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

By: Will Baumgartner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Will

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

Denver's Newest Outdoor Music Venue: Details On Levitt Pavilion & Our Chat With Andy Thomas

By: Sierra Voss

Denver’s new outdoor amphitheater Levitt Pavilion opened its gates last Thursday night in Ruby Hill Park. The venue was born out of the creation of The Friends of Levitt Pavilion Denver (FLPD), which is an a 501c(3) non-profit, and their primary mission is to build community through music. Levitt Pavilion will be hosting over 50 free concerts per year, as well as select ticketed events. Last Thursday’s opening night was filled with a ribbon cutting, speeches, and for the first time: music. Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, Halden Wofford & the Hi*Beams and Andy Thomas’ Dust Heart took the stage and filled the grounds with tunes. Free shows are already booked through September for Levitt’s 2017 schedule, alongside some ticketed events including 311, Josh Abbott Band, and Cody Johnson.

Levitt Pavilion’s Community Outreach Director, Andy Thomas chatted with BolderBeat recently, and gave us some amazing insight on how Levitt Pavilion came to be and what we can expect from this venue throughout the summer, and for years to come. Read on:

How does Denver’s Levitt Pavilion compare to the other Levitt venues across the country?

The Levitt Foundation helps get all the venues started, but each cities’ venue operate as a separate non-profit. We all book free music; we all book family accessible music with diverse genres. We all try to make sure there is a low socioeconomic barrier for people trying to find and connect with local arts and music. We [Denver] are different in the way that we have a new venue- some of the older Levitts are refurbished bandshells and buildings. We are really lucky in that Denver’s venue is a brand new, state-of-the-art facility. We have a lot of advantages in creating our pavilion based on knowing how people want to experience music and how bands want to play music.

How do you think Levitt Pavilion Denver compares to the other outdoor venues in Colorado like Red Rocks, Fiddlers Green, or Botanic Gardens?

Every venue has its specialty. However, we are more centrally located and a mostly free outdoor concert experience. There is a bike trail and a lot of people in the neighborhood that can walk here. We hope we help offer a experience that may be a little easier of a commute, where people don’t necessarily have to make a day out of it.   

Will the venue always be open seating?

We will bring in chairs for certain shows that may include an older audience demographic.

Do you have a ratio of how many local artists you will be booking versus national acts each year?

I don’t know about the ratio, but we do have local openers on every show, as well as a Colorado Music Series that features Colorado-based artists exclusively. So maybe a little over 50%.

How do you feel Levitt Pavilion will hold up in terms of being competitive enough to book alongside other local promoters/venues in town?

We are not trying to directly compete with anyone. If people want to do that with us, that's understandable because we are a new entity and were booking quality bands that other people would want to book. We have no interest in getting in a shooting match with anybody. We are a nonprofit at its core, and we have a very specific mission, and that's bringing community to music. That mission can’t succeed if we are distracted by what competitors are doing. We have a great relationship with a lot of independent promoters in town. We truly want to make sure we can bring the best artists we can to the venue.

Top three things that concertgoers should bring to a Levitt show?

  1. BYOB (Bring your own blanket)

  2. Open attitude (For artists you may have not heard of before)

  3. Snacks (All of the snacks. Check our website for guidelines of what you can bring onto the grounds)

We can’t wait to check out more shows at Levitt Pavilion this summer- make sure to get yourself to a set after you peep their full schedule here. Keep up with Levitt’s happenings on Facebook.

-Sierra

All photos per Joel Rekiel with BLDGBLKS Music Company. All videos and embedded tracks per the artist credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Mawule Debuts "More than Music" Initiative Tonight at University of Denver

By: Jura Daubenspeck

 “Music is therapeutic. Music is healing.” -Mawule 

Last time we checked in with R&B artist Mawule, he had just released his striking music video for “Black is Beautiful (feat. Bianca Mikahn and ILL Se7en).” Since then, Mawule’s vision for creating powerful, meaningful music has continued to develop, with some exciting announcements on the horizon. Throughout the last few months, he has been working on his new More than Music initiative.

