Sin Fronteras: Folks Fest Raises Voices in Solidarity

By: Riley Ann

Music from across the globe took the stage at the 2018 Folks Fest, including acts from the Saharan Desert, Canada, and the tasty melting pot of American folk music. Despite the lyrics being sung in various languages, spanning English, French, Spanish, and Tamashek, one message rang clear: strength in togetherness.

Las Cafeteras.

Las Cafeteras.

The East L.A.-based band Las Cafeteras took the stage by storm on Friday with their Afro-Mexican dance party. Vibrant choreography and hip-shaking rhythms amplified their Spanish and English lyrics advocating for social justice. Band members shared the spotlight trading off lead vocals, and they gave shoutouts to various causes, including Black Lives Matter, indigenous people’s rights, and more. They also performed a new rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” by blending Spanish phrases, new melodies, and a mariachi groove into the familiar tune as a modern commentary. You can see their live performance on KEXP and read the lyrics on their website.

Representatives of the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Boulder County joined Las Cafeteras onstage to recognize their contributions as artists to social justice issues. The chamber invited Las Cafeteras to Colorado on the band’s previous tour and thanked the band for the work they do through music as well as educational programs throughout the country.

Later that night, Los Lobos, another East L.A. band lit up the stage with their unique blend of traditional Latin American styles with rock, Tex-Mex, country, zydeco, R&B, blues, and soul. The group made waves in music history by bringing Latin American folk music back to top charts in the late 80s, revitalizing Ritchie Valens’ take on the traditional tune “La Bamba,” along with several other hit songs. While Valens was an early trailblazer in the Chicano Rock movement, Los Lobos carried the torch and kept the movement steady via mainstream radio airplay decades later. With their popularity, multiple Grammy Awards, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they’ve made their mark not just within the Chicano Rock movement, but also with deep ties in the ever-colorful tapestry of American folk music.

Heather Mae.

Heather Mae.

Saturday morning opened with Heather Mae, the artist who won last year’s Folks Fest songwriter competition. She moved the crowd with musical confessions about mental illness, overcoming oppression, and body image evidenced in her song “I Am Enough.” As an advocate for body positivity, LGBTQIA rights, people of color, and more, she thanked the festival organizers for curating such a diverse lineup throughout the weekend, saying, “They are trying to elevate marginalized voices, and that includes women. Thank you.” She concluded her set by inviting a chorus of performers to join her on stage for her power anthem “Stand Up.”

When Darrell Scott took the stage Saturday afternoon, he performed a song that he said was written by his friend Marcus Hummon. The narrative showed the life of a Honduran girl named Rosanna who escaped the physical and sexual abuse of the underground sex trafficking industry, bore a daughter, was profiled and arrested by police, was deported by I.C.E. back to Honduras, and nearly died in the desert trying to reunite with her daughter. Her true story is documented here, and you can hear Hummon’s album version here. The song left the crowd frozen and teary-eyed for Rosanna, the representation of people targeted by strict immigration policies and facing not just unfair, but impossible playing fields.

Saturday evening closed with the Indigo Girls. Despite heavy rains concluding their set early, they shared many of their signature songs, including “It’s Alright,” which is one of many that uses music as a vehicle for social change. The Indigo Girls served as one of the first bands to not only be public advocates for the LGBTQIA community, but also to be publicly out. Beloved by the crowd, the duo was joined by the sea of smiling faces singing along in the rain.

Bonnie Paine.

Bonnie Paine.

Bonnie Paine opened Sunday with the help of the “Cottonwood Choir” and instrumentalists featuring many familiar faces from the Front Range, including other members of Elephant Revival. The ensemble inspired the crowd to sing along with spirituals originating from slaves’ field songs about overcoming oppression.

That evening, Tinariwen quickly became a crowd favorite. The band’s fascinating blend of African stylings with American blues idioms created a strikingly unique sound. Furthermore, the band’s formation in refugee camps and resilience despite the backdrop of warfare, strife, and revolution speaks through the music even if listeners don’t know Tamashek. Over several decades, band members have survived against the odds and continue writing songs fighting for human rights and equality. They’ve even been called “Music’s True Rebels” by NPR. You can read more about the band’s background here.

Tinariwen.

Tinariwen.

Once again, Planet Bluegrass curated a powerful festival, giving festivarians an opportunity to see household names, like Regina Spektor, the Indigo Girls, and Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco) alongside the acts you didn’t know you wanted to see. Stay tuned at the Planet Bluegrass website for their lineup of next year’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Rockygrass, and Folks Fest.

View the full photo gallery from this event here.

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

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

Portugal. The Man Proved Their Reign In the Pop Rock Sphere at Recent Red Rocks Show

By: Hannah Oreskovich

The Lords of Portland landed in Morrison, CO yesterday at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Portugal. The Man, the progressive rock and recent “Best Pop Performance” 2018 Grammy winners made a sold-out stop at the Rocks between summer festival performances. Formed by John Gourley in 2002, Portugal. The Man originally started as a side project to Gourley’s group Anatomy of a Ghost. After a move to Portland from the group’s origins in Wasilla, Alaska, Gourley and bassist Zachary Caruthers began working on tunes for Portugal. The Man full-time, releasing their debut Waiter: "You Vultures!"  in 2006. The group put out another record in 2007, Church Mouth, and embarked on their first US tour in support of the record. The band then released a series of records with independent label Approaching AIRballoons before signing with Atlantic Records in 2010.

Portugal. The Man.

Portugal. The Man.

With a growing number of festival appearances and the success of their record Evil Friends (2013), Portugal. The Man continued to grow a strong international fan base. After more than a decade of building their brand of prog psych pop rock, Portugal. The Man achieved true worldwide fame for the pop hit “Feel It Still,” which just came out last year. After rising to the top of the Billboard charts, earning the band their aforementioned Grammy, and snagging them a ASCAP Vanguard Music Award, Portugal. The Man suddenly went from that band you once enjoyed seeing at a Bonnaroo tent to a major festival headliner. For this band, that switch appears as though it were seamless, though it took sixteen years.

Now comprised of Gourley and Carothers with Kyle O’Quin, Eric Howk, Jason Sechrist, and Zoe Manville, the six-piece had an incredible Red Rocks performance, both sonically, and in their stage production. Prior to the start of the show, the band had local Lakota tribe members give a blessing to fans before diving into their “For Whom The Bell Tolls” Metallica cover. They then transitioned into their Pink Floyd “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” mashup with their original “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” before sliding into a catalogue of their originals including “Live in the Moment,” “Noise Pollution,” and of course, “Feel It Still.” The band is known for inserting cover snippets into a mix with their own tracks, and this was evident to listeners with T. Rex’s “Creep In a T-Shirt,” Violent Femmes’ “Children of the Revolution,” The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” and the band’s encore, which featured a crazy mashup of their tracks “Sleep Forever,” “Plastic Soldiers,” and “Smile” with Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die,” and the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” It was also guitarist Eric Howk’s birthday, and the band had the crowd join in for a sing-along during their encore for this, which fans loved.

John Gourley.

John Gourley.

Along with their impressive instrumentalism, the band also had a massive projector onstage which displayed various messages from the band and “their management” since they claim to be bad with stage banter. This allowed for a great visual experience with the show whether you were close or far from the band, something that all major festival headliners know is important for a concert goer's experience. Gourley, who is also an artist, is as well-known to fans for his drawing, designs, and sketches, as he is for his music. Many of the art used throughout the show is his work, and was combined with lasers and projections onto the Rocks themselves, along with traditional stage lights.

Overall, the Lords of Portland proved their reign at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre with their sold-out show this past week. Take a listen to Portugal. The Man for yourselves here and keep up with the band’s current tour on their website.

See our full gallery of photos from this show here

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram.

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.

The Top 10 Must-See Artists at Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival 2018

Beyond the headliners, there are a number of awesome acts scheduled for this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival. Here are our must-sees:

Pitchfork.

