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.
ANXIOUS 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.
BIG J. BEATS/1984
HIP-HOP — PRODUCER
12:00-12:30 City Hall Street Level
Heavy lyricists originally from Pueblo, Colorado, this Denver-based hip-hop duo is 2010's version of the Fat Boyz. Having lived past lives in heavy-metal bands, 1984 is composed of freestyle champ MarkyBias and Big J. Beats, an amazing producer/digger/drummer. The two, who rock shows and make live beats with laptops, buttons and control pads, are not typical rappers. They don't look like rappers and they don't act like rappers, but they rap better than most rappers.
HIP-HOP — BAND
3:00-3:30 City Hall Amphitheatre
BigWheel Electrosoul is a hip-hop band consisting of musicians and music producers. The trio's instrumentation is Dameion Hines (aka DJ Check One) on drums, Charlie Mertens on bass and Qknox on keyboards. The sound is half live and half pre-produced in a spinning-wheel fashion of live beatmaking. Each musician combines beats with the live show, creating fluid trademark sounds that move the instruments together and keep the crowd dancing.
HIP-HOP — GROUP
6:00-6:30 City Hall Amphitheatre
BLKHRTS is not a rap group, it's a religion. Sex, drugs, violence, money and death are the only things that seem to matter now — or ever, really. At first, King F.O.E., Yonnas Abraham and Karma the Voice were the only real members, but Chez Strong and Hogans Daniel recently converted. We're working on the newest book of our bible: It's called JZBL JNKNS, and it should come out October 31, 2012. How fitting. AMEN.
5:15-5:45 Bannock Street Garage
The year 2012 marks a decade in the punk game for Boldtype, and the boys couldn't be more stoked about the state of affairs of punk rock in Denver. The newest addition to this five-man drinking contest, Chris Tafoya (of Sound Collapse and Dropskots fame), has brought new energy and smellier socks to the group as it stretches its hamstrings and prepares to release its fifth studio album later this year. The band is fresh off its second tour with no-nonsense punkers Guttermouth and kicked off the summer playing with the legendary Pennywise. Partnered with Ronin Press Records, Boldtype is ready to shred in a garage near you.
Bop Skizzum is an eight-piece funk/alternative/rock band with live horns and a hip-hop twist. Music has the power to get people dancing, and Bop Skizzum likes to take full advantage of that fact. Gathering inspiration from every corner of the record store, the band meshes its alternative pop-rock vibe with groove-based funk and dance-laden hip-hop influences, creating an invigorating blend of unique instrumentation and phenomenal vocals to complete its sound. The band is recording its new album this summer at Silo Sound; look for the new release this fall, and prepare yourself to get Bop'd by Skizzum!
DJ — PROGRESSIVE
4:00-4:50 Vinyl Rooftop
Boyhollow is the founder and resident DJ of Lipgloss — the longest-running indie dance party in Denver and second-longest in the country — which recently relocated to Beauty Bar Denver. Lipgloss has won numerous Best Club Night awards from Westword and other press, and Boyhollow is known for his versatility in mixing eclectic, multi-genre sets with an indie flavor. Boyhollow regularly plays other dance parties across the country and has appeared at many festivals, including WMC, SXSW, CMJ and the Sundance Film Festival. This is Boyhollow's eleventh nomination for Best DJ.
HIP-HOP — BAND
12:45-1:15 City Hall Amphitheatre
Broken Tongues is an innovative, alternative hip-hop collective from Denver, Colorado, that has a singular, live-instrumental sound that at times can be funky or thrashy and at others soulful and refined. The result is a genre-bending alchemy that conjures the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stevie Wonder and Atmosphere. Indeed, the genre moniker "hip-hop" is ill-equipped to fully describe what BT does, an aural amalgamation of hip-hop, progressive rock, jazz and livetronica. The band's latest, Crooked Skyline (available now at BrokenTongues.com), is proof of the outfit's ability to harmonize its varied talents and influences into one artistic statement.
POP — ALTERNATIVE
Carbon Choir put its kettle on the burner in 2007 and in a few short years reached a boiling point in the Denver music scene, turning heads with its lush, emotive, haunting and explosive brand of indie-alt-rock. Fans are treated to a wide range of color and mood at its "achingly beautiful" live shows. At times subtle and melancholy, at others explosive and anthemic, Carbon Choir's music is a full embodiment of the human experience. The group's new disc, Sakhalin, is "richly arranged, expertly performed and beautifully recorded, with a solid soul of well-crafted songs and thoughtful lyrics." (Denver Post, 2012).
