Honestly, I can't remember the last time I went to go see a concert featuring classical music, especially on my own accord. I don't think I've ever sought out a classical performance before, only ever going if I'd been invited by someone else. It's not that I never enjoyed seeing them. I have fond memories of past performances, watching people with immense skill doing something they are incredibly passionate about, and sharing that talent for an audience to appreciate. So a couple of days ago when I was looking for another concert to cover, I saw the Denver Classical Guitar Society was putting on a show and thought, "Why not?" Looking back, I'm very glad I did.

It was definitely a huge change of pace. I had expected the crowd to be mostly the silver haired variety, but that wasn't exactly the case. It was a small crowd, fewer than fifty people for sure, but it was pretty well mixed as far as age groups representation. I hadn't yet been to The Walnut Room before last night, but it was a comfortable area with many tables and bar stools positioned in front of the good sized stage. They had classical guitar music filling the room from the house speakers, and I sat quietly waiting for the first performance in a seat close to the stage.

There were some differences about this night I noticed right away. Every concert I've written about so far has had a much different atmosphere. Every crowd before was talkative and moving about, the house music more of a mask to drown out the sound of the crowd rather than something everyone would quietly listen to as they patiently waited for the first act. Everyone spoke in whispers and any movement anyone made was deliberately slow and careful as to not make any disturbing sounds. It was like there was an unspoken agreement everyone made that night to make the purest listening environment as possible.

As the first performer went on stage and immediately went into his set, I still hadn't yet unzipped my camera bag. As he started to play, I had to move slowly and carefully because it seemed like otherwise I would disrupt the clean quiet music and quiet atmosphere. I took far fewer photos and moved around much less than I usually do since each time I would hit the button on the camera to release the shutter, I felt like the entire room could hear each click echoing off the walls.

Joel Smith

That wasn't a bad thing though, it gave me a chance to really concentrate on the music more, and the first set started out amazingly. Joel Smith started his set without introduction, using his first piece to perform that duty. Afterwards, in a soft a soft, kind southern accent, he explained the piece he played, "Songe Capricorne" by Roland Dyens, telling a little anecdote about the song. He proceeded to introduce each successive piece in that same likable manner. He played a diverse variety of pieces, many of them transcriptions and arrangements of songs not originally intended to be played on the classical guitar.

I am a big Chopin fan, and he played a piece originally written for the piano, a waltz, beautifully on the guitar. He then played a suite of songs that all had a relation to Bach in some fashion; either interpretations of Bach's music by other composers or transcriptions of Bach music that was written for other instruments. True to his reputation, he also included originally non-classical songs in his set but played them in breathtaking classical guitar style. He played an incredible arrangement of "Yesterday" by The Beatles and finished with a classical-music-meets-jazz arrangement of Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight". He was very entertaining to watch and I loved the way he talked about each song, helping paint a vivid picture in the listener's mind.

Danny Masters

Following Joel Smith was the highly acclaimed Colorado native guitarist Danny Masters. I was particularly interested in hearing him play because he's been a figure in Colorado classical guitar for over two decades. Danny Masters came onto stage and introduced himself and his beautiful custom made Brazilian rosewood guitar, Rosalinda, to the crowd. His guitar had been hand crafted by a member of the audience, who was hearing Masters perform with it for the first time. Danny Masters wasted little time and began to play with pieces he had recorded onto his album, Cancion.

Danny Masters took the audience on a classical guitar music journey around the world. He began in South America, playing music from Venezuelan composer Antonio Lauro. Of the five Lauro pieces he played, I really enjoyed the waltz "No. 4 Yacambu". Danny then played the La Catedral suite from Paraguayan composer Agustin Barrios. Both Joel Smith and Danny Masters played Lauro's "Allegro Solemne" from La Catedral, so it was interesting to see how two different performers interpreted the same piece. I'd say Smith's version was more solemn, while Masters' was more allegro (which means faster tempo, lively). From there, Danny Masters took the audience to Europe, playing Spanish composer Francisco Tárrega, some adapted Johann Sebastian Bach, and Italian composer Mauro Giuliani.

Danny Masters brought the audience back home - sort of. He played some original compositions so technically the music is from Colorado, but the music he wrote is from a work called Suite Africa. He played two of the pieces, "Under the Water" and "Zebra Chase", the latter being incredibly memorable for both its technicality and the way it the resulting music so perfectly fit its title. To keep with the jungle theme, Masters finished with "Étude No. 7" by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. I liked how his set flowed logically and by the end of it, I did feel as if I was musically well traveled.

Jeff Copeland

Jeff Copeland came up on stage next, and having heard a couple of his live recordings, I knew I was in for a treat. Jeff Copeland is definitely an expert at what he does, and he has one of those personalities where what he excels at seems to come so easy to him, he may not realize he's explaining things too fast for the average audience. That's how I felt, he would explain his songs very quickly and extremely concise - not too technical, but faster than I could soak it up. Before I had the opportunity to process what was said, he was already well into that said piece. He may not be the best about talking about his music, but the way he plays it is an entirely different story.

He began with pieces by Máximo Diego Pujol a composer from Argentina. While I was still bedazzled by what I'd just heard, he'd quickly moved on to a piece by Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo, "Junto al Genera Life", a piece from the concerto inspired by the gardens of a Spanish resort, and by the sound of it, those were incredibly beautiful gardens. He played a trio of pieces by Roland Dyens, my favorite being "Tango en Skaï", a lighthearted take on the tango but still thrilling with its technicality - a joy to watch Copeland's fingers dance up and down the fret board. He played a couple pieces called "Snowflake" and "The Dance of Ghosts" but I did not catch the composer. He played an adaptation of Felix Mendelssohn's "Canzonetta" and he finished with a piece called "Dance" by a little known Spanish composer,
Agustín Castilla-Ávila. It is evident that Copeland lives and breathes playing the guitar, as the music flows from him so freely.

