It just feels like there’s something special happening within the group and the music we’re playing. I think it’s undoubtedly going to show in our live performance.” 

As far as magic goes, the dudes of The Motet are also playing during a magical time of the year: summer in Colorado! You can buy tickets for The Motet’s Red Rocks show here while they last. I look forward to seeing you out there!   

-Mirna

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

"When Your Axe is at its Sharpest, it's Time to Lay it Down." - Wild Faith Serenades Longmont at Rosalee's Pizzeria

By: Moriel O'Connor

If you are searching for the sounds of music, you will strike gold in Boulder, Colorado. The Pearl Street Mall is well-dressed in street performers, everflowing fountains, sculptures over sandstone, and manicured beds of marigolds, daisies and tulips. You are almost certain to stumble upon a wandering musician. Some pass by; some choose to listen. This is where I met Leonardo Armigo of Wild Faith

Wild Faith.

Wild Faith.

With long curls, a sweet smile and a guitar in hand, he played for the people of Pearl Street busking. After catching him up and down the road, he invited me to his recent show at Rosalee's Pizzeria in Longmont, Colorado.

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Leo is a storyteller with impeccable rhythm and musical talent. His songs show an appreciation for sacred places and all aspects of nature, including the human experience and all its vulnerabilities. While he sings, passion rings through his voice and medicine moves through his fingers. Wild Faith is rooted in the Southwest, with Apache, Comanche, Spanish and  Mediterranean ancestry. Leo has been performing for over 15 years. He recently traveled through Peru and brought back stories to sing. Throughout his performance, Leo spoke for the land with lyrics and reminders such as:

"The example we set is the destruction we heal."

"When you're axe is at its sharpest, it's time to lay it down."

"When there is wonder, there is a way."

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Wild Faith donates 50% of his album sales to Amazon Watch, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the Amazon rainforest and the rights and cultures of the indigenous. You can support the Amazon and purchase Wild Faith's album, The Longest Journey- An Acoustic Experience here. Find him at Arise Festival in Loveland, Colorado this August and Tribal Visions in Taos, New Mexico this September. If you're lucky, you might even hear his heart songs on Boulder’s Pearl Street. 

Keep up with Wild Faith here

-Moriel

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

Westword Music Showcase's 25th Anniversary Brought Together Artists, Friends & Powerful Frontwomen

By: Taylor Naiman

On Saturday, the Westword Music Showcase overtook the streets of Denver’s Golden Triangle. Though it was a 97-degree day with the sun overhead at all times, everyone had a beer in hand and seemed to be unbothered by the heat. People were happy and excited just to hear some brand new music from local and national artists alike. From the bars to the clubs, there were plenty of venues along Broadway and Lincoln Street to escape the heat while enjoying some good tunes. Rather than occupying a bunch of stages outside, Westword Music Showcase nurtures local businesses, with a majority of the sets taking place at various bars and clubs including Bar Standard, Stoney’s, 100% De Agave, Mirus Gallery, #VYBE, Club Vinyl and The Church. This amalgamation of local businesses and bands allowed people to discover new venues, new music, and new people along the way.

Bishop Briggs. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Bishop Briggs. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, this one-day music festival is a staple of the Denver community. It has been a successful launch-pad for many local artists over the years, including the likes of DeVotchKa and 3OH!3. This year, we caught some big-name acts such as Jai Wolf, Bishop Briggs, Yasi and CHVRCHES, among others on the main stages. Bishop Briggs was a fan-favorite, with her powerhouse voice and contagious smile. The last time she was in Denver was for her set at the now defunct Grandoozy. At Westword, Briggs was loving every minute of her Mile High set, running from one end of the stage to the next, unphased by the altitude or the heat. The audience was treated to some of her new music, while also hearing  the entirety of her Church of Scars album. 

CHRVCHES. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

CHRVCHES. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Denver Westword’s Music Showcase presents an essential platform for artists to share their craft and tell their story. Music delivers a message and over the day, we heard a lot of stories Denver’s local rock’n’roll band Los Mocochetes used their music to address today’s political issues, such as immigration. At the end of their set, they told us, “Dance is a form of prayer.” We definitely love our music out here in Colorado, and it was a blast to see the differing forms of expression coming from the artists and concert-goers.

Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Westword Music Showcase is all about supporting the local scene, and thrives on the concept of concert-goers discovering the unknown or what may be an undiscovered talent. The Showcase this year was jam-packed with a culmination of genres curated for diverse tastes. Throughout the day, it was nice walking the grounds, running into friends having a drink together. This fest is a “squad up and see that new band you have not heard of” type of event. It thrives on the idea to not listen to one type of genre, but rather to branch out and hear a new voice. The beauty of this Showcase is that you will, without a doubt, discover a new musician or band to follow on Spotify

The Velveteers. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

The Velveteers. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Whether rocking out to Cheap Perfume or The Velveteers, it was a breath of fresh air seeing Colorado frontwomen take charge and own the stage. The festival also featured a number of strong national female acts, including Lauren Eve Mayberry, the lead singer of CHVRCHES, and aforementioned Bishop Briggs.

If you didn’t get the chance to go to Westword Music Showcase this year, listen to their festival playlist here! We’re already looking forward to Westword’s 2020 announcement. 

See more photos from this festival here.

-Taylor 

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

Color Red Studios Releases Dragondeer's Latest Digital 45 Record

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Denver’s own Southern-funk disco-blues band Dragondeer dropped a digital 45 earlier this month with two tracks featuring bassist Jeff Franca from Thievery Corporation and guitarist Jordan Lint from Analog Son. The band dove into deep sonic territories during their Color Red Studios session. Color Red is a Denver-based record label and music hub for local and visiting artists to collaborate and create music together. Self-proclaimed to be “more than just a record label, Color Red is; a music scene, a curated artist group, a media outlet, a studio, a genre-fluid music platform, a global launch pad of ideas.”

From the Color Red sessions, Dragondeer’s two new tracks are a true testament to the above statement. “Mirage Á Trois” has a cool-cat sexy vibe that grooves, but listen closer and you’ll hear it’s really talking about the delusional traps one’s own mind can create, you know, the me, myself, and I kind of mind tricks that suck you in and leave you wandering in an illusion. “Max Patch,” a more upbeat, carefree funk groove, is a jam session among the bandmates during their stay at a mountain cabin on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. Equal parts soul and rock’n’roll, the lyrics speak to the easy vibes of sipping on moonshine and jamming with family and friends while fluffy white clouds pass above a Smoky Mountains cabin. The boys sure did paint quite the scene and ambiance with these two tracks.

Dragondeer has played with the likes of Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Shakey Graves, and Drive By Truckers; they’ve been at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival; and now the band is hitting the road for a summer tour. They will be making appearances at the Firefly Music Festival and Electric Forest (with The String Cheese Incident). Click here for Dragondeer’s full tour dates.

-Mirna

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

Professor Plumb’s "Pleiades" Is Brought to Life in an Epic, Animated Space Odyssey

By: Adam Cabrera

In Professor Plumb’s new music video, their psych-rock song “Pleiades” is brought to life in an epic, animated space odyssey. 

Composed by bandleader Benom Plumb and animated by Jeremy Brown, the blazing rock’n’roll instrumental is illustrated into an adventure out of the solar system and across the galaxy to the distant star cluster known as the Pleiades. 

The track, which was first released in 2018 on their Majic 12 EP, is an example of the band’s compositional side. Plumb argues, “I've always thought of myself as more of a composer, than an artist. So at this very early stage in my solo music journey, it's an important part of my overall sound and style.” 

As for the video itself, Plumb was inspired by an old astrological myth while stargazing one night at his home. “My backyard faces south,” Plumb explains, “and on the clearest winter night, the Pleiades can be seen near Orion. There's a ton of legend and mystery surrounding the Pleiades… that's when I came up with the idea for the video.” Planetary alignment, end-of-the-world prophecies, and other science fiction can be found all over Professor Plumb’s other work in songs like “Red Sky” or “Dark Star,” and this new music video is no exception. 

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Plumb took his ideas to Brown, initially picturing a fleet of alien spaceships headed home to their star in the Pleiades. However, according to Plumb, they decided to remove the ships in favor of something more visually abstract while still trying to allude to the idea of an advanced alien civilization. In place of spaceships, Brown came up with the concept of an outer space “megastructure.”

“Visually, it’s a hodgepodge of concept art from all over the internet and from some of my favorite sci-fi films, TV shows, and games,” Brown says about the music video’s final image of a Dyson sphere (a colossal space structure built to harness the energy of a star). 