CARMEN SANDIM SEXTET
Carmen Sandim began studying the piano at age seven. A native of Brazil, she performed with the Sao Paulo Youth Symphony and won two national competitions, in Brazilian jazz and classical piano performance, by the age of seventeen. She moved to the U.S. in 1996 to continue her training at the Berklee College of Music. After graduating, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she was employed as a music composer for radio and television programs. During her time there, she won several awards for her compositional excellence and ran her own music production company, JAM — JustAddMusic. Currently living in Boulder, Carmen is a prominent performer and music educator. She holds a bachelor's degree in film scoring and a master's degree in jazz performance and pedagogy
CHOKE THE WORD
ROCK — PROGRESSIVE
1:30-2:00 The Church
Fun Facts about Choke the Word: The band is made up of six people (three guys, three girls), some drums, a sampler, two bows and 21 strings of various sizes and gauges. Most of their songs have time changes or non-traditional time signatures (watch people try to dance). They all hate the band they get most frequently compared to. They used Kickstarter to finance their album before it was cool. Their album was recorded using solar power. Their name has no significance. Cellos and violins don't traditionally have lights on them.
POP — TRADITIONAL
1:15-1:45 Main Stage
In a short time, Churchill's distinct acoustic-indie-rock vibe has received both critical acclaim and radio attention. The act's latest single, "Change," has only built on that momentum by winning KTCL's Hometown for the Holidays 2011 competition, resulting in adds at KTCL, KBCO, KRXP in Colorado Springs and more. Since forming in May 2009, this Denver band's music has been licensed for film and television and landed it the opportunity to support numerous national acts, including the Fray, DeVotchKa and Katie Herzig, to name a few. Churchill has been named 'band to watch' by numerous publications, and the list keeps getting longer.
HIP-HOP — GROUP
5:15-5:45 City Hall Amphitheatre
Cobraconda is a group. Spencer, Graham and Mikey are the guys in the group. They like partying, playing shows and beats. Cobraconda makes rap songs. They deejay, too. Spencer and Graham met while touring the country playing hard metal for soft kids. They started writing rap songs to appease their inner lust for big party tunes, and soon thereafter, quit the metal bands and hit the studio. After a short stint of trying to launch the group in NYC two summers ago, they moved back to Denver (their home town) and put the ax to the grindstone. This is when Mikey came into the picture and the group finally started to blossom into the beautiful young woman it is today.
3:00-3:30 Curious Theatre
Ian Cooke released his second album, Fortitude, in January 2012. Produced by Ian O'Dougherty and mixed by Bob Ferbrache (Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Wovenhand), Fortitude showcases the wide array of musical proficiency that Cooke possesses as he switches from playful to dark and sincere at the flick of a cello bow. Cooke's talent has earned him several accolades, including features in Spin, two Daytrotter sessions, a number-one ranking in a 2009 Denver Post music poll and "Best Singer Songwriter," "Best Album" and "Best Avant-Pop" nods by Westword. Cooke was also featured alongside Billy Bragg, M. Ward, Owen Pallett and more on a 2011 Joanna Newsom tribute. He has spent 2012 touring.
DANIELLE ATE THE SANDWICH
6:00-6:30 Curious Theatre
Danielle Ate the Sandwich is a singer-songwriter well known for her homemade videos of original and cover songs uploaded to YouTube. She just released a new album called Like a King. She thinks you should buy it.
4:30-5:00 Bannock Street Garage
Formed in the fall of 2004, Dead Ringer has continued to be a driving force in the Denver punk-rock scene for close to eight years. The band's 2005 debut release, titled Let Freedom Ring, quickly cultivated a large following and a credible respect in the local scene. Led by guitarist and vocalist Joel Rossi, Dead Ringer's lineup also includes guitarist Joe Loop, bassist Anthony Sunderland and drummer Pauly (2 balls) Newblom. The four-piece has continued to perform an all-original style of energetic, sincere, aggressive music mostly influenced by the late-'90s West Coast punk movement. More recently, Dead Ringer has been busy in the studio finishing an upcoming album titled Forward to Nothing, which is due to be released late this summer. The album marks a milestone of the band's efforts to keep its music alive after years of never giving up on what was most important: the songs.
DJ — HIP-HOP
3:55-4:05, 4:30-4:40 City Hall Upstairs
2:15-2:45 The Church
Driving rock riffs, tree-shaking funk jams and unbridled energy have made Demon Funkies a constant force in Colorado's music scene. The band has recently released a new album, Back on the Monkey, and is scheduled to appear throughout the Midwest this summer. Ryan Chrys leads this five-piece onslaught that combines the sounds of gritty guitar, saxophone and organ, backed by a slammin' rhythm section. The Funkies accentuate their music by providing an atmosphere where improv and impulses burst recklessly into the moment, leaving standards and hesitations as flat as a beer can on the dance floor. Demon Funkies' motto: "Get it out. Get it on!"
6:45-7:15 Rooster & Moon
Patrick Dethlefs's songwriting crests like a humble Townes Van Zandt, innocent of his own haunting melodies and lyricism. Dethlefs's new release, Fall and Rise, offers folk Americana with effortless sincerity at a time when many acts strive purposefully to revive the stripped-down feel of a musical history long past.