Michael Bevers

Finally, the youngest of all the performers took the stage, Michael Bevers. Bevers, still a junior at CU Boulder, is not yet old enough to legally hold a beer, but he holds a guitar with such confidence that it transcends his years. He didn't play as much variety as the other performers, but what he did play, he played extremely well, almost flawlessly. He started out with "Preludes Nos. 1-5" by Heitor Villa-Lobos, explaining concisely but eloquently what each one meant in between. He played a more contemporary piece by British composer Reginald Smith Brindle, a beautiful piece with a little more abstract segments in the composition, which Bevers explained was due to Brindle's tendency to play with tonal color. He finished with a technically difficult Johann Sebastian Bach piece originally written for the lute.

Michael Bevers was incredible to watch perform. He played with a high degree of passion - you could see it expressed in his face as he stretched for every note. I was incredibly impressed with him, and knowing that he is so young means he'll be a force to reckon with in the future. It also means that classical music is still alive and well with talented youth like him around. There are still those out there who play music strictly because it is their love and passion.

If you want to see true musicianship, go see a classical music performance. The people you'll see on stage slave away every day through practicing, studying theory, and learning about massive amounts of music history. They do so day in and day out without thinking about widespread recognition. They don't think about trying to get a record deal. They aren't thinking about radio play or making some sort of video that'll get played on MTV. They just continue to tirelessly hone their craft - to be the best they can be simply because they love what they do. They are always willing to share their gift with an audience, but those audiences seem to grow smaller by the day. People get caught up in a lot of other stuff out there and forget about these humble people with immense amount of skill. If you truly appreciate music, the next time you see a classical music concert, check it out. You don't have to go to every single one, and there is nothing wrong with frequenting shows of other types of music, but catching something like this every once in a while can be a true eye-opener. I know I'll jump at the next opportunity.
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When I say I'm a music lover, no matter what type it is, I mean it. Of course there are types I like more than others, but I'll listen to anything at least one time. I'm going to switch things up a bit tonight and go see a genre of music I haven't covered yet, a genre that I don't always listen to but have deep appreciate for. Tonight, I'll be heading to the Walnut Room, where the Denver Classical Guitar Society will be presenting four classical guitar virtuosos.

I am by no means an expert in classical music. Aside from the most popular songs, it'd be a rare occasion if I could pick out a particular composer, and rarer still if I can pick out an individual song, especially when it's something other than piano music (I did play a lot of piano when I was younger). But I do have a soft spot for classical music, and I do love guitar. In a time where some of the most popular music around is made by some who can barely (if at all) read music, it'll be refreshing to see people that dream arpeggios every time they close their eyes.

Danny Masters is one of those individuals. Danny Masters has studied classical guitar in depth for longer than I have been alive. In the '80s, he earned degrees from Colorado universities in classical guitar performance, earning a Bachelors from University of Northern Colorado and a Masters from from the University of Denver. Since then, he has studied under guitar masters and become a guitar instructor himself. Last year, he released an album titled "Cancion" where he plays works from acclaimed South American composers such as Mangoré and Lauro, Spanish composers such as Tárrega and Sor, other composers from around the world, and some original compositions. Listen to him play "Allegro Solemne" from La Cetedral by Mangoré.

Michael Bevers will also contribute his guitar skills to the show tomorrow night. I can't find much information about him or any recorded examples of him playing, but I can tell you he is pursuing his Bachelors in classical guitar performance at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He is studying a range of classical guitar styles both European and South American, and he is learning from some highly acclaimed guitar instructors.

Joel Smith is another classical guitarist living in Colorado, although he originally comes from Alabama. There, about a decade ago, he earned a Bachelors in music from University of Alabama at Birmingham. In Denver, he is working with the Classical Guitar Society to broaden the awareness of non-traditional styles of solo guitar, reaching outside the realms of the more typical Spanish style classical guitar. Again, that's all I could find out about this guy and I can not find examples of him playing. I'll be sure to fill you in on what I hear (if you don't choose to check it out yourself).

Jeff Copeland is a guitarist from Florida who has performed and taught guitar for over fifteen years. He studied music performance as Florida State University, earning both his Bachelors and Masters degrees there. Copeland is a devoted student of music, nearly completing his Masters in historical musicology and pursing a Doctorate degree at Arizona State University. He is currently working on an album that will be released later this year. Check out some of his live performances; "Tango en Skai" composed by Roland Dyens and "Serenata Espanola" composed by Joaquin Malats. This guy has incredible talent.

It should be an amazing showcase of guitar virtuosity, and I'm extremely excited to see these classical guitar performance masters in their element. Maybe I won't be bumping these guys songs through my car stereo any time soon, but I sure can enjoy their music for one night. You can join me at the Walnut Room. The show starts at 7:00PM, and tickets are a mere $5.

Danny Masters - La Catedral: III Allegro Solemne (Agustín Barrios Mangoré) by Concerted Effort

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Although I haven't been doing this blogging thing for very long, I hadn't gone a day without at least one post before this Saturday. That came about because of two reasons: 1) It was a little more work than I anticipated trying to cover a festival as opposed to a regular show. There is a lot more going on, a lot more bands, and way more pictures to process at the end. 2) I was going to spend Saturday afternoon putting the review together, but then I found out about something else I had to cover. I had just woken up from the long night before and was greeted by a message telling me ManCub was playing Brass Tree Sessions Saturday afternoon, so I grabbed my gear and headed out the door.

For those of you that don't know, Brass Tree Sessions is a special once a month live music event featuring local bands. The bands play in a house off South Broadway and people can attend for free. What makes the event special, is each band gets to choose a couple songs to have recorded in HD video. The Brass Tree Sessions crew will capture the performance and turn the footage into a music video. You can see the past six episodes and future sessions at the Brass Tree Sessions web site.

I left Capitol Hill shortly before two o'clock and walked through the hot afternoon sun towards the South Broadway neighborhood. Beads of sweat started to run down my brow as I turned the last corner and saw a welcome sight; a group of people gathered on the porch of the fabled house sharing conversations and cold beer. Alex Anderson of ManCub was lounging on the steps, and he was surrounded by people there for the show and some of the Brass Tree crew. I cracked open a beer, sat down in the shade, made myself comfortable, met those around me and readied my camera. I could hear the first band getting ready to perform, the echoes of their sound check pouring out into the street. As I got to the end of my beer, everyone started to make their way inside to catch the first session.