Mawule. Photo Credit:  Joel Rekiel

Mawule. Photo Credit: Joel Rekiel

More than Music brings music, storytelling, and intersectionality to college campuses nationwide. Using a similar formula to TED Talks, More than Music is grounded in the mission to create dialogue, specifically focusing on topics such as diversity, identity, and individuality.  

Photo Credit: Jairo East

Photo Credit: Jairo East

The inspiration for the More than Music movement came after Mawule released his album, Chosen, last year. After talking with producer Glenn Sawyer (The Spot Studios), the idea to incorporate meaningful stories into his performance sets blossomed, and has since taken off.

Photo Credit:   Joel Rekiel

Photo Credit: Joel Rekiel

When he is not writing, recording, or performing, Mawule works in higher education. Through his role as Resident Director at University of Denver, he comes face to face with so many incredible individuals with powerful, unique stories. Here’s a bit more of what Mawule had to say on the topic:  

“My life experiences are inherent in my music. I write music with one intention: to help people. I use my musical talent to let those who might be going through similar things know they are not alone. We all have stories to tell, and those stories are pivotal to our learning and development. Whether our stories are rooted in pain, joy, anger, happiness, or sadness, there is inspiration found in each and every one of them. It is our responsibility as authors to share these stories, because people need to hear them.”
Photo Credit: Jairo East

Photo Credit: Jairo East

More than Music is set to become a nationwide initiative, bringing awareness to social, societal, and personal issues to college campuses. It will be a tool to help students connect on an interpersonal level using music and storytelling.

More than Music debuts tonight at University of Denver’s Newman Center for the Performing Arts - Elizabeth Erikson Byron Theatre. This FREE event is open to all ages, and will take place from 7:30PM-8:45PM (doors at 6:45PM). The event page can be found here, and registration can be complete here.

Connect with Mawule on Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud, and Twitter.

-Jura

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

Premiere: Bo DePeña's Toe-Tappin' Track & Video "If I Let You Go Again"

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Last time we checked in with Americana singer/songwriter Bo DePeña, he had just released the single and music video for his intoxicating love ballad “The Weed and The Wine.” Since then, Bo has cast the finishing touches on his upcoming EP Long Road to Denver and been on the road for an astounding five-month 40+ show tour throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Bo DePeña. Photo Credit: Chris Bohlin

Bo DePeña. Photo Credit: Chris Bohlin

Even while on tour, the work never stops, and the hits just keep on coming. While traveling from Boerne, TX to Austin, TX, Bo stopped in to Austin Signal recording studio to film the live recording of yet another new track, “If I Let You Go Again.” The song, which was written two weeks before the final wrap-up of Long Road to Denver, was recorded with the help of Grammy Award winning recording/mixing engineer Charlie Kramsky and featured Sean Giddings (piano), Pat Harris (standup bass), and Josh Rodgers (drums).

Listening to “If I Let You Go Again,” influences of western swing, country, and jazz can all be heard. At first listen, the song has a simple, bare bones feel, like a piano bar in backroads country. However, the simplicity really comes from how smoothly each instrument- the guitar, piano, standup bass, and drums- all intertwine.

The song pulls from artists like Willie Nelson (circa 1960’s), Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, and Lefty Frizzell. It touches on heartbreak and the “what if's?” strung between the moments of clarity. True to many of Bo’s musical numbers, “If I Let You Go Again” carries a sweet somberness within its toe-tapping rhythms, a combination that makes his music ever so easy to listen to.

Watch “If I Let You Go Again:”

“If I Let You Go Again” is the perfect release to precede Bo's upcoming EP, which will be released on May 26th. Listeners who just can’t get enough can also pre-order the EP at Bo’s upcoming show this Saturday, May 13th at The Walnut Room. Event details can be found here, and tickets can be purchased at this link- get ‘em while they’re hot!