HIP-HOP — MC (FEMALE)
2:20-2:45 CITY HALL UPSTAIRS
At 21 years old, D'Girl the BOMBshell is one of the most known and accomplished female artists of her era in Colorado. With consecutive nominations for 5280 and Westword Music Showcase awards, she's one of the youngest nominees and most-watched female artists on the scene. Unique yet witty, she is a trendsetter who rocks blue lipstick and a HUGE bow on her head, and with that creativity, she will be an important name in music and fashion. Her latest project, Mascara Music, was named one of Westword's best musical projects. She is currently working on her sophomore mixtape, Mascara Music 2, which is is set to drop in August 2012. Dropping videos right after her very private pregnancy, you can say what you want, but D'Girl the Bombshell is it.
HIP-HOP — GROUP
4:05-4:30 City Hall Upstairs
Diamond Boiz, a collective made up of Dyalekt (rapper/producer), Zome (rapper/producer) and Zé (rapper), are forever. Hip-hop is what we do because music is what we are. Conforming only to the style of we-do-what-we-want, our music is simultaneously fresh, hard, smooth, calm and crazy. Our stage show is noted for its energy and presence while expelling pure passion into crowds from few to many. The difference means nothing. Still, most important, we love the music we make so that you will love the music we make. And while human beings will eventually die, our music is forever.
DJ BRICK LEE
DJ — DANCE
2:00-2:50 Vinyl Rooftop
DJ — HIP-HOP
1:35-1:45, 2:10-2:20 City Hall Upstairs
The ultimate connection between where you are and where you want to be, DJ KTone, the 2011 Westword Hip-Hop DJ of the Year, is the liaison. He deserves an A in industry networking for solidifying contacts with music's heavy hitters from various genres. Untapped artists realize that to gain exposure in markets that would've normally been difficult to reach, they must connect with the Turf DJ. Pushing out hundreds of quality mixtapes, he also ensures that Denver is familiar with artists from other cities long before they saturate local airwaves. With nearly 10K Twitter followers and constant recognition from several media sources, the only person left to jump on the bandwagon is you.
DJ LOW KEY
DJ — HIP-HOP
2:45-2:55, 3:20-3:30 City Hall Upstairs
With Yo! MTV Raps ideals, new-millennium DJ ambition, and ears that seem to be a few years ahead of the pack, Denver tastemaker DJ Low Key is fueled by this unlikely combination. At a time when DJs have become disposable and the word "integrity" is seldom spoken in hip-hop, he continues to prove what's possible when quality comes first, from his award-winning party and fan favorite, the Solution (alongside Sounds Supreme and Lazy Eyez), to his extraordinary new daytime party, Goodness, to mixtape collabs with acclaimed new national talent like TiRon & Ayomari (LA), Tanya Morgan (NY) and Median (NC) — and that's in addition to being involved in exceptional events throughout Colorado and nationwide.
DJ — HIP-HOP
5:05-5:15, 5:40-5:50 City Hall Upstairs
Maurice "DJ Topshelf" Colvin is a technical, diverse and charismatic selector. Taking up deejaying fresh out of high school, he allowed his experiences and surroundings to facilitate his love of music. Having lived in different sectors of the country, DJ Topshelf is able to tap into many communities of hip-hop. Whether backpacking underground sounds, upscale lounge parties or wall-thumping, bass-knocking Top 40 clubs, he will always succeed at rocking a party. Topshelf says his main goal as a DJ is to keep putting on for the city and playing diverse music in all forms.
THE DON'TS & BE CAREFULS
POP — INDIE
2:15-2:45 Vinyl Main
Since 2008, the Don'ts & Be Carefuls have been dreaming up electrifying songs that have been known to incite whole crowds to break out in dance. Known for what have been described as intense, fun songs, the DBCs send tremors through sweaty limbs, their wall-of-sound electro-pop seeping from their very pores. They will turn your head and make you shake to your bones.
Rob Drabkin, the massively Afro'd native of Denver, brings a high-energy show with elements of rock, singer-songwriter and improvisation with his full-band performances.
POP — TRADITIONAL
Tough to categorize or peg in any particular genre, Eldren has created a sound all its own. Always surprising, usually in costume, Eldren hosts a live show that promises to deliver. "Once the group starts playing, it becomes clear that it's more than just a feast for the eyes. The ensemble's mash-up of jazz, prog rock, jam, power pop, indie rock and more makes for a joyful noise that would be utterly chaotic if it weren't so damned catchy." (Denver Post)
1:30-2:00 Bannock Street Garage
Elway is an American punk-rock band from Fort Collins. The band's sound is a unique and inebriated take on a time-tested formula: Aggressive punk rock with soaring melodies, coupled with lyrics ranging from those of the sad sap to those of the indignant atheist, with a bevy of homespun dick jokes. Since forming in 2007, the outfit has released two LPs and three EPs, the most recent being Hence My Optimism, which was released on June 12 on Red Scare Industries.
