Puddles Played A Pity Party That Made Us Laugh Through Tough Times

By: Claire Woodcock

People who came out for Puddles Pity Party last weekend were in for a sweet treat: Laughter.

Puddles Pity Party was a puddle of cuddles and fearless fun at The Soiled Dove Underground in Denver last Friday night. The 6’ 8” baritone “sad clown with the golden voice” started off his show by doing something that I used to do when I was 9 years old: stuff as many pieces of gum as humanly possible into one's mouth to make a super gumball. After doing so to quiet giggles from the crowd, he set the gumwad aside and entered into audience territory. Breaking the fourth wall to pull a woman onstage, he placed her hand over her heart and motioned for all patrons to follow suit. He then pulled out a small American flag, put his own hand over his heart, and sang the most powerful rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner that I’ve heard in a long time. Here it’s worth noting that a number of showgoers were wearing safety pins over their hearts, a trend that started this week after President-elect Donald Trump won the electoral college in last week’s election. Only about half of the crowd held their hands over their hearts as Puddles sang on, but all cheered in support of the giant clown as he concluded the tune.

Mike Greer, the man behind Puddles, didn’t need a microphone Friday night. His voice would have carried even without that support. He’s that good. In fact, microphones were more visibly used as props throughout the evening than anything else. He followed up the national anthem with a cover of “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots, where he pivoted around the mic stand, making good use of the stage. Throughout the evening, Greer was very in-tune with the audience, demonstrating his strong improv skills by bringing patrons onstage for unpredictable covers and antics.

Puddles Pity Party. Photo Credit:   Sierra Voss

Puddles Pity Party. Photo Credit: Sierra Voss

Puddles brought the room together with songs about being an outsider and the feelings that conjures up, like Eric Carmen’s All By Myself.” The backing instrumentals were pre-recorded and supported him, which he playfully highlighted when pretending to strum on a white slab of wood meant to look like a toy guitar. Puddles could have gone through the entire performance a capella if he had to. On Coldplay’s Fix You,” he broke into “tears stream down your face” with scenes of robots malfunctioning and falling down, which made the breaking point in a sad song funny. It was moments like these that Puddles really charmed.

On Puddles’ cover of ELO’s Telephone Line,” he alternated between singing into a telephone with vocal high-pass and distortion, and singing into a regular mic, continuing to use the telephone effect as he segued into a growly verse-chorus of “Hello” by Adele. The late Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujahwas one of his most powerful covers, no doubt. When he pulled the microphone away from his mouth and was able to bring the room with him on his journey to the great crescendo, my earlier hypothesis on the no mic necessary was proven true.

Watch Puddles' viral cover of Lorde's "Royals":

His interaction with the audience in the cover he’s most known for, “Royals” by Lorde, was unlike anything I’ve ever seen an artist do in a performance space. With a sepia filtered projection of the musicians on his breakout YouTube video, he again broke down the fourth wall yet again. He took phones from audience members trying to capture the moment, and gave their phones to other audience members trying to capture the moment. What resulted was a tangle of people who had to retrieve their phones from each other; a web of connection.  

Beltin' Puddles. Photo Credit:  Sierra Voss

Beltin' Puddles. Photo Credit: Sierra Voss

Puddles’ Queen and the late David Bowie’sUnder Pressure” cover was another sweet moment. He brought a man from the crowd onstage to give him mini cupcakes and coffee from a french press while the phrase “stressed spelled backwards is desserts” projected on the three screens behind him. And that’s when he started playing with the giant gumball again, to the crowd’s distaste, followed by a roaring cover of Styx’s “Come Sail Away.” It was this song which concluded a show that brought people together for genuine laughter during what has been a hard time for many people in this country.

Thanks Puddles.

-Claire

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

Sunday's Show at Shine: An Interview with Willy Porter & Dave Tamkin

By: Hannah Oreskovich

We're running press at a Homevibe event, and you should come check it out. 