Connect with Bo on FacebookInstagramSoundcloud, and Twitter,.

-Jura

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

The Gamits Are Still Killing It, In Case You Were Wondering

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Last weekend, Denver’s punk rock veterans The Gamits came out of hibernation and tore it up, with performances in Colorado Springs (The Black Sheep), Denver (The Marquis Theatre), Fort Collins (Hodi’s Half Note), and in Laramie, Wyoming (8 Bytes Game Cafe).

The Gamits.

The Gamits.

I had the pleasure of seeing the guys grace the stage on Friday night at The Marquis, along with Samiam, Armchair Martian, and Hotel Bar. I even scored a few minutes of face time with three of the members: Chris Fogal (guitar/vocals), Forrest Bartosh (drums), and Johnny Wilson (bass/ backing vocals). I didn’t get a chance to chat with guitarist Michael Marti, but still got to see him shred onstage.

How does it feel to be back at the Marquis, a venue where you most certainly get a lot of love from fans?

CF: It feels good. Our last show was almost exactly a year ago, on St. Patty’s Day Weekend. So it was a big mess, but still awesome.

Since you all got back together in 2009, you’ve released 'Parts,' and also went on a worldwide tour, hitting up places in Europe. But more recently, what have you guys been up to?

CF: We go into hibernation, and then when we get asked to do fun stuff, we consider it and look at what’s going on in our lives, and then we go, “Okay! We can do that. That’s worth getting together and practicing for.”

At this point of the conversation, I couldn’t help but notice Chris super gluing Johnny’s fingernail.

What’s that about?

FB: “Oh yeah, this is a good one too. All of their fingernails get torn up.”

CF: “Yeah, we do a lot of down picking.”

JW: “Playing in The Gamits is not easy!”

CF: “Yeah, I’m about to do mine too. It turns into blood and then it starts to hurt. But it feels cool. It’s like having a little superman shield on your finger.”

Forrest Bartosh. 

Forrest Bartosh. 

The Gamits are obviously widely known, especially in the Denver area, and people clearly have mad love for you at your shows, going wild and all, but what’s a performance like for you guys?

CF: Well, a good one is like tonight. We’re stoked when people are singing along and going nuts. But it’s like any band, crowd reactions and things of that nature. Also, the older we get, we tend to play with older bands. But we stay pretty current; we like a lot of bands. Johnny runs For the Love of Punk; I run a recording studio (Black In Bluhm). So when we get to play with younger bands, it still feels awesome too. It feels like we’re doing the exact same shit we were doing in in ‘98, or generally around that time period.

Who are some of the younger “up and coming” bands you guys like?

CF: Hotel Bar- they’re killer, and just played first tonight. Also The Bombpops, Red City Radio, Russian Girlfriends, and Redbush. Just bands that have been doing exactly what we’ve been doing, working hard and playing good music. Some of the bands might end up more under the radar, or maybe huger.

Chris Fogel. 

Chris Fogel. 

Playing for such a long time, you know the ins and outs, and have established a more mature mindset when it comes to playing music. Some might even say you are “pros” at this. So how do you keep it interesting? How do you keep yourselves on your toes?

CF: We won’t play shows for months! And it’s never not interesting. There’s always something interesting going on- usually something out of our control.

What are some of the challenges you face now that you didn’t in your earlier years?

JW: Not practicing for a while. And if you don’t sing for a while, it takes a bit to get back to it. We’re not a slouch band in the vocal department.

CF: And I’m even a little sore from playing a show last night.

FB: Playing with bands like Bud Bronson & The Good Timers is a lot more mid-tempo, whereas The Gamits are at a turbo level. So when you haven’t done if for a while, it’s tough.

CF: You rip your fingernails off!

Johnny Wilson.

Johnny Wilson.