POP — ALTERNATIVE
The Epilogues are a commanding indie/synth/rock outfit hailing from Denver. Combining pristine melodies, meaningful lyrics and dynamic keyboards, the band delivers polished and dance-worthy tunes that carry a kick. After their hit single, "Hunting Season," became a staple on the radio in Denver, the Epilogues gained explosive momentum with dazzling live shows, popular headlining tours and enchanting music videos. From SXSW in Austin to the Sunset Strip Music Festival in Los Angeles to CMJ in New York City, the band has played with a plethora of incredible acts and has taken the stage at some of the most exciting events across the country. The passionate urgency with which the band plays each show leaves fans both elated and yearning for more.
ROCK — INDIE
2:15-2:45 Curious Theatre
With fourteen adult elephants, a pair of pliers and a cricket, FaceMan's unique sound can be created naturally in under ten steps. Unbelievably, this will be happening at 2:15 p.m. at Curious Theatre. Bring earplugs and a mom. The last song will be followed by a quick adoption process for the raw materials. Everything but the pliers has to go to a good home. The pliers are ours. Please bring two forms of identification. Definitely be prepared to die. Bye.
ROCK — AMBIENT
5:15-5:45 Curious Theatre
Julie Davis wishes that a torch song, a smoky bar and a velvet curtain meant what they used to. Joseph Pope III, James Han and Patrick Meese are working hard to get this back for her. They hope to spend less time working under fluorescent lights and waiting in traffic and more time reading Scientific American, making soup, dancing in stocking feet and drinking bourbon. Fairchildren makes music for this.
HIP-HOP — BAND
12:00-12:30 City Hall Amphitheatre
The brainchild of the two brain lovers, Ben "b.heded" Hedman (producer/ songwriter) and "Sloppy Joe" Barnholt, Filthy T started in 2008 as a favor from Ben to then-rookie guitarist Joe. What was never supposed to leave the bedroom (where they recorded) has turned into a four-year obsession. Three CDs, countless concerts and numerous sleepless nights later, Filthy T has emerged as a unique force in an ever-changing but always well-represented Denver music scene. With the help of Kirby Beegles, Adrian Hernandez, Lance Sweenhart, Brent Schulze and Nikki Smith, the live show has transformed into not just a concert, but a spectacle.
FINGERS OF THE SUN
POP — INDIE
3:00-3:30 Vinyl Main
Fingers of the Sun rocks your mother-f'ing world, my friend. Like a throbbing lump of awesome, they will drip all up in your brain and grab little parts of it and stuff. Listen, my friend, and listen good: They are hulk, and hulk get mad. Hulk get strong! Strong in your ears! Strong in your heart! If they were soup — we have not determined that they are not — they would be love soup, my friend. Got it? Then wiggle it around just a little bit!
ELECTRONIC — POP
4:30-5:00 City Hall Street Level
Described as "deliciously sweet Glo-Fi basement party jams," Denverites Ethan and Alex are electro-pop duo Flashlights. Known for their impressive live performances and light shows, Flashlights has been featured in NME's Buzzworthy Artists, was named one of Westword's twelve acts to watch in 2011, and has been playing high-profile shows with the likes of Toro Y Moi, Youth Lagoon and Miami Horror. With their continuous festival participation (SXSW, Westword, UMS, Goldrush, CMJ, Snowball, Treefort) as well as embarking on a West Coast tour this past fall, it's clear that the members of Flashlights are among Denver's hardest-working musicians.
HIP-HOP — BAND
3:45-4:15 City Hall Amphitheatre
The Foodchain collective, which comprises four MCs, two producers, a bass player and a drummer, took to the road and spent much of 2011 touring and spreading the positive vibes of fun, authentic hip-hop and just good ol' music. In the fall of 2011, the act released its sophomore album, Brunch, for free, and once again the fans and the industry answered with positive reviews! We are building our movement one fan at a time. Where do you fit in the Foodchain?
ROCK — TRADITIONAL
5:15-5:45 La Rumba
Paul McCartney once described world-renowned rock band the Foot. as "the best music I've heard from the 21st century."* Yes, with a musical career of a mere fifty years, Paul's praise shouldn't be taken as gospel. But don't let him decide for you. Let Shakira decide for you. When asked what she thought of the four-tet, she said, "I love those guys! Their music makes me shake my truthful hips. Plus they are totally hot, and I want to make out with all of them."** (*Not based on actual fact. **Quote taken from dream interview and translated into English)
6:00-6:30 City Hall Street Level
Attempting to incorporate varied musical backgrounds into a cohesive whole, Cassie McNeil and James Wayne quickly fortified a unique sound that is equal parts past and present. Combining the dark atmosphere of post-punk with shoegaze's noisy wall of sound and witch house's focus on beats, Force Publique crafts melancholic pop songs for a dystopian future.
ROCK — ROOTS
12:45-1:15 La Rumba
We've fielded comparisons to the Replacements, Billy Joe Shaver, the Hold Steady, Van Halen, the Bottle Rockets, John Prine, Lucero and Thin Lizzy. So if you enjoy any of those artists, you may find us to be the kind of thing that you like. We're looking forward to playing for you. If this is your first Westword Music Showcase, don't forget sunblock, shades and cash money.