Amazing Twin

Amazing Twin played first, and they began to perform in the house's makeshift stage area - the dining room centrally located within the house. The four members were crammed in the no bigger than 15' x 15' space, with as many onlookers as would fit inside, the rest spilling out either side packing the kitchen or the living room. Before Saturday, I hadn't heard of Amazing Twin, and it turns out they are made up of members of another local Denver rock band, Hindershot. Amazing Twin started playing their brand of shoegaze inspired indie rock to the delight of the crowd.

Patrick Kelly of Amazing Twin

Amazing Twin is Patrick Kelly on vocals/guitar/keyboard, Lucas Johannes on guitar, Stuart Confer on bass, and Chris Durant on drums. Together they produce an impressive range of sounds. Their songs vary musically from one to the next using varying tempos, beat structures and hints of other music styles. Patrick Kelly's vocals are the glue that holds it all together and makes all their songs cohesive. It was an awesome set, and I can't wait to see the resulting video, especially for "Time Capsule In Reverse", the song that stuck with me well after the performance.

One of the best things about Brass Tree Sessions is the casual atmosphere. Amazing Twin finished their set and there was a good sized gap in time before ManCub went on, allowing everyone there to meet each other and meet the bands. Aside from the bands performing, I also ran into a few members of other local bands while hanging out between sets. Sammi from Sauna and Victoria from Nipples-n-Dimes were around that afternoon. Both of their bands had been previously featured on Brass Tree Sessions. (Sauna was on Episode #1, Nipples-n-Dimes on Episode #2) I also ran into Claire Connoly of Number Station and Nate Adelmann of Shaky Molars. If you really want to know local Denver music, the Brass Tree house is a great way to hear it and meet the people behind it all.


After meeting more people and sharing some more cold beer, I went back inside as ManCub was finishing setting up their gear. I've covered ManCub a lot, but I definitely don't get tired of doing it. They always manage to do something different every time I see them, yet consistently blow away whatever crowd they play for. Thanks to the informal setting of the Brass Tree house, ManCub treated a few onlookers to an impromptu song that offered a small window into how their songs are created. After a loud sneeze, Alex recorded the phrase "T'was a violent sneeze" into the microphone and immediately started playing it back, messing with filters to change the sound. Alex Anderson and James Wayne then began to lay down various beats, and Alex knocked out a quick melody on his keyboard. Within a minute they had something resembling a song - although I don't think they'll be performing "T'was a Violent Sneeze" anytime soon. Still, it was cool watching a song take shape freestyle right before your eyes.

Alex Anderson of ManCub

Soon, more people packed into the house and ManCub began their set. They played much of what they did the night before at Denver After Dark, but this time to a crowd of mostly fresh faces. By the time "Post Modern War" and "Mt. Rushmore" came on, hardly anyone in the house was standing still. People went particularly crazy this time for "Sound", and they ended with "Summer Rain", getting everyone in the house nice and sweaty. I overheard people coming up to ManCub after the set who had just heard ManCub's music for the first time, praising them for doing something a little different with electronic music that still hits hard but is an alternative to dubstep. I would have to strongly agree. I've said it before but I'll keep saying it - if you haven't heard ManCub yet, check them out!

Accordion Crimes

Finally it was time for Accordion Crimes to hold their session, and I was excited to hear another new-to-me local band. Accordion Crimes is Bryon Parker on vocals/guitar, Brian Feuchtinger on bass, and Dave Sprague on drums. Together, they produce some sweet indie post-punk/hardcore noise rock that completely blew me away. My first thought was they were a less random but just as awesome version of At The Drive-In, with a similar amount of energy and similar vocal register. The Brass Tree house is a very old Victorian house, and by the end of Accordion Crime's set, I thought it might be wise to check the place for structural damage.

Bryon Parker of Accordion Crimes

It was the first time I heard Accordion Crimes, so it was tough to pick out individual songs as opposed to getting an idea of the band as a whole. Still, two songs stuck out to me in their set. The first was the easiest to remember because Accordion Crimes announced they'd be playing a cover song. I wasn't familiar with Shellac at the time, but Accordion Crimes did a fine job of covering their song "Song of the Minerals". I went back and checked out the original (and learned about a new band) and they were very true to Shellac's version, and it is now evident where some of Accordion Crimes' influence came from. The other song that stuck with me was "Forecast". My jaw hit the floor when they played this song and I was scrambling through the rest of the session trying to gather it back to my face. Those looking for a high energy band need to look no further than Accordion Crimes. Check them out and keep your eyes open for their videos on the next Brass Tree Sessions release.

The Brass Tree House

Brass Tree Sessions was an amazing experience, and all you have to do to be a part of the next one is keep your eyes open. There is no more intimate way to listen to music than experiencing it less than a yard away from you in a small room of a house, and no better way to connect to bands than sharing beers and conversations with them on a summer afternoon in and around a home of music. The Denver music scene isn't just the bands that make all the awesome music; it's the people that help host bands and spread the word like the Brass Tree crew, and all the people that come out to support the music by being there when the bands perform live. We're all in this together, and the bands can't take it any further without people coming out and being a part of the music community. The more people come out and see what's happening, the greater and more prosperous the scene will become. Come on in, the door's wide open.

Check out more pictures from the sessions in the Facebook photo album. Like the Concerted Effort page and stay up to date!
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I take every opportunity I can to check out music festivals because although it is a lot to take in, it gives me a chance to discover new music. Friday night was no exception; the Denver After Dark music festival hosted 22 local bands (plus one Whomp Truck) over the span of about six hours during a party that took over the 2700 block of Larimer Street. For me, local music festivals are the best, giving me the chance to take the pulse of the Denver music scene, and I can definitely say after Friday night that the scene is alive and well.

I arrived at Denver After Dark shortly before eight o'clock, and although no bands had yet started playing on any stage, the Whomp Truck already had the block shaking with dirty bass booming out of the back. There was already a good crowd showing up for the festival, many hanging out curbside enjoying some food cart fare while taking in the sounds. I didn't linger outside for long, because I knew the first band I wanted to see play would begin shortly.

