Kayla Marque’s “Love Should Be” Video Is a Kaleidoscopic Expression of Self Love

By: Yoni G (Yugs)

Kayla Marque is a Denver native R&B singer/songwriter who has been performing and putting out her own music in the Denver scene for the last 10 years. She has released two singles from her upcoming double album Brain Chemistry (Left Brain/Right Brain). Her first single “Fold in Half” represents her left brain, most commonly associated with analytical thinking, and her most recent single, “Love Should Be,” represents her right brain, the creative thinking side. Where “Fold in Half” is grounded in reality both musically and aesthetically in its black and white video, the video for “Love Should Be”, an official selection at the 2019 Denver Film Festival, is bursting with color and kaleidoscopic imagery, a fitting match for the song’s ethereal production and tone. 

Kayla Marque. Photo Credit: Raleigh Gambino.

Kayla Marque. Photo Credit: Raleigh Gambino.

In describing her song, Kayla Marque relayed recently, “I wrote ‘Love Should Be’ years ago when I realized I actually had no idea what love was… When you truly love someone, whether its a relative, friend, partner, or most importantly yourself, that means you love them beyond beauty-- you love them when things are hard.” On this note both visually and musically, Marque’s song lets the listener feel the wonder and complexity associated with the feeling of love. As Marque sings, “Love should feel like water/Taste like chocolate/Burn like fire/Be the answer” to start off the song, her outfit and hair changes from blue to black to red and finally to white, each emphasizing a different type of her own beauty. 

Shot in the Paint Mines outside of Calhan in El Paso Country by director Mara Whitehead, the video utilizes mirror and kaleidoscopic effects on the stunning natural sights to give the viewer the feeling like they are lost in a beautiful psychedelic maze. The images swells together with Kayla Marque’s celestial voice and airy production which includes atmospheric synths, electric guitars, and minimal drums which echo with a resounding reverb. “Love Should Be” is a vulnerable and empowering expression and exploration of unconditionally loving every part of yourself; the calm, sweet, and fiery parts alike. 

Photo Credit: Thomas Crandall.

Photo Credit: Thomas Crandall.

Stay tuned for Kayla Marque’s Brain Chemistry (Left Brain/Right Brain), and check out “Love Should Be” at the Denver Film Festival tomorrow, Thursday, November 7 at 9:30PM at Sie FilmCenter; this Saturday, November 9 at 7PM at UA Pavilions; or Sunday, November 10 at 4PM at Lyric in Fort Collins. 

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

Magical Moon Hammer Musketeers Release Latest Single "Slackjaw"

By: Julia Talen

The magnetic, musical mash-up, Moon Hammer, releases their sixth single, “Slackjaw,” today: a rhythmic, soulful, psychedelic song that showcases every facet of these artists’ talent. This ever-evolving and self-proclaimed “ragtag supergroup of Moon Magneteers” is made up of some of Denver’s best musicians including Sean Dandurand & Dylan Johnson (Dandu/Other Black/Retrofette), Ishka Bee Phoenix (Ghost Tapes), Megan Crooks (Ancient Elk/Other Black), Jeremy Averitt (Esmé Patterson), Neil Lyons, Kevin Netz (Yonbre), & Reed Fox (déCollage/Bun Bun). 

Mixed and mastered at Moon Magnet Studios, “Slackjaw” seamlessly melds different bits of the aforementioned artists’ musical styles. From Ishka Bee Phoenix and Megan Crooks’ soulful vocals to the electric dance vibes from Reed Fox or the mellow traces of Jeremy Averitt, this track balances and mixes all sorts of influence into the delicious musical potion that is “Slackjaw.”

Moon Hammer. Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Moon Hammer. Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

“Slackjaw” begins with a funky, percussive melody on piano and vocals that immediately evoked Janelle Monae. Shortly after the first verse, the “magneteers,” begin to drop in and add layers of their musical style and genre-casting body into the tune. Soon Phoenix and Crooks begin harmonizing (evocative of Ibeyi), spewing impeccable lyrics that detail themes embedded in this song: inner demons, shadows of the self, and haunting pasts. At this point, listeners are wrapped up in the refrain, “I walk three steps behind you/I walk too far to measure… I walk now.”