Fueled by Professor Plumb’s high-energy space-rock performance, Brown describes the final cut as “a hyper-real, first-person journey to a distant part of the galaxy” and a “mysterious galactic tour guide.” 

Check out the full interview below if you’re interested in learning more about Professor Plumb, Pleiades, and the creative production behind the video. You can also check out the new video on Professor Plumb's website where you can find more of their music along with more information about the band. They’ll be performing live at Denver’s Underground Music Showcase happening July 26th to July 28th and are also planning to release a lyric video for their new song “Take That!” sometime soon.

Professor Plumb.

Professor Plumb.

In your previous work there is a big emphasis on political or societal themes like in last years Midnight Creep lyric video or this years single Red Sky. But, with Pleiades being an instrumental it seems that you’ve decided to put an emphasis on more of the space rock / psychedelic side of the band. Is this the case or does the song represent more to you as the writer? 

BP: Yes, that's definitely the case with “Pleiades.” I've always thought of myself as more of a composer, than an artist. Pleiades was an opportunity for me to display my compositional side and cosmic wonder. 

What was the reason behind naming the song “Pleiades?” And, What made you decide to produce a music video for this song in particular?

BP: Sometimes I daydream about what it would be like to travel to a constellation that can be seen from Earth with the naked eye. My backyard faces south and on the clearest winter night, the Pleiades can be seen near Orion. There's a ton of legend and mystery surrounding the Pleiades, so that sounded like a good one to visit to me. That's when I came up with the idea for the video. I listened to the song over and over with my eyes closed to try and visualize what an epic space travel video would look like. I relayed these ideas to Jeremy and he made it look even better than I imagined in my head. 

How does Pleiades compare to the rest of your catalog in terms of overall sound and style?

BP: Out of all the songs I've written, I think “Pleiades” is one of my favorites. I was always a fan of rock bands doing cool instrumentals and I had always wanted to do one myself. So at this very early stage in my solo music journey, it's an important part of my overall sound and style. I played most of the instruments on the track, so the overall sound of the recording is me. It hits all the points of my catalog so far: dark, mysterious and hopefully, keeping the listener's head bobbing. 

At the end of the video I noticed what looks like a Dyson sphere is pulled into the shot and I’m wondering what that might have to do with the song thematically? Or, just being a fan of science fiction myself, I’m curious if you have any big influences from the sci-fi genre that make their way into your music?

BP: The Dyson sphere is 100% Jeremy so I'll let him address that in more detail. I'm definitely a sci-fi nerd. The original idea of the video was to have some spaceships flying through space to go home to their star in the Pleiades. In production we removed the ships, but kept the idea of visiting a star of an advanced civilization. After talking through this idea, Jeremy came up with the "megastructure" around the starm similar to what scientists recently theorized could be surrounding a massive star observed in our galaxy. 

JB: It’s definitely inspired by a Dyson sphere, but I think a true one would completely encompass the entire star, the idea being that one could harness 100% of the star’s energy. Benom had wanted it to be clear that this star is home to an advanced civilization, and I can’t think of anything more advanced than an enormous space station surrounding a gargantuan star. Visually, it’s a hodgepodge of concept art from all over the internet, and from some of my favorite sci-fi films, TV shows, and games. The god rays and subtle flickering are definitely a nod to present day exo-planet detection techniques!

When I watch the video I can’t help but be reminded of trips to my local planetarium when I was younger and that natural fascination with outer space that most people have. How much does astronomy and maybe even astrology influence your music? And if so, has that been an interest of yours for a long time?

BP: Astronomy has been an interest of mine since I was a kid. I read and study astronomy as a personal hobby, so that has a huge influence for sure. As for astrology, I don't follow it for spiritual living, but I do have an interest in it. We see the marks of astrology all throughout history and that events have coincided when the planets and stars align into certain positions. That's basically what “Red Sky” was about, when Earth sees this dreadful winged planet in its skies, it means destruction is at hand. It's subtle, but this mysterious winged planet from Red Sky makes an appearance in the “Pleiades” video, just as we exit our solar system and before we go into light speed. 

Jeremy, have you worked on any other music videos in the past? If so, how much or how little did your previous experience influence the final product?

