Last weekend I had the pleasure of seeing The Funk Ark, Empresarios, and Orgone completely tear Cervantes' Other Side with an incredible funk show. Apparently, the Empresarios enjoyed Denver so much, they had to return a week later as they head their tour back eastward. This Washington D.C. band delivers funk with with a healthy does of salsa, cumbia, and reggae. Both of their singers sing in Spanish, and although I have no idea what they are saying, whatever it is it gets my body moving. Best of all, tonight's show is free for those 21+!

Before the Empresarios take the stage, the Video Killers will deliver a unique set of video mashups. I have tried to find something online that would offer a preview of what they do, but came up short. I'm intrigued with what these guys are going to do, though, so I can't wait to check them out.

The festivities begin tonight at Cervantes' Other Side at 9:00PM. Come check these guys out tonight - it's a free show - there's nothing to lose!

Empresarios Cumbia & Pereo-Intenso by shauna-b-alexander
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Unfortunately, I can't go to every show every night, although I'd certainly love to. Sometimes life takes precedence and that means I'll be stuck at work tonight. Still, I can tell you what's coming up, and there are definitely a couple good options for Friday. I realize there are only a few hours before night falls. Next time I'll try to be more timely!

For those on a budget, try going to Casselman's Bar & Venue tonight in Boulder. They will be host to Denver locals Flashlights, who will be performing a DJ set for free. I really like these guys' sound, and although they won't be performing their songs, DJ sets are great in another way. Whenever an artists performs a DJ set, it offers a window into what songs may have been influences to them or just what music they may be into. The set starts at 9:00PM. If you are near the Boulder area, you don't have anything to lose anyway, because it's free!

For the womp-heads out there, there will be a huge, double venue bass show at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom and Cervantes' Other Side. I admit, the dubstep circuit is getting a little saturated and I haven't familiarized myself with all ten artists that will be there, but a few standouts are R/D, Blockhead and iLL.Gates, all performing in the main ballroom. R/D and iLL.Gates will appease any dubstep fan, while Blockhead has a more unique (as in not dubstep) sound, but I think he will be a good change of pace and setup iLL.Gates very well. The party gets started at 9:00PM.

Also, back at the Larimer Lounge is Cass McCombs Band with Porlolo and Miss America. I don't know the latter two bands, but have heard of Cass McCombs before. Admittedly, I'm not really a Cass McCombs fan, but I do like "Dreams-Come-True-Girl". Yes, I am aware that song is a little cheesy, but I like it nonetheless. The music starts at the Larimer Lounge at, you guessed it, 9:00PM.

R/D - 'Passion Designer' FREE DOWNLOAD by R/D
Blockhead - Sunday Seance by manu_el
My Special Place - A Free DL from upcoming ill.Methodology by ill.gates

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The name of this blog, Concerted Effort, originally came about simply because I liked the play on words. But the more I think about it, the more I realize it suits the philosophy of this blog perfectly. A "concerted" effort can not be a solo effort. By definition, something concerted is something that is done jointly - parts or individuals coming together as a group to achieve a common goal. To me, the best concert experience emerges when the collective effort of the band and audience merge, creating a unique energy and atmosphere that can only be experienced if one allows themselves to be immersed in that moment.

Last night, the atmosphere at the Larimer Lounge didn't quite live up to its potential. It wasn't because the artists did anything wrong, they came out and performed well, as they should. Nor was it because I wasn't feeling it - I was certainly carried away by the music. It was because there were probably fewer than fifty people in the room that night, and I have a good feeling the majority of the people in there did not know what they were in for, as only a fraction of the crowd were really into the performance while many stood idly by.

Small venue. Big possibilities.

It was the first time I'd ever been to a small venue to see bands that I was really excited about, yet the place wasn't packed liked sardines. All in all, I really enjoyed the experience because it was the closest thing to a private performance I've ever been to, and going in to it with that frame of mind made the experience absolutely amazing for me. But I couldn't help but feel it would have been an epic experience had there been more people and/or if everyone there completely wiled out. However, the experience made me realize exactly what I'm trying to do here on this blog.

My goal is to provide the reader with news on the local shows that are happening around them on a daily basis and provide enough information so that they can decide if they want to join in on any particular night, and should the reader decide to go, I also try to provide a preview on what to expect. I know I can't cover everything, but I listen to such a wide variety of music I'll do what I can. I really enjoy spreading the word, and I am grateful for my friends that joined me last night on good faith; Jamie, Lance, Brit, Eli, and Charlie, thank you very much! Without you guys the concert wouldn't have been quite the same.

