By Brad Lopez
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Inkoo Kang
By Dave Herrerra
By Josiah M. Hesse
By Britt Chester
By Noah Hubbell
The fourth annual Westword Music Awards Showcase, held September 20 in LoDo, featured music of virtually every description, as well as a special guest appearance by representatives of the Denver police department.
Let's get to the latter situation first. Concentrated Evil, a trio nominated in the Showcase's Metal/ Goth category, performed in the 10 p.m. slot at Tabu, the "martiki bar" in the upstairs room off Wazoo's, a restaurant at 1819 Wazee Street. I caught a song or two early in the band's set and witnessed fairly typical behavior on the part of bandmembers Adam Schell, Dan George and Kevin Ozias (they were energetic, emphatic and deafening), as well as by the fifty-plus folks on hand to witness the onslaught (ditto). But as the performance wound down, an altercation between Concentrated Evil fans and Tabu bouncers turned ugly. Schell and company were blamed for stealing a microphone belonging to the club; thanks to an anonymous tipster, the mike was subsequently found hidden near the stage. More seriously, two patrons, Ted Norfolk and Adam Lindsay (himself a member of a Denver band, L.S. Diesel), were charged with assaulting Tabu security staffers who they in turn charge with assaulting them.
Schell says that Tabu workers first showed signs of concern after he and George began spraying people in the crowd with beer and a number of those they hit responded by doing the same to them. Around that time, a listener who Schell insists isn't known to the band climbed onto the stage, then leaped off it. Seconds later, according to Schell, bouncers materialized, put the stage jumper into a headlock, and tossed him out. "That was no big deal," Schell says. "But then they just started yanking people out of there--innocents who weren't doing anything."
One of the Concentrated Evil faithful ejected was Lindsay, who says he was rousted after a guard knocked a beer from his hand and he complained about it. "The next thing I knew, a guy grabbed me from behind and dragged me downstairs," he adds. "At the bottom of the stairs, I told them to let me go--that I didn't want to make a scene. But the guy at the front door grabbed me by one arm, and the guy who already had me took the other one and threw me in the street."
Norfolk says that he tried to pull one of the bouncers off Lindsay only to become a target himself. As Norfolk puts it, "They smashed me into a fence, and two of them started kicking me, beating me, kneeing me. I got a shot to my kidneys and my ribs and a scrape behind my ear from the fence." Tabu employees called the Denver police, who responded within minutes. Before he could be thoroughly questioned, the man who'd jumped off the stage ran away; rumor has it that he has an outstanding warrant against him. As for Norfolk and Lindsay, they received assault citations that require an early-October court appearance. Both of them say they'll fight the accusations in court, with the help of numerous witnesses.
The version told by Tabu spokesman Johnny Hampton, who was there on the evening in question, is significantly different. He says that in addition to spraying beer on the crowd, Schell and George were smashing the empty bottles on the stage--an assertion Schell denies. When patrons began to mimic them, Hampton explains, the bouncers were forced to react. "There was glass flying everywhere, and they had to do something about it before someone got hurt," he says. "And that wasn't all. One of the guys our doorman escorted out cocked his arm back like he was going to hit him with a bottle. So of course he had to defend himself, and it did get a little rough; I don't know if he fell down the stairs or what, but the guy wound up with a split lip. And when the bouncers were escorting the band out, I saw another guy jump on a bouncer's back.
"Our club is basically brand-new, and we try to make everything stay looking brand-new," Hampton continues. "And it won't if you let people slam bottles down on the floor. If our people got a little over-aggressive, so be it, but they needed to do what they did."
Schell disagrees. "Our position is that this never should have happened, and we can't let this slide. It really was a blemish on a great night of music."
Oh, yeah--music. The thousands of locals who turned out to hear the Showcase nominees heard plenty of it, and so did I. The iron legs of Amy Siefert, the pedicab driver who carried me from venue to venue until she blew a tire, helped me to sample all 35 nominated bands that performed. Here's a brief rundown of the sounds I heard at the seven participating clubs.
Wynkoop Brewing Co.: The Flood Plain Gang kicked off the Showcase with a virtuosic blend of traditional and progressive bluegrass that couldn't have been more different from the punk anarchy of the 8-Bucks Experiment and the heaviness of Skull Flux that followed. After this assault, the crowd was in need of some soothing, and Wendy Woo provided it.