Pitchfork.

Kweku Collins

Kweku Collins is from a suburb just north of Chicago, but has been lumped in with the rest of the Chicago artists on the scene. Collins’ music is a unique blend of self-produced beats over his own lyrics, which float somewhere between rapping and droned-out singing. He performed a wild set at Lollapalooza last year, and is sure to bring that same energy to the Pitchfork stage.

Ravyn Lenae

Pitchfork is notable for bringing a collective of artists together at this festival, but something they’re especially good at is tailoring the talent to represent not only the diversity of the industry, but also the Chicago acts who are hustling to the top. Ravyn Lenae is one of these special acts, along with Saba, Noname, Chicago transplant Smino, and northern suburban Kweku Collins. Ravyn Lenae recently released an EP with one of The Internet’s members, Steve Lacy, and went on tour as an opener for Sza, both have which have skyrocketed Lenae’s career this year. Lenae has migrated from a local Chicago favorite to a worldwide obsession. Still, she hones in on her city’s spirit and is sure to have a truly magical set.

Smino

Smino is a St. Louis native, but moved to Chicago to pursue his career as a rapper. He slept on studio floors while working non-stop and was eventually welcomed into Chicago’s tight knit music scene. Along with Ravyn Lenae, Smino was on tour with Sza, helping boost his tunes up the charts as well. His punchy lyrics and riffs of deliverance set him apart, so his set is sure to smash.

Syd

Syd is the breakout star hailing from two of Los Angeles’ most notable artist groups, The Internet and Odd Future. She worked with The Internet’s album Ego Death, which was nominated for a Grammy and has helped shape the sounds of many of LA’s influential artists. Since her debut album, Fin, Syd has been receiving nothing but accolades for her sultry blend of current hip-hop production with a voice that harks back to 90s R&B pop. Syd is a hallmark artist of our generation and an openly gay female who started off in two all-male rap groups and hustled her way into the world’s most competitive music scene.

Listen to our must-see artists on our Pitchfork playlist:

Saba

Saba is one of Chicago’s most special artists, and is the performer you should count yourself lucky to catch this year. At only 23 years young, Saba not only writes some of the most powerful lyrics you’ll listen to, he has also started a foundation and scholarship in the name of his recent friend John Walt. He’s an artist that not only puts on for his city, but he puts on for people. He dropped his second album prior to touring this year called CARE FOR ME, which is a migration from his previous sound but retains his incredible ability for raw storytelling (listen to “LIFE” for a reference on this ability).

Blood Orange

Dev Hynes, better known by his stage name Blood Orange, brought his ethereal sound to Pitchfork a few years ago and we’re more than excited to see his name on the lineup again. His 2016 album, Freetown Sound, combined a blend of sounds in and outside of music to create a textured landscape unlike any other. He claims he sat in Washington Square Park in New York City to write most of this record. It was there where he caught and recorded a lot of the extra sounds you hear throughout this album, such as a saxophone being played in the distance. The integration of these environmental sounds creates a mysterious, diary-like experience for the listener. You won’t want to miss catching these vibes in the late afternoon sun on Saturday.

Big Thief

Brooklyn indie rock band Big Thief are bringing their synth-tinged guitars and rock-influenced siren-like vocals to Pitchfork’s fest. Their songs are a nice mix of slow, dreamy tunes and more aggressive rock beats. This sonic mix has landed them on a tour with Conor Oberst (frontman of Bright Eyes, one of indie rock’s most legendary acts), as well as an NPR tiny desk concert.

Julie Byrne

Being compared to the likes of Joni Mitchell takes a special person, and Julie Byrne is evidently one of the rare ones. Leaving home at 18, she stumbled into music to quench her own happiness and has since established a name for herself. Living a wandering lifestyle prior to her recognition has molded her music into a soft and observant sound, which will sound beautiful outdoors at Pitchfork.

Joshua Abrams

Joshua Abrams will be bringing some much needed jazz to Pitchfork, a genre too often underrepresented especially at festivals. An early member of the group The Roots, Abrams has built up his career in Chicago’s strong jazz scene. His set will be a unique vibe on Friday, and will set the weekend off perfectly for any music enthusiast.

The War on Drugs

Indie rock veterans The War on Drugs recently won a 2017 Grammy for “Best Rock Album.” They tell fantastic stories in their lyrics while also making some thought-provoking statements, simultaneously rocking into immense guitar tangents that take listeners to another dimension, and Adam Granduciel’s voice has a hauntingly beautiful tone guaranteed to give a listener chills.

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

Umphrey's McGee Crushed Their Recent Stint of Red Rocks Shows on 'It's You' Tour

By: Will Baumgartner

When you hear the phrase “rock music,” what do you think of? Not one specific thing, probably, unless you’ve only listened to a handful of “rock” bands who all sound the same. There’s a reason for this, and it’s simple: Of all the musical genres, rock is the only one broad enough to incorporate elements of many of the others. If you say “jazz” or “hip-hop "grindcore,” and I’d argue you’re more likely to hear a more blueprinted sound in your head. Rock, however, conjures a field as wide as the sky above at, oh, say, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater in Morrison CO, on a beautiful clear night in early July.

Umphrey's McGee at the Rocks. Photo Credit:   Cy Fontenot

Umphrey's McGee at the Rocks. Photo Credit: Cy Fontenot

Recently, I attended a concert by masters of cross-wired rock Umphrey’s McGee during their three-night residency at Red Rocks last weekend. While I was admittedly not steeped in their music, I’d heard enough UM that I was sure I’d like to see them live and I’d heard their shows were electrifying examples of tightness, groove, and onstage inventiveness. And also, there was nowhere else I could imagine being happier on my birthday than at Red Rocks absorbing a legendary live band for the first time.

I had not been misinformed on the rumors of UM live, and my intuition was also spot on: Umphrey’s McGee transported me along with thousands of other blissed-out music lovers, to a kind of rock heaven. I just couldn’t believe how good they were. Sure, people can tell you about a band and their shows ad infinitum; you can even watch full-concert videos. But none of that fully prepared me for the actual experience.

Photo Credit:   Cy Fontenot

Photo Credit: Cy Fontenot

When attempting to describe the show to friends and fellow musicians, I found myself grasping for words beyond ones like “tight” and “inventive,” because they just didn’t seem emphatic or expansive enough. Live, Umphrey’s are tighter than the gear works of a Swiss watch. Their group improvisations are as seamless, creative, and mind-blowing as an MC Escher print. And often, they went even further to where, in keeping with their cross-genre style, it was like being in a sonic world co-created by Escher and cosmic visionary artist Alex Grey, with a score co-composed by the love children of Miles DavisJerry GarciaBootsy Collins, and… uh, I guess a bunch of prog rockers from bands like Yes, and… oh, I give up! Frank Zappa once said something like writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Of course he was right in this observation, and in no case more aptly so than here.

If you haven’t seen UM live yet, you should, and if it’s been a while since your last time, you should go again. If these words are unworthy of their subject in any other respect, if they can get more people to share the Umphrey’s experience, I’ll feel that I’ve done the world some good. Though I can’t count myself as an old fan who knows all their songs, a lot of the material in their two-set show the night I saw them wasn’t stuff I could sing along with, with the exception of their cover of DJ Zebra’s Beatles/Nine Inch Nails mashup “Come Closer.” I didn’t sing along, but that was only because I was too busy digging how they did it.

Another notable aspect of this night’s many-faceted performance was the way these guys could layer and build, and then strip down and rebuild to yet another and even higher climax, to the point where it was hard to tell if they’d gone into a new song, or just taken the one they were doing to some dizzying new height. At one point, I realized that everyone but the two guitarists had stopped, and that was it: no bass, no drums, no percussionist or keys, just these two guitars dancing on a beautiful bridge of sonic sculpture. It was so dense and at the same time, so pointedly connected like a constellation viewed in striking detail. I just kept slowly shaking my head, trying to wrap around the fact that all this was coming from just two guitars. So I thought, “Oh yeah, effects. Effects, pedals.” But when once again, I looked closely, I saw that most of what was going on was coming from just those four hands, sixteen spidery fingers weaving their web.