About midway through this song a distance from the rhythmic, funky first half begins to form as the “I walks” become echoey, meandering in the distance, and the vocals begin to sound like the inner demon the song speaks to. The edges of the tune become fuzzier as psychedelic/synthy elements develop while the song continues. 

Artwork by Ishka Bee Phoenix.

Artwork by Ishka Bee Phoenix.

The track then circles back from that murky distance, but there is a residual strangeness from that section of the tune, now blending with sounds that the song started with as the song closes. 

Ishka Bee Phoenix says that the writing process of this eclectic group of artists unfolds when “we all get together and drink shitty beer and laugh and hug and give each other butterfly kisses and sometimes cry, until someone asks, ‘Hey whatcha got?’ And the ideas just tumble out.”

The track embodies such a process effortlessly, without feeling overdone or too busy. There is a feeling of exquisite alchemy in this tune: everything fits, it draws you in deep and muddles your mind with that Moon Hammer magic.

If you’re hooked on this track like I am, see Moon Hammer’s recent live performance on PBS Sound here, and keep up with the moon magneteers at this link.

-Julia

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

TOOL Returned to Denver for 'Fear Inoculum' & It Was Everything We Hoped It Would Be

By: Trey Karson

If you’re a fan of TOOL, you’ve probably been patiently standing by for new music from the iconic psychedelic/progressive rock group for quite some time. Thirteen years to be exact. The group, consisting of Maynard James Keenan (vocals), Adam Jones (lead guitar), Justin Chancellor (bass guitar), and Danny Carey (drums), released their long awaited studio album Fear Inoculum in late August of this year alongside a U.S. tour supported by Killing Joke to finally bring the fans the new tunes and spectacular live shows they are so known for. Denver was lucky enough to be placed as the first show of the tour and sold out in less than ten minutes, prompting the band to announce a second concert at Denver’s Pepsi Center just one day after the first. With the line to get inside the venue a block long on either side, and merch flying off the table like hotcakes, it’s no surprise that TOOL’s return was everything we’d hoped for and more. 

TOOL.

TOOL.

Opening up the night was the old-school London rockers Killing Joke. Performing hits such as “Eighties” and “Love Like Blood” like they just came out yesterday, the energetic band warmed up the Denver crowd and got everyone on their feet. Rocking out for just under an hour, the ravenous crowd was finally ready for the main event: TOOL.

TOOL.

TOOL.

Cheers of anticipation reached earthquake-causing levels as drummer Danny Carey began the haunting start of “Fear Inoculum” to the sold out crowd of 18,000 Denver fans. As each member of the band entered view, the screams only got louder, until finally all four of the fabled musicians were full-blown in the zone as if they’d never left. Behind a curtain of tassel, the group ripped through song after song, ranging from brand new releases including “Pneuma” and “Chocolate Chip Trip” to classics like “The Pot” and “Vicarious.” Maynard’s incredibly controlled and haunting vocals paired with his mysterious stage presence were undoubtedly a highlight for many fans, while both Adam and Justin flowed almost seamlessly with the drums Danny threw down. 

TOOL is not only known for their ancient and mystical sound, but also for their absolutely mind blowing live visuals unmatched by anyone else, and this go-around is no exception. Intricate lights, lasers, screen graphics, and a massive moving heptagram hovering above the stage were a staple of the night that left fans both audibly and visually astounded. In classic TOOL fashion, a strict no cell phone policy was in place for every concert goer, however after their hour and a half set and a short intermission, Maynard allowed the audience to pull out phones and record the last song of the night “Stinkfist,” much to the crowd’s delight. 

TOOL will always have a special place in music history, and we are incredibly blessed to be able to watch them perform almost 30 years since they began. Best of luck on the rest of the tour gentleman!

See TOOL in a city near you- tickets here. More photos from this show at this link.

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.

Yugs Makes Music to Soothe Your Mind & Unwind From the 9-5 Grind

By: Chris Garcia

“Music to close your eyes and smile to” and “dreamy grounded psychedelic lo-fi beats” are a few ways Denver-based producer, Yugs, describes his music. His latest album, People and Places, is a set of tracks that are reminiscent of a sunrise. The latest single from the album, titled, “Closed Eyes Smiling,” is a refreshing two and a half minute track where Yugs encourages listeners to be still for a moment, not with lyrics but with sound. 

