14 June 2008

Hearing the beat

Everything clicked today for this outing: My friend asked if I wanted to take the bus down and I did. The space stayed free in our schedules, amazingly. And as we walked through the plaza between the Denver Art Museum and the Public Library we heard the beating of drums. "I hear my tribe calling," said my friend, and our steps toward the music quickened.

And so I spent my day with my friend and my tribe at the Westword Music Showcase. It was a day packed with music and music-loving folks of all stripes and sizes and styles in a few interesting venues in Denver's "Golden Triangle," just south of the Denver Art Museum. We all gathered to hear and declare our collective support for our local music scene, and we were rewarded with an astounding variety of decent music. We saw many, many hipsters, many, many big sunglasses, many, many tattoos. I was inexplicably pleased every time I saw the guy in the charmingly shaped glasses and the "FAG" t-shirt. I noticed that I seem to be evidence of a generation gap in that I skipped over the tattoo in my own quest for individuality. My friend asked one of the venue staff about the rest of his tattoo, and he peeled back the arm of his green t-shirt to reveal a big Jesus on the cross, stigmata and all. There wasn't much to say but to thank him for showing us and move onto the next act.

Highlights: DJ Ivy on the rooftop at Bar Standard. Loved that vibe, but it was soooo hot up there! And we didn't even want to think about the outdoor stage by the time we got that heated up. Downstairs at Bar Standard we heard a couple of young and earnest indie rockstar-wannabes. The lead singer of Astra Moveo got off the stage and did his thing in the crowd, despite the audience being more bemused than engaged, yet I found it pretty endearing in the end. I liked Hello Kavita (whom I picked out to hear based solely on their charming name)-- they had songs that were nicely emotive and had interesting changes that they seemed to enjoy playing together. The crowd seemed to be into them, too.

We saw Hello Kavita at Sutra, which we dubbed "the dark place." An affected solitary vocalist (Matthew Orloff?) was uttering phrases full of emotion and meaning to a packed room the first time we dropped in, but it was all too dark for us and we were too hungry, so we scooted next door to Andrews on Lincoln (no, there's no apostrophe) and thanks to the woman who sold us earplugs were able to enjoy the very loud sounds of Vices I Admire, followed by The Epilogues, who were pretty good, and also loud, while consuming chicken teriyaki skewers, hot off the grill. That and a couple of refreshing beverages made everything better.

The biggest surprise of the evening was at Dazzle, where we heard Tito del Barrio Malaga, a Latin-Moroccan fusion jazz quintet headed by a very eastern-sounding singer. Great melodies, rhythms, vocals, drums, arrangements. Their music put a shine on everything: them, the club, the waitresses, the enthused audience, even the guy begging for money next to us.

We slipped into DC-10 next door, where a Bed Supperclub-white decor and intriguing guitar sounds awaited us; turned out UmConscious was doing their soundcheck. We hung around in the air conditioning for a few minutes and once they got started decided to move along down the road and check out the Drive By Truckers, now that the sun was about down.

I collected a few more bits of free schwag along the way, but the music wasn't grabbing us and we decided we were ready to head back. Nice, too; I was happy to be home by 10:45, after all my bus connections home worked out fine. And like my friend said, "It's good to be exposed."

In all, we caught some of the following sets: George Inai (featuring my hardest-working musician friend Eric Moon, also of local combo gogoLab, on a small stringed instrument and an accordion), Jessica Sonner, DJ Ivy, DJ Soup, UmConscious, Hello Kavita, comic Adam Cayton-Holland and the funny and less raunchy guy who was on just before him, The Widowers, Cat-A-Tac, Chain Gang of 1974, Drive By Truckers, and Tito del Barrio Malaga.

We never made it to a couple of the clubs: La Rumba (where I once attended some professional development workshop years ago) and 1114 Broadway. We didn't hear many, many bands, including the intriguingly named Spools of Dark Thread, nor Meniskus, nor the punk band Lyin' Bitch and the Restraining Orders (that one was a real name, but we never really wanted to go there). I would still like to hear The Hot IQs, The Swayback, and Born in the Flood, but it wasn't to be today. I was so disappointed when I learned that not all the bands listed as up for awards in this thing were actually playing: specifically, I had really wanted to hear what Breezy Porticos sound like. I guess I'll just have to go to their MySpace page or listen to the CD at my local CD shop (does anyone even do that anymore?).

That's all I would do differently next time: Do more research on the bands ahead of time. Oh yeah, and offer to Dave Herrera to redo Westword's lame printed and web schedules. Good show!

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