3:45-4:15 Bannock Street Garage
D.S.P. (Denver Skate Punk)... If you've been involved with the Denver punk scene within the last ten years, there's a good chance you've seen a Frontside Five show. No? Well at least you've seen a sticker in some random bathroom stall or road sign. Also check out the Trade Ins, the Pitch Invasion, Prescription and Valiomierda for more music from the members of Frontside Five.
6:00-6:30 Vinyl Main
We've followed the rules of how a band is expected to act with our past projects. We've played the game. We've paid our dues. Maybe we're old, but that doesn't bother us. That said, we're not jaded. We love our band and put all we have into it. The music is educated as well as furious, aggressive and loud. Glass Hits is more than a list of influences, ex-members and similar artists. We are our own band, creating art for the sake of what we love.
12:45-1:15 Vinyl Main
Initially drawing inspiration from a chance hearing of Gary Numan's Replicas album, Glass Homes perfectly melds deeply rhythmic noise rock with experimental electronic pop. Primary songwriter Nick Salmon, electrified by wildly frenetic outfits like the Locust and Blood Brothers, brings that raw energy to his performances, replacing the abrasiveness with brooding intensity channeled into futuristic dance rock. Glass Homes trades in the kind of freewheeling, electro-inflected post-punk that perfectly straddles the divide between frantic pacing and the angular melodies. Yes, this is dance music, but dance music for people who can't fake it anymore and for whom complacency is no longer an option.
GREG HARRIS VIBE QUINTET
After three independently produced records, playing SXSW, giving clinics all over the United States and bringing in vocalist Venus Cruz, the Vibe Quintet's newest album, Glass Gold, was released on Denver's premier jazz label, Dazzle Recordings. "Lyrically sensitive," "unfailingly lush and rich" and "mature, no tricks, just pure melody" are some of the words used to describe the Quintet's music. Sounds find their solitude and comfort within the family, find a balance between being revolutionary and being in harmony. Sharing what we create becomes a way of collaboratively evolving as a community — teaching, hearing and inspiring each other.
DJ — HIP-HOP
12:25-12:35, 1:00-1:10 City Hall Upstairs
GypDaHip is a DJ and a producer who resides in Colorado. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of music and a ton of energy, Gyp is a force to be reckoned with when tasked with rocking a party. True to his Memphis roots, he keeps everything soulful and raw, all while exposing audiences to the newest and best music. As a member of GirlGrabbers, he is a man capable of flipping any sample into a head-nodding beat. Give him some instruments to play, and he will write with those, too. Gyp is full of music, and his main concern is to let it all out every single day!
HEARTS IN SPACE
ROCK — INDIE
5:15-5:45 Bar Standard
Hearts in Space is a Denver four-piece comprising Ezra Darnell on vocals, guitar and bass, Jordan Hubner on vocals and guitar, Johnny Lundock on drums, Zale Hassler on keys and vocals, and Ryan Slowkowski on bass and guitar. Sonically pleasing, with touches of lush vocal harmonies and soul, psychedelia is no stranger in their landscape of Southwestern-born garage explorations.
1:30-2:00 La Rumba
The Hollyfelds take classic country, rock and pop, put it in a pot, add a touch of folk and bluegrass, and, baby, they got a stew going. It's music that the Denver Post called "alt-country perfection." According to Westword, it contains "just enough of the whiskey and heartache that makes great country music." We've been happy to see our music featured on a number of national television shows, including NBC's The Voice, as well as to have opened for some great artists, including the Be Good Tanyas, Southern Culture on the Skids, Robert Earl Keen, Junior Brown and Slim Cessna's Auto Club.
"Huffman's southern-fried folk-pop is perhaps a bit counterintuitive to her West Coast roots, and so well contrived you'd expect to find her kicking up her boots in Nashville. She soulfully and magnetically vocalizes woebegone tales of passion, nerves and infatuation that are plaintive yet conversely empowering. Huffman's Etta James-esque delivery is laid down amongst a mix of folksy instrumentation like a pair of misfit lovers, but the genre-bending seems genuine and even contemporary." (Radio Free Chicago). Huffman, a Seattle-to-Denver transplant, currently works with Suburban Home Records and will be backed by members of Boulder Acoustic Society during her Westword Music Showcase debut.
Human Agency is the Denver-born duo of super-best friends Ryan Kjos and Seamus Moore. Emerging alongside the very recent surge of gifted Colorado-based beat acts, they cultivate organically sampled production and rhythms while infusing them with a chemical twist. Using dance styles and instrumental performances, they are formless in style and pool listeners from many sounds. Playing live shows with drummer extraordinaire Jonas Otto, Human Agency aims toward a collaborative stage effort to create a mixed-media spectacle. The live performance is everything, and the Agency seeks to constantly evolve its own.