Mixed with nature sounds, acoustics and electronic textures, “Closed Eyes Smiling” is a refreshing track. Upon first listen, the chirping crickets create a tone meant for reflection, as if you are quietly watching the stars up above. The acoustic guitar strums, ever so lightly, not to disturb your thoughts but to slow them down for you to be mindful. After about a minute, right when you begin settling into the acoustics, a light drum comes in from afar adding a beat that keeps the track flowing along. An electronic texture follows suit with a simple melody that sounds almost hidden. Listeners really have to be present in the music to hear the electronic texture or it can go unnoticed. It reinforces the purpose of the track: to be mindful. The song then ends how we began the journey, with crickets chirping and a simple guitar strum.

Yugs.

Yugs.

In a world that is moving faster than lightning, it can be hard to gain peace of mind from the hustle and bustle of this thing called life; always something to do, money to make, people to see. It can feel never ending. Yugs has the music to soothe your mind and unwind from the 9-5 grind. Yugs sends us back off into the world, hoping we stopped to smell the roses, or in this case, stopped to listen to his latest single. 

Keep up with Yugs here. 

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

Music is Good For the Soul, But Our Musicians Are Struggling

The first week of October each year is Mental Illness Awareness Week. It is a time dedicated to advocating for better mental health care, spreading awareness about the widespread prevalence of mental illness, and fighting the stigma that is often associated with mental health. Despite how far-reaching mental illness is, people who suffer are often met with misunderstanding and a lack of adequate mental health care.

Musicians are no exception to suffering from mental illness. It is no secret that living the life of an artist can be challenging, but if music is supposed to be good for the soul, why do so many musicians struggle with mental illness? After all, music has the ability to calm the mind and allow people to relate to circumstances that they are going through. Many people also promote the healing effects of music therapy for behavioral health. If music is really that good for health, musicians should be some of the healthiest individuals on the planet. However, this misconception couldn’t be more wrong. 

The 73 Percent Report

The Record Union conducted a survey of 1,500 independent musicians asking them about their mental health. Unfortunately, the results were staggering. The study found that 73% of independent musicians claimed to have experienced difficulties with their mental health - including stress, anxiety, and depression. In addition, 33% claimed to have experienced panic attacks and 69% suffer from depression. 

Although the numbers of musicians who struggle with mental illness are devastating, only 39% sought treatment for their symptoms. Similarly, only 33% of struggling musicians aged 18-25 sought mental health care. On the other hand, 50% claimed that they self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

These numbers are substantially higher among musicians than they are among the general population. The National Alliance of Mental Illness reports that 1 in 5 U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2018. In conclusion, musicians are far more likely to suffer from mental illness than the general population. This poses the question: If music is commonly used as a form of holistic therapy, and is so good for the soul, why are so many musicians suffering?

635921601953543364528239550_music-brain.jpg

Musicians and Mental Illness

Many well-known artists have also spoken up about how mental illness has affected them. One of them, who is constantly in the media, is Demi Lovato. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2011 and has struggled with substance abuse as well. Unfortunately, co-occurring mental illness and addiction are not uncommon. After all, people who suffer from mental illness are twice as likely to suffer from substance abuse, and nearly 50% of people with a substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental illness. In fact, we hear about co-occurring disorders among musicians all the time, from Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and Mac Miller, just to name a few. 

While many artists struggle with it, sometimes to death, others use it as a method of empowerment. Take Kanye West, for example. He claims that his mental health condition is more like a superpower- it fuels his creativity. In addition, Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi, and J. Cole have also openly spoken up about having depression. Instead of fighting it or letting their mental health silence them, they speak out to encourage others to share their experiences with one another. Regardless of how musicians deal with their mental illness, the list of artists who struggle with their mental health is endless. 

Culture Shock

If you’ve ever moved to a new country, or from a big city to a small town, you are familiar with the term culture shock. It refers to a feeling of disorientation someone experiences when he or she is suddenly exposed to an unfamiliar way of life, culture, or attitudes. Culture shock can occur as a musician takes a leap into the spotlight. Between the stress of trying to get a big break in the industry, the constant criticism from producers, crowds, and media alike, the anxiety of performing, and the overwhelming fans that refuse to back off, it is no wonder that problems with mental health can take a serious toll on the well being of artists. 