While a large chunk of the concert not surprisingly came from their January 2018 release It’s Not Us (though the tour is named after the just-released companion It’s You), the band drew widely from their entire 21-year history and, in classic genre-hopping style, kept it all well mixed. They moved from their crunchiest prog-rock burners into the occasional bits of country-folkish type material, and some of their simpler funk-driven dance numbers, which gave guitarist/vocalist Brendan Bayliss ample opportunity to employ his rather cutely effective falsetto. And for sing-along songs, I’d be hard pressed to find one more irresistible than their cover of George Michael’s “Freedom.” The members of Umphrey’s may not spend a lot of time and effort on showmanship- they barely said anything at all between songs, preferring to let the music speak for itself- but there was much more going on at Red Rocks than just dazzling musical wizardry. This is clearly a feel-good band, just one that doesn’t encourage shutting down your brain while your feet are moving.

Photo Credit:   Cy Fontenot

Photo Credit: Cy Fontenot

Still, while acknowledging the good-time aspect of their shows, I don’t want to underemphasize this band’s outrageous skill on their instruments. Wikipedia’s UM page makes an important point about the group, and it was what I felt most defined the concert I experienced it. While Umphrey’s may be commonly grouped in with “jam bands” because of their varying setlists, improvisation, and encouraging taping of their shows, their overall sound owes much more to progressive rock artists like King Crimson, early Genesis, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and the aforementioned Yes and Frank Zappa. I was also reminded of one of the first bands to advance the “jam band” prototype, The Allman Brothers, in the sheer and near-delirious power they cooked up as they brought their jams to full boil. And you just can’t do this without being overtly adept, not only at your own individual instruments, but also at the skillful interweaving of those talents combined with a highly developed sense of composition and dynamics. Guitarists Bayliss and Jake Cinninger, bassist Ryan Stasik, keyboardist/vocalist Joel Cummins, drummer/vocalist Kris Myers, and percussionist Andy Farag all displayed these musical attributes in spades.

I could go on but, okay, I think I’ve done enough dancing about Umphrey’s McGee’s splendid architecture for one article. Let’s just finish by repeating an earlier sentiment: whether you’re looking for virtuosity or just a very good time, get yourself to one of the shows on this tour, get on down to your local record store and pick up It’s Not Us and It’s You and then… well, just relax and enjoy. Umphrey’s will do the heavy lifting from there.

-Will

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

No Small Children- a Band of Elementary School Teachers- Is Rockin' Summer Break

By: Nathan Sheppard

School’s out for summer and these elementary school teachers are living the rockstar life. L.A.’s No Small Children are making the most of their summer break and hitting the road to promote their new album What Do The Kids Say? and last week the band made their first stop in Denver at Lost Lake.

No Small Children.

No Small Children.

The ladies shared the stage with local bands The Lollygags and The Patient Zeros. From the first note, NSC let us know we were in for a fierce punk rock show. The stage presence from each member was clear as they took charge of the venue to get everyone dancing along with them. The ladies had the intimate crowd singing along with them too, and entertained us with the occasional joke between tunes. It was a great show all around and a must-see when they come to a town near you!

On What Do The Kids Say?, which was released this past May, each song is put together brilliantly and has a flow that makes it really enjoyable to listen to. “Then It Woke” is a fast-paced rock song that is hard-hitting to get you head banging. “It’s All for Love” is another banger, and one that is super catchy.

No Small Children (7).jpg

No Small Children have a short stint of shows in California planned before heading to the East Coast to continue their summer touring, which includes a stop at Chicago’s Riot Fest.  

-Nathan

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

Race To Neptune Are Either the Black Sheep of Fort Collins or It's Next Big Thing

By: Brody Coronelli

With a new lineup, the band’s heavy, technical, and invigorating new EP Abandon Fashion showcases their evolution as a band, and what sets them aside from their counterparts.

Race To Neptune.

Race To Neptune.

With a spellbing conceptual precision that blends scuzzy ‘90s grunge-rock, darkwave, and the teeth-kicking emotional thunder of punk in a manner that makes heads bang, dice tumble, and PA systems growl, Race to Neptune are one of Fort Collins’ loudest, eclectic, and ferocious rock bands.

The band made their debut in 2016 with Oh Contraire, an album that had a few moments of brazen, fiery chargings into up-tempo punk-rock, but for the most part stayed on the melodic side, using dark, midtempo, and gritty instrumentation to surround frontman Brian Maier’s personal and biting lyrics in a shadowy glow. On the Thurston Moore-reminiscent “Wanderlilly,” the guitars are loud and fiery, but immensely tasteful and bright as the band uses a catchy refrain and echoing harmonies to guide the song into a warm resonance. The song is forceful and delicate all at once; a balance the band had no issue finding on that album.

On their new EP Abandon Fashion, the band has kept the technical sensibilities of their debut intact, making use of raw, punkish energy to play their eclectic and progressive brand of rock’n’roll. Many of the songs have a raw and thundering approach that takes more after punk-rock than it does from brazen, technical, and melodic broods through the dimly lit streets of Oh Contraire. These songs aim to ignite, but not in a typical four-chord punk rock fashion. The band uses this driving energy and delivers it with an array of sonic intricacies in a way that’s more indicative of artists like Jack White, Black Sabbath, and Queens of The Stone Age rather than Subhumans or The Germs.

“I think [Abandon Fashion] is a two word statement that almost signifies that we are going to write, record, and do what we want and how we want, no matter what is cool, trendy, or ‘in fashion’,” says frontman Brian Maier.

The whole EP was cut live at Stout Studios in Fort Collins, capturing a raw and forthright energy that often can’t be found when meticulously multi-tracking or chasing the perfect take. This raw approach, balanced with the driving and aggressive nature of the songs makes Abandon Fashion a fierce, unrelenting pleasure.

“I honestly have always wanted to [record the way we did on this record] because it captures the aggressiveness and raw energy of how we actually sound that can’t be faked. I think if we recorded the first album the same way those songs would have come across just as heavy. Track by track recording is so dialed in and precise in every way from the smallest turn of an amp or pedal knob to how hard we strum or hit a drum or cymbal. This was total freedom and we recorded this just how we practice and this is how we sound live, because it is!” says frontman Brian Maier.

The opening track “Mortal Melody” features a nearly two-minute chugging intro with guitars that gradually grow more jagged, and pummelling drums that grow fiercer with each strike. The song is a garage-driven excursion that has all the thrill of driving down an empty desert highway going fifty over the speed limit. “I’ll be your creature/Can you teach me to teach/Sing to me slowly/In a motor melody,” Maier sings with a quiet growl on top of a scuzzy and aggressive bassline.

The Sonic Youth and Modest Mouse inspired “Departure” follows, a scuzzy rocker with a chanting, harmonic, and arena rock-reminiscent chorus. “Sunsets” is an older song of Maier’s that resurfaced while the band was tracking the album. With a beachy, sunburnt instrumental that feels like a long drive by the coast and lyrics about running off to California, it’s a bright and infectious song by a band that often defaults to the shadows.

The closing track “Abandon Fashion” is a return to form for the band. The entirely instrumental song opens with a fit of siren-esque picking, only to devolve into a showdown of fiery, circling guitars that get more aggressive with every note. What starts out capturing a warm sunset quickly starts to resemble a sky littered with flames, dancing down to the ground.

The album artwork for  Abandon Fashion .

The album artwork for Abandon Fashion.