IAMTHESHOTGUN is a whiskey-fueled machine of Colorado chaos and destruction. Over five years of blasting through the scene, IAMTHESHOTGUN's proverbial sawed-off is pointed at your face and waiting for you to blink. Bringing the grittiest of grinds and sickest waves of groove, the shotgun lays down its style of metal the only way they know how: fast, mean and clean. Influenced by decades of music, including everything from Death and Iron Maiden to Black Dahlia Murder and Slipknot, IAMTHESHOTGUN blends its loves and guilty pleasures in a frantic barrage of intensity. Whether it is your little brother's sixteenth birthday party or sharing the stage with acts like Emmure and Carnifex, IAMTHESHOTGUN always brings the heavy and the party.
Iconocaust delivers a straightforward, heavy-metal twin-guitar assault that twists together influences from both new and classic strains of the genre. The band's music provides the necessary aggression and punctuation expected from any band that calls itself "metal," all the while lacing it with an intoxicating blend of melody, hooks and shred. The band celebrates its fourth release this month with Excidium de Gratia (produced by Ahrue Luster of Ill Nino/ex-Machine Head).
ROCK — HEAVY
Il Cattivo was more born unplanned and bastard, rather than conceived or conspired, in 2009. It was an entity unto its own before this name or any other nomenclature would be assigned to it. The fodder of scribes and sycophants, Il Cattivo was a perfect metaphor and model for the basic physical principles of attraction and repulsion. Il Cattivo spanned the years and experience of all that it consumed (i.e., Planes Mistaken for Stars, Ghost Buffalo, Black Lamb, Machine Gun Blues, Taun Taun, Git Some!, Red Orange Yellow, Black Acid Devil, Burn Sand Burn). In 2011, Il Cattivo released To Bring Low an Empire to acclaim and is poised to follow that up with this year's How to Assess Your Damages. Il Cattivo is the armor-clad bruiser that melts to the lilt of a melody...and the bespectacled girl that can finally breathe in a bludgeoning, broadsword riff.
I'M WITH HER
What should you expect when two established artists like Angie Stevens and Haley E. Rydell come together and collaborate, when bluegrass meets singer-songwriter and has a musical baby? That's I'm With Her. Angie's vocal strength, Haley's musical interpretations and the combined force of their songwriting abilities create beautiful harmonies, emotion-fraught lyrics and, quite simply, immensely enjoyable songs. Both are from Fargo but now call Denver home, with Angie settling in years back while Haley just recently made the journey. But though their origins are similar, their life stories and musical styles are diverse, and they all come together in the unique sound that is I'm With Her.
IN THE WHALE
Eric Riley and Nate Valdez started In the Whale as a fun and informal escape from the bands they were in. When those bands dissolved in 2011, the boys moved to Denver and made In the Whale their focus. Since then, the two have made it their personal goal to resurrect rock and roll, one show at a time. One year later, with a rowdy and energetic show (in spite of their small numbers), they are the name on everyone's lips as an answer to the current musical climate of too much reverb and not enough balls. Brace yourself.
This year marks the triumphant return of the Informants. The band took a much-needed break in 2011. But in true Informants style, some of its biggest shows happened during the "break," including playing Red Rocks. Still, six years of constant playing, recording and hustle had taken a toll, and the band needed time to rest and prepare for what is turning out to be its biggest year. With a slimmed-down six-piece lineup and an upcoming CD of Mark Richardson's best songs yet, the Informants are poised to blow open the doors of what was once called "the blues."
HIP-HOP — MC (MALE)
12:35-1:00 CITY HALL UPSTAIRS
Input is a well-known Denver-based hip-hop artist. His unique blend of rhythm-based music and direct lyrics has made him one of the city's most popular rappers and has helped him gain a devout local following. His appreciation and passion for rap and hip-hop serve as the motivation behind his music. Input's goal is simple: to create music that people as a whole can appreciate and relate to, straightforward music that makes sense. He is known for his ability to pair unique beats with uncomplicated, personal lyrics — creating music that resonates with listeners.
iZCALLi is pushing the envelope to bring a new brand of Spanish rock to the masses. Start off with a base of good ol' rock and roll, add a tint of Latin flare, mix in some indie rock, ska and cumbia, and the result is an eclectic and aggressive — yet graceful — brand of rock. No need to learn Spanish, though, because the raw and potent power of iZCALLi's sound is enough to break down any cultural, stylistic or language barrier. iZCALLi is rock en tu idioma.
J. Carey is an artist who is just as comfortable singing songs under a streetlight as he is in front of a packed venue. In fact, he writes the particular songs that he does because he wants his comfort to be contagious. J. Carey's music is extremely personal, and by allowing others to hear about his shortcomings and experiences, he hopes that everyone else can take a break from worrying about their own. Never one to shy away from a good time, he's out to make sure you have one as well whenever you hear or see him.
Turner Jackson, a Colorado-born, New York City-bred MC, is ready to lead. Nat Turner, a slave that led a rebellion rooted in the exploitative conditions of the Southern slave system, is the inspiration behind Jackson's moniker. Coming from a proclaimed "new-school mentality," Jackson's aim is simple self-expression; he has a deeper yearning to convey a message through the spoken word. Calling on the spirit of his namesake, Jackson believes that the ultimate goal is to facilitate freedom with a higher purpose.
