It didn't take long for me to return to the Hi-Dive, and the second time around was quite the experience. As I usually try to do, I got to the venue as early as possible, and with the show that night being an earlier start, that meant I had to rush home from my day (actual) job, snatch up my camera gear, scrounge up some change, race through the drive-thru for some fast food, and stuff my face while speeding to the venue, reaching it just in time to pay the cover and catch the tail end of the sound check for Lil' Thunder before they started to rumble the stage.

Lil' Thunder

And rumble the stage, they did. The 'little' in Lil' Thunder is none other than Marie Litton. She stands no more than five feet tall and her petite frame could easily be lost behind her glitter emblazoned guitar. That is until she tears into a chord and starts using her delicate yet powerful voice - then it is all eyes on stage. It may have just been the sound setup at the Hi-Dive, but unlike the songs off the Lil' Thunder EP, the backing instruments came out more distorted and a lot grungier - which was actually pretty sweet. They might want to experiment with that alt-rock grunge sound. The band did a great job opening the night with a high energy set - the bass was fluid, the drumming was relentless, and the guitars were straight rock and roll. The drummer Dan Fox's eventual shirtlessness was a testament that this band put in work. I'd be willing to check out this band again with a cleaner sound set up, for sure, and hopefully I'll have the chance to soon since these guys call Denver home.

Buddy Ross of Motopony prepares his impressive keyboard setup

I mention the quality of the sound because that was the lone blemish on the entire night and it somewhat hindered the presentation of all the bands that performed. Motopony took the stage after Lil' Thunder, and they brought with them an elaborate setup that seemed to befuddle the sound crew. Not only does Buddy Ross use four different keyboard/synthesizers, but the band also uses a range of guitars both electric and acoustic, a full drum set, various tambourines, a big bass drum, and a drum machine. After an extended sound check, most of the instruments seemed to be dialed in OK but when the music started the vocals seemed lost in the mix. Nevertheless, Motopony's set was phenomenal.

Daniel Blue of Motopony

Lead singer Daniel Blue is a master showman, and he will pour his passion for performance over you like a champagne shower - it's as refreshing as it is decadent. I was completely enthralled by his ability to transfer song through the use of his entire body on stage, gushing with musicality like an erupting volcano. It seemed to catch many in the Hi-Dive that night by surprise, as people could tell something amazing was going on before their eyes and ears but they weren't quite sure how to react to the spectacle. The music itself was amazing. Their elaborate collection of instruments offered a wide range of wonderful sounds from all over the map. At times I thought I was listening to a reincarnation of The Doors or The Beatles with a modern indie-rock twist. Motopony's intensity and energy was incredible to feel, and it was the perfect precursor to set the tone for the final band, Those Darlins.

Those Darlins - Not your average chick band

Despite what you may have heard, Those Darlins are not just another chick band from Tennessee. They are premier purveyors of rock 'n' roll, a breath of fresh air for those longing for that vintage rock spirit. They invoke a sense of nostalgia for purer times in music history, and although I was never alive for it, I felt connected to those who rocked out decades before me.

Jess Darlin with eyes wide open

Those Darlins have a great dynamic on stage - Nikki and Kelly Darlin play the sultry bookends to the ever energetic Jess Darlin. Tucked but not forgotten behind the drums is the lone dose of testosterone, Linwood Regensburg. Together they take the pure essence of rock 'n' roll and enhance it with dashes of punk, country, and tongue-in-cheek pop to deliver a stage show that literally flows right onto the crowd, making it terribly difficult not to dance like crazy. Jess Darlin was especially memorable, as she would spread her eyes wide open as if she was absorbing the energy of the crowd, and then amplify that force back to the crowd through her voice and guitar. It was an incredible show, and although it seemed to end in a flash, I won't be forgetting it soon.

In the end, the show was great. There was plenty of energy coming from all the bands and the people that packed the Hi-Dive fed off the music and energy relentlessly. It was much more than just a rock show, it was an all out rock 'n' roll extravaganza. Although the Hi-Dive had its share of sound issues, the bands still came out and did what they do best - flourish in the spotlight.

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