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.