JOHN COMMON AND BLINDING FLASHES OF LIGHT
John Common says he dreams about being a filmmaker or a painter, but we're lucky that he ended up with an obsession for making music instead. His voice, his music and his words can pin you to the wall, break your heart, move your ass or just send you off for a while to think. Blinding Flashes of Light stretches the traditional definition of a band; it's more like a collaborative crash pad where musicians, artists and friends cycle through, making music, films and written and visual art. John and his band's live shows are always powerful, emotional, living things. Come to any show — you'll feel it.
Joy Subtraction's sound has been described as "a hearty slab of progressive yet heartwarmingly old-school artcore" by Westword and "adequate" by a jealous friend. But Joy Subtraction likes to think of itself as high-energy, punk-influenced hard rock for fans of the two Blacks — Sabbath and Flag.
Julox (aka Da Crookit Teef Bandit), from Ugly Azz Ent, has been a major factor in the Colorado music scene for many years. His debut album came out in 1998, and since then, he has released 28 projects (13 albums and 15 mixtapes). Julox has also performed with many different artists such as Brotha Lynch Hung, Gym Class Heroes, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and even the classic rock band Firefall. That said, Julox is a seasoned veteran who has proven he can evolve with the times. From sagging jeans to skinny jeans, he has found a way to stay relevant. In the words of Julox, "Awwready."
THE KENTUCKY STREET PARLOR PICKERS
The Kentucky Street Parlor Pickers is an outfit from Denver that specializes in its own unique brand of music known as "Roadhouse" (a blend of good ol'-fashioned rock and roll, blues, country and bluegrass). We formed around Christmas 2009 and released our first EP, A Stewart Family Christmas, which was mainly given to friends and family as a Christmas gift. After continually busking on lamp-lit street corners, playing in the rowdiest of bars, honing our musical prowess in burrito shops and lighting up many a small-town stage, we released our debut full-length album, Barn Burner, in May 2011. Judging by the overwhelming support of the music from literally every age demographic, we believe the unique sound and the party atmosphere of the Kentucky Street Parlor Pickers speaks for itself.
KEVIN COSTNER SUICIDE PACT
Kinetix just got back from tour. They lost three shoes, one wallet, a car key and two jars of marijuana. One of the guys even lost a rotten banana in the fridge for eight days. That said, they crushed two packed summer festival showcases, so the one thing they held on to was their dignity.
The Knew is Patrick John, Timothy Paul, Tyler William and Jacob Ryan. They play rock and roll and enjoy it. So do the people who see them play live. Their new album, Man Monster, will be released August 24 and 25 at the Lion's Lair.
Hey, Denver! My name is Koo Qua. I'm from Aurora, Colorado, and I have a deep passion for music and art. I grew up surrounded by music and started rapping at the age of seventeen with my high-school friends. I have multiple music projects produced by me and my close friends, and I have designed my own logo for my own T-shirt line of clothing. I'm a college student striving to get to the next level in life. I believe the love and support of my family and close friends has motivated me to continue making music, and with that, I quote: "All I can do is leave it in God's hands and hope that my fans feel where I am coming from." — Aaliyah
Featuring former members of the Fort Collins-based group Matson Jones, Land Lines is the continuation of a longstanding collaboration between close friends. They have been playing and making songs together for ten years.
Le Divorce is a guitar-driven indie-rock foursome from Denver. They draw from music that is raw, honest and mixes melody with distortion. They are inspired by early indie-rock bands like Sonic Youth, PJ Harvey and Joy Division, as well as contemporaries like the National, Blonde Redhead and the Kills. This will be Le D's third Westword Showcase, and in the last three years, the band has been fortunate enough to play SXSW, CMJ, UMS and Red Rocks. Their second EP, The Sting and the Light, was released in February of this year, along with their first video for "Under the Boxcars."
Lola Black is the kicking, screaming, fire-breathing epitome of rock and roll! With a middle finger raised high up to the sky, Lola takes shit from no one and is ripping audiences in two across the country! Fresh off a mini-tour with national hard-rock heroes Pop Evil, Lola has been killing it on 106.7 KBPI with the hit song "Borracho" bouncing around in the top ten, in rotation for over three months! Sugar and spice and everything nice were never a part of what makes Lola one of the most dynamic frontwomen in music!
LORDS OF FUZZ
The Lords of Fuzz are releasing Broken Bottles and Knives, their first album in three years, this summer. This is a seven-track EP recorded at the new Sailor Records studio here in Denver. Pete deBoer (Living Color, Biohazard, Creed, Crash Test Dummies) produced the album, and mixing was completed at World Famous Studios in Breckenridge. Mastering was by Joe Gastwirt (311, Neil Young, Tom Petty...) in Los Angeles. Check Lordsoffuzz.com for more information and updates.