I also really like the lyrics in your songs, and that is something I’ve always liked about punk music: the poetic nature of the lyrics, paired with a heavier sound. Is that something you guys always like to incorporate into your music?

CF: Totally. Especially if you’re playing “pop punk,” which is the genre we usually get put into. Some of that is teenagery bubble gum lyrics, so I like to combine those with something a little more, as you put it, poetic. I like the combination.

It’s often said the topics musicians talk about in their music is a product of what’s happening in their own lives- is that true for The Gambits?

CF: Write about what you know. Otherwise, you might come across as a bullshitter.

So do The Gamits have any other other releases coming up in the near future?

CF: Nope, just playing shows and figuring out what the next thing is.

Also, I was asked to ask you guys if you have any plans to release your music besides 'Parts' on vinyl?

CF: Yeah, repressing in Canada has been talked about forever. And I’m sure if someone wanted to do it, it would be cool. I doubt that would happen though unless we came out with a new album.

Again, having been in Denver’s music scene for so long, exiting, and then coming back in, what kinds of things have you noticed? How has the scene changed?

CF: Well we’re always involved in the music scene; we’re never out. We’re always doing other shit in other bands besides The Gamits. So we’ve been able to be in the music scene here and watch it grow, and it’s totally different now. Obviously it’s a bigger city and people are moving here, but it’s also still landlocked, which it always will be, which is pretty cool.

So besides the size, what else do you think has changed? How else has it developed?

JW: I think there’s a resurgence to people looking back to older bands.

So you guys have played a number of bigger name venues, but I’d love to hear about your favorite underground houseparty-type show?

JW: Russia was hands-down my favorite place. We’re the only band I’ve ever heard that has done twelve days in Russia. We did the really depressed areas, and went into the thick of it. Most people do Saint Petersburg and Moscow, but we did some of the most insane places, like the early scene of punk rock.

FB: Yeah the kids were like, “What the hell you doing here?” And they’d be bouncing off the walls, man.

JW: They would pick me up and sing the songs, and I couldn’t even play. It was just the strangest thing.

Shortly after this, we split ways, and I watched the guys blow the roof off the joint, playing their hits, new and old, for a crowd of diehard fans.

It’s safe to say that The Gamits are a group of regular, genuine guys who just like to have fun and play good music. So if you have the rare chance to see them play, then peel yourself from your couch and do it!

-Jura

All photos per Joel Rekiel of BLDGBLKS Music Company. All videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Bonne Finken Talks To Us About Her Grammy Consideration, SXSW, & More

By: Jura Daubenspeck

It’s no mystery that the ladies of Denver’s music scene are a force to be reckoned with. And when it comes to finding a place that not only satiates your musical thirst, but also your need for some downright tasty pizza, The Walnut Room is where it’s at.

Last Saturday, ladies took over the stage at The Walnut Room for a night of indie electronica flavor. Tana Victoria, Amy Kress, Bonne Finken with DJ/backup vocalist Christine Steeples, and Phee all kept it edgy, poetic, and even a bit dark at times. The lineup consisted of mostly Colorado locals, with the exception of Iowa native Bonne Finken, who lit up the room with her booming vocals and phantasmal projections.

Each performer wowed during their time on stage, but this week, we wanted to give special props to Bonne Finken, who, despite her strong Midwest following, made her Denver debut at the show. We sat down with Bonne prior to her set to ask her a few questions about what she’s been up to, including her upcoming album, her Grammy consideration, and her plans for SXSW 2017. Here’s what she had to say:

This is your first time playing in Denver. Welcome! How are you feeling?

I feel excited! We just got done with soundcheck, and I got to hear the other artists play a bit. It sounds like we’re all in the same genre, so that’s pretty cool.

Earlier this summer you released your single and video “Speak to Me.” What have you been up to in the meantime?

