Last week, some people had the notion that the world might end. On Friday, May 5, eight major bodies in our solar system aligned, and some apocalypse-watchers were downright positive that none of us would live to tell about it (or learn about it later while pulling bongs and watching the Discovery Channel). And while last Thursday's Westword Music Showcase might not have risen to the level of that rare celestial occurrence (the showcase, for example, is annual, whereas that type of alignment won't happen again until 2675), the two do have a couple of things in common. For one, if you were to peek into any of the participating venues around 1 a.m., it might have appeared as if some catastrophe had taken place. (Apparently, it becomes socially acceptable to pee on the floor after midnight.) Second, just as the magnetic forces between aligned planets affect the world's tides -- which in turn work werewolves and psychotics into particularly fine form -- the Music Showcase seems to have bizarre effects upon those who attend. (How else does one explain normally restrained business types screaming "Rock and fucking roll!" at passing policemen? Or a pair of young ladies doing the can-can in the beer line?) Lastly, the Music Showcase involves more than thirty bands, thousands of attendees, six venues and so much beer that, had it been combined into one oceanic body, would have been visible from space. It's a potentially cataclysmic combination that threatens logistical meltdown. (Hence the headphone-wearing, disaster-averting showcase-bots observed at each venue.)
So, people of Earth, after attending the marathon last Thursday night, Backwash is happy to report that the musical world as we know it will carry on -- at least until next year.
Thursday, May 4, 3:00 p.m.
King Rat kicks off the schedule at the All-Ages Universe on Market Street, located in a lot that is possibly one of last pieces of undeveloped property in LoDo. There are a few differences between this year's showcase and last year's, and one them is as plain as the pink nose on everyone's face: It's hot. Sometimes 80 degrees feels like 180, especially when you're wandering around a concrete parking lot. The band plays to a crowd of about thirty people -- if you count the vendors and folks working furiously to drill the last screws into the skateboarding ramp. DJ Skunk is up next, spinning happy sounds for a handful of people who seem to feel it's their moral obligation to dance. Ah, well, it's early yet -- mid-afternoon on a workday. Steadily, the VIP tent to the side of the stage fills with bandmembers and other very important people in search of free beer and pizza. Keg goes down for twenty minutes. Lull.
Things pick up during sets from Yo, Flaco!, who is joined late in the set by a guest MC who just kinda hopped on stage, and Rainbow Sugar. Cindy Wonderful sports Elvis shades, a raccoon-esque dye job and her trademark sass; bassist Germaine Baca looks particularly svelte in a pink tube dress and matching hair. The Third Degree takes the stage and demonstrates that the band is not at all concerned with playing blues anymore, opting instead for somewhat generic guitar rock. Signs of life in the parking lot: A pair of girls bounce a beach ball around, skateboarders get busy. The VIP tent gets schmoozy. Backwash overhears the word "multi-task" and multiple cell phones ringing. Time to move on.
The Kalamath Brothers sound good at the Soiled Dove. David Booker also sounds good next door at Market 41. Munly confuses the crowd at Jackson's Club Millennium by enunciating roughly one out of every three words. Not a lot of people are there to see it; the crowd is pretty meager, possibly because, compared to the proximity of the other clubs to each other, Jackson's seems like Aurora. Or maybe everyone is just home watching must-see TV?
8: 15 p.m.
Backwash becomes obsessed with seeing every single band on the schedule. Others seem to be going through the same thing -- they're pulling out their personalized hit lists, rosters with more strategies than Battleship. I drop by the All-Ages Universe. Miss Audry is spinning for a group of kids dancing with. Audry's good, but I can't help thinking that this ain't the kind of rave that's gonna make the pages of Urb. Maybe it's the giant Pepsi can to the left of the stage. Slip into the Dove for a moody set from the Perry Weissman 3. It's a mellow one, and it's difficult to shake the feeling that something's missing now that longtime PW3 guitarist Mike Serviolo is gone. Next door, Space Team Electra has quite a crowd at Market, though lead singer/guitarist Myshel Prasad seems kinda pissed about something. Maybe it's the fact that she can't hear herself through the monitors or that aorta-rattling hum emanating from the PA. A person tests the bounce-back abilities of the newly fangled plastic Miller bottles. (The bottle simply lands with a thud, and a girl gets beer all over her new mules.) Across the street, Pure Drama converts Bash (which is looking pretty fly -- and sounding good, too -- under new owners) into a multimedia environment. Video screens flash all around the venue. Bandleaders Ryan Pollicky and Becca Gomez (a vampirous vixen in velvet and come-on-and-look cleavage) entice the crowd to dance to their electro-grooves. Their keyboards are draped in velvet. They're very serious, and it's cute.
I give up hope of seeing everything. I pick Ratiocination's show at Dick's Last Resort because, for one thing, the band combines hip-hop and jazz and features a freakin' tuba. Dueling vocalists Amy Fisher and Chip Brokaw are energetic, live...they look happy. The room isn't ideal -- you have to be in front to see anything, and the speakers there are loud enough to cause temporary deafness -- but there is much booty-shakin' among the crowd members. Groins are rubbed together. Elsewhere, Blister66 closes out the All-Ages stage, which means that all of the very important drunk people are forced to vacate the VIP tent.
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Sometime between 10 p.m. and midnight
Things get weird. At Dick's, Marty Jones & the Pork Boilin' Poor Boys sing about drinking in every bar in town, and the crowd drinks it up. A member of Brethren Fast -- apparently not getting the joke behind the "let's be assholes to our customers" theme at the bar -- proceeds to punch a bartender. A small fight ensues. People are thrown out. No one even notices. The aforementioned can-can dancing is observed, as is the aforementioned shout to the horse-mounted cops. At the Soiled Dove, the Czars show a packed house why they are on the serious move and getting ready to tour Europe: They rock. At Bash, singer/songwriter nominee Wendy Woo -- who has her own show at the Dove an hour later -- jumps on stage with Hazel Miller, to the delight of the diva-loving crowd. (Miller will be the featured performer at the showcase awards ceremony Sunday, May 14, at the Fillmore.) A marriage proposal is overheard. An inordinate number of motorcycles are observed circling LoDo. Vitamin D runs late, and Apostle's crowd gets anxious, so the rapper swaps slots with the DJ at Market. Back at Dick's, the majority of the crowd watches a hockey game on TV. Ten or so dancers remain on the floor for Dotsero's set. (A serious venue mismatch is sensed as a raver laments the "white-guy jazz act" on stage.) A woman at Dick's tells her friend she has become a "drunk and sweaty pig." Looking over the crowd, I realize that her remark kind of sums things up.
Things calm down. Bar staff break out brooms and brushes. Cabs are called, aspirins swallowed, phone numbers exchanged. CDs and T-shirts are purchased. Hangovers are anticipated. New music is appreciated. In about five hours, the sun will come up in perfect alignment with the earth, the moon and five other planets. It's a beautiful night in Denver.