In more ways than one, Abandon Fashion marks a new beginning for the band. Not only is it a step into new musical territory, but the band underwent two significant lineup changes before making it. With Matt Petersen now on drums and Matt McNear on bass, the band’s sound is shifting in a different direction. Their influences are made loud and clear, and their presences melding with Maier’s technical and anthemic songwriting have led to Race of Neptune’s most invigorating record so far.

“I think it has been a pretty seamless transition,” says Petersen. “We got comfortable together really quickly. Matt just came on as bassist late February and we were in the studio the first week of April. I think that's definitely a testament to our cohesiveness. [Matt and I] both have a strong jazz background with our instruments which allows us to keep time really well while getting out of the rhythmic box bass and drums can sometimes be confined to in rock music. We are also all involved in the writing process… it’s a very cumulative sound you’re hearing.”

Race to Neptune underwent a quick evolution on Abandon Fashion, and for the better. It’s an invigorating, technical, and fun record that sets the band at the forefront of Fort Collins’ music scene. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t outliers, though. In a scene dominated by folk, EDM, and bluegrass, Race to Neptune are a shining beacon of musical progression and experimentation run through a filter of loud, raw, and eclectic rock.

“There has been a little increase in rock bands and venues in the [Fort Collins] area which is nice, but we are still the black sheep of the music scene up here. It is still very much dominated by jam bands, DJs and bluegrass, but we are trying very hard to support other local rock bands as well,” Maier says.

When the musical cohesiveness, energy, and vision of a band like Race To Neptune are all working together, maybe being the black sheep isn’t a bad thing; maybe it’s a sign that they’re at a the forefront of new sound and identity for Northern Colorado. It’s too early to say, but considering how far they’ve come as a band on only two records, anything is possible.

Abandon Fashion is out now. You can keep up with Race to Neptune here.

-Brody

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

Compass & Cavern Release New Music Video For "Before it Begins" ...In Reverse

By: Norman Hittle

Denver-based pop/rock duo Compass & Cavern have been working hard on bringing you quality media since 2015, and their newly released video for “Before it Begins” doesn’t disappoint!

At first you may be thinking this video isn’t anything groundbreaking. I mean, sure the song is cool, but they’re just kind of singing and playing instruments. But then maybe it’ll dawn on you as it did for me, the ENTIRE video is put together in reverse and then reversed again to play forward! And then I really started looking closely: Is frontman Will Timbers playing that solo accurately backwards? Is synthesist Chris Frucci also playing the correct keys in reverse? It seems like it!

Though yes, this technique isn’t their original concept, you have to give them some big props for putting together such a well rehearsed production that most bands wouldn’t spend a quarter of the time on. And it’s especially cool when considering the real-time actions they have in the background of different scenes, like Chris spray painting walls while Will is singing and playing. Moments like these give you the unmistakable knowledge that the band didn’t edit the crap out of their footage to make these things work.

Compass & Caverns. Photo Credit: Jason Neal Menon

Compass & Caverns. Photo Credit: Jason Neal Menon

“Before it Begins” is the title track from Compass & Cavern’s 2017 full length release. As with a decent amount of their music, C&C show a definite influence from other hip-hop-meets-pop-rock acts with nods to bands like 311, Twenty One Pilots, and Fall Out Boy.

The band has a good amount of performances booked for the rest of the month and into June, so check out their dates here and try to make it out to one of their upcoming shows!

-Norman

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

Why Rainbow Kitten Surprise Is Slowly Taking Over the Rock Realm

By: Benjamin Tillis

In March 2017, Rainbow Kitten Surprise performed in front of 500 people at Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles. Just over a year later, in May of 2018, the alternative folk rock band headlined one of two sold out shows at Hollywood’s Fonda Theater, a venue that seats 1,200. Needless to say, RKS’ rise to fame has been quick, and based on their electric performance and quality new album, it is likely they will soon be a well-known name to most rock music fans.

On April 6th, Rainbow Kitten Surprise released their third studio album How to: Friend, Love, Freefall, a space-themed, 36-minute record that expands on RKS’ raw sound and witty lyrics. The biggest development from previous albums was lead singer Sam Melo’s addition of rap verses as heard in songs like “When It Lands.” RKS primarily performed songs from their new release, but still stayed true to old fans by playing classics like “Devil Like Me” and “Seven.”

Rainbow Kitten Surprise. Photo Credit: Emily Quirk 

Rainbow Kitten Surprise. Photo Credit: Emily Quirk 

What was most exciting about the band’s recent Fonda performance was each member’s energy throughout the show. Melo, a trained dancer, never stopped twirling around stage, bouncing from front and center upstage to playing the piano across stage, often multiple times in one song. He seemed to be acting out each of his theatrically written lyrics with every dance move and hand gesticulation. Lead guitarist and backup vocalist Darrick “Bozzy” Keller didn’t refrain from showing his energy either. He rocked back in forth to the music and did not hold back when he briefly took the role of lead singer for parts of their song “Recktify.”

The performance of the night had to be on “Hide,” which is arguably the best received single from the new album. Written by Melo about recently his personal journey of coming out as gay, the song touches on finding and accepting love, and the track was released with a powerful music video which follows drag queens in the rural south who revealing their identities to their family in the video. Fans have been quick to claim this as their favorite new song, and all were pleased, but not surprised, when RKS started playing "Hide" track near the closing of their set.

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After announcing the band had two more songs, RKS went ahead and delivered three tracks before coming out for a five-song encore that finished with a head-banging “Run.” The crew blew the fans away throughout their entire set, and there is no telling what size venue they will play on their next Los Angeles run. But something tells us it’s going to be big. Bowl show anyone? Fingers crossed for RKS' rock takeover. 

-Benjamin

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

Modest Mouse Gave Us All a Mother's Day Present at Sold-Out Red Rocks Show

By: Nathan Sheppard

For a day filled with Mother's Day events, Modest Mouse put an extra cherry on top of a great Sunday with an epic performance at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

Modest Mouse. 

Modest Mouse. 

With a few sprinkles of rain here and there, Portland natives Mimicking Birds started off the festivities with a very mellow set. It's not easy to be an opener for such a popular band at a place like Red Rocks but they did a solid job. That being said, it didn't seem like many people knew who they were but it’s definitely worth looking them up if you are into the spacey jam band sound.

With people still streaming into the sold-out show as they started their set, Modest Mouse took the stage and played some throwback tunes “3rd Planet” and “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” to get everyone moving and grooving. The band who started out as just a trio over 25 years ago has now grown into an eight-piece supergroup which includes violin, horns, and a few keyboards. Their ability to evolve shows they know how to keep the entertainment going strong by adding all of these different elements to their music, and it showed even more when 10,000 plus people were singing along to their songs. The mix of old favorites like “Float On” and new songs from their latest records filled the 15-song set and was followed with a marathon encore of six songs!  The house lights turned on but people still wanted more and they got what they asked for: a SECOND encore! The guys played another four tracks for everyone and topped off the set with “The Tortoise and the Tourist” from their last album Strangers to Ourselves.

You can follow Modest Mouse and see their upcoming shows here.

See more photos from this event in our gallery. 

-Nathan

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.

Colorado Music Festivals 2018: Your Official Guide To Fest Season

Festival season is the biggest time of the year for the music world. So here at BolderBeat, we’ll be updating this feature with every Colorado festival announcement that comes our way. Stay as on the pulse as we are:

May Play Music Festival May 11th

Downtown Greeley is hosting their fourth annual May Play fest with artists like The Burroughs, Brent Cowles, Slow Caves, Silver & Gold, and Post Paradise on the bill. There are a ton of other great local artists to check out, so swoop details and tickets here.

Spread The Word Music Festival May 11th-13th

Taking place at Denver’s Fox Street Compound, Spread The Word features a mix of local and national artists with styles including rock, jam, funk, reggae, hip-hop, folk/grass, electronic and fusion. Headliners of this year's fest include Jeff Austin Band (formerly of Yonder Mountain String Band), Everyone Orchestra (conducted by Matt Butler), A-Mac & The Height, and Bass Physics. Full lineup here.