The music industry is brutal, and many will spend years making the effort to achieve their dreams just to be told they aren’t good enough. Negative emotions can trigger self-doubt, depression, and even poor decision making. 

On the other hand, there are the ones who finally break through the industry into the spotlight. First, there are the media, following, dissecting, and often criticizing every decision made by artists. While there is plenty of good publicity, it is way more common to see bad publicity arise when a star is less than perfect. The media and the fans sometimes idolize the stars, dehumanizing them and expecting them to behave impeccably. These ideas put a lot of pressure on celebrities.

On top of the media and overwhelming fans, there also comes the pressure of performing. When performing, the stress response is heightened, provoking a fight or flight response that leads to increased awareness and adrenaline levels. Sometimes, this makes for better performances. For others, however, prolonged stress can lead to panic attacks and long-term anxiety. 

The combination of stress, lack of privacy, and pressure that comes from being a famous artist can lead many to self-medicate or neglect seeking appropriate treatment to care for their mental health. It is clear that the climate of the music industry can be toxic for some, so what can be done to improve it?

Something Needs to Change

Any great change takes time. The media isn’t going to stop condemning mental breakdowns of artists any time soon. Fans aren’t going to stop idolizing stars just because we tell them to, and artists are always going to face pressure before putting on a performance. The good news is that some artists are speaking up about mental health. More and more people are beginning to show compassion for mental health rather than judgment. 

Johan Svanberg, CEO of Record Union, stated after publishing the 73 percent study, “It’s time to put the state of our artists’ mental health on the agenda, before streams and commercial success.” After all, the music industry is well aware of the toll that fame, fortune, and rejection alike takes on the mental health of artists. 

Instead of treating artists as a money-making product, they should be recognized as human beings who have feelings and needs. Record producers and managers should implement regular mental health checkups and take action to prioritize the mental health and well-being of their musicians. 

Similarly, fans and the general population should start speaking up about mental health, too. It is crucial to learn more about mental illness and how symptoms may appear in order to gain an understanding of what others may be going through. Most importantly, allow yourself to see the person, rather than the illness. Share your own story about your struggles with mental illness and how you have found healthy ways of coping. The more it is spoken about with compassion and understanding, the more awareness can be spread. Fighting the stigma of mental illness is essential to encouraging people who are suffering to get the help they need. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, reach out. You can call 1-800-622-HELP to speak with someone immediately. Learn more about this hotline here.

Additionally, if you’re one of our Colorado readers, consider joining the Mental Wellness Meetup and check out this Colorado Crisis Services website too.

Venture Into Spectra Art Space's Psychedelic Portal of Purgatory with Synesthesia This October

By: Chris Garcia

If its name Spookadelia doesn’t have you intrigued, then its exhibitions will. Described as a “psychedelic immersive art and theatrical experience,” the spectacle opens this Saturday, October 5th from 7PM-11PM and is presented by Spectra Art Space and Synesthesia. 

spookadelia-poster (1).jpg

Spectra Art Space is known for their contemporary art exhibitions and detailed immersive experiences which cultivate and inspire creativity, and Spookadelia will be no different. Guests who dare to enter will embark on a narrative-driven journey through otherworldly realms and planes of existence. There will be a variety of installations created by local artists including Lexi Lund & The PussayHaus collective (who built Natura Obscura), DAS who will be working with Denver’s Meow Wolf, and the Spectra Team, who have created installations for the Underground Music Showcase Odyssey.

Venture in and be guided through this psychedelic portal of purgatory into the world of the Spectra Specter. It’s unquestionable that the experience will captivate you as each room and section is an immersive, interactive and mind-bending voyage. Expect to be challenged on social and environmental issues, and explore the layers of the human psyche, all while participating in a fresh take on the haunted experience. The installations and experiences are sure to frighten, but will also be family-friendly. In addition, the spooktacular exhibition will feature performance artists curated by Kayla Smith, whose involvement in local theater includes working with Adams Mystery Playhouse and Fearless Theatre

Starting this Saturday, October 5th and running through November 3rd, dive deep into the unknown world of Spookadelia! Experience the art. Immerse yourself in a new haunted experience. Open your mind. Tickets will be available for a timed entry which will give you access to the installation for an hour on the date specified; purchase them here!