If you made it this far into the post without throwing your hands up in the air out frustration and asking yourself, "When is this guy actually going to talk just about the concert?", thanks for your patience, because here goes. I did not make it for the beginning of Colfax Speed Queen's DJ set, but I did catch a glimpse and he was dropping some good beats, keeping the four or five people on the dance floor well entertained. Four or five people? Yeah - the place was a little dead at first and it certainly didn't bode well.

ManCub - Substituting for Danny is James on the left, with Alex Anderson on the right.

Then ManCub took the stage, and there was a little bit more electricity in the air. Several more people emerged from the front and back bars to see these guys, and although their set was short, it was pretty good. Danny Stillman was absent, but his sub performed well and Alex Anderson delivered as I thought he would. They played most of 8 Bit Crush, some of The Secret Stache, and something I didn't recognize. ManCub's sound is even more captivating in a loud, live setting. Being such a small venue, I could personally approach these guys after their set and they were very friendly, cool people. I found out from Alex that the reason they were there as an opener was because he was a fan of Walter Meego, and he jumped at the chance to open when he saw they were coming to town. It was awesome seeing Alex come out and join the crowd when Walter Meego came up to perform.

I had heard Walter Meego was touring with a full band (five members), but only three guys came out for their set. There was no drummer and no bassist, but these guys still put on a good show. They did not play all of their songs exactly how you would hear off of their albums, but that was not at all disappointing. Like I mentioned before, it was very much like hearing a much more personal and private performance.

Walter Meego performing as a three-piece.

They "Wondervalleyed" the songs they played from their first album, Voyager, by slowing them down slightly and making them a little dreamier - I wish I could have copies of these versions! Everything they played from Wondervalley, though, was pretty faithful to the studio versions. I especially enjoyed "Starlight, "Got Me Goin", and "Ghosts In Love". I think they inserted a song from an earlier (maybe later?) EP that I was not familiar with. To cap off the night, and to really make it feel like a private show, they finished with "Time Machine" on my request - I've never had a band play something I asked for before, even if it wasn't perfect (I don't think they rehearsed it - that just makes it more personal). It won't be something I'll soon forget.

In the end, I had an incredible time. I just wish more people were there to take place in the fun. I'm becoming more and more aware of just the sheer number of performers that are out there every night playing their hearts out in venues both big and small, and the ones that take place in the lesser known, smaller venues are quickly winning my heart. I've had a great time at larger, sold out venues where not a single soul stood still, and those are great. But if you get the opportunity, try checking out a little known or up and coming artist at a small show. It just might seem like they are playing just for you, and the more people that take advantage of these opportunities, the more electric the resulting atmosphere will become.
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I've been introduced to many great songs and artists through an unlikely source - TV commercials. Sometimes a song is so powerful, that despite it being chopped up into a 30 second snippet, it ends up stuck in my head and I just have to go on a quest to dig up more. This happened to me back in the summer of 2008, when I saw a Heineken commercial featuring an infectious bass line and simple, yet extremely catchy guitar riff. I immediately began searching the internet to find out what that song was, and my search led to my discovery of "Forever" and the band Walter Meego.

I picked up a copy of their album, Voyager, and put it on heavy repeat. There was something about their blend of dance-pop/club-rock that kept me hooked. Honestly it's hard for me to pick out just a song or two from this album to represent these guys, but check out "Keyhole" - something I would describe as progressive dance. This music was made for the dance floor, but unfortunately I missed my chance to see these guys and experience the music as intended when they came through Denver that year.

Still, Walter Meego kept hard at work and released their second studio album, Wondervalley, late last year. Admittedly, I was not immediately a fan. Walter Meego tweaked their sound a bit on this album - less dance, more chillwave. But on successive listens, the new album grew on me. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there is something singer-songwriter about their latest offering - like dream-pop Simon & Garfunkel with a sprinkling of soft rock. "Starlight", a much slower tempo song compared to most on Voyager, seems to be the closest to anything they had before. I think "Time Machine" is a good example of the overall feel of Wondervalley -  a much more intimate sound.

I don't know what sound Walter Meego plans to bring with them tonight to the Larimer Lounge, but I hope it's a little bit of both. The more soothing sounds of Wondervalley would be welcome, especially juxtaposed to ManCub's noise-heavy opening set. But I would be extremely disappointed if they don't pick up the pace with some of my old favorites from Voyager. Either way, I'm just glad these guys have come back for a second round - I'm not missing them this time.

