It was a nice transitional Sunday evening, with the weather lying mildly somewhere in between summer and fall. I made my way to the Hi-Dive ready to witness mellow yet emotive indie rock and wind down another busy week. Although it was a Sunday evening, the Hi-Dive had a large, eager crowd ready to embark on a musical journey. I knew it was a strong musical lineup, and I was happy to see that fact reinforced by the sizable amount of people there to see the show from the very start, rather than the crowd having to slowly build up through the night.

Matt Close of Achille Lauro

Denver's own Achille Lauro went up on stage first and opened the night. Right away they captured the crowd's attention, as they started to play their brand of multi-faceted indie rock. It was the first time I had the opportunity to see these guys live, and as soon as they started to play, I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. The foursome of Matt Close, Jonathan Evans, Ben Mossman, and Luke Mossman create smooth and soulful indie rock with splashes of attitude. They have a post-rock backbone with a danceable twist, like a more accessible and condensed version of progressive rock. Matt Close's vocal style is moody, hypnotic, yet punchy - like a cross between David Byrne and Thom Yorke. All together, it is a unique and infectious sound I really enjoyed hearing.

Ben Mossman of Achille Lauro

Achille Lauro's performance was a good introduction for me to what they are all about. The instrumentation was very polished, but I don't think everything together was up to their usual standard. I'll chock that up to them having to be in the opening spot and having to sort out issues with the sound setup, as what I've heard in their recordings make me believe they are usually much more crisp and clean. Still, they did have a good live set with a couple standout songs, and I especially enjoyed the performance of "Low Cha Cha" - a song with a short orchestral introduction that explodes into a full sound, progressing with vocals that become more and more powerful until they boil over with emotion by the end, taking the listener on a sweeping audio journey. I was happy to finally catch Achille Lauro, and definitely consider them to be a must-see local band. Catch them live the next time you have a chance.

Youth Lagoon

Next up was Boise, ID indie emo-dreampop group Youth Lagoon. Although the solo project of Trevor Powers, Youth Lagoon performed as a two-piece, Powers on vocals/keyboard/sequencer accompanied by an electric guitarist. Together, they performed music that starts out airy and calm yet moody and brooding, which slowly and deliberately builds into expressive and encompassing pieces that beg the listener to march along with each song. It is music draped in seriousness but made accessible and strangely uplifting through its combination of powerful beats and infectious guitar mated with keyboard accompaniment that is endearing through its sort of whimsical simplicity.

Youth Lagoon

I really enjoyed what Youth Lagoon performed, and I like the stylistic things they do that give them a familiar feel yet completely set them apart from anyone else. I think the build up structure that their songs use work great for the most part. My favorite song, "Cannons" for example, reeled me in with it's smooth introductory keyboard part and then smacked my ears hard with an epic beat and floating guitar line that made me feel like I was lifted off the ground.

Youth Lagoon

Yet, I couldn't help but notice that each successive song in Youth Lagoon's set seemed to follow the same formula - start with airy instrumental keyboard and vocals, throw in a little guitar, then drop a simple yet powerful beat partway into the song - and it made me yearn for more. I love the debut album The Year of Hibernation, but I think Youth Lagoon has the ability to advance their music greatly in their next effort simply by mixing up the song structures a bit. It may even help to bring in a live bassist and drummer. Still, Youth Lagoon is worth checking out, especially if you are into chillwave and dreampop but are in the mood for something a little more solemn and introspective.

Gardens & Villa

The final band, Gardens & Villa, harnessed the emotive energy that was created by the previous two acts, mixed in a little laid-back but fun-loving west coast attitude, and delivered an incredible headlining set. This five piece band from Santa Barbara, CA created intricate indie rock soundscapes using guitar, bass, drums, two sets of keyboard/synthesizers, a drummable sample pad, various percussion, and the occasional use of reed flutes. They punctuated their music and strong stage presence with a little bit of stage production in the form of colored spot lights, strobe lights, and a light ball that would burst with spinning rainbow or solid colored light. From song to song, they were able to offer something new stylistically without making any of their songs lose their inherent Gardens & Villa identity.

Gardens & Villa

They opened the show with the wind-in-your-hair retro-laced but future-forward dance-rock song, "Black Hills", which immediately got the crowd shaking on the dance floor. From there, they kept dropping gem after gem. "Cruise Ship" kept a steady slow groove going. "Spacetime" was like an out-of-this-world version of retro surf rock. They introduced the audience to a brand new song, and it too had their signature moody yet powerful dance-ability.  They managed to cleverly blend retro rhythms with a contemporary sound in "Star Fire Power". The crowd went crazy to the slow funk-rock sounds of "Orange Blossom". They closed their set with the quirky yet catchy "Neon Dove", played in a captivating unconventional time signature that created a sophisticated and enthralling rhythm.

Gardens & Villa

Their set was so good and enjoyable to experience, it seemed to fly by in a flash. The audience wanted to hold onto their music for as long as they could, and before Gardens & Villa could even think about leaving the stage, the crowd was already clamoring for one more song. They accommodated the wishes of the crowd with an encore performance of "Carrizo Plain", a song that made me feel like I was listening to something off of Pet Sounds re-envisioned by a bad-ass indie rock band.. It was the perfect song to close out their set, an intimate piece that seemed to personally connect the band with each member of the audience as the words "You and I are intertwined" filled the room. It was a fitting way to end an overall fun and moving experience.

From start to finish, Sunday night's concert was incredibly solid. All three bands were great representatives of the indie genre, offering the perfect combination of familiarity and freshness that would please even the most discerning indie rock listener. Listening to recorded material before the show, I thought some of the music might have too serious a feel and wasn't sure how receptive the crowd would be to that, but everyone seemed to be pleased with all the music throughout the night. The songs that seemed too moody and serious in recordings emerged as some of the more powerful and captivating songs when heard live. All in all, I highly recommend seeing these bands, especially if you are a fan of modern indie rock.

See more pictures from this show in the Facebook photo album. Like the Concerted Effort page and keep updated.

One Response so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    I was able to see G&V open for Foster The People and was so impressed with their stage presence. I have to admit, I was super excited about the pan flute quiver; it would be sweet to have one of those bad boys...

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