By Team Backbeat
By Amber Taufen
By Jon Solomon
By Tom Murphy
By Jesse Livingston
By Alejandra Loera
By Stephanie March
By Tom Murphy
Welcome to the eighteenth annual Westword Music Showcase! Our baby is finally old enough to vote and buy cigarettes and porn — though who really buys that anymore? How things have changed since the Showcase was born way back in 1995. Bill Clinton was in his first term as president, cell phones were still a luxury of the rich, Coors Field was hosting its first season of the Colorado Rockies, and while there were 55 bands on the inaugural ballot that year, only 31 performed, at six LoDo venues.
This year's Showcase, on Saturday, June 23, features roughly five times that many acts performing at fifteen venues spread out across the Golden Triangle, the neighborhood where Westword is now located. We have an absolutely killer lineup on the main stage, not to mention all the stages filled with the town's best local acts, culled from this year's Westword Music Showcase ballot.
To help you get to know this year's performers a little better, we asked each of the featured bands to tell you what you need to know about them in a hundred words or less. Read what they have to say, in their own words, and then check them out this Saturday. If you haven't already bought tickets, get them now at Westword Music Showcase tickets — prices go up the day of the show — and stop by backbeatblog.com for additional interviews and Showcase-related stories.
See you at Showcase!
A MOUTHFUL OF THUNDER
ROCK — INDIE
3:45-4:15 Rooster & Moon
A Mouthful of Thunder started out of the ashes of Hearts of Palm, formally Nathan & Stephen, which featured members of a slew of other bands, including Black Black Ocean, Five Iron Frenzy, Dan Craig Band, Barbizon, Lion Sized, the Symptoms, Walking Distance, Co-Pilot, Planet 9 and Ending People. A Mouthful of Thunder features members from Rifle Men, Black Black Ocean, Solar Bear, Two Tone Wolf Pack (formally Munster Boogie), Barbizon, Gromit and Ending People. Slow burn.
A. TOM COLLINS
3:45-4:15 Curious Theatre
A. Tom Collins is a five-piece rock-and-roll band that is hard to pigeonhole. Navigating and transmogrifying the murky swamps of New Orleans R&B and '60s soul, the outfit follows the cues of diverse influences, from Otis Redding and Cab Calloway to Tom Waits and Jack White. A. Tom Collins drops anchor with an impressive crash at each and every port, transfixing bewildered audiences with its strange brand of celebratory sounds that are as familiar as they are refreshing. Expect wild horns, surprising rhythms, catchy gang chants and one hell of a live show led by Aaron Collins, whom Westword has called "one of the city's best frontmen."
ROCK — INDIE
2:15-2:45 Bar Standard
Denver four-piece Achille Lauro continues to perfect the tricky art of forging an encyclopedia of influences into a unique and approachable sound. Whether evoking scenes of a Kingston dance hall, a smoke-stained jazz club or a 1985 dressing room choked with hairspray, its sound is always incredibly polished and always sounds as if it takes twice as many hands to create. Equal parts headphone science and hip sweat, an Achille Lauro show never fails to leave a smile.
ELECTRONIC — EXPERIMENTAL
12:00-12:30 Rooster & Moon
AMERICAN TRASH REPUBLIC
HIP-HOP — GROUP
1:30 — 2:00 City Hall Amphitheatre
ANDY PALMER AND GRUB STREET WRITER
ROCK — ROOTS
4:30-5:00 The Church
Andy Palmer and Grub Street Writer thump and growl through their sets of electric alt-folk rock. Though a newer Denver band, the act has quickly been recognized for its unique blend of dynamic songwriting, powerful bass lines, soaring guitar solos and lyric and vocal stylings that draw apt comparisons to Waits, Dylan and Cohen.Westword listed Palmer's debut album, Sometime Around, as one of Denver's best releases of 2011. And the band recently returned from playing a SXSW showcase, where they were invited to perform at the Korg party. Palmer came west after working in Brooklyn, New York, as a public defender. Living and working in the trenches of Brooklyn's underbelly clearly provides fodder for the grit and honesty of this must-see band.
HIP-HOP — MC (MALE)
12:00-12:25 City Hall Upstairs
Anxious Baby! The brightest star in Denver's hip-hop scene, the kid is known for simply spittin' fire! Anxious's new album, Anxious on the Rise, has just been released by Right 2 Record Music Group and is already on pace to be a summer bestseller. Anxious is well known on the scene for his animate voice, explicit punchlines and superhuman ability to grind. Anxious is also the recent winner of the Turfconnect Artist Exposure Showcase, where a panel of three major-label A&R reps declared him the best solo rapper in Denver. For more on Anxious, check out AnxiousBaby.com!
ROCK — ROOTS
3:45-4:15 La Rumba
Dually influenced by Americana roots rock and gritty, bearded punk, Arliss Nancy formed in 2007 in Fort Collins. From the outset, singer-songwriter Cory Call seemed to excel at juxtaposing the simplicity of classic American blue-collar songwriting with the subtlety and nuance of a well-read, withdrawn poet. Five years, two full-length albums and two EPs later, that dichotomy is as persistent as ever with the introduction of bassist Kyle Oppold as half the songwriting force behind Arliss Nancy. While kindred to alt-country mainstays like Lucero and Two Cow Garage, the band is the product of a wide array of influences, from the dingy gravel of Midwestern pop punk to the whimsical balladry of Bruce Springsteen. Arliss Nancy's sound is a triumph of contrasts, and the outfit aims to prove it with Simple Machines.
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