Molly and Ethan of Sauna

That band was Sauna, a young band of high schoolers who are uncannily resurrecting '60s garage surf rock. Before they started to play, I was intrigued. What made these kids decide to play surf rock? Colorado isn't exactly known for its beaches. But once they started playing, I didn't care why they started playing the type of music they do, I'm just glad they did. CJ Macleod and Ethan Hill hold it down on the guitar and bass respectively, and do a great job reproducing that fun-in-the-sun sound. Sammi Davis is a force on the drums - I wasn't sure if her drumsticks or pigtails were flailing harder throughout the set. Molly Bartlett's vocals really round out the band's sound, always delivering silly yet catchy lyrics with a smile.

Sammi of Sauna

I was impressed with how well Sauna has stamped out an identity, but it is still apparent the band has a ways to go to step further. The vocals could use a little refinement and sometimes it seems the band feels a little bit lost up on stage - I noticed wandering eyes and a somewhat absent attitude at times that made it seem as if the band didn't know what to do up there. (Keep your eyes off the set list.) They could use a little more seriousness, not that their song material is anything super serious, but a more professional approach would do wonders for their live shows. I enjoyed the light-hearted subject matter and retro sound of songs like "Beachball", "Glitter Party", and especially the call-and-response in "Croctopus", but unless they really nail their stage presence and own their roles, they won't get much more than "cutesy, bordering on kitsch" moving forward. The great thing is, they are young and have limitless potential. They're onto something good and I'm rooting for them to take it as far as they can.

School Knights

After Sauna, I decided to stay at the Larimer Lounge for the rest of the festival. I did peek into the other venues during the first couple set changes, but figured I'd still get a good mix of new music and music I know I like if I just stayed put. School Knights was the next band up at the Larimer Lounge and I was eager to see them play having never heard of them before this night. They are a four piece band from Denver/Boulder that play indie pop-punk.

School Knights

School Knights played a pretty decent set, in which they played songs that sounded like blending the attitude of blink-182 with Vampire Weekend unctuosity - and yet don't really resemble either band. I'll have to catch them again to get a better idea of what they are about, but I almost got the feeling they were satirizing the pop-punk genre - which is completely fine with me. If that's not the case, then they need to translate a little more seriousness into their live set to shake that feeling. They were a good followup to Sauna, keeping with the rock theme.

Mark Shusterman of Nyota

Up next was Nyota, and it was an interesting transition going from rock to intelligent dance music (IDM). The band is made up of Corey Brown (of Hollagramz) on control surfaces, Mark Shusterman on vocals and keyboard, and Mark Weaver on bass. Together they play a brand of psychedelic electro IDM that takes the listener on a very far out audio journey. They have a good mix of ambient sounds that layer over clever beat structures. All vocals are done Stephen Hawking style through a vocoder.

Mark Weaver and Corey Brown of Nyota

Nyota isn't exactly the most accessible type of listening, and is more suited to ambient techno and IDM fans. Still, they managed to capture an audience for their set probably due to the stage presence of Mark Weaver on the bass, who was rocking that thing all over stage. IDM isn't really my thing, but I did like the song "Paved In Bronze", as it reminds me of a spaced out version of "Curling Pond Woods" by Greg Davis. If this type of music is your thing, Nyota is worth checking out.

Alex Anderson of ManCub

The last four bands of the night were all bands I'm familiar with, and two of them I'd seen live before. The next band up was ManCub, one of my favorite bands in Denver. I've already covered their shows twice on this blog, once opening for Walter Meego and earlier this month when they opened for Bag Raiders. In fact, they were the first local band I gave an extensive preview for. Needless to say, I like this band and I always love seeing their live performances.

James Wayne of ManCub

Their set for Denver After Dark was business as usual; ManCub took another opportunity to melt faces and blow minds with their analog synth spectacular. Alex Anderson and James Wayne started this set off a little differently with two unreleased tracks. The first was a ManCub take on krautrock, one they've had floating around in their repertoire for a while but have kept it unreleased and unnamed. The other was a new song first dropped a two weeks ago at the Bag Raiders show. They've done more to it to polish it up since then, but this song is also as of yet nameless. After that they went to battle with "Post-Modern War". They played the always crowd pleasing songs "Sound" and "Summer Rain". The crowd loved "8-Bit Crush" and it's great "Reptilia"-esque (by The Strokes) drum beat. It was great exposure for ManCub, as they got to reach a lot of new listeners. If you haven't checked out ManCub yet, you're missing out.

Lizzy Allen of Vitamins

The next band, Vitamins, is a band I've been waiting a while to see. I missed their show before they went on tour, so I was glad that they were playing Denver After Dark as a tour capper. Even better, it was the last show they woukd play in a while considering they just got back from the road. Fans of experimental, psychedelic and krautrock will love Vitamins. To me, they are a female led version of the '70s krautrock band Neu! but with way more experimentalism and variety. The band's instrumentation - Crawford Philleo on drums, Matt Daniels on guitar, and Ryan Ellison on bass -  consists of driving but mellow beats with an impressive amount of layered and filtered sounds enveloping the beat. Lizzy Allen's airy vocals complete the sound, her voice enchanting, seductive, yet dangerous like that of a mythological siren.

Ryan Ellison of Vitamins

Vitamins' set was everything I'd hoped for and more. They have so much stage presence, especially Lizzy. She draws you in when she sings, and captures you completely when she sways to the music, hypnotically moving a white ball of light with her hands that is an awesome sight to see. I enjoyed hearing "Vimanas" live, having seen the video many times since it was released not too long ago. They completely captured a mood with the song "The Disappearance of David Lee Powell", a song written about an inmate executed after over three decades on death row. I hope they don't break too long from doing shows, because their performance was amazing and I need to see them again.

Andy R. of Gauntlet Hair

Next up was the band Gauntlet Hair, a band I've been really excited about lately and itching to see live because of the unique sound they've got going. Yes, they are an indie rock band, but they do it up a little different than anyone else. This band is the product of Andy R. & Craig Nice, and they employed Matt Daniels of Vitamins to help them out on bass to perform their set. I love the sounds Andy gets out of his guitar - twangy and vintage but still modern rock. Craig's creative use of an electronic drum set keeps the songs very interesting by changing drum sounds on the fly, and his personality is so colorful, Gauntlet Hair was wise to place him front and center.

