It’s summer and Tim Holland, Denver resident political rapper Sole, is at home with his two dogs, barefoot in his backyard garden. Lately Holland has had a break from touring and this has given him time to focus on recording a new album, as well as many other side projects related to his passions for activism and social awareness. It’s summer, it’s a good time to be busy and outside, I realize this couldn’t be more true than when I am having iced green tea yerba mate next to the sprouting vegetables and an odd feeling of relaxation comes over me as I start to unwind from a full day of work. I think that the combination of a little stress and little rest makes for a well-balanced day, no? Similar to a little sun and a little cloud cover, as the hot, dry afternoon gives way to wind and dark clouds but remains pleasant nonetheless.

Holland is performing at the Hi-Dive tonight with Wanderdusk, Windslo and Abstract Collective.  The show is ages 21 and up, and doors are at 7:00 PM with show set to start at 8:00 PM.  Read all about it on the Hi-Dive's website here.

CE: What was your experience being in the Occupy Denver movement?
TH: Well it’s ongoing, it’s not over. The Occupy thing goes in waves. I thought it was fucking incredible. It was really stressful, really crazy. I definitely learned a lot. I’ve always been an anarchist-minded person, but the more I dealt with the state, the more I talked with police chiefs and officials, the more I realized that these people are full of shit. They don’t give a fuck. Like, all my worst fears about the government have been confirmed through this process, that’s for sure. I’ve experienced a lot of weird shit: co-intel probe, provocateur kind of stuff. I’ve seen so much strange shit happen in that environment; when you’re paranoid already you’re constantly around crazy shit. Riot police daily. What a lot of people don’t realize is that Denver had one of the longest standing occupations out of any city. When a lot of the activists went home in November, the homeless people stayed there. They had to fucking pass that law to get those people out of there; they had to make sleeping with a blanket illegal in Denver in order to get those people to leave. And then it’s really inspiring to see people willing to stand up and resist. I never thought a year ago that would have happened. I never thought there would be this global solidarity network in place for major actions at all times. The creation of that is really important and really awesome. I could talk about that forever, it’s just crazy.

CE: I wanted to ask you about your feelings on that new camping ban - to me, I thought that signaled the definitive end to the Occupy movement. Isn’t the whole point that you have to stay where you are and stand your ground?
TH: Well in October it was - occupying is just a tactic. In November, Homeland Security coordinated a crackdown on every major Occupy in the country: Wall Street, Oakland, Denver, Portland, Seattle, Austin, Atlanta. They were brutally evicted, and no one was allowed to pitch a tent in any of those cities ever again; pretty much anytime a tent went up, the riot police were there. So all the Occupy’s moved away from that, and started focusing more on the issues. Like, we did the ALEC “Shut Down the Corporations” thing, it was the biggest solidarity thing we had done. It was 100 cities, all did direct action against ALEC. ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council; they’re not a lobbyist or a nonprofit, but they’re this group that brag to put out a thousand laws every year. They have a lot of conservative Republicans in their pocket, a lot of Democrats. So, if you’re Coca-Cola and you want to get some poisonous drink out on the market, you go to ALEC and then they pass. The NRA, their gun laws go through ALEC. The prison industrial complex, all their three-strike, anti-black laws - those all get pushed through with ALEC. So it was a cool thing, where all over the country, people were all talking about ALEC when no one ever talked about it before. Then, all of a sudden, all the major supporters of ALEC pull out, because you find out, “Holy shit, these guys are the real Illuminati, these are the real bad motherfuckers.” Treyvon Martin was killed and the law he was killed with was the “Stand Your Ground” law, an NRA-ALEC law. So the Treyvon Martin thing was the nail in the coffin for that company. There’s been small little wins - like May Day, we brought May Day back. We had 500 people shutting down traffic on May Day in Denver; that was pretty fucking great. I think it has moved beyond sleeping in a park. It was cool for a couple of months, but then you know, you aren’t going to change the world by sleeping in a park. You gotta shut down banks, you gotta shut down the military industrial complex. We were fighting the camping ban thing, and that raised a lot of hell.

CE: What’s next for the Occupy supporters in Denver?
TH: We’re working on the Suncor spill in the Platte River. Suncor is a company that refines oil from the Alberta tar sands. They are the number one exporter of tar sands oil. So they refine it here, and they had a fucking benzene spill in the Platte River. Something like 100 million cubic liters of benzene, and they claimed to have sealed it off. But all the water in the area - like Commerce City - the whole water table is contaminated, it’s cancer causing and there’s dead fish. Their solution to it is to put these bubble things in the water, and send the benzene in the air. Somehow that is a good idea. And if you go to any of the buildings around the Suncor refinery, they all had to pay to put these air purifying machines in all the buildings because the fumes were so bad. And they’re still operating.

CE: I follow you Tumblr - was that Denver Health video about the mental patients real?
TH: Dude, they pay people to do shit in front of the cameras. The level of things that they have done to stifle the occupiers is absolutely staggering. It’s hard to prove it all. My friend Rashon shot that video. The thing is that the liberal class in Denver wants to help the homeless, but when it comes down to the realities of our economy and the people that are vulnerable, that shit is ugly and scary. And that was their thing - they wanted to make it seem like everyone camping was homeless, or drug addicts or violent, and that scared off the democrats. And most of those people weren’t really involved, and the churches would come feed them there, it was a good place to be. So the city’s response is to say it’s not illegal to be homeless, just stay out of sight. It’s shameful.

CE: What is new for Sole? I see there’s a new album on the horizon - when is that set to be released?
TH: It’s almost done now. I’m kind of playing with one or two more songs, and then I don’t really know what I’m going to do with it. I’m thinking I’m probably going to put it out on my own, probably early in the fall. I’m probably going to launch a Kickstarter campaign, and leave it 100% up to the fans how much of a budget I’m going to have. So rather than putting a whole bunch of money into it, I could see how much I can raise up front and then I’ll just mix it and leave it open as a pre-order. I’ve never done a full on marketing campaign for a DIY release on my own, and since this is going to be my first solo album in about seven years I want it to be really big, but I also don’t want to deal with a label because I’m already doing everything a label does. I’m always experimenting with what I’m doing.

CE: Please explain Lil B - I know you collaborated on a song together. I can’t tell if he is way too smart for me, or I’m thinking about it too much.
TH: I don’t know, it’s really hard to tell what goes on in his mind. I think he’s just a real stream-of-consciousness, sort of abstract kind of dude. He just channels a lot of stuff, and has no filter. I only had one song with him. I liked his music because it was creative.

CE: Any new collaborations coming up? I see there is a documentary featuring a radio personality that I do not know.
TH: Yeah he was a DJ at Regis for a while, he’s a British guy. What am I working on? I’m working on this album, I’m working on a cookbook . . . I’ve actually been selling food at this vegan pop-up shop. I’ve been debating which way I want to go with it, because part of me just wants to ride around on my bike with a grill on the back and just grill seitan just one night a week. I started working on a poetry book, but I don’t know when that’s coming out. I am releasing an app in about a week and a half. I can’t even really keep track, I’m just involved in so much shit. All in all, I think I’m trying to focus on my album right now.

CE: Any new music or books that you have been into recently?
TH: Yeah, I’ve been reading this book called “Commonwealth” by Antonio Negri, it’s part of a three-part series, and it’s a philosophy book. It’s about reclaiming the commons, and how the first sin is private property. These people used to share the commons—peasants, natives—everyone lived through mutual agreement with each other. And I just ordered “Fear of an Animal Planet” which is all about the secret history of animal resistance solidarity. Like the tigers in the zoo defending each other. Real stories of cool shit that animals do.