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

Retrofette's Smart New Tune Adds to Infectious Corpus of Sweet Synth Pop Tracks

By: Julia Talen

Synth-pop band, Retrofette’s latest single and music video, “A House,” was actually the first song frontman Sean Culliton wrote. The tune’s synthy melody sears deep as the song swells, evoking musicians like Talking Heads, Hot Chip, and LCD Soundsystem.

The video, directed and edited by Dead Medium, opens with the four bandmates (Sean Culliton, Xavier Provencher, Ben Weirich, and Dylan Johnson) standing in line in front of a white backdrop in matching white turtlenecks, bopping their heads. It’s a silly and uncomfortable frame. As the song kicks into gear, a variety of friends begin to build a “room” of a house around the bopping group, complete with typical household items like a couch, a rug, and some plants. Shots and cuts overlay one another at the house shifts over the course of the intro from clean to messied from the party.

When Culliton begins to sing, the band starts cleaning the encompassing space from the aftermath (emoji balloons, a flipped over lawn chair, and strewn confetti.) After the first verse, we see friends begin to build the “lawn” of the house with a strip of faux turf and a piece of picket fence. 

Culliton in the video for “A House.”

Culliton in the video for “A House.”

All the while Culliton sings lyrics like “We live in trees with crooked ends/With crooked lives that twist and turn and bend,” and belts “Stays the same.” Culliton shares that the dance hit calls forth the idea that, “We work all day just so we can party all night. It all becomes so routine that it’s hard to know if we actually like it.” This explains the bland faces of the bandmates and the visual surroundings cycling through: the house, the party, the house, the party.

The video culminates into a big bash where the band is encircled by a swaying group of friends in matching white shirt/black pants uniforms. Confetti explodes as everyone stares into monotony. The silver lining to this bleak, provocative commentary, Culliton notes, is that through all the tedium, at least there are friends. 

This smart new tune adds to Retrofette’s infectious corpus of sweet synth pop tracks. Hear this song and more at one of the groups upcoming shows, October 10th and 25th at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox or October 26 at Washington’s.

-Julia

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

BANKS Took Us Out of the Greyzone and Brought Us Into the Light at Recent Denver Show

By: Taylor Naiman

Last Thursday night, avant-pop singer Banks, a.k.a Jillian Rose Banks, brought her lighting ensemble and edgy synths to the Fillmore Auditorium for her III Tour. Named after her most recent album, III, she chose this particular moniker “to symbolize a lifecycle.” After a small hiatus since her last album, with this release it’s clear that Banks has honed in on her vision and what she values as an artist in this industry. 

BANKS. Photo Credit:   Luis Castro

BANKS. Photo Credit: Luis Castro

During her set, she took some time to share a beautiful poem she wrote called “Ode to the Greyzone,” and a quiet fell across the room. She added that this title was a potential contender for the album title before III was chosen. Banks does not define her chapters by a single word or title, but rather she wants to characterize it by the stage in life she is in. She has found an outlet through poetry and uses it to influence her songwriting. 

BANKS. Photo Credit:   Luis Castro

BANKS. Photo Credit: Luis Castro

Onstage, Banks was youthful and fun, with many people in the audience cheering, “I love her!” and “She is so cute!” Her Denver fans clearly appreciated this unique opportunity to gain a deeper insight into her spirit, personality, and the happiness she shared with the crowd while performing.

One captivating aspect of her performance was her light show; it appeared as though she was controlling it. Her light rig was other-worldly and vibrant, reminiscent of being in a hip, new nightclub where the lights constantly changed to match both the mood and tempo of every track. From the lights to the dancing, her set was purposeful. An emphasis of glow was placed on every color of the light spectrum, while Banks looked as if she was manipulating the placement of the light as she moved. Her movements guided these lights and she continued to influence their motion. Every component worked well in unison, and cohesively. Supported by her two matching backup dancers, there was a strong interpretive dance presence and a well-executed choreography.