Hey Beaters. We’ve got a little more for you today than just the good ‘ol Weekend Six. We’re stoked to announce that we’ve partnered with Homevibe Presents for some of their upcoming shows, the first of which is THIS SUNDAY! Here are the deets:

Internationally touring rock musician Willy Porter is coming to town! And Boulder’s very own Dave Tamkin is opening up the evening show. The night will kick off at 7PM, tickets are $20 in advance ($25 at the door), and it’s all going down at Shine.

Willy Porter is going to turn things upside down on Sunday. 

Willy Porter is going to turn things upside down on Sunday. 

This week, we caught up with Willy and Dave to chat about Sunday’s show. Read on:

So guys- first things first- what are you most looking forward to about Sunday’s show?

Willy: Seeing old friends always puts a spark in the show for me. That energy will be there for sure.

Dave: I’ve been working on some new tunes and I’m anxious to try them out in front of an audience that also appreciates Willy’s music.

All smiles with Dave Tamkin.

All smiles with Dave Tamkin.

And you guys have played a show together before, correct?

Dave: I actually opened up for Willy ten or twelve years ago in Chicago. We shared the stage at Lincoln Park Fest. I was young and very star struck. I’d been spinning Dog Eared Dream for eight or nine years already. The excitement was different then- I was more interested in showing [Willy] how much he influenced my guitar playing, and wanted to ask him about his family, his chord structures, and how life worked as a full-time musician.

Fast forward ten years and here I am devoting my life to what I love doing. After a five year break, I’m just starting up again and Willy Porter is still going strong. He’s an inspiration to me as a fantastic player and singer, and as a professional musician that continues to tour and make great albums.

Wow! That’s awesome. Willy- he’s got a point. We know you’ve essentially been on the road touring since your first commercial release in 1990- so tell us- what has it been like traveling as a musician for 25 years?

Willy: The road ‘bug’ hit me as a kid when I traveled throughout the Midwest with my dad. He was racing an Alfa Romeo sports car in those days, and I loved the travel, setting up the car and being a part of the caravan of racing gypsies. I simply couldn’t wait to go out on the weekends. To this day music touring brings the same emotion; it’s a gift.

Very cool. So current projects! Willy- tell us about the creative process behind your latest release Human Kindness. What inspired it, how long did you spend recording it, and who did you work with in-studio?

Willy: I spent about three years off and on writing, producing and mixing Human Kindness. It was a blast to make. I brought in some of my best friends from the road to join my core band including Natalia Zukerman, Martin Barre, the Carpe Diem String Quartet, and guitarist Val McCallum. I just wanted to make a record that was a fun ride from beginning to end. It was produced to peel away like an onion on repeated listens.

Tamkin.

Tamkin.

It definitely has that feel. And Dave, talk to us about your most recent work.

Dave: My last EP Cedar came out at the beginning of 2014. Since then, I have 12 more songs that I’ve written with friends Chris Webb, Josh Queen, and Daphne Willis that I want to record. I’m leaving this Monday to drive out to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to record at Crown Studios with Tim King and Dick Prall. Tim and Dick made a really fantastic album this past year, and if I can capture any essence of that, I’ll have a nice EP of songs co-written by some of my closest friends.

Carmen and Willy. 

Carmen and Willy. 

Awesome- Willy what are your plans for next year?

Currently we’re focussing on my next release slated for 2016- a duo collaboration with fellow singer/songwriter Carmen Nickerson.

Nice. I’m getting the vibe here that working with friends is the key to awesome music-making. And there are sure to be a lot of friends at Sunday’s show. Dave- you’ve played Shine before- what do you most enjoy about playing shows there?

Dave: Shine is an interesting place to play music. I’ve been there for a standing-only show where everyone danced, and I have played to an audience that sat and listened for pins to drop. The audience is there for one reason and that is to take in the show. There is no bar in the back or noise off the street. It’s a perfect listening room where the audience always seems to be on the same page.

Indeed. So jump on that page with us Boulder! Get your tickets for the show here. And check out Homevibe’s FB for event updates 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.