JB: This is the first music video I’ve worked on professionally. Earlier in my career, I did a few personal music-related projects here and there, but nothing to this scale. Music videos are a lot different than narrative film, which is primarily my background, in that the music should still take center stage and drive the visuals. Throughout the process, Benom and I wanted to make sure that the visual complexity and intensity ramped up or down based on the energy and beat of the music. I’d like to think that the video helps you hear the song more powerfully so that it makes more of an impact. Furthermore, with an instrumental song like “Pleiades,” I think it’s especially powerful to give the listener an idea of what inspired the music in the first place.

How involved were you with developing the idea for the video? Or, how much of the video was your own creative input compared to Benom?

JB: The creative process was very much a collaborative effort between Benom and myself. The original idea and the initial brief were provided to me early on, and I developed some concept art and storyboards. After that, it was a consistent back and forth between the two of us. For example, we both knew the hyperspace effect was going to be a big part of the video, so that’s one of the first things I began working on, and it went through many iterations before it became what you see in the video. Benom is probably the best client an artist can ask for; his feedback is not only clear and visionary, but also practical and actionable. We both brought our ideas to the table and we saw eye to eye on just about everything. When we did have some differing opinions, we reached compromises that satisfied us both.

Do you have a particular style of animation that you like to brand yourself with or do you not like to box yourself in? Is there a personal animation style that characterizes the video?

JB: This is a difficult question for me to answer, but a great one! Professionally, my background is in post-production for live-action film. Working as a digital compositor (think green screens and CG characters) for 8 years before coming to Colorado, I rarely got to exercise my own creativity beyond the very limited freedom given to me by my supervisors and directors. In other words, my style was the style of whomever was signing my paychecks! I suppose I’d have to say that my “style” is invisible visual effects that aren’t supposed to be noticed… now that I’m in a position to be creative in my own right is that no, I don’t have a style that I like to brand myself with… yet! 

What was the initial idea behind this music video? Did that idea change or develop in the production process? And, did it come out how you had hoped?

BP: The initial idea was to have some spaceships flying through space and time to go home to their star in the Pleiades. The idea did change. For example, in production we removed the ships, but kept the idea of visiting a star of an advanced civilization. It came out amazing and I appreciate Jeremy's patience with me during the process. 

JB: After 40+ iterations, it changed quite a bit in some ways, but stayed true to the original idea in all the ways that count. One thing that we eventually cut was the ship itself. At first, I think we both felt it was really important, but after some feedback that Benom got, we realized that the ship was a distraction that kept viewers from being able to enjoy the rest of the frame. Another example that kind of went the other way, was that originally, the solar system fly-through was much shorter. After a few versions, it became very clear that there’s only so many ways you can make hyperspace, galaxies and stars look different before it starts to get a little boring. So, we decided to give more weight to the solar system at the beginning. In the end, I think it was a great choice for the overall pacing of the video.

One thing I liked in particular about the video is the simplicity and far-outness of it. Was that a creative choice either of you made or maybe a stylistic choice?

BP: I believe it was a mutual creative and stylistic choice. We both imagined a sort of light speed tunnel, like from Star Wars, but more transparent so we could imagine all the galaxies flying by, but all the while, the Pleiades is still forefront in our center vision as a reminder of the destination. 

I also notice how the video throws out a lot of common music video tropes and opts for a more abstract approach. How do you think the video compares to the usual rock video format?

BP: I felt the music really just lent itself to something artistically abstract. I suppose the usual rock format is mostly all about the band, the look, the ego, etc. That's not wrong in any respect, I like to see the band too. However, this is about taking people on a trip for two and a half minutes and the audience has no idea, nor do they care, what the band looks like or who they are. I like that about this video. It's just all about the music and artistic creative expression. 

Are there any upcoming plans for the band that people should know about? What’s this summer look like for Professor Plumb?

PB: I'm releasing a new song and lyric video soon titled, “Take That!,” which hits on the heightened state of paranoia and divisions growing in the U.S. and around the world. I'll also be performing at The Underground Music Showcase, date, time and venue TBD. This set will be cool and different because it will be a rock duet. I'll be performing on bass/vocals with John Demitro (The Velveteers; Pink Fuzz) on electric guitar. 

Keep up with Professor Plumb here.