BANKS. Photo Credit:   Luis Castro

BANKS. Photo Credit: Luis Castro

Banks’ set was sultry and undoubtedly classy. All of her dancers were dressed in black, and with a combination of lace and leather, Banks donned shiny thigh-high boots and a slicked-back bun. These fashion choices were definitely meant to look chic to match the edgy tones within her voice. 

BANKS. Photo Credit:   Luis Castro

BANKS. Photo Credit: Luis Castro

The audience was able to hear a vast and expansive setlist from a few of her singles, and her albums The Altar, Goddess and a majority from III. Her music gave us all the R&B and alt-pop feels, but it was nice to see both variety and a sense of evolution over the course of her releases. Some of the best tracks from her show included “Till Now,” “Gimme,” “Underdog,” “Waiting Game,” “Propaganda,” “Gemini Feed,” and “F*** With Myself.” And if you weren’t dancing along, did you even feel the groove? To balance the mood, she sprinkled in some slower tunes too, including “Better,” “Contaminated” and “Drowning,” among others. Her encore ended with “Beggin for Thread,” and even though she seemed slightly worn out by this time, the audience was still full, and appeared pleased with a great performance. With a powerful voice that exudes a combination of soul and harmony all by itself, Banks has a voice that has to be heard live to fully appreciate it. 

Head over to Spotify and follow Banks for some more seductive slow jams, and to hear some of our favorites. Her tour continues here.

-Taylor

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

Templo's New 'Mountains Can’t Cry' Features Naturescape Vibes, Reggae Beats & More

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Agreeing to review Templo’s newest EP Mountains Can’t Cry was a bit of a stretch for me; a test to see if I could get down with dub. Generally, I do not subject my ears to dubstep of any kind, but I made an exception this time out of pure curiosity, and to give the genre another chance because this EP was presented to me as an “ethnic dub album.” I like CloZee and I really like Beats Antique, Bonobo, Ott, and Dynohunter, none of whom are dub, but all of whom definitely know how to throw down some gooey good ethnic sounds. So here I was with Templo, and it did not disappoint!  

Though Mountains Can’t Cry certainly falls into the dubstep category, it is subtle, and filters through the ears without leaving you feeling like you just lost brain cells huffing glue, which is how most of the genre has left me feeling before. At the forefront of each of the six songs are naturescape vibes, reggae beats, and the aforementioned “ethnic” sounds.

The first two tracks on the EP have a Middle Eastern flare. “Magnetics,” has a more up-beat, daytime feel and “The Owl Watches,” turns a little darker and is seductive, with calls from night creatures accompanied by mesmerizing sounds resembling far-east wind instruments and maybe even a bit of Balkan folk. 

Templo.

Templo.

The third track, “Shot in the Dark,” is probably the most traditionally “dubby” track on the EP, with heavy reggae beats and a lot of record scratching. Not long after that, the fourth track reawakens the spirit with a playfulness reminiscent of video games from the early 2000s, and mixes in what sounds like Native American or African tribal chants. “They Gone,” the next to last track on Mountains Can’t Cry, is heavy with reggae vibes. The final track on the album, “RedShotScandal,” incorporates a lot of everything heard in the previous five tracks, but like a fireworks finale, it creates a loud explosion of light and sound only to fade into silence, smoke and gratification at the end. 

6zF99TSA.jpeg

Mountains Can’t Cry is built like a journey through naturescapes. It’s an easy and enjoyable listen that doesn’t even take thirty minutes to complete, and even as someone who wasn’t a fan before, I am confident you’ll like it whether you’re winding down the summer, or catching Templo live on tour this fall. 

Keep up with Templo here.

-Mirna

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist 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.

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.)

64933760_2495847343799000_1396818566904283136_o.jpg

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! 

64930913_2495855750464826_1967497906680233984_o.jpg

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.

64979078_621948414982508_7157330937406029824_n.jpg

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.

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.

59347709_10156484102567753_2061840565598683136_o.jpg

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.