Craig Nice of Gauntlet Hair

Their set wasn't without its problems, however. Gauntlet Hair had issues with the kick drum pedal, causing a song restart and a couple long pauses as the issue tried to get sorted out. Eventually, the pedal was replaced completely. Before the problem was fixed, the kick drum would disappear out of a couple of their songs, taking away from the experience. Still, these guys have some incredible music. I really like "Top Bunk", "Out, Don't" and "I Was Thinking..." The combination of the instrumental work and processed vocals is quite refreshing. Watch out Denver, these guys are going to blow up.

Cassie McNeil of Force Publique

The final set of the entire festival featured another one of my favorite bands, Force Publique. I've been addicted to Force Publique since I first heard their self-titled album. The combination of Cassie McNeil on vocals/bass, James Wayne on MPC/keyboard, and Alex Anderson on drums is perfect, and they create an incredible energy with their dark and moody dance songs. They are like a much more danceable version of The Knife - Cassie's voice much more powerful, sultry and less ghoulish while James' production is less spacey and more driving. Alex's contributions on drums fills out the sound well - they need to get him in the studio with them as opposed to just being there for live shows

James Wayne of Force Publique

Being the closers for the festival, Force Publique played to a packed Larimer Lounge. The crowd received the band extremely well, as most everyone was dancing wildly throughout Force Publique's set. I couldn't help but sing along when they performed "Ache" and "Still Falls Apart". They unleashed a new, untitled and unreleased track for the first time, and it made me very excited for the future of Force Publique - I can't wait to get my hands on more. Other standouts were "Kinetic", "Fickle" and the delightfully strange "Fortified". I'm so glad I got a chance to see them again after missing their last couple shows. I like the band Battles, but I went to the Bluebird last month hoping to catch Force Publique and just narrowly missed them. After seeing them perform the way it was meant to be (as a late headliner, not performing at Opal in the middle of the afternoon), I'm going to make sure I see them every chance I can get. Awesome band, great songs, and they are unlike much anything else out there.

As great as festivals can be to discover new music, when there are bands spread across four stages in three different venues, you've got to make a few tough decisions on who to see and who to miss, unless you only catch a fraction of each band's set. Because of that, I ended up staying at the main stage in the Larimer Lounge for pretty much the entire night. It caused me to miss a few groups I've heard of but haven't really checked out yet; CacheFlowe, Peter Black, Mombi, Iuengliss, R E A L M A G I C, and Safe Boating Is No Accident - not to forget the rest who are new to me. That just means I've got more work to do and more shows to see in the future.

Otherwise, Denver After Dark was awesome and I'm glad I was able to see the bands that I did. Denver has a wonderful music community, and the bands are a close knit group. They attend each other's shows and lend each other support. Even though Flashlights and E.V.S. weren't in the festival, I saw members of each band hanging out all night taking in everyone else's music, and I'm sure there were many more local band members I didn't see doing the same thing. If you haven't checked out the burgeoning Denver music scene yet, you should. There are incredibly exciting things happening with music in this city, and the only thing it will take for it to really explode, is for more people to realize that and take part in the action.

See more pictures from the festival in the Facebook photo album. Like the Concerted Effort page to keep updated!
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Sometimes all it takes is a blog to define, shape, and perpetuate a movement in the landscape of music. These days there are a lot of do-it-yourselfers out there, trying to fill a niche and expose people to things they are passionate about. Last night at the Larimer Lounge, Denver was treated to a show presented by a blog that featured a genre of electronic music first defined by a blog.

Glo Fi State of Mind presented by the blog Bonafide Hype, was a showcase of local electronic music and included a big name in the national chillwave scene. Glo fi (chillwave) is an emerging genre of electronic music characterized by its use of processed synths, samples and loops that draw much stylistic influence from '80s new wave and shoegaze, but is as airy as it is danceable. The vocals tend to have simple melodies and a highly filtered, reverberated sound. The term chillwave is purported to be coined by a blog, so it's appropriate and exciting that the show last night was put together by one.


The show did not feature chillwave exclusively, offering a good mixture of electronic music along the way. The first group to take the stage was Hollagramz, Denver locals that took the influence of dubstep and blended it with house and world inspired beats to come up with something that doesn't quite fit in any existing genre, but is very pleasing to hear. The duo of Cory Brown and Ron Cole injected a wide variety of sounds and tempos into their set - going from slow with booming bass and womp, to fast paced tracks laced with beats with a heavy tropical, Latin and European influence. I loved their Hollagramz styled remix of "Show Me Love" by Robin S. and especially enjoyed their standout original 2-step-garage-meets-house-and-bass track "Serpent Magnetism".


Next up was E.V.S. (Eternal Vibration Sequence), a new local jamtronica (electronic jam) band. Although not chillwave, these guys had the appropriate chill vibe in their music. Cole Hopfenspirger and Tom Moore manned the computers while Steven Bullen provided the drumming. Cole would also break out the electric guitar for some songs, while Tom would add percussion with bongos. They added a little extra stage production to go with their show, with a video projection put together by local artist and graphic designer Kevin Daviet. It was a very energetic and enjoyable performance - a set that included electronica similar to STS9 but to me, less repetitive and with more stylistic variance. It was a good high-energy blend of rock and electronic music; if you like electronic jam bands, keep on the lookout for this recent Global Battle of the Bands winner.


The show took a step towards chillwave when Denver local dreampop group Flashlights hit the stage. It was their first performance since returning home from a short west coast tour, and it seemed the crowd was happy to welcome them back, as they had the largest audience of the night. Flashlights got the mood right, dimming the lights to almost darkness aside from a few spinning stage lights that glowed like illuminated disco balls. It was a clever idea, but without spotlights on Ethan Converse and Sam Martin, it was hard to see what the band was doing. It's a shame, because the last time I saw Flashlights, what stood out to me was being able to clearly see the passion and expression on Ethan's face as he sang, and the hypnotic way Sam would bob to the music as he played the keyboard. Otherwise, it was a quality set from Flashlights, playing songs from Hidden Behind Trees, especially my three favorites "Holidays", "Glowing Eyes" and "New Hampshire", as well as some new material including "New Hampshire Part II", available on the GOLDRUSH music festival compilation.