CE: And music?
TH: Not really. I’ve been listening to the new B. Dolan mixtape, it’s called “House of Bees Volume 2” and it’s really good. I’ve been listening to the new Drake album, that’s the last album that I liked and there are four songs that I really like, but a lot of crap, too.

Feeling fully relaxed by the time I get to my last question for Holland, I ask him about how his summer is shaping up. Summer is a magical time that has been ingrained in our consciousness from childhood with summer vacations, camps and being out of school. In Colorado, it’s especially exciting to go explore outdoors things that are usually inaccessible during colder times; my favorite thing to do is just ride my bike. I pose this question and Holland looks at his surroundings and says, “I’m excited about gardening. I just like life in the summer; I like camping, swimming. I think there is some potential for some pretty crazy shit to be happening with the Occupy stuff in the summer. Once fall comes around, I’ll be working and touring, so summer is the time to be doing other things. Like Sweet Action ice cream.”
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Tonight is a special night in punk music for Denver, combining the talents of iconic U.K. punk band the Cult with the Florida punk band Against Me! at the Ogden Theater.  First off, it's cool to see a British punk band, or post-punk rather; becoming popular overseas in in the mid 80s, the Cult excellently represents the transition between the "punk" era of the Sex Pistols and the Clash into the early 90s alternative/grunge music scene.  Just last week, the Cult released their ninth studio album, Choice of Weapon and frontman Ian Astbury has returned to their sound that Paste Magazine describes as "the arena, the peyote sweat lodge, the abandoned cathedral and the leather Berlin club all become one."
Staying fresh in the news, Astbury announced his marriage just last night to Aimee Nash of the Black Ryder.  Get nostalgic with the video for their big 80s single, "She Sells Sanctuary" here:

Not to be upstaged, Against Me! recently made big waves in the punk scene by announcing singer Tom Gabel's decision to officially become transgender and change his name to Laura Grace.  Against Me! orignated in the college punk swamp in Gainesville, FL where bands like Hot Water Music and Less Than Jake gained popularity with record companies like No Idea and Fat Wreck Chords.  The new album  will be appropriately titled Gender Dysphoria Blues, a reference to the condition that Gabel cites that spurred him to choose the transgender lifestyle he is embarking on in front of the whole world.  Last night marked his first performance as Laura, and it will be very exciting to see how the band is reacting to the recent changes on stage.

Here is a catchy tune from the White Crosses / Black Crosses album released last year:

Supporting these two big acts will be The Icarus Line from Los Angeles, CA.  Being 14 years young will make this band just as seasoned as the rest of the night's lineup.  They should be releasing a new record soon, of which the first single, "Bad Bloods / Slow Death," was released just a few months ago.

Tonight's show is for ages 16 and up, doors open at 7:00 and the show starts at 8:00.  See more details about this show on the event page on the Ogden's website.
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Last Friday night, there was a party in Denver at 2721 Larimer Street.  Dog-shaped cake with min-cupcakes: check; dozens upon dozens of helium-inflated balloons: check; awesome DJ playing great dance music: check; friends, taco truck, perfect weather: the party is on.  For ManCub's CD release party for Business Dogs, the Larimer Lounge was transformed into a colorful mosaic of balloons, lights and people.  And the specially made cake looked too good to eat.  Friends, family, fellow musicians, and fans were all in attendance for the highly anticipated EP CD release party that warranted such a lovely cake. 

DJ Babyshoe was awesome, and an excellent backdrop to the party scene upon first entering the building.  Before any of the musical guests had set up, the main stage area for the Larimer Lounge was flooded with multicolored balloons, most floating at the ceiling, some slowly meandering across the floorboards amongst the deflated or popped balloon encasings and some were even dangling bright ribbons from where they hung in the air.  DJ Babyshoe was tucked away in the corner of the room where the sound booth was, leaving the stage an eerie twinkling with keyboards, amps and some stage decoration which had a string of lights outline the silhouette of buildings.  The mini-bar was set up in the stage area, where a few people lingered about but at 9:30 PM, most people were outside in the front porch area or by the main bar while we awaited the first act of the evening, Swim Club.  DJ Babyshoe remained awesome throughout the night, and really added that crucial bit of "oomph" to the evening as we all were jettisoned from one dance environment to another.

Swim Club.  Haven't you heard of Swim Club?  The reason you may be in the dark about this one-man dance act is that he is relatively new to the local music scene, being of high school age and the ManCub show being his first live performance.  With a laptop, synths and other electronic devices, Swim Club created a grungy dance beat paired with deep, Depeche Mode-y vocals.  The music sometimes used vocals, but there were some songs that were purely beats and synth.  Mr. Swim Club performed well for his first show, only once letting a deep sigh escape in between songs but never giving the impression that he couldn't keep up.  He played seven or eight songs: that's a lot considering the output of most bands' first time out in the public eye.  The kid's got skill, and I can't quite tell that he has anything online yet to share but soon enough I hope we can listen to more of this talented new Denver musician. 

Drew Englander is the man that puts the extra space between the letters in R e a l m a g i c.  He nonchalantly took the stage as DJ Babyshoe quietly transitioned out of his set.  He made some noises and let us know that he was just testing things out.  Once Englander transitions into R e a l m a g i c, it's as if we are witnessing one of those people in church speaking in tongues, or in this case maybe being enraptured by the holy spirit of dance.  Wonderfully danceable is how I would describe the music he played for us, and it conveyed a sizeable portion emotion, too, as Englander's voice was still able to convey human tones amidst the electronic buzzes that cloaked his voice's sound from the  stage amps. 

I had heard previous to R e a l m a g i c ' s set that he was a fan of getting in the crowd and involving the audience with the music.  Having never seen one of Englander's magical performances, I was looking forward to what this would turn into.  Englander closed his eyes, and held out his arms, kind of like a dance zombie, and in the middle of a song he jumped off the stage and into the crowd.  He twisted and turned as he moved through the crowd, eyes closed and arms outstretched.  He rustled some hair and tapped some elbows and then he jumped right back on to the stage to continue a few more songs.  One of my favorites was a cover song that Englander mentioned he performs all the time, but of course it was new to me,  was "Dancing on My Own" by Robyn.  As with most of his songs, he danced and swung his mic playfully as he performed and impressively pulled of the range of a strong female vocalist.

Alex Anderson was joined by Ethan Converse on stage as ManCub, which as of recently has become a solo project of Anderson's since the departure of former bandmate, Danny Stillman.  While Anderson has performed solo since, he seems right at home with Converse who you may know from local band, Flashlights.  Anderson similarly performed alongside Converse just last month as a stand-in for Flashlights, also very recently having lost one half of their duo; both seem at home in alternate roles with each band playing keyboards, synths and adjusting other various electronic sounds.  I love this type of collaboration.  Converse and Anderson enjoy the collaborative process that allows each to act as a substitute to each other's performance, and the solidarity it shows to local musicians is very inspiring, and just goes to show what a great creative community we have here in Denver.  The stage was awash with light, with the buildings' silhouette piece standing as the focal point, and various strobes and colored beams projecting from all around it.

ManCub performed the new material from Business Dogs and tried-and-true favorites from last year's 8 Bit Crush.  The main stage area was filled to the brim with gyrating bodies streaked and dotted by neon lights; we were the illuminated, dancing alien race from the silhouetted fantasy town on ManCub's stage.  In between songs, Anderson took a break from his knobs and dials and looked out from his dripping ManCub hair to exclaim his heartfelt appreciation for the support and positive reception that evening.  DJ Babyshoe's turntables started to play a quick soundbyte of a child repeating "man cub" and a few seconds later Anderson was ready for the next song.  ManCub's denim-wrapped EPs were the party favor of choice and freely handed out with cake and cupcakes at the close of the evening.

