Monday, July 25, 2011

63 Bands in 72 Hours

Some people go to large music festivals to see the headliners, or to see one of their favorite bands. I tend to look at them more like a big all-you-can-eat buffet, where I have the opportunity to try out a bunch of bands all at once. So when I went to the Underground Music Showcase this year, I tried to sample as many bands as I could. Me being me, I mainly looked to see as many local bands as I could, but since the vast majority of the 300+ bands that were performing were local, that still meant a lot of picking and choosing.

So I tried to play it smart this year. I had the schedule pulled up on my smartphone, and had a preliminary list of bands I might want to check out typed into the phone as well. I also brought along my camera, so I could take pictures of all the bands I saw, which would help me remember what the bands sounded like. Then, I plunged in.

1. Fierce Bad Rabbit - Skylark Lounge, 9pm Thursday

I was familiar with their work, but hadn't seen them live before. Very impressed - great catchy rock tunes. Wished I could stay for the whole set, but other bands were waiting.

2. Serious Moonlight - Irish Rover, 9pm Thursday

I was half-expecting a Bowie cover band, but no. I found out later it's a side project of a lot of other local musicians (including Alan Andrews from Photo Atlas). As it was, I was stuck way in the back, and got only occasional glimpses of band members. I liked what I heard, thought.

3. Gauntlet Hair - Hi-Dive, 9pm Thursday

At any festival such as this, there are what might be termed "must-see acts". But these acts often end up being "can't-see acts", because the venue gets packed. That was the case here. What I heard was pretty intriguing, but I was stuck around the corner from the stage, and couldn't hear very well (and couldn't see at all). So I leaned around the corner, took a photo, and moved on.

4. Don'ts and Be Careful's - Hornet, 9pm Thursday

This was a band that I'd heard some material by, and thought they were just-OK. After seeing them perform live, I'd nudge them up a bit. Solid performance, and the crowd was clearly enjoying themselves.

5. Wire Faces - Hi-Dive, 10pm Thursday

While I was walking between bands, somebody strongly suggested I check this band out. I'm glad I did. Cool indie-ish rock. I later found that the lead singer of Fierce Bad Rabbit used to be in the Jimi Austin with a couple members of Wire Faces. The scene can get a bit incestuous at times...

6. Seismic Event - Hornet, 10pm Thursday

This band is hard to describe without sounding like I'm deriding them. They're VERY straight-ahead pop. You can picture hearing their songs on TV shows and romantic comedies. But they're very good at it, and I'm quite a pop fiend, so I enjoyed the set. Which I guess makes them the "weird" band at the festival by not being weird in the slightest. (Not a single hipster beard or mustache in the group!)

7. Monroe Monroe - Skylark Lounge, 10pm Thursday

I've seen this band a few times now, and they're never less than good. Some straight-ahead rock with a side of urgency and a slight dollop of complexity. Another good set from them.

8. Nathan & Stephen - 3 Kings, 11pm Thursday

Formerly Hearts of Palm, which was formerly...Nathan & Stephen. It gets kind of complicated. Anyway, it was sort of a reunion show, and it was ragged but tons of fun for all involved.

9. Oh No Oh My - Hornet, 11pm Thursday

One of those bands that I thought might be local until they mentioned that they weren't. When they said they were from Austin TX, I contemplated yelling "Go back to South By Southwest!", but didn't. Mainly because they weren't bad at all.

10. Ha Ha Tonka - 3 Kings, midnight Thursday

Another non-local band (Missouri) but they've gained quite a few fans here in Denver, partially because local band Meese toured with them. A goodly number of those fans showed up for this late night show. There were some major issues during sound check, and once they were finally solved, the MC decided it was time for a lengthy intro. (Hint - after a lengthy sound check at midnight, nobody is interested in lengthy intro, let alone an ostensibly "witty" one.) Five minutes into the set, however, all of that was forgotten, and a good time was had by all.

-By Alf Kremer

Check out his full review 63 Bands in 72 Hours >>> link here:

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