I've lived in Colorado all my life but I can't say that I've been to Fort Collins very often. I have nothing against the place, in fact, the few times I've been there I've always had a good time. But Tuesday night I found a really good reason to make another trip, and even though I had to drive back late at night through a treacherous snow storm, it was completely worth it. I had the opportunity to check out a band I've been a fan of for a long time but haven't yet seen live. The band has two upcoming shows near me; this Friday Oct. 28 at the Ogden Theater and Saturday Oct. 29 at the Boulder Theater, but Tuesday's show best fit my schedule so I happily made my way up north. It was my first trip to the Aggie Theater in Fort Collins, and I found it to be a nice medium-sized venue with good views of the stage all around and good sound - a place that can have larger crowds but still maintain an intimate feel.
|Bonnie and the Beard|
The show started with a local Denver gypsy-rock band that I was also checking out for the first time. Bonnie and the Beard is a three-piece band - Bonnie (Megan Fong) plays guitar/keyboards/percussion and Beard (Tony LoVerde) plays guitar/banjo. The two share vocal duties and are backed by drummer Alex Ferreira. The trio created a gypsy influenced southern rock sound that was a combination of folk, blues and country. Their songs conjured up images of the wild frontier and sounded like what you might hear traveling gypsies play as they performed in an old western saloon. Their songs all have a fun feel, enhanced by the dynamic presence and energy from Bonnie and Beard, and they got me bobbing my head and stomping my feet the whole time they were on stage.
|Alex Ferreira of Bonnie and the Beard|
They played mostly songs off of their self-titled album Bonnie and the Beard as well as a handful of other new fun songs. To set the tone and introduce the crowd to what this band was all about, they started their set with the song "Lonely Hills", a tale about a zombie cowboy. From there they played songs that covered a variety of related subjects. There were the gypsy life songs "Money Honey", and "Lost Tribe" delivered with almost carnival-esque instrumentation. There were even odes to booze with songs like "Flask In Pocket", "Sweet Devil Whiskey" and "Beer, Beer. Beer". They deliver their songs with such a charming playful seriousness it's hard not to get sucked into the fun. If you're looking for something bluesy but a little different, check out Bonnie and the Beard.
DeVotchKa took the stage next, and as soon as they were in place the energy level in the whole room was instantly ratcheted up - the four members of this band exude such a confidence about them that before they even play a note they will capture the audience's attention. DeVotchKa had an incredible amount of instruments on stage to create their folk-rock/gypsy punk sound. Depending on the song, each band member would grab one of the different available instruments. Lead singer Nick Urata had two different acoustic guitars - a nylon classical guitar and a steel-stringed acoustic, an electric guitar, a bouzouki (sort of a lower pitched mandolin), and a theremin. Tom Hagerman handled the keyboard, accordion, violin and electric bass. Jeanie Schroder had an upright bass, sousaphone (marching version of the tuba), flute, and also provided backing vocals. Shawn King was mostly behind the drum set, but would handle other percussion and play the trumpet. It's no wonder that with all these tools at their disposal DeVotchKa can create such an intricate combination and variety of sounds.
|Jeanie Schroder of DeVotchKa|
They began their set with the first track from their newest album, 100 Lovers titled "The Alley". The initial combination of classical guitar, keyboard, drums and upright bass created a song with a sort of atmospheric and somewhat ambient introduction that exploded into DeVotchKa's unique brand of indie folk-rock, instantly pumping the Aggie Theater venue walls with scintillating energy. In order to treat the crowd with gems from across their enormous catalog, DeVotchKa included "Head Honcho" originally from their first release Super Melodrama and "Basso Profundo" from A Mad & Faithful Telling. Just three songs into their set, they already had the sweat beading off my head as I couldn't help but dance to the entrancing rhythms of their gypsy-rock songs.
|Shawn King of DeVotchKa|
|Nick Urata of DeVotchKa|
The live versions of every song sounded absolutely phenomenal, flawless and fluid, making it all that much easier to draw more energy from the crowd. If the crowd wasn't singing along or showing off their dance skills, they were clapping along to the beat while screaming wildly. They kept the audience on their toes by mixing up fast paced and slower songs, like transitioning from the more solemn "How It Ends" into the dance-fest inducing "Contrabanda", back to the whistling of "Exhaustible". I like how this band showed local pride by performing their cover of local musician Ted Thacker's "I Cried Like a Silly Boy" to their home state crowd. It's as if DeVotchKa new all the right buttons to push to get the best out of the audience, which in turn drew the best out of the band themselves.
|Nick Urata of DeVotchKa|
DeVotchKa wrapped up their regular set with two of their older songs. "The Clockwise Witness" showcased the unique ability of DeVotchKa to meld a more solemn, mellow sounding song with a rhythm that still has a lot of danceability, and I liked the pizzicato violin in place of the toy piano sound that is present in the recorded version. Then they finished their regular set with one of my all time favorites, "The Enemy Guns", a song that brought out the true essence of gypsy punk with its fast paced rhythm and driving guitar riffs.
|Tom Hagerman of DeVotchKa|
Although I was not familiar with the way crowds in Fort Collins would react to DeVotchKa, judging by the palpable energy in the room I couldn't imagine they would let the band leave so easily. I was glad to be right, as immediately an intense rumble from stomping feet shook the room like an earthquake among chants of "Encore! Encore!". Soon thereafter, DeVotchKa returned to the stage to loud cheers to perform a little more. The encore began with the title track from their new album, "100 Other Lovers", showing the bands ability to to work with more modern sounds coming from a drummable sample pad and synthesized keyboard. Then DeVotchKa tore the whole place down with an extended version of "Such a Lovely Thing" to end the night. There was a whole lot of amazing that happened in that finale, but if you didn't see it, you can find out how astounding DeVotchKa can be by seeing it for yourself this weekend.
|Jeanie Schroder of DeVotchKa|
After seeing Tuesday night's show, I almost wish my schedule would allow me to see them at their other two dates this Halloween weekend. The music of the show was absolutely incredible, and should not only appeal to fans of folk-rock but general fans of indie rock as well. Plus, I know that the Denver and Boulder crowds will dance so feverishly they will probably redefine the word 'energetic'. Then to top it all off, those shows will have a theme that will take everything to a whole new level - zombies versus vampires. Choose a side, get dressed in costume, head down to one of those two venues, and get ready to dance the night away. DeVotchKa will handle the rest, and from what I've already seen, it's going to be epic.
Tickets to the Oct. 28 Ogden Theater show are available at the box office and online, and DeVotchKa will be joined be Denver locals Churchill. I've seen Churchill live before and they blew me away with their live performance, so it should be an incredible show from top to bottom. Tickets to the Oct. 29 Boulder Theater show are also available at the box office or online. DeVotchKa will be joined by special guests Ending People for the Boulder show. Check out one (or both!) of the shows, because they are sure to be an incredibly good time.
See more pictures from this show in the Facebook photo album. Like the Concerted Effort page and stay updated!