Check out the photos we took at the show, just look for the album on the Concerted Effort Facebook page.  
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May 17 at City Hall Amphitheater was a night filled with smoke and lots of people, who all came to see Lupe Fiasco perform less than a week before the release of his new Food & Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album. A week later I am finally able to get this review finished, and I apologize for that severe time lapse. To be honest, the show happened to be at the tail-end of a slew of events that were being covered for the blog and then I had a birthday and all the while was a little conflicted about how I felt about this show. I am more of a fan of small crowds, unless we are in a festival situation where crowds can disperse. City Hall Amphitheater is vast; there are three levels for a standing audience in the main area, with other side wings on the lower and ground levels. I’m sure you could get lost there if you tried, it’s a maze. But in the end, Lupe Fiasco is a hard-working, young musician and whose devoted fanbase is who I was sharing the evening with - even if it seemed like they were just a bunch of drunk babies and wealthy debutantes. He's a star: of course he was going to draw a massive crowd. And good for him. His unabashedly public display of political views about the Occupy Wallstreet movement and openly expressing his negative opinion of President Obama is commendable, given the respect and grace with which he is able to express those opinions.

Having time to ruminate, I realized this particular review was an ideal time to reconnect with the focus I try to bring to my writing through this abstract idea of "the experience," and more importantly where that experience takes me after it has concluded. I'm not writing here to aggrandize a form of popular entertainment, I'm writing to chronicle the experience and pull out some poignant, journalistic observations so that the context of live music in Denver comes alive. Luckily for you, that context is also somewhat colored by the lens that is provided by my brain, which makes everything less robotic. But, it would be neat to see a little "Concerted Effort" robot at local venues: ideally it would be waterproof for all the spilled drinks and would be able to use stairs.

Obviously being in crowded situations brings you a lot closer to different kinds of people that you normally wouldn’t be close to, kind of like being at a theme park or a parade. There were a lot of DJs. DJ Mu$a was officially billed for the event, but various DJs were doing mic checks, plugging radio stations or had no obvious role other than looking like a DJ and playing music. With so many people in attendance for the main show, I’m sure it’s a security nightmare for the staff.Things were still tame in the City Hall by the time Spoke In Wordz got to the stage. They were very energetic, humble couple of rappers I must say, no brazen bravado like the typical rappers you might see (cough, cough Kanye West, cough). They openly greeted the audience and referred to themselves as “just the warm up;” in general most of the artists were very grateful to be sharing the stage and verbally bowed to Lupe Fiasco for the privilege to do so. I’m not certain, but I’m fairly sure these are larger than normal audiences for some of these local performers.

There’s a narrow smokers grotto type of area along the front of the venue that faces Broadway that also serves as a walkway to get from the right to the left sides of the stage, and so gets extremely clogged with show-goers in-between performances. As the night wears on, this area also becomes a voyeuristic television for the sidewalk folks who can look in on inebriated individuals giving high fives and spilling 7 and 7’s. If you’re like me and don’t want the free-flowing alcohol anywhere near the nice camera you borrowed from work, you probably want to view this scene from the outside for maximum enjoyment. The Foodchain was a gang on stage, in so much that there were atleast seven members up there, and most were wearing sad-faced t-shirts. Maybe it’s more of a expired face because of the “x’s” for eyes. I’m a fan of using the various representations of the smiley face, like Nirvana’s smiley-tongue face and more recently a local band, Scatter Gather, has taken to using the emoticon for their new album. The Foodchain is doing something a little different: they are a local band with four MC’s and a drummer. Similar to Spoke In Wordz, these gentlemen were respectful of the audience and their fellow performers, and didn’t really have any of those typical hip-hop stereotypes to hide behind like giant chains or choice remarks about women or cars.

By the time Pries was taking the stage, City Hall had instantly become a bustling and booming night club. The special VIP sections were filled with tables getting bottle service and staff were busy keeping onlookers behind the velvet rope that sectioned those tables off from the rest of the foot traffic. There was a VIP bar area that was sectioned off, too, and it was complete with diamond-studded men in sunglasses and beautiful blonde women with low-cut dresses. There was a lot of club-appropriate women by now, with the whole evening attire in tow: stilettos, intricate hair curled or pinned or sparkling, fancy cocktail dresses, extended eyelashes, and so on — the list of descriptors could take up this entire review.

While we were waiting for Pries, I did my best to find a place where my short, Mexican stature was not in danger of sharp objects like stilettos or diamonds or drunk college students. Lucky for me, a woman in a burka was in the bottle service area and made some room so I could squeeze in out of harm’s way. Another local musician, Pries is a star rising fast - we have an interview with him care of Early Bird // Night Owl on the blog. He was supported on stage by another MC and performed a long set with no breaks. He did pause momentarily to mention that he liked living in Denver because Colorado has the best weed; no one in attendance that night argued his point.

Finally, the time had come to see the star of the evening. We were at full capacity (at least it felt like it) and City Hall staff had to stay on their toes to make through the final stretch throughout the mayhem of the crowd. I'd say one out of every attendee was exhaling plumes of smoke at this point, and the decibel level had increased in proper ration to the alcohol imbibed by the respective concert-goers. I found an ideal spot by the sound board to look on as Lupe's live band took the stage and started playing "Touch the Sky". So the sound guy is working with some really shiny and expensive looking equipment, and as the bar monkeys notice that I am standing so close, they immediately swarm with their unsteady hands filled with dangerous liquids. We are immediately requested to step away. Confusion erupts as a small fist fight takes place at the bar, a shirt is torn, and what looks like a quart of red Kool-Aid spills from one unfortunate man's face. Either his blood was so thin with alcohol or it was vomit, I was trying not to look. The drunk people scattered as bar staff expedited the exit of a few individuals, and I crept back into the tiny crevice afforded by the sound board. Lupe goes into "Kick, Push" and the nostalgia rushes over me; I remember what I am here for. These songs he sings all had an impact on me at one time in my life, and job my memory better than any photos or journals or conversations could. I clearly remember the carefree summer after my wisdom teeth had been removed, and pain medications left me mostly lazy and worthless. What else was I good for but to pick out some tunes while my best friend picked up his skateboard and we sat in his parents driveway. The live version of the song has a long instrumental part and all the musicians really get into it. When Lupe starts regaling us with the personal lyrics about fellow rappers in "Hop Hop Saved My Life" the night is officially where it needs to be and I am left with only one thing to say: Lupe Fiasco is a great musician and everyone should go see him if you like even one of his songs. You won't be disappointed.
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Named after the comic book hero of the same name, The Phantom’s Revenge will take the stage tonight alongside The Twelves, boyhollow and option4 at Marquis Theater. The 23-year-old French house producer will bring his disco blitz, funky sampling and glitchy remixes to Denver tonight for one of the most outrageous weeknight dance parties we’ve seen in a while.

Our friend Ashley Hall of Early Bird // Night Owl caught up with The Phantom’s Revenge to chat about his influences, his infamous moniker and touring.

AH: For some of us who've yet to hear of you, can you tell us a bit about your background and  what the number one thing we should know about you as an artist?
PR: So, I'm making music now [for the first time in] maybe something like four years. I have no special background, I just decided to get into music four or five years ago when I was working in a bank. Rock 'n' roll, right? The number one thing you should know is that I can do a lot of things for a good pizza.