Walter Meego will be at the Larimer Lounge tonight and their set will start at 10:30. The party will get started at 8:30 with a DJ set from Colfax Speed Queen and then a face melting set at 9:30 from ManCub (see yesterday's write-up). Tickets are $10 at the door. Come tonight and get your dance on; I know I will!

Walter Meego - Starlight by buzzbands
Time Machine by waltermeego
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I must admit, I was already pretty excited when I saw Walter Meego is coming to town this Thursday night, but what really sealed the deal and made this a can't miss concert for me is when I saw Denver's own ManCub would be responsible for kicking off the party.

ManCub is a Denver duo consisting of Danny Stillman and Alex Anderson, who use vintage synthesizers and drum machines to produce some hard hitting electro noise-pop. I first heard about this band when checking out who was playing the Westword Music Showcase, and although I missed their live set, they made enough of an impression on me that I have since picked up their album 8 Bit Crush.

The album is brief but showcases what these guys are all about - an eclectic blend of sounds seemingly from a future robot laser blaster party, that somehow blend with pleasant, ethereal pads and chillwave-esque machined vocals. "Sound" comes in with a thumping beat and hard square synth, but soon thereafter carries you off on a cloud. "Post Modern War" begs you to don your Gundam suit and thrust yourself into an epic battle that takes place in bullet-time. I can't wait to join ranks with these guys and rage on the dance floor.

ManCub will be at Larimer Lounge tomorrow, July 28. Tickets are $8 advance/$10 at the door, so it won't break the bank, either. The festivities begin at 8:30PM. Check out the songs mentioned below, or you can download anything ManCub at their BandCamp page, including their newly released super awesome EP, The Secret Stache. Seems they may have found a new vocalist. Check out "Rapture".

Sound by ManCub
Post Modern War by ManCub
Rapture by ManCub
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I had a discussion this weekend about whether or not you should check out opening bands before shows. It isn't something I had always done, but recently, I've made it a commitment to do so. The idea really hit home for me earlier this year.

Some of you Portlanders may have already been on these guys, but I had never heard Unknown Mortal Orchestra before attending the Portugal. The Man show this past May. I wasn't at all blown away by these guys at the time, but somehow they stuck with me. I found myself humming "Ffunny Ffriends" and "How Can U Luv Me" weeks after the show before realizing that they were even their songs.

I suppose in the moment, Unknown Mortal Orchestra's brand of lo-fi indie-pop was hard to digest. I couldn't get past singer Ruban Nielson's tunic-centric wardrobe and I wasn't prepared for his distorted falsetto voice. I knew there was something catchy about the instrumentation, but I couldn't sort it out. I just stood back, trying to comprehend what was happening, all the while studying the small contingent of people before me that seemed to understand what they were witnessing and having the time of their lives doing so.

There are many ways to approach listening to live music, but to me it boils down to a couple things - discovery and recognition. I used to feel I could go into a live setting, hear music for the first time, and I'll discover that it either sweeps me away right there or else it's crap. It's a risky method, and often left me disappointed.

Then I realized what I enjoy more is recognition. Having a mental map of what you are going to hear creates expectations. (When's the guitar solo going to come in? When's that drum break going to drop?) It's up to the person on stage to meet or modify those expectations. (Here comes the bass line - holy crap, did they just change something?) When expectations are met or are exceeded, a unique energy is born that can only ever be understood or experienced at that particular moment in time.

Here I am, nearly three months later, with a copy of their album finally pumping through my iPod, now understanding what I was supposed to hear that night, and I find myself wishing I could do it over again. I'd be a part of that contingent of the initiated immersed in the experience, rather than an observer still trying to put together all the pieces.

Surely you can't have heard it all before the moment arrives, but having a mental map helps. I knew this band was on the bill months ahead of time. Even if I had only heard a song or two I would have had a framework of their sound and could have appreciated it better, because now I feel like I wasted an opportunity to connect through music. I hear their songs now and see that crowd of people in my head but know I wasn't actually a part of it, even though I was there. 

Now I must patiently wait and hope they come back my way one more time, but I'll never experience the unique energy that was shared that particular night in May. "Never again!", I say.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - "Ffunny Ffrends"
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - How Can U Luv Me
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