Finally it was time for the main event, Ohio's own chillwave extraordinaire Brothertiger. John Jagos brought to Denver with him his signature '80 inspired lo-fidelity beats, airy melodic synthesizers, and dreamy subdued vocals. I really like how reminiscent his style is to '80s new wave, but the synth and vocals make it well suited for a party in the clouds. I enjoyed the soft dance-ability and slow grooves of "Feels" and "Lovers". He also dropped one his newest releases, the infectiously melodic track "Like Water", with a pop-friendly synth line that sounds like gentle water droplets dripping into a clear pond.

There was a decent turnout at the Larimer Lounge last night, but no where near enough to create the required energy to best experience the show. All the featured music is still very new, and perhaps the word just hasn't gotten around far enough that this type of music exists. The local bands did a great job performance wise, and I'm excited that we have pioneers of new music right here in this city. Brothertiger was an extremely good representative of chillwave, but I think much of the crowd was frozen trying to figure out what they were seeing and hearing. Brothertiger's straight-forward stage production was anti-climactic compared to the two bands that were on stage before Brothertiger, which isn't a big deal to me, but I think had an affect on the way the crowd perceived the show.

Overall it was not a bad effort for first-time show producers Bonafide Hype. They did a good job of bringing in a solid lineup of talent, keeping the music close together in style but varied throughout the night to keep it all interesting. It wasn't the largest crowd, nor was it the most passionate I've seen, but as the music grows and evolves, so will the audiences that come to enjoy it. The people behind Bonafide Hype have a good ear for what's new in electronic music, so keep an eye out for their next production, as I'm sure they'll do an impeccable job.

See more pictures from this show in the Facebook photo album. Like the Concerted Effort page an keep updated.
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Tonight Denver will get another chance to sample some of the bustling local music scene. The 2700 block of Larimer will be hosting 22 local bands in three different venues. The second annual Denver After Dark festival will offer a good blend of rock and electronic acts, showcasing the versatility of Denver music. It'll offer me a chance to catch some bands I've been eager to see, the only downside being, because so much is going on at once, it'll be a real challenge to catch as much of the mix as I can.

I apologize for falling a little behind today; it's been a very busy week. I usually try to offer an in-depth preview, complete with a few words on each performing band along with a sample of their music. Today, I'll only be putting up a list of the bands that will be performing tonight and when and where they will be doing so. This list comes courtesy of the Larimer Lounge website. I have put band names in bold that I'm especially excited to see. (Just because a band name isn't in bold doesn't mean I don't like them, it's just I'm not yet familiar with their music.)

Meadowlark Stage
12:45 - 1:40 Ben Samples (Fresh 2 Death)
11:55 - 12:45 PDR BLK
11:10 - 11:55 CacheFlowe
10:25 - 11:10 Hollagramz
9:40 - 10:25 Narky Stares
8:45pm - 9:40 London Dungeon
8pm - 8:45 Chase Dobson
7pm - Doors

Meadowlark Outside
8:00 - 8:30 DJD Trio
8:45 - 9:20 Mombi
9:35 - 10:05 The Parallel Light

Larimer Lounge
1am - Force Publique (30-45 min set)
12am - Gauntlet Hair (30-45 min set)
11pm - Vitamins (30-45 min set)
10:15pm - ManCub (30 min set)
9:30pm - Nyota (30 min set)
8:45pm - School Knights (30 min set)
8pm - Sauna (30 min set)
7pm - Doors

Flobots Stage Inside
8:00 - 8:30 Married In Berdichev
8:45 - 9:15 Dynamic
9:30 - 10:00 Iuengliss
10:15 - 10:45 Real Magic
11:00 - 11:35 Safe Boating Is No Accident

Denver After Dark starts at 7:00PM and tickets are $12. Come get a taste of Denver through a mixed platter of music!

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I'm going to the Larimer Lounge to check out Glo Fi State of Mind, but if dreamy techno isn't your thing, there are a couple other bands I've seen before playing around town tonight. There's a good show going on at the Hi-Dive with a couple indie rock groups and local electronic act ManCub. Or if you like tribute bands, Herman's Hideway will have two tribute bands with local band Firemouth closing out the show.


The show at the Hi-Dive starts at about 9:00PM and tickets are $12 at the door. ManCub will play the middle set, with WATERS starting the show and Mister Heavenly doing the headlining work. Check out "For The One" by WATERS, "8 Bit Crush" by ManCub, and "Pineapple Girl" by Mister Heavenly.


The show at Herman's Hideaway begins at 7:30PM and tickets are $6. The two tribute bands are The Spirit of Rush (Rush Tribute) and Mr. Knowitall (Primus Tribute). Firemouth will be playing their own material (but maybe a cover or two) to finish the evening. Watch The Spirit of Rush cover "Distant Early Warning", check out Mr. Knowitall's cover of "Sgt. Baker", and then listen to "As You Are" by Firemouth.

There's a lot of music out there and local music needs your support. If you're looking for good live music tonight, try one of these options!

WATERS - For The One by NYLONmag
ManCub - 8 Bit Crush - 06 8 Bit Crush by Mancub303
Mister Heavenly - Pineapple Girl by subpop

Sgt Baker - Mr. Knowitall 010711 by THE Rick Thompson
As You Are by Firemouth
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It's time to head back to the Larimer Lounge for some more electronic goodness. Tonight, the Lounge will host three local Denver electronic bands and a national chillwave artist. It'll feature hot new electro sounds from across the spectrum - chillwave, dreampop, dubstep. Break out the glow sticks, put on some fluorescent colors, and come on out and dance the night away.

The headliner tonight is Brothertiger, and the best way I can describe him is he's the stateside version of Chad Valley. Brothertiger (John Jagos) is from Athens, OH, and he'll be bringing to Denver tonight his brand of melodic chillwave. It's like taking '80s new wave and making it airy. His soft vocals will have you floating but the instrumentals will still keep you going on the dance floor. Check out "Lovers".