AH: Growing up in France, who were some of the most influential French musicians that inspired your music? What about American artists?
PR: I was mostly influenced by American artists to begin with, like Paul Johnson, Armand Van Helden – those guys from Chicago. And of course, from a French point of view, Daft Punk, and some other DJs from around 2000. Then later, I think Justice, Breakbot and Mr. Oizo became huge influences.

AH: How did you decide to call yourself The Phantom's Revenge?
PR: It's quite random. I like cheesy movies, like bad movies that are so bad they become good. I just bumped into this Phantom movie from 1995 and I loved it in a really strange way. The name comes from this.

AH: After extensive touring, I’m sure you've had some pretty crazy experiences on the road. Can you share an epic  tour story with us?
PR: Honestly nothing that crazy! I mean not Justice across the universe crazy. There is this time, when I was playing in Sao Paulo, Brazil for the second time, played a set for a packed club, and at the end of the set, they like just grabbed me in threw me in the air like they sometimes do after a sports game. The epic part of the story is I managed to keep my drink almost intact.

AH: What can your fans expect from you next?
PR: More tracks, more music, more breakdance. A few things are on the way, one release on Nervous, a new EP, things like that.

AH: There are a lot of dialogues from movies incorporated into your songs, what's your all time favorite movie?
Full Metal Jacket

AH: Are you a big fan of The Twelves? Have you played with them before?
PR: I’ve never had the chance to play with them, and of course I am a fan. Basically, if you don't like The Twelves’ music you are dead inside.

AH: Are there any other artists you are anxious to work with?
PH: The list is way too long, too many cool people out there. But if I had to choose, something with Armand Van Helden wouldn't be bad!

Check out The Phantom's Revenge along with The Twelves, option4 and boyhollow presented by Lipgloss at the Marquis Theater tonight. The doors open at 8:30PM and the music starts around 9:00PM. The show is 18+ and tickets are $17. Tickets and more information are available online here.
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I agreed to meet Alex Anderson, aka ManCub, at the Fancy Tiger clothing store during his CD sewing party where the store and some volunteers donated time to help finish 500 denim CD covers. What a great idea, am I right? Combining DIY flair with support for local music is a great way to promote your new EP, ManCub; add some pizza and beer and it’s absolutely the best idea I have ever heard of.

Unfortunately, I am not what you would call “crafty,” and after sitting down to sew my first CD sleeve, I came to realize that I lack the feminine guile that might allow me to make something nice with a sewing machine. I got a quick tutorial from ManCub's manager and DIY project partner-in-crime, Kristin Hubbard, and of course it seemed really easy when she showed me how to make a perfect denim square that will soon hold the brand new Business Dogs EP. I looked over my shoulder and saw hundreds of these squares neatly stacked, and saw the handful of people around me making sewing dreams come true. The volunteers were mostly fans and friends, and it was being managed with no assistance from the store’s staff which was pretty impressive. After making a couple of semi-sewn squares, rethreading my bobbin more times than I was actually sewing anything and  un-sticking and un-knotting various threads, I was convinced of two things: 1) Only those who practice magic or have a guardian angel over their shoulder can use sewing machines, and 2) I am not going to be helping much if I continue to fail at sewing.

My attempt to make denim CD covers was not so good, but it was fun and it was really great to see the process. In fact, most of what Anderson tells me about the new CD is all about the process and the various parts that are needed to get your new EP out to the masses. For instance, the materials needed for today’s sewing came from jeans donated to them from friends and Buffalo Exchange next door, and the rest was bought from the nearby Goodwill at a thrifty $1 per pound. ManCub received donated space from Fancy Tiger and donated beer from Great Divide, meaning his manufacturing costs were mostly represented by pizza. Getting these materials together and trying to make a larger quantity at once should help this hard-working crew save some time; whereas today’s output was assembled in about 8 hours, each pre-show assembling session could take up to two hours. “I would like all of these to be gone by September, but the thing is we don’t necessarily sell them. I usually ask anyone who wants one to give us what they can and we make it work out. That’s what I’d like to see, and it’s my place to come in and say, ‘Hey if you are going to listen to this music, take it and just give us what you can’,” says ManCub’s Anderson when asked how much time it would take to sell out of these new denim-cased EPs.

The packaging is one part of the recipe, the other part has to be the music-making. Anderson described what inspired him to start recording again after the 8 Bit Crush EP:

"I guess I wasn’t finished after we did the first record. I did that with my friend Danny, and we started ManCub together. When it was just me I just felt like I wasn’t finished recording ManCub, and I still don’t and we’re going to record some more, but I definitely feel more accomplished this time because I took more time. The first record we just wanted to come out of the gates and see what happened. For this record, I wanted to take my time. . . I decided to go crazy with it, and this [album] is more contained sounding but it came out of way more of an experimental process. The whole point of ManCub is to explore different styles of making music and recording music, and that’s how this record came to be."

Exploring is right. Anderson admits that experimentation with atypical recording techniques helped him and his former partner to produce the previous album. “I went to school and took recording classes, and I totally neglected everything I learned on the first record. We did some crazy stuff on songs where we wrote parts on loop pedals, and whatever those parts sounded like on loop pedals got recorded back into the computer. Basically if anyone reads this who is an engineer, they’ll think ‘Oh, that kid’s a dumbass’. It was a really dumb thing to do, but we just wanted to do it. It was sort of this punk rock way of doing it.” Even though some solid recording software was used for Business Dogs it’s still utilizing a deconstructive effect. “So now I’m using the Ableton software, which is the industry standard for dance music, and the functionality of it for writing is seamless. When I was done with this EP, it was exactly how I wanted it to sound before sending it to a mastering guy . . . [with] this record there is a lot more time, more care and more thought.”

Listening to Anderson describe his recording equipment and the techniques he has learned is akin to an audible blueprint being recounted. He has his hands in marketing, engineering, the creative process: Anderson’s work ethic is inspiring and might make any other musician a little more confident that they could do some of the same. With some help from his brother, Anderson also is directly involved in the filming and brainstorming behind the “Science” video promo. This short recording is minimalist but excellently executed, and the giant, silver globe featured therein is perplexing, and also engaging. The background scenery is like a typical neighborhood, and so when you are watching this video you wonder how they did it. “That is in Mescoda, Kansas. Behind the silver thing is my grandma’s house and a town of 200 when I was growing up, and now it’s probably 125. It used to be a steel town, and . . . the silver thing was what used to be the water tower which was on stilts above where I would play basketball, and they needed to build a new one so they knocked that water tower over, and it actually rolled and almost demolished some houses. Now they are saying they want to paint it like a baseball and make it a Joe Tinker museum . . .” The creativity and innovation is oozing out of ManCub’s paws, who knows what will happen during the CD release show at Larimer Lounge on May 25.
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The music you listen to as the self-absorbed teenage version of yourself is not the same as the music you listen to now.  If you grew up like I did, you may have just started to really spend obnoxious amounts of time on listening to new bands.  Or maybe you started spending a ridiculous amount of money seeing those bands while you were in college, like I did.  I never got a chance to see Margot & the Nuclear So and So's during either of these periods in my life, but I definitely feel like I would have if it were possible; they either weren't in existence or weren't touring all the way down to Florida.  But being at the Larimer Lounge and seeing them play brought me back to the feeling I got when I used to when I was in both of those musically-charged situations.  Seeing all of the "x's" on the wrists, and the camera phones snapping/recording and hearing the intense singing in the cramped space was a feeling entirely too familiar as I recalled the warehouse shows, the house parties, the small college venues that I grew up with and frequented before I was old enough to go to bars and other, bigger venues.  The music I listened to then was a lot more emotionally complicated, gritty-guitar infused and just crowded. 

