Exactly a week later, I found myself back in Boulder for another good show. It was another mix of established and up and coming talent, albeit last week it was all about hip-hop, and this time it was an indie rock showcase. This trip wasn't as steeped in nostalgia as the one the week before, but the flood of college day memories still washed over me a bit as I waited to enter the venue - watching fresh faces eagerly file in to an anticipated show.
The night began with one of my favorite local groups, Flashlights. For reasons outside of my control, I could not enter the venue until just after the electro-pop duo finished their set and left the stage. It was torture standing outside the venue doors, only able to see the two figures on a small LCD viewing screen without any sound, catching two-second glimpses of some of my favorite songs whenever someone would open the door to enter/exit the venue. I patiently waited for the venue to verify my photo credentials hoping I could catch at least one song, since Flashlights was playing a lot of new material from their upcoming EP, but alas the verification came too late. Lucky for me, Flashlights calls Colorado home, so I shouldn't have to wait long to get another chance.
Next up was Los Angeles band Races. This six-piece indie rock band featured Wade Ryff (guitar/vocals), Garth Herberg (guitar), Devon Lee (vocals/percussion), Breanna Wood (piano/vocals), Oliver Hild (bass/moog), and Lucas Ventura (drums/percussion). This band crafts a blend of indie rock that is both dreamy and uplifting. They layer lofty, soft textured sounds with the guitars, keyboards and vocals juxtaposed over powerful percussion and grappling rhythms. Their most ethereal and introspective songs still hold tight with a driving rhythm, and when they want their sound to expand it explodes into something delightful.
They began their set with an atmospheric introductory song that led into their single "Big Broom". It was a steady build up that slowly built intensity - a soft explosion into the single. "Big Broom" embodies the Races sound, something large that will gently but assuredly sweep the listener away. Their performance of "All For You" had the same effect - a carefully balanced song that, although mellow, was completely enslaving. Races delivered all of their music with incredible conviction and tantalizing stage presence that definitely enhanced their balanced musical attack. This is definitely an indie rock band to keep your eyes on in the near future.
|El Ten Eleven|
Lastly, acclaimed indie rock veterans El Ten Eleven hit the stage. The duo of Kristian Dunn (guitar, bass) and Tim Fogarty (drums) have been at their craft over the last decade, creating an indie rock sound that combines post-rock with ambient experimentalism through creative use of live looping and effects pedals. They create a sound that continues to build in intensity and intricacy as loops are played live, recorded, and played over throughout each song. Their intricate rock pieces have a unique footprint that stands alone, and seeing it all come together live was just that much more delightful.
|El Ten Eleven|
At first glimpse, El Ten Eleven's stage setup seemed pretty straightforward and simple, but upon closer inspection, they had quite the impressive rig. Tim Fogarty sat behind an impressive drum kit that merged both an acoustic and electronic kit into one. Kristian Dunn had a double-neck guitar/bass strapped onto him with an extra double-neck guitar/bass and fretless bass stowed away to use on upcoming songs. The setup that makes their live looping sound work was cleverly projected via top-down view closed circuit camera onto the rear of the stage, revealing a couple panels on the floor of scattered with various looping and effects pedals. The projection revealed just how much careful timing and footwork is involved in addition to the pure musicality involved in creating the El Ten Eleven sound.
|El Ten Eleven|
They started their set with the rhythmic dance-rock jam "Indian Winter" off their latest album It's Still Like a Secret, a song with an upbeat mood thanks to its driving rhythm, melodic bassline and varied guitar work - a great party starter. It's Still Like a Secret seemed to be the product of the band's experience - a collection of songs that combines the experimental ambiance of their early material with energetic danceability they later explored.
Most of their set including selections from their latest album, but of course, a veteran band like El Ten Eleven will be sure to mix in old favorites as well. They smoothly went from "The Sycophants Are Coming! The Sycophants Are Coming!" into "Jumping Frenchmen of Maine" from These Promises Are Being Videotaped. I like how they ended with a couple selections from Every Direction Is North; "Hot Cakes" and "3+4".
|El Ten Eleven|
The future also bodes well for El Ten Eleven. I think one of the most impressive pieces they played all night was a new song called "Transistions". Kristian Dunn was sure to stipulate that everything heard that night was live with no pre-programmed computer aid, and that this new piece was especially difficult because of the variance in time signature and tempo. It was a good disclaimer, because after a few seconds into the song the duo had to restart because of a fouled loop, but I think that actually added to the live experience and really demonstrated the complexity of performing their songs. The second attempt was the charm, and the song took the audience on a sweeping journey through all its technicality.
|El Ten Eleven|
The El Ten Eleven sound may not be the most accessible form of indie rock out there, but there is a lot to appreciate within it. Somehow the two can combine great timing and technicality into songs that incite a lot of energy. The two deliver it with a lot of enthusiasm and interaction that really riles up the crowd. The Fox Theatre audience was bubbling with excitement throughout their entire set, with loud cheers between each song. Those that appreciate post rock and math rock will definitely enjoy seeing an El Ten Eleven show.
See more pictures from this show in the Facebook photo album. Like the Concerted Effort page and stay up to date.