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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