The Nukes have cast a wide net for their fans over the years, and I love to see the different generations that get sucked into catch when I see shows like theirs this past Tuesday.  And their passionate, too: there are a certain type of music fan that will be drawn to bands for reasons that have more to do with values, and the way people were raised, and I get that feeling with the people I observed at the front of the crowd this evening.  I'm sure there were a few people that came to hear something new, too; all bands this evening had released a new album as of one or two months ago. 

So the opening band was Whispertown, and unfortunately I missed all but the last 3 songs they played.  They had a bare-bones set up with one small drum and Jake Bellows on the guitar.  Bellows is an established musician of the Saddle Creek / Omaha variety (you may know of his other band Neva Dinova), and I was not expecting to see him up there with Morgan Nagler, the principle member of Whispertown.  Nagler herself expressed the revolving door of musicians that Whispertown is comprised of in our interview we did over the internets - you can read it here.  I would have like to see more of the two perform, but I know from Nagler's interview and some brief internet searching that the duo will be back in town soon enough.  Her recent release is Parallel, and you can listen to it

Next up on the night's list of musical guests was Dinosaur Feathers.  They are a band from Brooklyn and their bassist is the splitting image of Ron Linvingston (the movie, Office Space).  The band plays fun, catchy songs that sound like pop-music crack: they jump around and make you want to jump around, it's addictive.  The band played mostly from their new release, Whistle Tips, and the highlights of their performance of that album I think would be "Young Bucks" and "SURPRISE!". 

Richard Edwards is the singer for Margot & the Nuclear So and So's and he's from Indianapolis.  This was made clear when he made a comment about the Broncos recent addition of Peyton Manning, famed quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts.  "I want someone to send me tapes once football season starts . . . you may have him now, but we got the best of him."  I forgot about football until he brought that up; I honestly have been in a mental NFL blackout since that Tebow-trading thing.  The Nukes started off with new tracks like "Shannon" and "Fisher of Men," but the night included a little of everything, including "Skeleton Key" and "Will You Love Me Forever?".  It was nice to see the musical accompaniment that Erik Kang provided with the slide guitar and violin, and Cameron McGill on the keyboard and backing vocals.  It was a full room of listeners and a full stage of band members.

The group enjoyed the captivation of that evening's guests, lot's of kids got to experience what I never did - seeing a great band that you can grow up with play a small venue.  And lots of new music to queue up on Spotify afterwards.
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What a line up!  Lupe Fiasco's tour is stopping in Denver to support Lupe's last release, LASERS, and upcoming Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album.  Lupe was in Denver on a tour stop not too long ago, and made the news when he stopped by the Occupy Denver encampment to drop off blankets and tents.  A political and thoughtful rapper, Lupe's songs have been praised by critics and made it to the top of the pop charts with his last big single "The Show Goes On".  Tonight at City Hall Lupe will be performing with local acts Foodchain, Pries and DJ Mu$a.

Tonight's show is18 and up, and begins at 8:00 PM.  See more information about the event on City Hall's website here.

From the original Food & Liquor record, here's the video that Lupe recently posted to his Facebook page for "I Gotcha".

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It was Mother’s Day in this past Sunday. The whole world seemed to be going to brunch with, planting gardens for, skyping and otherwise celebrating motherhood and having a mom. I was not the only one that had to come to terms with their irresponsibility and brunchless-ness this past Sunday, right? We can’t all be perfect. And maybe some of us don’t care. I’m not sure if it’s better that I do care and it bothered me so much to have to call my mom hungover, or if it’s better not to care. Ok so I’m horrible and deserve to be tossed in a trash can and rolled down a steep hill. When societal norms leave you a wallflower at the big dance, what do you do? I’ll tell you what you do: you give the people what they want. And how I interpreted that was to put on my t-shirt with a certain f-word printed on it, meet my friends for a margarita and go see the punk rock show. Yeah, that’s right, world: I check my credit score AND I can still hang with the punk kids. I guess I don’t really fit your definitions, your roles, your stereotypes - and isn’t that what Mother’s Day is all about. Mom, I’m not perfect but I’m your daughter. Or wait, maybe I was trying to describe punk music. Ahh, the two are more similar than may have been expected.

Deer Tick performed on Mother’s Day to a nearly sold-out crowd at the Bluebird Theater. Before they took the stage, Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside played a rocking set to warm up the crowd. Before Sallie Ford stepped up to her broadcast-style microphone, I sat down with John McCauley from Deer Tick for an interview in the very small, and war-bunker sized backstage area.  Before this all came to pass, I was at Larimer Lounge in 2011 watching Deer Tick perform right after releasing Divine Providence, right after Terry Gross from NPR did a story on these guys. I’m backtracking here for a reason, just bear with me for a moment and think of the cinematic quality of my story if you could pretend there is a tape-rewinding sound and people walking backwards. At this Larimer Lounge show, this sold out Larimer Lounge show, did I witness the brute strength that would come to an ordinary man who wanted something and was senseless enough to try something crazy. An ordinary man who wanted to see Deer Tick so badly he would scale an 11-foot wooden fence trimmed with barbed wire. Not only would that young man, in his cut off jeans and hooded sweatshirt, successfully climb over that obstacle, but he would mistake a large, muscular fellow in dark clothing for security personnel (obviously a naive man, for the wiser among us know that our dear Larimer Lounge would never pay for security personnel) and he would retreat back through the barbed wire and fall off the other side of that tall fence. But the persistent youth, with his boundless energy and determination, climbed back over and he went through the barbed wire, jumped into the courtyard of Larimer Lounge’s back porch and immediately shared a deep embrace and passionate kiss with a pretty miss that I assume was at least a friend of his, but I don’t know. And this is a punk rock show, folks. There is dedication, there is feeling, there is a human story; there is no perfection and there is only acceptance.

Sitting down with John McCauley, the singer of Deer Tick, is unpretentious and feels normal, disregarding that one of us in in a baby pink blazer and purple bowtie. And one of us has a recognizable gold tooth; I’ll leave you to figure out which of us had what.

Deer Tick is comprised of five bandmembers that all live in different cities (Canada included), and consistently tour with each new album they release, and are touring even when there is no new album. “We usually write independently, and then sometimes we can write songs together in the studio. If the mood is right.” But, please let me present the facts. Fact: Deer Tick released Divine Providence in October 2011. Fact: Deer Tick went on tour, stopping at the Larimer Lounge (prompting one particular brave soul to climb a barbed wire fence) in November 2011. Fact: Deer Tick was still playing shows in March 2012 when they came back to Colorado for the Vail Snowball Music Festival. And finally, Fact: Deer Tick has already started recording a new album. “We started working on it already. I don’t think we’ll actually get to finish it until October, and then who knows when it will be ready to come out. We started recording it in Portland, Oregon with Steve Berlin, the Los Lobos producer. We’re looking at finishing it up in Halifax.” As previously mentioned, one of the Ticks lives in Canada and the band has quite a few shows lined up with our neighbors to the North throughout June. Deer Tick is playing in Edmonton, Alberta and Regina, Saskatchewan and then returning stateside to Fargo, North Dakota. Hmm, maybe someone in the band pissed off their tour manager? No, that was intentional.  "We're bringing music to the people.  Like, we decided to book a show in Reno instead of San Francisco because we never get to play for those folks."

