The nineteenth annual Westword Music Showcase — otherwise known affectionately as the hottest party of the summer — is here! Our little celebration is all grown up now, and the party just keeps getting bigger. This year's edition, featuring more than 150 artists performing on sixteen different stages, is no exception. In addition to the usual must-see local acts, we've got a killer roster of headliners on the main stage, and we're also hosting the world premiere of the Colorado Symphony performing songs from the Beck Reader with some very special guests, including Nathaniel Rateliff, Otis Taylor, and Julie Davis and Joseph Pope of the Seven Hats. This special performance marks the first time that a professional troupe such as the Colorado Symphony has performed the pieces.
Get a full rundown of the local acts performing, starting on page 45; read about all the main-stage acts below; and find out much more about the Symphony's groundbreaking endeavor on the Backbeat blog.
Westword Music Showcase
8:40-9:55, Main Stage
Olle Corneer and Stefan Engblom started Dada Life in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2006 as a DJ/producer team in the classic mold. What has set the duo apart is its penchant for over-the-top, playful absurdist humor, best seen in surrealistic music videos like the one for "Fight Club Is Closed." That humor is also apparent in the way that Corneer and Engblom write their music and approach their remixes. Original compositions freely associate cartoonishly lowbrow hip-hop-style lyrics with Daft Punk-esque futuristic disco beats, and their remixes turn even the most earnest songs into party anthems. These guys perfectly embody the excesses and bombastic culture of the current wave of EDM.
Trampled by Turtles
7:00-8:15, Main Stage
Started in 2003 by a group of friends who had all played in rock bands in Duluth, Trampled by Turtles anticipated the wave of renewed interest in bluegrass and old country that's gathered steam in the past several years. Working without a drummer, the band's five players establish a percussive rhythm between them, even as they weave a breathtakingly complex tapestry of texture and melody. Embraced by fans of jam bands, bluegrass and old-time country alike, Trampled by Turtles continues to win fans over with the energy of its performances and an engaging sense of humor.
5:35-6:35, Main Stage
Stefon Alexander (aka P.O.S.) was part of the short-lived hip-hop trio Cenospecies in Minneapolis. Although that group was only around for about a year, it had an impact on critics and fans alike — so it's no surprise that Alexander is also a founding (and current) member of noteworthy hip-hop collective Doomtree, which took root around the same time. In addition, he plays guitar and sings in punk band Building Better Bombs and serves as keyboard player and vocalist in Marijuana Deathsquads. His confrontational but controlled vocal delivery, strong words and multi-faceted talent have made him an in-demand and mesmerizing performer, as well as a sought-after collaborator. His fourth solo album, We Don't Even Live Here, was one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2012.
4:05-5:15, Main Stage
This eight-piece band has roots in the San Fernando Valley and writes songs that have little to do with adhering to a specific aesthetic. Sure, there's that knack for breezy melodies that characterized a lot of the music being produced in Laurel Canyon in the late '60s and early '70s, and there's even that belief in the power of love and openness that informed the music of Haight-Ashbury. But this band couldn't really have existed during the Summer of Love, because its infectiously catchy songs are inspired by a synthesis of influences and the newfound need for music that brings people together. With their hit single "San Francisco," the Mowgli's are well on their way.
My Body Sings Electric
2:45-3:45, Main Stage
When these guys started off in 2007, their sound was more in line with that of a kind of experimental post-hardcore band. But in 2010, weary of trying to be the kind of band best appreciated largely by critics and other musicians, they started writing music that was more enjoyable to play and that ultimately proved to be more accessible to wider audiences. The band released its debut album, Changing Color, in late 2011, and by spring 2012, My Body Sings Electric entered the CMJ Top 200 chart and garnered licensing agreements with numerous cable-TV networks. Last year, the group won KTCL's coveted Home for the Holidays contest, propelled by the burgeoning popularity of the single "Oceancrest."
1:45-2:25, Main Stage
Hunter Hunted was formed by Dan Chang and Michael Garner in January 2012. In the year and a half since, the band has received a great deal of exposure, thanks to having its music featured on shows like The Vampire Diaries and The Real World and performing live on late-night shows such as Conan. Based out of Los Angeles, Hunter Hunted is steadily making its mark with lively performances and equally boisterous music. The band's self-titled EP sounds like it's infused with the near-endless daylight of Southern California.
In the Whale
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12:45-1:25, Main Stage
Nate Valdez and Eric Riley were in bands while students at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. But when the two got together to start In the Whale, they discovered the sheer joy of writing raw, raucous rock and roll without the self-imposed limitation of going for a specific sound. These guys are punk — and blues, and whatever mutant hybrid makes up the music of the Melvins. The band's 2012 debut, Cake, was full of lurid tales and cartoonish bravado that thumbed a nose at the puritanical streak of culture that takes itself far too seriously.