I’ve been working on the new album, which will be released in 2017. “Speak to Me” was just the first release from that album. We’ve been recording, which is why I’m in Denver now. Joel Rekiel, my publicist, lined this show up for me while I was in town. I’ve been working on the album; retooling the show. It’s gone really electronic now learning a bunch of technologies, and the band is relearning gear. So that’s what we’re working on now.

You’ve been recording at The Spot Studios. How long have you been working with them?

I just went there last spring to record “Speak to Me.” And then I just started again about a week ago. I’ll be returning next spring and will hopefully have it all done by June 2017.

Bonne Finken. 

Bonne Finken. 

So what’s the experience been like this past week?

Really awesome. They’re so great to work with, and they (Glenn Sawyer and Rich Veltrop) understand my sound more than anybody I’ve worked with before. So it feels super easy. Instead of me trying to translate my sound or fight on sounds, it feels very comfortable, and goes so fast. It’s incredible! It’s been fun, relaxing and exciting.

Last time we talked, we discussed how you put your heart and soul into your music. You take the time to learn everything about every aspect of your music, so it really becomes a piece of you. I’m curious about what that process has been like, and how much of your blood, sweat, and tears will be going into this next album.

Definitely more than ever before. It’s hard to explain. Literally they’re using my own sessions and my own sounds and it’s demoed to the point where if I want a certain harmony figured out, I better have it figured out when I bring it in. [On other records] we would bring in really sketched out ideas and flush them out in the studio, where as now we bring it in and execute whatever we have, so we have to be more prepared. Which is scary and good. It goes faster, but it means whatever my idea is in real time is what they execute. So that’s been a big difference on this album. And I’ve learned a lot about MIDI. You’re able to use electronic instruments of any kind, and write with them. So that’s been very freeing for me as a writer and as an artist. I love the freeness of MIDI.

Regarding your recorded work, what can your fans expect in the coming months?

I’ll probably have a couple more singles out and promote them like I did “Speak to Me.” “Speak to Me” was kind of a campaign to try to get on the Grammy ballot, which it did do, so that was cool that we released it in time. But I’ll probably release a couple of music videos almost quietly. Not necessarily to sell, but to test out some of the sounds on the album. You’ll be hearing what’s been in my brain for the last decade but has taken me a long time to understand how to articulate audibly. I’ve always had crazy ideas, but now I feel like I can really make it happen and show that off in my music.

How will those those crazy, cool ideas be manifested in your future performances?

When I write, I keep in mind my live shows, because that’s what I love most, maybe to the detriment of thinking, “Will this song work live?” It’s important for me to get [my work] across in my live shows. So if anything, my live shows will be stronger because I keep that in mind and am able to manipulate the recordings knowing that. I like going to shows and hearing artists sound like they do in the recording, rather than not being able to recognize the song because it’s been changed too much.

Steeples (left) & Finken (right). 

Steeples (left) & Finken (right). 

Do you have any upcoming shows, or tours around the country?

We’re actually coming down into recording mode. Most winters I hole up. I don’t like to travel in bad weather. So I’ve learned to call a spade a spade, and not push it. But we are going to SXSW so I’m super stoked for that. We might just go underground a bit [this winter], write some songs, work on the show, and let SXSW be our big reveal for some of these new songs.

We can’t wait to hear more! Keep up with Bonne Finken here.

-Jura

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

Balanced Breakfast Bash Warmed Up Denver On Its First Snowy Night Last Week

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Each month the creative minds at Balanced Breakfast gather to discuss various key topics in Denver’s music scene. With the help of the organizers, hosts, and the equally passionate members, Balanced Breakfast serves as a group of local music industry professionals paving the way for an even more fruitful music scene for artists and music-lovers alike.

Last Thursday, November 17th, Balanced Breakfast hosted the Balanced Breakfast Bash, a music showcase where the walls of Syntax Physic Opera came alive with the musical stylings of Twin Flame Medicine, Amy Kress, and The Lollygags.