303 Music Festival May 17th

Hosted by Ru Johnson at Denver's The Church, 303 Magazine is bringing you one awesome night of local music. Trev Rich, CITRA, Eldren, and The Other Black are just some of the bands on the lineup. Full details and tickets here

Five Points Jazz Festival May 19th

This FREE annual festival is back this year in Denver's Five Points neighborhood and will feature artists like Jakarta, The King Stan Band, Impulse, The Hendersons, Patrick McDevitt Nation, and more. You can bounce between venues or just walk around and take in all the good sounds. Full lineup and details here.

Mountain Games June 7th-10th

GoPro is putting on a festival in Vail with headliners like Chris Robinson Brotherhood, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Bonfire Dub, and The Wood Brothers. The weekend will also feature a slew of athletic events, including competitions for your dog, a silent disco, and art exhibits. You can grab tickets to Mountain Games here.

Greeley Blues Jam June 8th-9th

The Greeley Blues Jam keeps the blues scene alive and this year, their lineup includes The Devon Allman Project, Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters, and Danielle Nicole. This is one weekend you’ll enjoy being blue. Full lineup on their website.

Taste of Fort Collins June 8th-10th

The 22nd annual Taste of Fort Collins headliners include William Michael Morgan, Eddie Money, Everlast, and Judah & the Lion. Tickets are only $5-$10 and the fest is hosted at Civic Center Park in Old Towne. Grab more info on their website.

Country Jam June 14th-17th

Grand Junction will host Country Jam’s 27th annual four-day fest this year. Florida Georgia Line, Miranda Lambert, Brantley Gilbert, Brett Eldredge, and Big & Rich top the headliners list of the 30+ artists that will play to your boot kickin’ desire. Surrounded by the red rocks of GJ, this festival annually hosts some of the biggest names in country music. More info at this link.

Sonic Bloom Festival June 14th-17th

If you like electronic music, there’s no better place to be than Colorado’s Sonic Bloom Festival. Happening at Hummingbird Ranch in Spanish Peaks Country, the weekend will feature performances from Shpongle, Keys N Krates, Nightmares On Wax, Liquid Stranger, EOTO and a huge array of other beatmasters. The festival will also feature yogis and movement leaders, as well as interpretive artists. And did we mention the visuals? Full lineup here.

Telluride Bluegrass Festival June 15th-18th

Telluride Bluegrass Festival celebrates its 45th year this summer! Tedeschi Trucks Band, Greensky Bluegrass, and Leftover Salmon top the fest’s 2018 list. We can tell you from past experience that this fest is magical and we’ve even met some our favorite musicians at (where else?) the Port-a-Potties. More info and tickets here.

Cover Rock Festival June 22nd-23rd

Looking for tunes from tribute bands? This festival is all about it. Hosted in Avon, Cover Rock Festival will feature tributes to artists like Simon & Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen, The Doors, the late Tom Petty (RIP!!), and others. More info and tickets here.

Westword Music Showcase June 23rd

Denver’s alt weekly newspaper will host their annual summer celebration this year. With Galantis, Bonobo, The Front Bottoms, Joywave, and a ton of local artists, this will be one to clink a summer beer to and enjoy. More info and tickets on their website.

Van’s Warped Tour July 1st

Warped Tour recently announced that 2018 will be the last year for the traveling festival. Though much has changed since what was arguably Warped Tour’s heyday (moshing is now frowned upon), we’re still sad to see it go. Give these bands a proper send-off- locals 30H!3 are top-billed with acts like All Time Low, Asking Alexandria, and more. Tickets here.

Colorado Rocky Mountain Old Time Music Association (CROMA) July 11th-15th

CROMA's annual Parrish Ranch festival features a great old-time music lineup, workshops, nightly dances, open jams, classes for kids, open stage times, and couples dance workshops. The festival manages to keep old traditions alive while also bringing a modern twist to some elements. Artists at this year's fest will include Bryant and Brown, The Onlies, Betse & Clarke, The Barn Owls, Patt and Possum, Caroline Oakley, Chris Kemiet, and Larry Edelman. Get full details and tickets here.

The Ride Festival July 14th-15th

The String Cheese Incident, Sheryl Crow, and Grace Potter will headline The Ride Festival this year, another Telluride fest that is sure to get you groovin’. Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Big Something, and others will keep your summer-chill vibes in check at this one. Full lineup here.

Global Dance Festival July 20th-21st

If you’re ready to dance, Global’s got a crazy mix of electronic and hip-hop artists like Deadmau5, Gucci Mane, Future, and Machine Gun Kelly topping their list. The event is at Sports Authority Field this year and you can snag tickets here.

The Underground Music Showcase July 27th-29th

One of our absolute favorite weekends of the summer is Denver’s The UMS due to its focus on local artists, and all the fun that comes along with wandering around the South Broadway venues hosting the three-day event. In news this year, Two Parts has taken over the event. This year's lineup is stellar with headliners like Alvvays, BJ the Chicago Kid, Classixx, Deerhunter, Digable Planets and over 100 local artists who we absolutely adore. Tickets and full details here

Rockygrass Festival July 27th-29th

Bluegrass, bluegrass, and more bluegrass. That’s what Rockygrass in Lyons is all about! Last year, the festival showed us the changing face of the genre. This year, Sam Bush Bluegrass Band, David Grisman and Peter Rowan, and Hot Rize are already confirmed for this pickin’ celebration, so get your tickets now. More info and tickets at this link.

ARISE Music Festival August 3rd-5th

Colorado’s ARISE is back for its sixth year at Loveland’s Sunrise Ranch, and features seven stages of live music, yoga, workshops, theme camps, art galleries & installations, a children’s village, speakers, and films! Some of the top billed artists for 2017 include Slightly Stoopid, Thievery Corporation, and Trevor Hall. Get more details here.

Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest August 10th-12th

Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest is a FREE, recurring, three-day music festival held every August in the historic downtown of Fort Collins. Bohemian Nights headliners this year include The Motet, Blondie, and The Decemberists. The festival also hosts a number of local bands on their stages- get the full schedule and details for the weekend here.

Local Jam Grand Junction August 10th-12th

Known for its "creativity, passion, dedication, style,  [and] massive talent," Grand Junction's three-day festival Local Jam is a celebration of Western Slope bands ranging from metal to bluegrass. Stray Grass, Jack + Jill, Suckafish, Tim + Richard, and others have been announced for the year. Full details and lineup here.

Mountain Town Music Festival August 17th-18th

Back for its fifth year, Keystone’s Mountain Town Music Festival features a mix of rock and grass bands like Ages & Ages, Mipso, Strange Americans, and Shovels & Rope. The fest is a celebration of “all things Colorado” so you can expect some good brews along with the shows. More info and tickets here.

Velorama Colorado August 17th-19th

Following the Colorado Classic bicycle race, Velorama is returning to Denver’s RiNo Neighborhood for its second year this summer. Cold War Kids, Matt & Kim, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, and The Kills are the bands announced so far, and you don’t have to bike in the race to partake in the party. Plus local acts Brent Cowles, Wildermiss, and Slow Caves are on the bill! More about this new fest here.

Rocky Mountain Folks Festival August 17th-19th

Rocky Mountain Folks Festival showcased artists who brought current politics into their tunes last year, bringing people together in solidarity. Along with its songwriting workshops, the Lyons, CO fest created an awesome artistic community that managed to showcase great national acts too. Indigo Girls, Jeff Tweedy, and Los Lobos have been announced for this year’s fest. Tickets here.