E.V.S., or Eternal Vibration Sequence is almost like a jamtronica band along the lines of Sound Tribe Sector 9, but they feature a wider variety of styles in their performance - both slow and fast paced jams. Cole Hopfenspirger, Tom Moore and Steven Bullen round out the group, who use computer control surfaces and live drumming to produce their range of sounds. Expect hard hitting electro with splashes of dirty womp. Check out "Feverish Trifecta".

I've talked about Flashlights before, and I'm very excited to catch them live again. I missed their release party earlier this month and then they went on a west coast tour. They're back home ready to coo Denver with their sweet dreampop. Check out "Glowing Eyes".

Hollagramz is another local electronic act, and this one also has a diverse electronic style. Holloagramz' music is a merge of dubstep and house, so I guess all call it tripstep dubhouse. The songs are bass heavy but they're not all slow and low, as they often employ Latin inspired beats (cumbia, salsa, reggaeton) and other worldy influences like UK 2-Step garage. Check out "Spectral Crush".

The show starts as the Larimer Lounge at about 9:00PM. Tickets are $15 at the door.
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After a couple nights of connecting to music I've listened to for a long time but hadn't yet caught live, I put my explorer cap on last night and set out on an expedition through the concrete jungle hoping to discover great brand new local music. I picked the Hi-Dive after considering the available live music offerings that were around around town - something about the bands on this bill drew me in (and they had a sweet event poster), and now that I made the trek, I'm very pleased with what I found. There's no greater feeling to me than discovering a new band just beginning to emerge; putting themselves out there like fresh fruit of the vine, waiting to be discovered, collected and shared. If the Denver music scene was a vineyard, the Hi-Dive was the vine last night hosting three local bands like clusters of choice untouched grapes, hand selected to be the vintner's next great pride.

Mercuria and the Gem Stars

Mercuria and the Gem Stars opened up the show, and they immediately commanded my attention. This band has the whole package; a good looking band with great music and magnetizing stage presence. They have an alluring indie rock sound - smooth yet dark. The music rings with a certain familiarity that makes it instantly likable, yet stands on its own. Maria Kohler has a songwriting gift, crafting songs that are enchanting, moody, seductive but most of all, fun to experience. Her stage demeanor is captivating and it is evident that the music is truly an extension of her, flowing out naturally and thus easy to connect to. That energy flows to the rest of the band, and the lineup of James Hale on drums, Julia Mendiolea on bass, and Andrew Frank on synth/guitar/vocals works with great chemistry.

Maria Kohler of Mercuria and the Gem Stars

Before the show, I only had the chance to hear the three Mercuria and the Gem Stars songs I could find online, but that was all it took for me to know I wanted to see them. As much as I liked hearing the recordings of "Glacier" and "Shrine", seeing it come to life before me elevated "like" to "love". They mixed in other unreleased material into their set as well and the sound of all the music was ridiculously sweet to listen to. The last song of their set, the yet unreleased song "Rope", lingered with me well after the performance was over, leaving me wishing I could reach back to for it at any moment and climb back into another sonic adventure. The performance was very profound, and I'm having a tough time truly expressing the impression it made on me, so I'll simply say I loved watching it, can't wait to experience it again, and highly recommend this band to most anyone.

Dave Devine

Next up was Dave Devine, and it was something I wanted to see with great anticipation because of his pedigree. As I mentioned in my preview, Dave Devine is a guitar instructor at Metropolitan State College and the University of Colorado - Denver. In fact, some of his students are members of the two bands that accompanied him last night, and he has also instructed other Denver musicians, like Alex Anderson of ManCub. He performed with a full band - a keyboardist, bassist and drummer. Tonight he performed instrumental progressive indie rock, along the lines of Tortoise but more accessible, or like the offshoot The Sea and Cake but less pop-centric and more complex - a perfect spot somewhere in between. You can tell Dave Devine is a music scholar, showcasing the versatility of the guitar through various playing techniques mated to music in quirky time signatures and non repeating structures.

Dave Devine and his band

His accompanying band was very solid. The drum work was crisp and varied while the bass and Rhodes keyboard offered complimentary layers that filled out each song without ever making a song sound cluttered. Dave's penchant for teaching was evident in the way he would explain his songs, and I thought it was especially teacherly when at one point he said, "Any questions?" That was classic. I enjoyed the song '74, a song written in 7/4 time, and the final song was incredible - a math rock showcase that featured metal inspired fret shredding. It was great to watch someone play out who has been an influence to so many, and I'm thankful for people like Dave Devine, who tirelessly spread the gift of music to ongoing generations, shaping the future of music.

I'm going to break out the wine references again, and say that Mercuria and the Gem Stars would be a big, flavorful Shiraz - ripe and juicy with a lot of soft character but still bold and dark with a hint of spice; great for just about any occasion. Dave Devine would be a premium Cabernet Sauvignon - complete with complexity, sophistication and timelessness but with uniqueness crafted from experience and selectivity; an experience to be savored for the discerning palate. The headlining band, The Marrow, would be a new twist on a classic Bordeaux blend - crafting the best of old world class and mating it with something quirky and refreshing; taking time-honored ideas and blending it with ingenuity to present something new and exciting.

Tania Katz and Aaron Burris-DeBoskey of The Marrow

The Marrow was the band I was most curious about heading into the show. I compare them to a contemporary Bordeaux blend because they offer an atmospheric mix of experimental psychedelic folk rock, taking a range of classic styles and forming them into something complex and new. I listened to their four song EP available online before the show and was interested to see how all these sounds I was hearing would translate in a live setting. It turns out, it was way more compelling and fluid than I thought it might be - watching these guys live is definitely the way this music is meant to be experienced because of what they do to produce their sound.

