Out of all the venues covered on this blog there's been one that, until now, has been curiously absent. It's a place that's been serving South Broadway for over 25 years, hosting over 25,000 bands on its stage over that time. That place is Herman's Hideaway, a place started by the late Herman Roth and now run by his son Allan Roth and grandson Mike Roth. Perhaps I had some misconceptions about the place that kept me from going there before; the venue was too far from downtown, I wasn't sure about the setup, and I wasn't sure about the bands they booked. But after covering a show there, I realized those were just that - misconceptions.

This past Saturday Herman's Hideaway in conjunction with Tone Dynamix hosted a local rock 'n' roll show featuring up and coming local bands, with the much hyped about In The Whale on the headline. I'd been meaning to catch In The Whale for some time, so when I saw this band was playing Herman's Hideaway my concerns about the bands the venue booked vanished. I thought the venue was far away from downtown, but it was really only a short bike ride from Capitol Hill - another misconception quashed. I stepped inside to see a clean venue with a well stocked bar, ample seating, a great dance floor, a sizable stage, bright lights, and big speakers - an ideal setup for just about any show. 

From that point, I knew as long as there were bands I wanted to see, there was no reason not to check out this venue more often. The good news was that the man behind Tone Dynamix, a tireless, hardworking independent booker and promoter by the name of Tony Mason, is now a part of the Herman's Hideaway team, utilizing his network and work ethic to bring a slew of desirable shows to the venue, just like it had been a hotspot for bands in the not too distant past. For me, Saturday night was a test of sorts, but with a good start to finish show on the docket, Herman's Hideaway was well on its way to high marks.

Portobello Road

The night began with an opening performance from Denver's own Portobello Road. Portobello Road is a four-piece rock band featuring brothers Chris Michaels (vocals, guitar) and Drew Michaels (guitar, vocals) along with Tommy Weber (bass) and Josh Meneses (drums). Together they created an eclectic blend of different rock genres. On some songs like "Great State of Arousal" and "Gangsters And Petty Thieves" they had an alternative rock sound. Songs like "Mission Control" or their "Folsom Prison Blues" cover were straight-forward blues rock. Songs like "Sinner" and "Space Oddity" had both those aspects, and a little hint of punk ska thrown in. As a whole package, perhaps the band could use more cohesion in their songs to make them a more identifiable band, but their songs piece by piece were pretty solid. If you like bands like The Black Keys and Sublime and everything in between, give this band a listen.

Ghost In The Machine

Next up was Ghost In The Machine from Fort Collins. Another four-piece outfit, this band featured Andy Kromarek (guitar), Brian Zeiger (bass), Joel Decatur (vocals) & Kris Smith (drums). Together they created a hard rock sound that mixed together riff heavy alt-rock witch crunchy grunge. Much like rock groups from the mid to late '90s, the sound of songs like "Choices" were carefully intense and moody. Vocals were sometimes forcefully strained like in "Hide & Seek" or screamed like in "Titans" to created a brooding sound. Ghost In The Machine definitely put together and performed a readily identifiable sound, and their songs were well played and well presented. If you like bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, Ghost In The Machine will deliver.

Carl Carrell & The Consequence

Up next was the intriguing band Carl Carrell & The Consequence. The band performed as a four-piece with Michael Gonzales (drums), Jarred Johnson (guitar), Jeremiah Mora (bass), and Carl Carrell (vocals, keyboards). The group performed a unique blend of synth/piano driven R&B mated with alt/indie rock. The band is still new and have yet to put out an album, but they definitely have an interesting sound going on. Musically, their performance wasn't totally tight and could use more polish, and the band members could have displayed more confidence - they lacked presence, instead coming off as a bit timid. Still, songs like the soul inspired "They Call Us Animals" and "My Luv" show that they are on to something. To me, it was like trying to combine the soul of John Legend with the oomph of rock and roll, and with time they can make a splash like fellow local R&B rockers Air Dubai. Keep an eye out for this band.

In The Whale

In The Whale was the last band up, and they completely commanded their role as headliners. In The Whale is a two-piece rock group featuring Nate Valdez (vocals, guitar) and Eric Riley (drums, vocals). With only the simplest set of tools at their disposal, they poured incredible energy into their rock 'n' roll sound like forcing gasoline through funnel. Contrary to Nate Valdez' George McFly appearance, he asserted himself on stage, thrashing about with incredible presence while filling the room with powerful, angst-filled vocals and loud, distorted, ear-crunching guitar licks. Eric Riley was no slouch behind the drum kit, and being positioned near the front of the stage allowed the audience to see the balance of ferocity and crispness in which he assailed the drums all the while adding thickness to the vocal sound whenever he would turn his head and project into his microphone. They were the very essence of rock 'n' roll - no frills, just thrills.

In The Whale

To this date, In The Whale has only released a four-track EP called Cake, so it was awesome seeing a full set from these guys including some new, not yet released material. They kicked off their set with an unreleased song before performing the head-bang inducing "Heels" that had me desiring the fabled vixen that was the subject of the song. Another stand-out track from their EP (and to be honest, with only four songs on the EP they are all standouts), "34-28-32" came a couple songs later in another explosion of sound. They followed that up with an impeccable cover of The Who's "My Generation", stutters and all - amazing. My favorite track, the heavy and sludgy blues song "Woman" came mid-set, and sounded incredibly full despite lacking the organ part featured in their recording. They ended their set the same way Cake comes to a close, with "Shall Not Be Moved", coming to a definitive close when Nate Valdez sent himself crashing into Eric Riley's drum set in true rock 'n' roll fashion. This is an awesome band that needs to be seen by lovers of rock. Rock 'n' roll isn't dead, it's In The Whale.

With more shows like this in the future, Herman's Hideaway will surely assert themselves as a major player in Denver music venues. This city is lucky to have so many quality outlets to see live music, and this venue in particular certainly strives to support the city's many quality local musicians. If you haven't checked out Herman's Hideaway yet, you're missing out - it's a great spot.

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

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