Compound Sound Festival August 24th-26th

Boogie Groove Entertainment is producing this year's first annual Compound Sound. What started as friends performing at a private ranch in 2009 has officially launched into a major music festival. Along with headliners like Cycles, Lucid Vision, Tnertle, and Spectacle, the fest will also have food trucks and vendors, yoga and flow workshops, a healing village and "many more shenanigans." Details and tickets here

Four Corners Folk Festival August 31st-September 2nd

Pagosa Springs 23rd annual Four Corners Folks Fest is ready for a campout with bands like Nahko And Medicine For The People, Amy Helm, We Banjo 3, and Jon Stickley Trio. The weekend will also feature jam camps for kids and adults, and lots of tasty local vendors. See more for yourself and grab camping info and tickets here.

Jazz Aspen Snowmass August 31st-September 2nd

Lionel Richie, Jack Johnson, Zac Brown Band, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Fitz and the Tantrums, Gary Clark Jr., Bahamas, and The Record Company are the big acts at Jazz Aspen’s Labor Day event this year. JAS has a smaller June event too, which will feature Lizz Wright, Leslie Odom Jr., Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, Josh Kagler and Harmonistic Praise Crusade, and Georgia On My Mind: A Tribute To Ray Charles. Details on both events here.

Seven Peaks Music Festival August 31st-September 2nd

Dierks Bentley is throwing a three-day music festival in Chaffee County this year with headliners like Miranda Lambert, Brothers Osborne, Elle King, Lanco, Del McCoury, Sam Bush and The Cadillac Three. The new fest is a real treat for country lovers and the scenery of Buena Vista sure won't hurt! Get details and tickets here.

Denver Jazz Festival September 14th-16th

With a mix of local and international jazz acts, Denver Jazz Festival promises over 600 dancers and listeners for their three-day fest. Hal Smith's Swing Central, Jonathan Doyle Swingtet, Red Hot Rhythm Rocket, and many others are on the lineup. Check out news and get tickets here.

Grandoozy September 14th-16th

Superfly, the geniuses behind Bonnaroo, are bringing Grandoozy to Denver this year! In what could possibly be the biggest festival production the state has seen, headliners have already been announced and include Kendrick Lamar, Florence + The Machine, and Stevie Wonder. Sturgill Simpson, Miguel, and St. Vincent have also made the list; Denver-based acts Tennis, Dragondeer, Gasoline Lollipops, and Flaural will perform as well. This fest is our most highly anticipated of 2018 so don’t snoozy- Tier 1 tickets are already sold-out so grab your passes here.

Telluride Blues & Brews September 14th-16th

As regular festivalgoers of Blues & Brews say, “It's not the altitude that'll take your breath away. It's the views.” That, and of course, the music. This year, Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, Govt Mule, Booker T’s Stax Revue, JJ Grey & Mofro, and Anders Osborne will headline. Early bird tickets are already sold-out, so grab passes while you can here.

Festivals of The Past

Wondering what happened to some of your other favorite Colorado festivals? Project Pabst dissipated into the PBR-fueled mountain air with no Denver announcement this year (but Superfly who put it on is the force behind Grandoozy). Bass Center is now in Virginia after the fest was first moved from Colorado to New Jersey last year; Divide Music Festival, who were rumored to return this year, has now been postponed until 2019 stating, “greater forces are working against us;” Groove Festival’s web presence is still replaced by this Japanese site making us still question everything; Mad Decent Block Party appears to have officially gone off the radar; Riot Fest has again only listed its Chicago date in 2018 after the fest cancelled its Denver show last year; and Vertex (which we freakin’ loved) appears to be a distant dream after it was cancelled in 2017.

Make sure to keep up with our festival coverage all summer on BolderBeat’s dedicated fest page!

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

Teen Group Eighty Percent Human Cut Their Teeth On Familiar Radio Rock Covers

By: Pete Laffin

In terms of raw talent and potential, new Boulder pop-rock outfit Eighty Percent Human can go toe-to-toe with anyone on the Front Range. Comprised of siblings Carly and Coby Mandell, Jed Alpert, and Ty Schwarzer, these kids (and by kids I mean kids- two of them aren’t in high school yet) have begun cutting their teeth on familiar radio rock covers, but with unfamiliar energy and candor. For now, this is their calling card: infusing what is “played out” to the older set with a vibrancy only the recently familiar can generate. At their most recent gig at Jamestown Mercantile, they managed to make “Smells Like Teen Spirit” smell fresh with singer/keyboard player Carly howling Cobain’s lyrics about teenage alienation with authority and authenticity. You can feel that these kids feel it. It’s damn cool.

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And here’s the fun part. Front man Coby can write an original rock song that sticks to the ribs at his ripe young age. His maiden voyage into the craft didn’t just succeed in a generic sense; it won the eTown “Handmade Songs” competition in 2017. Other original work I’ve been privileged to hear shows similar promise.

That’s the word that defines them now. Their raw talent nearly ensures that they will bud into something special. But into what exactly? Brother Mandell’s songwriting will determine that. For now, though, you won’t want to miss these kids should they come to a venue close by. The coolest part of the storm is its gathering. And that’s just what Eighty Percent Human is up to: kicking up dust and howling through the trees.

-Pete

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

Hollywood Undead Bring Unique Rap-Rock Blend to the Fillmore This Week

By: Nathan Sheppard

Rap-rock group Hollywood Undead, best known for their debut album Swan Songs, will be hitting the Fillmore Auditorium this Wednesday, April 18th for a co-headlining show with In This Moment and support acts Ded and The Word Alive.

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The five-piece band from Los Angeles, known for their intricate mask designs, released their fifth studio album Five last October and are taking their new beats on the road this spring. You can anticipate a mix of their new material including “California Dreaming” but also some fan favorites like “Undead” from the guys. Hollywood Undead are known for their crazy live shows, so with the first stop of the tour being in Denver, expect the energy to be through the roof as both headliners put on an epic performance. You can check out the newest album here and tickets for the event can be found here.

Keep up with Hollywood Undead on Facebook

-Nathan

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

We's Us' Newest EP Was Recorded at Jake Cinninger of Umphrey's McGee's Studio

By: Will Baumgartner

Denver has always been a great town for rock, and the powerhouse quartet known as We’s Us are busy proving that tradition is still alive and well. Their recent EP Zeus is the latest in a handful of strong releases the band has put out since their formation in 2012 – and guitarist/frontman Michael “Weeze” Dawald has a lot more time and focus to devote to the group since leaving the bacchanalian funk band Rowdy Shadehouse last year.

We's Us.

We's Us.

Zeus is a three-song document which showcases the power of the band and also their diversity. While the band’s musical personality falls squarely in the rock genre, their self-proclaimed influences include bands like Soundgarden and Led Zeppelin, but also range as wide as James Brown, George Clinton, and Bob Marley

Zeus was recorded in October 2017 at Umphrey’s McGee guitarist Jake Cinninger’s Boondocks Studio in Niles, Michigan. The engineer on the record was Jim Leep, who has recorded Umphrey’s and Yonder Mountain String Band, among others. It was co-produced by Cinninger, Dawald, and Willie Waldman. Waldman also played trumpet on the third track, an ethereal instrumental called “Passing of a Soul” which was written for Dawald’s grandmother (and played at her funeral). Cinninger also guests on the recording, adding a second guitar to the title track. Keyboardist Stephen Howell, bassist Chris Crantz, and drummer Blake Manion lay down a solid foundation throughout the EP, and Dawald proves himself not only a ridiculously fierce guitarist, but also a strong vocalist. I’ve personally known Weeze for awhile and always been a fan of his playing, but I never knew he could sing like that.

After listening to this and other recordings by We’s Us, you’ll be eager to see the band bring all the fury and passion of their music to the stage! Lucky for you We’s Us play in Denver this Friday the 13th at Your Mom’s House. Get yourself there and in the meantime, give Zeus a listen.

Keep up with We’s Us on Facebook.

-Will

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

Review: The Hunger Artist Release New Indie Rock EP 'Uh...'

By: Trevor Ryan

Colorado’s mysterious underground indie rock outfit The Hunger Artist are at it again with a second studio recorded EP titled Uh…, and the four-piece collective have really given us summer pangs with their newest music.