Kris Becker of The Marrow

The Marrow is a group of five multi-instrumentalists that collectively produce a wide, varied and eclectic range of sounds. Aaron Burris-DeBoskey and Kris Beck play guitar, keyboard and provide vocals. April Anderson and Rodrigo Valdes play drums, percussion, and various improvised instruments. Tania Katz handles vocals, accordion, and a bit of percussion and mallets as well. April adds her vocals to the mix on occasion. It is one thing to hear how all of that combines in a recording, but it is so much more seeing it all work together live. Atmospheric sounds are achieved from such improvised instruments such as heavy chains, bottle caps, and wind chimes. Aaron and Kris employ a range of styles in their guitar playing - jazz, folk, rock and world music. All together, their collective music is influenced by a bit of everything, and yet not like much else out there. They have incredible style and limitless potential. I'm sure as each performance goes by, they will grow tremendously and be quite the musical force to be reckoned with. I hope to see this band again soon, and I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for their future shows.

Last night was an incredible experience, and by the end of it all I once again felt like I was lucky to have witnessed it. I know a show is great when I feel like I should be the one thanking the performers for what I just saw. No matter how much music is already out there, there is a seemingly infinite amount of it out there yet to be discovered. I certainly came across some amazing bands last night and am happy to add a few more favorites to my ever-growing list. There was a good amount of people there last night to see this unfold, but I'll do everything I can to get as many people tuned in as possible - this music is too good to keep hidden and more people need to hear it!

Check out more pictures from this show in the Facebook album. Like the Concerted Effort page to get current updates!
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For the second night in a row I got the chance to see an artist I'd first listened to a decade ago perform in the flesh for the first time. I'll admit, this time around I didn't have the same amount of endearment for this particular performer as I did for the one the night before, and much of his song material didn't really become relevant to me until about five years after I first heard it, but I still went into the experience with a great sense of wonder and excitement. As a bonus, the prelude to the main event was a showcase of local talent; one whom I've been waiting to see for a while, and the the other a new group to me, but a group which I became instantly fond of.

GirlGrabbers - Qknox, GypDaHip & BrikAbrak

That new group is called GirlGrabbers, a local Denver beat collective composed of Qnox, GypDaHip and BrikAbrak. In my preview, I mentioned they were a duo, but when it comes to live performance, Qnox and GypDaHip employs BrikAbrak to lay down scratches and cuts. These guys opened the show with sick beats and remixes by combining a keyboard synthesizer, an Ableton control surface, and turntables. Together they laid down beats reminiscent of something you'd hear at a Madlib, Jay Dee and RZA convention with the injection of a lot of old soul. These guys have great style and opened the show nicely with some new, unreleased material. If they find the right MC these guys could blow up huge, but they can still hold their own. Even if they stick to just releasing beat tapes, I'd rock them all day long.


It was earlier this year I'd first heard of Whygee, the next to take the stage. As soon as I found out about him I've been wanting to catch him live, narrowly missing him the couple other opportunities he'd performed. I was glad to catch him last night, and as soon as he began his set, he used his dynamic stage presence to reel everyone close to the stage. DJ BrikAbrak laid down the beats using an MPC and his turntables, and Whygee went straight into business mode. He's very likeable, an MC of the people as opposed to someone whose head is too huge that they come off arrogant, despite his ability to command the stage. I'm not yet familiar with his songs to tell you what he performed, but he was great at getting the audience into the performance. He would come right up to the edge of the stage and rile up the audience and when he got to the end of his set list, he kept it going one song further as BrikAbrak laid down an impromptu beat while Whygee delivered a freestyle. It was a short, but powerful set; more than enough that I'll actively seek out the next time he performs and hopefully he'll get a full time slot.

Afroman's sweet kicks

Finally, it was time for Afroman to take the stage. He brought with him a very simple setup; a mixer, an iPod, and a double-neck guitar. A white shirt with tan stripes, matching pants, and white leather shoes gave him a retro look. A heavy gold chain dressed his neck and a sparkling gold pot leaf dangled from the end of the golden rope. He had a short length afro and his face was wrapped in a short beard. Perhaps in an attempt to stay punctual despite the best efforts of a certain smokable plant, he wore a watch on either wrist; a shiny gold and diamond analog watch on his left wrist, and a simple black digital watch on his right. He picked up the microphone, and in a deep soft Teddy Pendergrass-like voice introduced himself to the ready crowd, while cycling through his iPod - with the scroll-wheel clicking sound still audible through the house speakers - to queue up his first beat.


Once he got the beats going, he started to rap in that laid back definitive Afroman style, and the crowd immediately loved it. The sense of excitement in the room was unreal. The venue wasn't at all packed tight last night, but there was as much enthusiasm in the Larimer Lounge as I'd seen in shoulder-to-shoulder packed sold out shows. It's as if much of the audience were like me, bumping Afroman songs for the past several years; first at high school house parties, then loudly in college dorms, and finally having it come full circle by partying right in front of and with the man responsible for it all.

Afroman rocking the double-neck guitar

Afroman took the crowd on a journey through the major stops in his musical catalog, digging way back to the beginning with hits like "Crazy Rap", and "She Won't Let Me Fuck" and mixing in some later songs as well. He talked about how he wrote his initial songs as a teenager, and how two decades later he still enjoys performing them because they still apply - it's party rap and it's all about going out and making fun happen. There was definitely fun going on last night - it was the haziest I've ever seen a venue. I didn't think it could get any hazier, but when Afroman ended the night with "Because I Got High" and a reprise of "Crazy Rap" that ended with an Afroman guitar solo, it most certainly did.

The crowd went wild all night for Afroman

Afroman's music may not be the most sophisticated or complex, but it's simple representation of party culture has endeared itself to an entire generation. His fun loving attitude and funky humorous songs have a special place in our culture, and those that accept Afroman's music for what it is understand it's about nothing more than having a good time. The crowd had the highest percentage of passionate audience members I've seen in a long time. Even Afroman himself had to say, "I can't believe this is Monday night. I've had more fun up here than I've had in front of a thousand people."

Afroman was just as gracious for the crowd reception he got as the patrons were gracious to witness his performance. He hung out after the show, allowing people to come up on stage for photographs and autographs. He was shaking hands and signing any and everything - posters, albums, people. He then humbly packed up his things and disappeared into the night in his tour van. It was definitely a unique experience, rife with nostalgia. Afroman performed with an incredibly likeable earnestness and certainly lived up to his expectations, especially if those expectations had been forming for a decade or more.

You can see more pictures from this show in the Facebook photo album. Don't forget to give the Concerted Effort page a 'like'!
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