Travers Brothership Return to Colorado After European Tour; Set to Play a Host of Local Shows

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Haling all the way from North Carolina, Travers Brothership will be gracing us with their unconventional, improv-driven live performance, playing gigs across Colorado this week. I had the privilege to chat with Kyle Travers, the guitar and one-third of the vocals of the band. Read on: 

Travers Brothership just finished their first European tour, and Kyle was pleased with the band’s shows abroad: “We were received really well, way better than I expected,” he says, “I think the Europeans are craving that homegrown American sound and because we have that jazz and rock’n’roll vibe, I think they really liked us. And some even knew who we were!” 

Travers Brothership.

Travers Brothership.

Kyle continues about the band’s current state saying, “It’s a somewhat unfathomable feeling to be where we are as a band at this point. Since we became more successful and were signed by Madison House, touring has become a serious part of our lives. I think all four of us love traveling, so being on the road is not a big deal. It’s a blast for me- I love adventure and meeting new people. But what’s really great about it is that we don’t have to do any side jobs anymore when we come home. It feels great not having to put up dry-wall or pick up a hammer or go work in a restaurant on our days off the road. Now, Eric and I will go play golf instead!”

Eric and Kyle Travers are twins. They were born into a musical family; their father Hurricane Bob Travers was a traveling, touring rock’n’roll musician.

“When we were about four years old, our dad gave us toy musical instruments. By the time we were seven, the toys were replaced with real instruments, and that’s really how it all began. Fast forward a few years; by the time we were 12 years old, we were playing biker bars and private events. I consider us really lucky to have had supportive parents who would drive us to these gigs when we were too young to go anywhere.” Kyle laughs. 

56242626_10156974196374373_1166617455234121728_n.jpg

Travers Brothership became a cohesive band when a group of friends, who happened to be neighbors, started jamming together in the Travers house basement. Kyle explains, “Eric and I didn’t want to be the focus of the group and we wanted to expand beyond just the two of us.  That’s why we’re called Travers Brothership and not something like ‘The Travers Brothers Band.’ We really see the band as a community and we all play a major role in the creative process.”   

From Jimmy Hendrix to Donnie Hathaway, Travers Brothership’s influences mesh succinctly, moving from rock’n’roll into soul both smoothly and precisely. The band’s latest album has moved from a harder rock’n’roll vibe into the soul realm more than ever before. 

“I think we owe it to my brother Eric and our bassist Josh Clark, more than anything else, for changing directions a bit. Eric was really getting into Wilson Picket and other 70s soulful artists, while Josh was into Donnie Hathaway and Marvin Gaye. Naturally, from listening to these artists, a lot of our sound started to morph. Aggressive, coming for you mentality will always be at the core of who we are as a band, but it’s important for a band to grow and evolve. Naturally, what you listen to will show in what music you write. And at the end of the day, we always like to challenge ourselves as musicians.” Kyle muses. 

65662289_10157194142294373_8832491624501084160_o.jpg

Eric and Kyle Travers, and the band’s bassist Josh Clark contribute to the vocals of the band and it’s their three-part harmonies, which have caught the eyes and ears of spectators over the years. Their unique three-part harmonies are their signature talent and what they’re most known for. Says Kyle, “Some people who have heard us play, even fans in Europe, compared us to Queen because of our three-part harmonies. It’s pretty crazy!” 

And when it comes to showing off their talent onstage, Kyle says, “We’re a high-energy band onstage. Our motto is to ‘break a sweat and play to the best of our ability, give everything we got from the heart.’ We’re kind of a jam band, so during our live shows, we improvise a lot. Improvisation is one of the most creative ways to be… if you listen to Sun Ra or Thelonious Monk, they’re breaking every rule in the book and they are held in high regard!” 

The band has already toured the nation with established bands like Charles Bradley, Taj Mahal, Moe, Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Blues Traveler, Robert Randolph, Leftover Salmon, Trombone Shorty, The Marcus King Band, Dr. John, and many more. Their most recent album Let the World Decide dropped last December, and now they are embarking on a massive national tour in support of it. Among the Colorado gigs they have lined up, some of them are Denver’s Cervantes Other Side on July 12th, The Lazy Dog in Boulder (which is a free show!) on July 13th, and Hodi’s Half Note in Fort Collins on July 17th. 

Keep up with Travers Brothership here.

-Mirna

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist 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. 

Professor Plumb Band Poster Four Corners Logo Bigger Centered.jpg

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.