Uh… has heavy-hitter influences from bands like The Strokes and even Cage the Elephant, but The Hunger Artist’s brand of indie rock has a vibe all its own. Think summer jams on steroids. You’ll have roadtrip feels from these tracks the whole way through. Uh… is sure to get you ready for summer adventures, and keep you thoroughly entertained all at once.

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The record starts off with the track “Gotta Live a Life,” which was also featured on the 2016 release of Rock Against Trump, a collaborative effort featuring various artists. As you may have guessed, “Gotta Live a Life” has a political stance throughout, though it never veers from its upbeat positive roots and heavy distortion. A great opener for the EP, this song gives you the overall feeling of who the band is and what they’re about, and all while proving a point.

From here, we’re led into “I kno! You Don’t Know.” Featured as the single of the record, and even supported by a music video of its own, this is where we start to genuinely hear those iconic influences. Strokes-esque in sound, “I kno! You Don’t Know” utilizes heavy, dirty guitar riffs accompanied by a hard-hitting, yet simple upbeat rhythm. With that, you get these wailing, lung-clenching vocals, making this track a superb choice for the single release.

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Finally, and most significantly in my book, is the ballad “Darling Please.” With heart-grabbing lines like, “We've been changing for so long/It turns out maybe we're both wrong,” this is the one that will have you in the feels. Lyrically, you’ll find that The Hunger Artist have a simplistic way of subtly conveying a message with a profound, witty passion and powerhouse vocals.

“Uh…” is set for release on April 18th. You can find show dates and more right here.

Keep up with The Hunger Artist on Facebook.

-Trevor

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

Northern Invasion Is The Wisconsin Fest You Need To Attend This Summer

By: Cy Fontenot

Get ready for the biggest heavy rock throwdown of the year! This year’s Northern Invasion Festival in Somerset, WI is bound to be a banger for the ages. Located just 40 minutes from the Twin Cities, Somerset Amphitheatre is the largest outdoor music venue and camping spot in the Wisconsin area.

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With acts on the 2018 lineup like Alice in Chains, Avenged Sevenfold, and Stone Temple Pilots, this festival is sure to attract music-lovers of all ages. One standout for this fest will be the double-slotted appearance of Maynard James Keenan, who will perform with A Perfect Circle, as well as legendary rock group TOOL. Don’t be surprised if you hear new music at the fest, as both bands are scheduled to release records within the next year. Northern Invasion will be the perfect preview for what we can expect from these groups.

All in all, 2018’s Northern Invasion Fest is sure to be one to remember! Tickets and details can be found here!

-Cy

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.

Thunderpussy Are the Storm the Rock'n'Roll Revival Needs

By: Hannah Oreskovich

This Seattle four-piece are shaking up rock'n'roll with a vengeance.

Last Sunday, a thundering snow storm hit Colorado’s Front Range. As the sky rumbled and started spitting fat white flakes instead of rain, Seattle’s Thunderpussy rolled into Denver fresh off of four SXSW sets including an official C3 Entertainment showcase. The band recently made NPR’s “100 Artists to Watch at SXSW” and during the fest, debuted the new song “Show Your Colors,” which they co-wrote with Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready. Their Denver gig was hand-squeezed between a quick trip home and their upcoming Treefort Music Festival appearance and if you braved the storm, Thunderpussy rewarded you with a seductive, spitfire show of rock’n’roll that left the crowd swooning.

Thunderpussy.

Thunderpussy.

“Hi! I’m Molly!” frontwoman Molly Sides exclaimed as she traipsed inside Summit Music Hall, wrapped in a leopard-print coat. As I reached my hand out to hers, she giggled, “Sorry I’m freezing!” and after shaking hands, she held mine and laughed, “But you’re nice and warm!”

As we chatted about Sides’ affinity for snow as an Idaho native, the girls headed to the green room for wardrobe. If you’re curious what that entails, it’s velvet onesies, fishnet stockings, rhinestone bras, and thigh-high glitter boots. And those boots were made for stompin’ on more than just the stage. In a recent interview with Billboard, guitarist Whitney Petty talked about K.Flay’s Grammy nod as the only female artist in the rock category, musing, “I'd say the time is ripe for Thunderpussy to high kick the patriarchy where it counts with a thigh-high, rhinestone encrusted, platform boot.”

And that’s how Thunderpussy rolls- they’ll hold your hand right before serving up their brand of kickass on the stage.

Whitney Petty.

Whitney Petty.

After a session of greenroom pictures where the girls kept apologizing for the cloud of hairspray that hung above us (“Don’t worry! It’s organic!” bassist Leah Julius promised with a smile), the girls paraded out in their heels to the cheers of the crowd.

Currently touring on their 2018 record Greatest Tits with a full album dropping later this spring, the band opened with “Speed Queen,” a song which nods to Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and The Runaways all at once. As Sides sang into a vintage-looking mic, her gyrations soon turned to her crawling on the floor while locking eyes with audience members; meanwhile Petty stood above her with one heel pranced on an amp as she leaned into the crowd ripping on guitar and headbanging. Julius jumped off of drummer Ruby Dunphy’s “Pussy” emblazoned kick drum and jazz-trained Dunphy kept a steady beat while the chaos ensued. And this, truly was just the beginning.

Molly Sides.

Molly Sides.

As a frontwoman, Sides seems to pull from performance artists like David Bowie, Elvis, and even Lady Gaga. She is never found standing still, her soaring vocals envelope a room, and though I didn’t get to ask, I left feeling like she must have a dance background. Her stage persona is rock’n’roll seductress, something you can also see in the band’s music video for “Speed Queen.”

Sides is almost impossible to stop looking at, but when you do Petty, Julius, and Dunphy are equally engaging. Petty slashes on guitar in a way that 80s hair metal bands would look up to. She slays, and her solos bring forth those classic rock’n’roll eruptions you look for in this type of sound.

Holding down the low end, Julius’ performance is highlighted with fits of energy- she headbangs just as much as the crowd when she’s not jumping from amps and the kick drum. And Dunphy, who was flying back to Seattle the next morning so that she could make it to her classes at Cornish College of the Arts, is a damn riot. She’s all smiles whether she’s pounding cymbals on “Velvet Noose” or tapping the snare with a light jazz flair on “Torpedo Love.”

Apart, each of these women ooze talented prowess; together the four-piece have an undeniably intense chemistry, one which builds and disseminates throughout the room from start to finish. It’s no surprise that the band has been selling out shows on their Pour Morals tour at spots like LA’s Viper Room, where Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith was seen checking out the band. At Sunday’s Denver show, Kid Rock’s entire tour crew strolled in for a listen, blowing off steam before prepping for Rock’s Pepsi Center performance later in the week. When industry pros start showing up for you regularly, you know you’re doing something right.

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Thunderpussy closed the night with “Torpedo Love,” which they just premiered a video for with NPR. In it, Thunderpussy perform the track live in an abandoned nuclear power plant silo.

Said Sides about the video, "When working with Magic Mama Massy, enthused wild ideas literally explode everywhere…  As we crept up to the monstrous structures, it seemed as though they'd been waiting for us, and the concrete curtains calling to us. With both nature and nuclear walls hovering, a beautifully eerie collaboration ensued."

And somehow, that sums up Thunderpussy too: one part sensitive, seductive, and beautiful; the other nuclear, explosive, and ready to tear your heart out.

Sink your teeth into Thunderpussy’s newest music and catch them at Treefort and other major festivals all summer. They’re poised for a takeover, so best brace yourself for the storm.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram.

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.