-Adam

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

Death Cab For Cutie Proved Their Legendary Place in Indie at Recent Red Rocks Show

By: Zach Dahmen 

Growing up in Washington State in the early aughts, Death Cab for Cutie was an indie darling. Along with The Postal Service, Death Cab dominated college dorm rooms and every pair of lonely high schooler’s headphones. After personally embracing their latest album Thank You For Today, I wanted to see for myself if Death Cab still held that same relevance at their recent Red Rocks show.

Death Cab for Cutie. Photo Credit:   Courtney Farrell

Death Cab for Cutie. Photo Credit: Courtney Farrell

MITSKI kicked off the night as direct support. Her avant-garde pop was a bold choice for an opener with the lineup. Dancing on top of a white table and chair with knee pads, she made a statement that could have been sponsored by IKEA. Her onstage aesthetics aside, this will be an artist to continue to watch. She definitely defied the indie-loving audience’s expectations.

Death Cab for Cutie began with many songs from their latest effort, showcasing their writing for the first time without the support of their longtime bandmate and producer, Chris Walla. Their single “Summer Years” especially harkens back to older efforts like “The Photo Album.” This is a band where it’s easy to forget that their catalog spans over twenty years. Weaving deftly through their discography at Red Rocks, a song or record stood for every era of fan.  

Frontman Ben Gibbard has shown real growth in his ability to blend musical prowess with lyrical poignancy; this shone ever-brightly in their live performance. On “Thank You,” he integrated his repertoire, including his career-defining album Give Up with The Postal Service. Gibbard spent years moving away from the personal toward the craft indie classics. He mines from his greatest strengths as a songwriter from the deeper part of Death Cab’s collection, while also embracing what feels fresh. The addition of two full-time band members, Dave Depper and Zac Rae, fleshed out the band’s sound on guitar and keys respectively, creating the ability for expansiveness in the band’s live elements. 

The band appears to be at peace in regard to where they fit in the current musical landscape. Gibbard verbalized so many times how grateful they were for the crowd, and for the opportunity to play Red Rocks. Their two-hour set ended on a blissfully melancholy quartet of songs, including “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” “When We Drive,” “Tiny Vessels.” and ''Transatlanticism.” The latter was moving; a rare treat to hear live. And “I Will Follow You” was a side note that reminded you Death Cab still gets played on adult contemporary radio twenty times a day. 

Death Cab for Cutie. Photo Credit:   Courtney Farrell

Death Cab for Cutie. Photo Credit: Courtney Farrell

If there was a question on their relevance, Death Cab for Cutie sold-out a Tuesday night show at Red Rocks. One need only look at the massive crowd swinging to every word of Gibbard’s bobbling sway for proof. Death Cab hit their mark by being a band that once charged $5 a show, to filling the world’s most iconic arenas. They did all of this without sacrificing what made them great. They presented themselves as the elder statesmen of indie, which is exactly what they have become.

See more photos from this show at this link; keep up with Death Cab for Cutie here

-Zach

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

Dizzy Wright Ended His Recent Tour in Denver with a Nipsey Hussle Tribute & More

By: Moriel O'Connor

If you were like me, you spent your high school days hotboxing in your friend’s Pontiac while banging rap music on back roads. It seemed more badass back then, when you had to steer clear of the cops and put in eyedrops before going back to physics class. Now, cannabis is easy to get ahold of, and you don’t have to worry about the CD scratching and skipping over your favorite lines. Still, there is nothing like lighting up and getting down.

Dizzy Wright.

Dizzy Wright.

For real, name a more iconic duo than weed and hip hop. I’ll wait. Dizzy Wright gets this, and he’s even got his own strain. He rolls his own blunts and keeps it real. Cruising to Colorado from his hometown of Las Vegas, he finished off his recent tour at Cervantes’ last weekend.

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During his set, Dizzy praised to be “a mile high,” saying Denver was his favorite city to visit. He also paid respect to Nipsey Hussle. Dizzy’s music stands out from most modern day rap with authenticity and truth. He is an independent artist whose lyrics and spirit show passion and integrity, encouraging others to take back their power. Dizzy’s been rapping since he was a child and recently released his album, Nobody Cares, Work Harder, collabing with Mozzy, Tech N9ne, Berner, Curren$y, Jarren Benton and Demrick.

So if you weren’t at Cervantes’ this last weekend, or even if you were, roll up, view my shots from the show, and listen to Dizzy’s latest album here. Much love. 

-Moriel

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