I asked McCauley where he finds the time to write music or practice, with the long distance factoring in along with the constant touring. “I don’t force myself to write music. . . I find that the studio has become one of the more easier environments to get writing done.” That comes through the music itself, when you hear songs that are personal and they all sound different, and not contrived for a concept album. The Deer Tick anthology offers you piano ballads with heart-and-soul like “What Kind of Fool Am I?” and “Now It’s Your Turn”; there are sweet acoustic slow-jams, and there are honky-tonk / alt-country songs; there are songs to sing along with, and there are songs that make you want to turn to the person next to you and douse them with beer. Not fitting any particular formula, yet offering a range of sonic breeds it must take a lot of practice to stay on top their live performances. Not for this band, says McCauley. “You load in, you sound check, you get dinner and wait around a couple of hours and play . . . We have such little time off, we can’t really dedicate it to rehearsing with each other. . . [and] it’s not the point of what we’re doing. I mean if we were perfect every time we played it would just kind of be boring.” Indeed, and the Bluebird Theater -- myself included -- didn’t come to see boring.

Particularly not boring was Sallie Ford and the three men who make up the Sound Outside. Very 1940s swing-era sounding, Ford’s pincurls and browline glasses fit well with the vintage feel of the music. Bassist Tyler Tornfelt added some upright bass and drummer Ford Tennis had a Fonzi-style leather jacket; the kitsch-factor was high, but in a good way. Ford’s deep and bluesy voice projects from the stage and her words provide a punk-rock attitude, with lines like, “I can drink, I can yell / and I can raise some hell” and “What is this robot sounding bullshit?”.  I can not express enough how glad I am that this band manages to do something that is in no shape or form like a "Zoot Suit Riot" - no, Sallie Ford offers something a lot more enjoyable and interesting.

Sallie Ford herself is not at all shy or afraid.  She retired her guitar and removed her hairclip to let loose during the end of the set. Energetic and fun in nature, the music of Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside is consistently upbeat and plucky - there is nothing really heavy-handed or morose about what this band is trying to present. They are new, they are young and want to have fun. With Deer Tick's mixture of some self-reflection, songs that are stories about hard times, as well as the drinking tunes and party songs, Sallie Ford is a force that tips the scales in favor of good times. And keeping with my whole insistence that punk shows should be a place for you to celebrate your imperfections and momentary lapse in judgement, it was necessary to have that lighter attitude stay strong.  For instance, when Sallie Ford and the group returned to the stage to join Deer Tick in a commemorative cover of the Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)," Deer Tick's McCauley didn't think twice about pouring out his beer on the Bluebird stage in memory of the recently passed Adam Yauch, aka MCA.  Sallie Ford's Tennis didn't have to question bringing a full bottle of tequila to the mike as he sang next to bandmate Jeff Munger, nor did he have trouble disposing of at least half that bottle's contents with his friends through the duration of the song.

In it's truest form punk music is about living in the moment, and getting that guy to put on his pink gorilla suit and jump into the crowd.  Yes - a pink gorilla made two special appearances during the Deer Tick set, the final one being at the close of the night when the band played "Let's All Go to the Bar."  The crowd let loose, and like champagne bottles popping or beer steins colliding, every drink that was within reaching distance was shaken and tossed up in the air or up at the stage dousing McCauley.  As a cultural pastime, shaking, popping, spilling or clanking alcohol is reserved for special moments with dear friends.  And music is about friends.  Earlier that night McCauley mentioned that every night he is lucky to be spending with his best friends.  "We're a band, we're a group, we're a gang, we're brothers.  We may have our differences here and there, or don't see eye to eye, but we always have each other's backs."

Make sure to check out our pictures from the show, just click here to for our album online.
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Ten years ago a group of punk rockers in Los Angeles came together to form a hardcore punk band called The Bronx. After a few years, their high energy sound and performances got the band to release their second studio album on a major label, and with it came an unexpected turn and the birth of the band's alter ego. It came somewhat unexpectedly, as the emergence of that alter ego came out of spite. The Bronx was asked to play on a television show, but with a request that didn't please this group of punk rockers - they were asked to play an acoustic version of one of the songs off of their second album. Not wanting to do anything soft or watered down, The Bronx decided to take it into a new direction entirely - they donned sombreros and performed the song in mariachi style.

Just like that, Mariachi El Bronx was born. What started unexpectedly ended up being an idea that The Bronx embraced. The Bronx was never intended to be a soft and quiet band, so the Mariachi El Bronx alter ego breathed new life into the band members and allowed both bands to progress in ways they might not have otherwise. Now Mariachi El Bronx two albums, both of them eponymously named, with the latest being released last year. With that, the band's fusion of mariachi and punk became an earnest endeavor, beyond how it started as sort of a joke. Their fusion of seemingly opposite cultures may perhaps be the most punk rock thing they've done. Check out "Map of the World".

Two Gallants, a folk rock duo from San Francisco will kick off the night of music. The band is made up of childhood friends Adam Stephens and Tyson Vogel who began playing music together since the mid '90s. About a decade later, they began fusing together roots/folk music with the punk and grunge music they grew up around in the San Francisco bay area that now is characteristic of the Two Gallants sound. Check out "The Hand That Held Me Down".

The Fox Theatre doors open tonight at 8:30PM and the show starts at 9:00PM. The show is all ages and tickets are $17 at the box office (+$2 for under 21 tickets). Tickets and more information are available online here.
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For MC/singer/songwriter, Pries, the last few years have been nothing short of a whirlwind. After shadowing well-respected DJ Frank E (B.o.B, Justin Beiber, Flo Rida), his bravado, catchy hooks and clever lyrics quickly earned him the attention of MTV and BET, making him an overnight YouTube sensation. Setting himself apart with smart lyrics surrounding complex topics, Pries is an artist to keep your radar.

This week, the Denver native is not only celebrating his 22nd birthday, but also the debut of his video for “Contact High” and opening for Lupe Fiasco on Thursday at City Hall Amphitheatre. Our friend Brianna Hernandez of Early Bird // Night Owl chatted with Pries about living and performing in Denver and his upcoming projects. Read the interview below and check out special ticket offers at the bottom of the page.

BH: You recently addressed your critics, posting on Facebook “Oh, since I’m a nerd and a geek and don’t talk about money, hoes, clothes and drugs all day I’m not good enough.” What topics and issues do you address in your songs and why aren’t you compelled to rap about “money hoes, clothes and drugs?”

P: I like to address the things we as people are too scared to talk about. The things men are too prideful to admit, like being lonely, being broke, scared of the future that awaits, or being in love and the hurt after. Of course money, hoes, clothes and drugs will be around in a few rhymes but I wanna give the people more.

BH: You are a pretty humble guy. Even though you have a song called “Look At Me (My Cocky Song),” you spend most of the song thanking your mom, God, your church, friends and being gracious and thankful. Who are some of the people who inspired you to pursue a career in music and who are some of your biggest supporters?

P: The people that inspire me to keep going are the people that listen and understand my struggle. My biggest supporters are the people that don’t believe in me – they give the motivation to change their minds.

BH: Denver’s music scene is largely dominated by electronica, indie and jam/bluegrass. What is Denver’s rap and hip-hop scene like and is it difficult being a rap artist in a city like Denver?

P: The music scene in Denver all around is beautiful. I wouldn't call myself a rap artist. I’m more like a musician, or a kid that shows his feelings through music.

BH: You released your album, No Glue 2 for free earlier this year. What was that album inspired by and what was your goal for releasing that album?