Twin Flame Medicine. 

Twin Flame Medicine. 

Syntax is easily one of my favorite intimate music venues in the city. Its cozy, warm-lit atmosphere and intricate wall decorations have your eyes wandering constantly, and the lounge-style arrangement near the stage keeps vibes cool and classy. Not to mention that they happen to serve the best Old Fashioneds, or “Corn Punks,” I’ve ever had.

Twin Flame Medicine took the stage first at the Balanced Breakfast Bash, serenading everyone with their soothing, groovy vibrations. Fronted by lead singer and ukulele player Monalicious, this band is one to most definitely check out if you have the chance. Their bluesy feel and funky melodies will beckon you into a calm and positive mindset. Check out their song “Style” for a little taste of what they’re about.

The Lollygags.

The Lollygags.

Rocky Mountain locals The Lollygags brought up the energy and kept true to their form next, gracing the stage with their grunge rock’n’roll vibes. Frontman Jonathan Snyder’s facial expressions and guitar solos were enough to grab anyone’s attention, but the entire band's presence was confident, cool, and ready to rock. Listen to their EP People I Know and you’ll quickly see what I mean.

Amy Kress.

Amy Kress.

Finally, electronic pop artist Amy Kress closed the evening with her booming vocals and soulful style. Switching between pure vocals, piano, and with Joel Rekiel on drums, Kress delivered a powerful, dance-worthy performance that had me humming her songs days later. She played a number of fan favorites, including hits from her recent album Fly.

Reed Fuchs.

Reed Fuchs.

Reed Fuchs, a Balanced Breakfast host who also happens to front Denver’s surrealist group DéCollage, provided the mellow but sultry interludes between artists with his DJ sets.

Balanced Breakfast Bash was the perfect way to warm up during the season’s first chilly snow. Keep in touch with the folks at Balanced Breakfast on their Facebook, and stay tuned for more upcoming announcements, meetups, and info on shindigs like this awesome bash from BolderBeat.

-Jura

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.

Skytown Invites You Into Their Nightmare With "Through Circles" Music Video

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Tulsa powerhouse group Skytown have had a busy summer, playing several highly-acclaimed shows throughout the region and performing at a few major music festivals. Today marks the official release date of their music video for their nightmarish track, "Through Circles", a song from their latest album Outshine the Sun (which was recorded at The Spot Studios).

A scene from Skytown's new music video for "Through Circles".

A scene from Skytown's new music video for "Through Circles".

Skytown is notorious for bringing the party to every show they play while simultaneously dabbling in the sinister. "Through Circles" lives up to this reputation, as a haunting and complex song that leaves much to be deciphered. Skytown once again invites us into their world, and we gladly accept the offer. They spread their metaphorical ashes over a number of topics, and through listening to their music, ask us to question everything we know. Whether it be a conspiracy beyond our comprehension, a post-apocalyptic prophecy, or the duality of beings that reside in all of us, that’s up to you to decide.

Watch Skytown's Official Music Video for "Through Circles":

The video is abstract in nature, without a clear-cut storyline. A woman dressed in white (Kash Clemishire) is seen practicing occultism on a magic circle in the floorboards, and a mysterious figure (Jake Maye) paces the grounds of a home. The figure is dressed in a traditional "plague doctor" uniform, famously known during the Medieval times as the "Doctors of Black Death". It seems as though the woman in white is fighting desperately against an impending doom by any means possible.

The "Doctor of Black Death" figure.

The "Doctor of Black Death" figure.

Again, there’s much to be interpreted from the video, but from what can be seen, Maye’s bird-beaked cloaked figure is not something you’d want appearing in front of you. Ever. The imagery in "Through Circles" is chilling, and while subtle, it still somehow manages to make your heart race.

The woman in white.

The woman in white.