Beyond Bridges Release Debut Reggae Rock Record 'On My Mind'

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Colorado’s Beyond Bridges have released their debut EP On My Mind. The reggae rock four-piece, who are based in Pueblo, have made quite a name for themselves in the Colorado reggae scene over the past year. They’ve shared stages with bands like Trevor Hall, The Wailers, HIRIE, and Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds, and at their live shows, have developed a loyal following who are referred to as their “coconuts.” Comprised of Tony Garcia (guitar/vocals/bass), Kai Furuto (guitar/vocals/bass), Adrian Hernandez (guitar/vocals/bass), and Kyle Spinuzzi (drums), Beyond Bridges are an act who hold true to spreading positive vibes with their music, and this is evident on their debut EP.

On My Mind starts off with the record’s title track, which captures you with soft reggae sounds before enveloping your ears into harder rock elements. This is the song the band released as their debut single a few weeks back, and it has an uplifting, beachy quality to it with strummy strings and marked, offbeat percussion. It totally belongs on your 2018 summer playlist. “Bad Medicine” follows suit, and has the almost opposite construction- it starts with heavy rock riffs and a thick bass line before opening into more mellow sounds. It also has metal-esque guitars sprinkled throughout that will make you wanna headbang.

Beyond Bridges. 

Beyond Bridges. 

“The Great Beyond” holds down the middle slot on the five-track EP, and is a short, all-instrumental soundscape song. It’s a tune that feels like it might be played first in a live set, used to plant the night’s vibes before pulling in the audience with a real burner. “NSQS” is next, and its chorus is made to sing along with: “when you go/the world moves so slow/and when you go/I feel so alone.” It’s catchy and tells the most straightforward story lyrically on the record.

Furuto, Garcia, Spinuzzi, & Hernandez.

Furuto, Garcia, Spinuzzi, & Hernandez.

On My Mind closes with “Black Widow,” a super groovin’ track which incorporates classic reggae guitar sounds while maintaining a gritty rock edge. You’ll find yourself boppin’ your head along along for the first 1:18, which is purely instrumental. From there, this one jets into a heavy rock song, fit with stretchy string solos and echoing vocals. Beyond Bridges recorded, mixed, mastered, and produced the entire record live with Matt Herrera of Last Leaf Audio & Design.

Said member Adrian Hernandez about the band’s debut release, “We are excited about this release because we are finally getting some music out for our followers to share and enjoy with the ones they love. On My Mind is a raw interpretation of Beyond Bridges since each song is made entirely of live takes. That means whether or not you are listening to us in your car or at a show, we will truly sound like us. We love that transparency because as we move from one album to the next, our followers will hear genuine growth. We hope they can really feel the time and love we promised to put into all of this.”

I feel the love- do you coconuts? Give Beyond Bridges’ On My Mind a listen above and catch the band live at Brues Ale House this Wednesday, March 21st for their release show.

Keep up with Beyond Bridges here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram.

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

Review: American Grizzly Release New Folk Rock Record Of Past, Present, & Future Sounds

By: Norman Hittle

American Grizzly, a Chicago-based folk rock unit, has released their new self-titled EP to a steadily growing fanbase.

To those of you familiar with The Lumineers, you’ll notice a good deal of homage paid by American Grizzly. But also in attendance are some mellow nods to Mumford & Sons and a slight helping of Neil Young. The band’s own take on their style is rock’n’roll influenced by all things past, present, and future: from tube-screaming noise-rock to the minimalist approach of rural American folk music.

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The EP starts out with the calm folk ballad “Ex-Lovers,” picking out a steady warm chorded windchime of rhythm into the equally calm, but more minimalistic “Ain’t Whupped Me Yet.” Track three, “When Love is Found,” comes in with a southern flair and more upbeat feel. The more straightforward “Rock n’ Roll Cigarettes” lives up to its name with a very muted 40s era feel, yet boasts being the edgiest track. Finally, the EP closes out with the innocent feeling “From a Window,” which comes as a return to classic folk with a solid influence of blues.

American Grizzly.

American Grizzly.

If you like what you hear, the band has a solid backlog of discography that you can peruse with leisure on their Bandcamp!

-Norman

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

Backseat Vinyl Talk To Us About Flipping Their Sound & What's In Their Name

By: Nathan Sheppard

Backseat Vinyl are a two-piece outfit made up of Nate Fuller (guitar) and Keenan Clarke (drums) who are paving their way into Denver’s music scene with their unique sound. The band was originally a metal/punk act four years ago when the duo started the band as a side project. But shortly after, the guys did a 180 and flipped their sound.  

Backseat Vinyl.

Backseat Vinyl.

“We initially started out with a very 90s grunge sound, but after getting tired of it, we began to evolve into a more indie style and have been perfecting the craft since,” says Keenan.

Although they changed up their style, you can still hear punk crafts in their music, especially with the drums on their newest single “Swing On By,” and with the guitar riffs in “Greaser.”

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When asked about their musical influences, the band names Nirvana, Vampire Weekend, Wavves, The Frights, and Hippo Campus. And when it comes to songwriting, Nate said that he “just uses everyday experiences and how they affect you and make you feel” as inspiration. This style gives them a very raw feel that people are able to relate to easily, and the duo’s fun-loving and carefree attitude is a breath of fresh air in a scene where some bands can take themselves too seriously. This demeanor was most evident when I asked about the backstory of the band’s name.

“When brainstorming a new band name on the drive back home from a studio session, Nate and I were in mutual agreement that we wanted the first part of the name to be ‘Backseat’ because I always had a plethora of trash in the backseat of my car. We combined it with ‘Vinyl’ when trying to think of words that paired well together and rolled off the tongue.”  said Keenan.

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The duo was recently featured on Channel 93.3’s locals-only show, which in Keenan’s words, “was a cool experience… hearing that other people listened [to us] on the radio and to get that kind of exposure is great.” Backseat Vinyl also played the Moon Room this month, one of their biggest shows to date, opening for New Jersey band Prawn. The guys have four singles on Bandcamp with an an album in the works, and have some studio time planned later in the year. In the meantime, you can catch Backseat Vinyl March 23rd at Streets of London Pub with Sadgirl and Bruiser Queen. Tickets here.

Nate and Keenan have a great musical chemistry with one another to create songs that you can just jam out to. Keep up with the band here.

-Nathan

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.

Premiere: Whitacre Release Catchy New Folk Rock Tune "Fantasy"

Denver’s Whitacre, the five-piece rock project led by Paul Whitacre, have plans to drop new music this year and today, we’re premiering the band’s newest single, “Fantasy.”

Whitacre, which is comprised of Paul Whitacre (rhythm guitar/lead vocals), Chase Perry (banjo/keys/vocal harmonies), Mark Cunningham (drums), Kyle Miner (lead guitar/vocal harmonies), and Brent Perkins (bass), recorded the track at Colorado Christian University’s studio. “Fantasy” was produced by Nicholas Webber, who is also featured on vocal harmonies on the songs, with engineering by Toshi Jamang.

Whitacre.

Whitacre.

“Fantasy,” which starts out with some stompy percussion, is a feel-good folk rock tune primed for summer. Its thick strings and catchy chorus make it feel like a Lumineers-inspired ditty. Whitacre himself sings the instantly appealing and memorable chorus, “We could be/What people thought was fantasy/Only portrayed in the Hollywood movie screens/All the love you read about in all those fairytales/I will be your fantasy.”

Said Paul about the track, “When we released our first single, 'Set Me Free,' we had a very small fan base and had no idea what to expect in our musical future. Now, after 50,000 streams, a show with Pandas & People and Wildermiss at the Bluebird Theater, and talks of a national tour this summer, we really feel a sense of fans longing for new music. Releasing our second single, 'Fantasy' is still really only the beginning. We've signed a recording contract with Joe Richmond for a five-song EP and are confident this song is going to continue laying the foundation that will make that a successful release later in 2018!”

“Fantasy” will drop across all streaming platforms this Friday, March 16th. To hear it live, catch Whitacre next at Larimer Lounge on Thursday, March 22nd where they’ll share a stage with The Ghost of Paul Revere and Matt Rouch & The Noise Upstairs.

Keep up with Whitcare here.

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