P: No Glue 2 was inspired by my struggle and the come up of my future. I just want people to hear there is good music out there that still has substance and feeling. I give a lot of my music out for free because I just want people to hear me. I have a voice too. Sometimes artists get lost in the business and stop focusing on why we do music the first place.

BH: You are currently working on your forthcoming project, William. What can fans expect from William and how will it differ from No Glue 2?

P: William is the me people don’t see. My full name is Le'Pries William Brooks. Le'Pries is this nice kid with all these dreams, Brooks is the struggle I was blessed and cursed with, William is that side of me that is so hard to read. “Incompris” is French for misunderstood – that is William. I want people to cry, laugh and understand the missing part in themselves.

BH: What can we expect from your opening performance for Lupe Fiasco?

P: You can expect to see a kid finally making his dream a reality. I have a song called “I’ve Waited.” When you see and hear my pain on that song people will then say, “That’s our star, our voice.”

BH: What’s your favorite Lupe Fiasco album?

P: Lasers is hands down my favorite Lupe album because that’s when he was the most controversial in his career. Outspoken – I love it.

BH: You just wrapped filming new videos. What songs did you film videos for and what are the videos about?

P: I just filmed three videos. “Contact High,” “Hometown,” and a record from William called “Voodoo.” “Contact High” is Pries, it’s fun. “Hometown” is Brooks – my truth, my home, love and hurt. “Voodoo” is William.

BH: What are your plans this summer? Any upcoming tours or events associated with William?

P: Finishing the album and taking my time. Of course, I will be traveling on No Glue 2 shows and tours.


Pries will open before Lupe Fiasco along with The Foodchain, DJ MU$A, and Spoke In Wordz + Myke Charles. This 18+ show starts at 8:00PM at City Hall Amphitheatre. Tickets are $40 in advance or $45 at the door, or if you act now you can take advantage of these special package deals courtesy of The Collective 360:

Buy 2 tickets for $40 each and get 1 ticket for FREE!
Buy 4 tickets for $107.50 and SAVE $65!

The offer only lasts for 24 hours so take advantage of this deal while you still can! Click here to purchase the SPECIAL OFFER! Be sure to check out Early Bird // Night Owl for more happenings around Denver.

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Don't you just love band names?  I particularly like to play the game where you try to guess what type of music a band makes from their name alone; it's good tactic for book covers, obviously, but with band names it becomes really funny really fast.  Please indulge yourself if you haven't heard of these bands before, then read on for the scoop on tonight's lineup that the Larimer Lounge.

Margot & the Nuclear So and So's are pop music first, but have a punk attitude and somewhat experimental in sound as they dabble in a few different types of sounds on each album they have released so far.  In 2006, the band released the emotionally-driven The Dust of Retreat and gained many fans with the single "Skeleton Key".  Since then the group has disbanded and reformed with new members and new grittier sounds with 2010 release of their third album Buzzard.  Singer and songwriter Richard Edwards is a lyrical whiz who puts a cute spin on any song with pop hooks throughout.  The March release of Rot Gut, Domestic (unfortunately the band didn't take advantage of the excellent marketing opportunity to release a microbrew with the same name) features songs that are '90s influenced rock, but maintain personality such as with "A Journalist Falls in Love with Death Row Inmate #16" which is about an unlikely relationship with a felon (I guess it happens, i.e. Danny Rawlings) and "Prozac Nation" which is most certainly an ode to the beloved pharmaceutical industry.

Whispertown is the newest version of Morgan Nagler's band, formerly the Whispertown 2000. Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings have their own label, Acony records based in Nashville, and Whispertown is the only other band they've released on it. The new EP Parallel is the bands 2nd release, and the follow up to their previous release, Swim.

Dinosaur feathers is an indie-pop quartest from Brooklyn that cites Billy Joel as an influence on their Facebook page. I think that is a great summation for a new band. Check out all three of these acts tonight at the Larimer Lounge - Doors at 8:00 PM and Show at 9:00 PM, more information can be found on their website here.

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There's nothing quite like a celebration when it's warranted and praise where it's due.  Hard work pays off, a milestone has been met, and loved ones come nearer to show their support and good times are generally had by all.  May is the time for graduations and for weddings, but on the evening of May 12, 2012 there was reason to celebrate one of Denver's own recording and releasing a new record.  And so a CD Release show is naturally a place to recall what it took to create the possibility of the present, and be happy for it.  Maybe this manifests into an undue overload of nostalgia or maybe a chuckle over what was once considered "hard work".  Unlike a graduation or a wedding, a CD release show is a place where close friends and family mingle with outsiders, or those with no personal connections, there only connection being a similar taste in music.  And also wanting to come out to see Flashbulb Fires at the Hi-Dive.

Shirley set the mood for an evening that might include cocktails and party dresses, or horn-rimmed glasses and lattes.  It was really good "mixer" music, and it seemed that was just what everyone was doing: mingling, drumming up conversation, greeting family.  An organist, a bassist, a drummer all stood behind the lead trumpeteer John Lake and saxophonist Serafin Sanchez.  This jazz outfit had paper music on stands: real professionals.  It would have been cool to see them wearing some sunglasses, or smoking cigarettes.  The band is friends with Flashbulb Fires, and John has contributed some of his brass expertise to their new album Gasconader

Princess Music again wowed the crowd with an amazing collection of professional musicians.  The women with the pixie haircuts manned the heavy equipment here.  Heavy not in weight but in sound, Psyche Dunkhase on the cello and Rachel Sliker playing both the violin and viola together created a rich sound that filled the venue.  Now that the Hi-Dive was really starting to fill up, it was still a loud clamor of friendliness that battled it out with singer Tyler Ludwick.  Ludwick's brilliant vocal range was impressive, soaring high, dipping low and wading in brilliant staccatos and legatos in between.  When not singing, Ludwick's meek manner was helping little to keep the crowd and the staff focused; at one point he looked to the sound booth to help turn down Sliker's sound as she unplugged her viola and only giggled and shrugged when no one answered to his requests.

Besides the group's classically trained musicians, bassist Jeremy Averitt and drummer Robin Chestnut are experienced in the local music scene, both having been in a band called the Shift before Princess Music.   Princess Music is both in touch with it's feelings but not afraid to let go and just get you to dance a little. 

Lights were strung and dark cloth was draped, the mood was set.  Flashbulb Fires were getting ready to seduce the crowd.  No, no, no; they were getting ready to "wow" the crowd with their new album, silly.  Besides, Patrick McGuire being wrapped in multi-colored bungicords and bassist Michael James being similarly adorned were not exactly dressed to undress.  And I have a feeling various moms and other family members were in the crowd, so no of course that's not the effect they were going for here.  But an extra dimly lit Hi-Dive, and smoke machine fog was an excellent attempt to create a sort of indie Phantom of the Opera setting.  Video cameras were everywhere, as friends of the band filmed with handheld cameras and weaved in and out around the stage, standing on top of chairs, crouching beneath keyboard stands.  A camera was even strapped to drummer Chris Sturniolo's chest.  This performance not only had a theatrically staged exterior, but now was getting a little arthouse with the various and omnipresent cameras.