On top of it all, this is one of my new personal favorite tunes from Skytown’s new music. Their lyricism is impressive to anyone who admires a good story, and their melodies haunt, even without words. It’s a song that we guarantee will be put on your repeat list for the summer.

Another eerie scene from the video.

Another eerie scene from the video.

The guys of Skytown believe that more is definitely merrier. The video for “Through Circles” was filmed in the band's hometown of Tulsa, and the band called upon their fans via Facebook and personal texts to be part of the video shoot and wrap party. Joel Rekiel from BLDGBLKS Music Company directed the video, and did a fantastic job of honoring the hard work the band put in at the studio recording the track.

Outshine the Sun can be accessed on Bandcamp, Spotify, and Soundcloud. Stay in touch with Skytown on Facebook and their website, and if you find yourself in the Tulsa area, check out their next performance at The Venue Shrine on Friday, July 22nd.

-Jura

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

Skytown Brings It Home With "Through Circles" Music Video Teaser

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Oklahoma's Skytown tease their upcoming music video premiere.

Since their release of Outshine the Sun in September 2015, Skytown has been on the move and busy as ever. The Tulsa-grown acoustic alternative rock group, made up of Dale Crain (vocals/lead guitar), Tim Burress (acoustic guitar/vocals), Eliot Cooper (drums), Jason Ford (vocals, acoustic guitar), John Edens (electric guitar), and Dave Williams (bass), have been on the road, with no plans of stopping during the upcoming summer. 

They played Rocklahoma Madness 2015 (Pryor Creek, OK), ShamRock the Rose 2016 (Broken Arrow, OK), and various shows at the Vanguard (Tulsa, OK), Dixie Tavern (Tulsa, OK), Red Brick Bar (Norman, OK), and many others. They were listed as one of TouchTunes’ Breakout Bands and also had one of their songs, “Prizefighter” selected as a semi-finalist in the International Songwriting Competition 2015.

Skytown on the set of their new music video.

Skytown on the set of their new music video.

Outshine the Sun is a spectacular representation of the group’s variety, with some rock ballads, slower-paced tunes, and other hard-kicking hitters. With a vocal palate akin to rust, Dale serves as the storyteller, sharing various tales over solid drum and bass lines, clean guitar riffs, and accentuated electric guitar work.

Listen to Skytown’s Outshine the Sun:

Earlier this month, over the course of 9 days, the guys filmed their newest music video for the track “Through Circles.” The music video and short film are being directed by Joel Rekiel (BLDGBLKS Music Company). The video was shot in Tulsa, and they called upon fans via Facebook and personal text to come join in on the fun and be part of the video shoot and wrap party.

A shot from Skytown's recent music video shoot.

A shot from Skytown's recent music video shoot.

“Through Circles” is one of the more haunting songs off of this album, and as usual, the group does not disappoint in lyrical complexity, touching on topics not quite so obvious to the naked ear. I’ve found myself listening to this song on repeat, trying to figure out what it means. The song has a feel as if someone is reminiscing on a world that was burnt, left to be forgotten, with the remaining population are there to forge on with what’s endured. I dare to say, it hints at a post-apocalyptic world where, as they put it, “There’s a world of another life/And it is coming soon/‘cause we’ve all seen the Jekyll deep in Hyde.”

An eerie scene from the upcoming "Through Circles" music video.

An eerie scene from the upcoming "Through Circles" music video.

It’s one thing to read the lyrics that stuck out to me most, but I think you owe it to yourselves to listen to the song and conjure your own interpretation. And with a music video for “Through Circles” set to be released this summer, we will have a chance to see what Skytown concocted for our viewing pleasure. Check out the teaser for the music video below, and give the rest of the Outshine the Sun album a listen on Bandcamp, Spotify, and Soundcloud. You can also connect with Skytown on Facebook and their website to keep up to date on their latest happenings.

Watch the teaser for Skytown’s “Through Circles”:

-Jura

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

How Denver Band Signs and Signals Make Meat and Potato Magic

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Denver's Signs and Signals are worth checking out.