It's always nice to see a homegrown band come home from the road and get the applause they deserve for a job well done. Today is the official release of Gasconader, and the group will continue to support their new release with tour dates in Colorado and Texas. Gasconader is really a fine example or musical prowess for this band who have been around for about six years, previously known as Fiance before changing their name and musical style with Flashbulb Fires. Powerful lyrics, a strong yet floaty vocal presence and excellently timed instruments with backing vocals come together for a nicely executed pop-music compendium.  And "floaty" is borrowing their words, on the song "Dark Ghost (I've Got Arms)" McGuire sings, "I float" with a high-pitched soprano-style voice that sounds exactly like what "floaty" should.   Extremely expressive and forceful when he sings, McGuire does well as he moves between keyboard and acoustic guitar while not missing a beat.  One of my favorite moments is seeing him sing, "Don't you want to see the end of the world with me / darling, I can hardly wait," on "I Beat My Body Down" and then give way Sturnlio's drum solo.  The group was well-received by their audience, and it felt like they were playing their swan song. As I left the Hi-Dive, I could't help but notice that the window covered in band stickers to the left of the stage included an aging Fiance sticker.

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A couple months ago a small indie quintet out of Gainesville, FL put out a forward-thinking debut album that seems to perfectly weave together both the past and present into something new. That group, Hundred Waters, released an album by the same name, a collection of songs that combines gentle folk sensibilities with an electronic approach to composition. The band combines organic instrumentation with sampled, synthesized and sequenced portions. Although that in itself isn't an entirely new approach, the way Hundred Waters blends it all together is very impressive, creating what seems to be like future-folk meshed with dream-pop. Check out "Me & Anodyne".

Young Pharaohs, a local trio, will join the lineup and should be exhibiting a similar approach to creating music but with a different resulting sound. Young Pharaohs have purportedly evolved from their strictly electronic approach to include live instrumentation. It will be interesting to see how that works with their experimental electronic meets R&B/soul sound. Expect a lot of new material to go along with the live debut of this new approach. Check out an early demo of "Put Your Love In My Hands".

The Larimer Lounge doors open tonight at 8:30PM and the music starts at around 9:30PM. The show is 21+ and tickets are $10 at the door. Tickets and more information are available online here.
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It's no secret that we at Concerted Effort love the Hi-Dive, especially reflecting back on how much this blog has been there, even in the past week. I keep repeating myself, but this venue just knows how to bring in the right bands and put on great shows. But the venue doesn't just rely on touring bands to achieve that, the Hi-Dive maintains a commitment to supporting the local scene as well - a strong commitment at that. Not only do local bands have the chance to open for several national and international headlining acts, but the Hi-Dive offers prime dates to local bands that really highlights the venue's dedication to the scene - as was the case with the locals only showcase on Friday night.


The night began with a performance from Mombi. Mombi is a three-piece band featuring Kael Smith (vocals, guitar), Matt Herron (synth), and Michael Behrenhausen (drums) that created ambient and atmospheric music both electronically and organically. Background sound, sometimes wispy, sometimes cavernous, created a moody and hollow space, filled by gentle synths, careful drumming, and effected guitar that ghostly shadowed deliberately frail vocals.


Mombi's latest album, The Wounded Beat, embodies that characteristic sound just described, although features a lot of acoustic guitar that almost adds a folk dimension to the band's sound. On this night, Kael Smith elected to play electric guitar, which helped instill a cold and dark atmospheric sound throughout Mombi's brief set. Mombi took the audience on a steady, cautious journey through four songs, ending on the weightless yet tense piece "Monsoon". Mombi does a great job of creating something that sounds simultaneously enormous yet empty - like dust floating in the blankness of space. If ambiance is your thing, Mombi excels at it.

Peter Black

Between sets, Peter Black played short DJ sets. Always displaying high degrees of versatility, Peter Black employed an incredibly wide range of styles on this particular night. Tucked away on the rear mini stage, Peter Black smoothly blended futuristic and atmospheric electronic selections with songs pulled from post-rock, ambient rock, dreamwave, and gothic rock; an impressive combination of sounds and a testament to Peter Black's ability to select songs appropriate for any occasion. Whether or not he's featured on the main stage, if he is behind the decks he will get the job done.

Force Publique

Next up was a highly anticipated set from Force Publique. Force Publiques synth-heavy darkwave sound and strong songwriting locked my attention long ago when I first saw them, and they quickly became one of my local favorites. But, Force Publique had been quiet lately, hard at work on new material and not performing live shows - the last time I saw them perform was October of last year. On Friday, Force Publique performed as the duo of Cassie McNeil (vocals, guitar, bass) and James Wayne (synths, MPC). They revealed a set of brand new material that continued their darkwave theme but certainly had some notable and exciting differences.

Force Publique

Force Publique opened their set with "Breathe The Lie", and the first thing I noticed was that Cassie McNeil was weilding a guitar - she had only ever performed with a bass and sometimes on synth when I'd seen them before. The next thing I noticed was James Wayne's Roland synth - I'd only ever seen him with a Moog before. The guitar and second synth added more depth to their sound, which was still decidedly Force Publique but seemed to have even more darkness and atmosphere to it in their new songs. Cassie McNeil also switched back to bass on some songs, and there were some pieces where she sang exclusively - something else entirely new. The beat work on Force Publique's new songs were very impressive, showing off a variety of beat styles and even more rhythmic intricacy. If James Wayne wasn't playing one synth (or both), he would be using his hands to lay down drum beats with his MPC. Although sometimes I felt the new pieces would have a little more presence with a live drummer like they've had before, I couldn't help but be impressed overall with all the new material - both in concept and execution. This is shaping up to be a big year for Force Publique, and I can't wait to get my hands on their next album.

School Knights

School Knights took the stage next for their headlining set. With an atmospheric/ambient set to lead off the night, and a gothic/darkwave set next, when School Knights' began performing their noise/garage rock, it set off like a nuclear explosion in contrast. Ben Donehower (bass, vocals), Morris Kolontyrsky (guitar), Zack Roif (drums), and Michael Stein (guitar, vocals) were back again, combining a host of rock sub-genres like alt-rock, surf-rock, punk, and lo-fi with a noisy aesthetic and lighthearted if not a bit satirical and sarcastic attitude. Loud, distorted, and noisy guitars matched up with fleeting drums to propel their chaotic sound and lay under the reverberated vocals, but it was controlled chaos.

School Knights

School Knights started their set with "Problem", a song where melodic lead guitar lingered just below a distorted wall of sound and Ben Donehower's vocals. That lingering melody drove School Knights' retro-like surfy punk-garage sound, while the loud distortion began to rile up the crowd. That lingering guitar-work craftily moved above the surface as School Knights' set progressed. "Brother" upped the tempo a bit, and so did the prominence of School Knights' guitar work, with the licks becoming much more rapid and injecting energy into the sound. By the time School Knights' performed their third song, the recently released single "Bender", the crowd was jumping around as quickly and wildly as Morris' fingers were hammering his frets.

School Knights

School Knights continued on smoothly, expertly blending their noisy aesthetic with the surf/punk/garage sound. They performed another newly released single, "Present Tense", with vocals melodic enough to create a sort of noise-pop sound, but delivered in a such a carefree fashion it maintained a raw, punk rock 'n' roll feel. School Knights continued to perform as yet released songs off of their forthcoming album, to the delight of a progressively rowdy crowd. Bodies thrashed up, down and side-to-side as the crowd lost themselves to School Knights' tactically abrasive sound. Fans of energetic noise-punk need to keep their eyes open for School Knights' next album release.

As much credit is due to the venue for providing a place for these local bands to showcase their talent, so to does credit go to the bands and the droves of people who came to support it all. It may not always work out like it did Friday night, but when it all comes together it's a beautiful thing. The persistence of bands to keep moving forward while spreading the word and different band's willingness to work together can pay off in the form of a great show, as long as they have great outlets to exhibit themselves. Support local music whenever you can to keep nights like these a regular thing.

See more pictures from this show in the Facebook photo album. Like the Concerted Effort page to stay up to date.

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