Signs and Signals is a Denver-based rock band who released their debut EP Human Again at the beginning of July and then wrapped up the month with a UMS performance. Formed in May of 2014, Signs and Signals have been climbing the Denver music ladder at a noticeably fast pace. Within a year, they’ve conquered numerous Denver venues, were featured on 93.3’s Locals Only, released an EP, and made the UMS lineup. So we sat down with S&S frontman Jason Kelly to find out more about the band’s recent recording experience, their local success, and their upcoming plans for the fall.

Your sound is intriguing. A song like “Human Again” feels Incubus-inspired to me, but then I hear a catchy track like “Better Life” and it’s much more pop-infused. I know that some of you were in Soul Electric prior to this, which feels a little heavier than Signs and Signals. Tell me about the formation of Signs and Signals and your change in direction musically from your previous project.

Haha, you know, Incubus is [actually] a primary core influence for many of us.

[Signs and Signals] all began in March of 2013. [Myself] (vocals) and Brian (lead guitar) met up off of Craigslist and immediately began songwriting together. After sifting through different band members and playing shows as Soul Electric, our second bassist parted ways [so] we put on the brakes a bit to hone our sound and audition bass players. We tried out bassists and the amount of interest was overwhelming. [We] chose Dave because, quite frankly, he and Jimmy make meat and potato magic. With Dave, we found a new hard-hitting melodic sound, and so we renamed ourselves Signs and Signals.  

After a few shows as a four piece, everyone felt [that] the ultimate vision for the Signs and Signals lineup would be to eventually find a rhythm guitarist, that way [I] could focus solely on vocals.  After multiple failed attempts to find this fifth member, we dove into recording our first single, “Fight or Flight” at The Spot Studios. It was there that we met Joel Rekiel with BLDGBLKS Music Company. Joel directed a successful Kickstarter campaign [for us], which helped us raise over $6k to record our EP Human Again. In the middle of recording our third song, we finally found our fifth member, John Ensey. He jumped in with flying colors and wound up recording rhythm guitar on 5 of the 7 songs for the EP.

So now with John, Dave, and Jimmy crushing the rhythm section, and Brian [and myself] composing one catchy melody after the next, Signs and Signals has become a five piece rock band dream-come-true and we're all very optimistic about the future!

Speaking of your new EP, what was one of your favorite things (besides the awesome addition of Ensey) about the recording process?  

Our producers, Glenn Sawyer and Rich Veltrop, were a strong team to work with. Glenn has a great ear for adjusting parts and a creative insight for thinking outside the box. And Rich is the crushing critic who will go through every last note with a fine-tooth comb. I think it's safe to say we all grew as musicians from our recording experience at The Spot. When you are investing a lot of time and money, you want to give it your all and I believe we did exactly that.

What has it been like gaining relatively fast-paced success in the Denver music scene within a year’s time?  

A recent Twitter fan listened to our EP and told us, “Your guy’s music sounds like it’s meant to be.” Those words- "meant to be" -give me goosebumps because there is definitely some kind of magic happening here. Like so many musicians out there, we have all been in several different bands and none of those have had the potential that this one does. In the grand scheme of things, it's always good to recognize where you're really at, raise the bar, and keep chipping away at your goals one step at a time.

Sound advice. Give us one word to describe your experience playing The UMS:

Life-changing.

Sweet! So what’s next for Signs and Signals? A music video? A tour? Both? Give us the deets!  

We definitely have touring on our minds, but as it is, we are hardly even known in our own city. We plan to keep sharing our music, play shows, and build a local following before we set out into serious touring. Maybe next year… we have an open mind and a lot to do.

So there’s our bit with Signs and Signals! Looking at their track record, we think these guys are moving faster toward a local fan base and a tour than they realize. So keep an eye out for their upcoming shows! And listen to them rock out here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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