M & THE GEMS
The earth-shattering presence of frontwoman Maria Kohler (Harpoontang, Kitty Crimes) is powered and accompanied by the supersonic sounds of the Gems, whose music intoxicatingly expels from the stage alongside her. M & the Gems could be simply described as loud, shimmery, dark and fun. Their objective, as musicians and performers, is to create a sonic-visual environment that allows the listener to feel immersed in the present moment with as much enjoyment as possible.
Described as "a [sound] that will most likely define a new breed of dance music for Denver," ManCub is producer/multi-instrumentalist Alex Anderson. Joined live by a rotating cast of Denver musicians, ManCub is known for its wildly entertaining live shows, which feature a strictly analog setup of Casiotone keyboards, drum machines and effects pedals, used to tastefully blend elements of noise with electro-pop songwriting. ManCub has recently supported live acts such as Mickey Avalon, Bag Raiders and Walter Meego and will be hitting the road this fall for its first tour. Keep an eye out for the new EP Business Dogs, out May 25 on Hug Records!
"Like a lion stalking his prey through golden strands waving on the Serengeti, so Mane Rok is to hip-hop, waiting for that exact opportune moment to pounce on beats." "Prowler's prey try to dodge but meet the end of their road" (Mane Rok — "Beast Mode," Ft. Ichiban & Deca, from En Stereo)
Breaking out of the concrete-slabbed and plywood-stacked warehouse known as Unit B in 2009, the Manxx has taken aim with singing keyboard melodies, pounding drums, flailing guitar, noisy love songs, fists shaking, asses shaking. What else could we do? With a new lineup, two seven-inch records and a split ten-inch (Snappy Little Numbers, Chutzpah, Mouth Bomb), we continue to sing about love and partying. Let's shake our fists and our asses.
MEN IN BURKA
When MF Ruckus hits the stage, a nexus in the universe forms, creating a place where all is in perfect harmony: War ceases, poverty becomes abundance, and all the starving children of the world dance and sing. MF Ruckus is a turbocharged rock-and-roll supergroup made up of salvaged and Frankensteined pieces of Denver and Chicago's most legendary unknown bands. Following the concurrent demises of Forth Yeer (aka Forth Yeer Freshman), the STDs, Road Crew and Home of the Brave, the surviving members joined together over a number of years to create a six-headed rockstrosity which is known as "the Motherfucking Ruckus" (or MF RUCKUS, for use in polite company). Tay Hamilton, Tony Lee, Aaron Howell, Jerry Cass, Logan O'Connor and Tyrell Blosser write songs in the key of fuckin' A and throw shows that will blow your mind into a million tiny pieces. Better bring your party pants, suckas.
Bianca Mikahn is a dynamic lyricist steeped in the traditions of hip-hop and focused on the visionary aspects of modern progressive music movements. Matching wits and rhymes with many of the underground's most notable MCs, she pushes the envelope on acceptance and expectations from all songwriters in the scene, regardless of gender. Coming from an award-winning competitive poetry background, Mikahn combines intricate rhyme patters, vivid imagery and relatable social-justice themes to bring a sound and presence unique to the scene in Denver and beyond.
Aakash Mittal is emerging as a fresh voice in the creative-music scene. His latest self-released album, Videsh, has been hailed as "point[ing] toward new possibilities in improvised music." (Denver Post) This stems from his approach to composition and improvisation, where Mittal is not held back by specific genres but draws inspiration from an eclectic mix of modern jazz, rock, Indian raga music and field samples of our modern world to tell a story of the human experience.
Mombi (Mom-Bee) is Kael Smith, Matt Herron and Michael Behrenhausen. Sharing a love for solid songwriting and adventurous studio experimentation, the band builds its sound around intimate vocals, carefully textured layers of guitars and keys and a creative blend of beats and live drums. After touring Europe during the summer of 2008, Mombi regrouped in its studio to work on the album The Wounded Beat. Since the record's 2011 release on Own Records, the band has performed around the Denver area and is currently working with Alan Weatherhead (Sparklehorse) on finishing an EP of all new material.
THE MORNING CLOUDS
The Morning Clouds are as amazing as the Beatles and Radiohead jamming together. Yeah, we don't expect anyone to believe that, but like most local acts, we're fans of ridiculously self-aggrandizing hyperbole — we're just unusually up front about it. The godlike Josh Wambeke recorded the now-legendary shoegaze/pop EP Wasted Youth Blues last year. Lefse Records recognized that the songs were monumental enough to simultaneously cure evil and solve entropy and signed him, so Wambeke assembled a group of super-humans to help him tour and raise the dead. More credible, unbiased sources say we sound like the Jesus and Mary Chain or Explosions in the Sky, but what do they know?
As the name would imply, Mr. Midas is the man with the golden touch. Originally from Long Beach, California, the MC runs the town in Colorado. Midas touches on the storytelling and cultural necessity in rap often lacking in today's music. Taking his experiences as the son of an addict, along with his propensity for strength and tenacity, and rather than become overwhelmed with the hand he was dealt, Midas flipped the struggles in his life and displayed them as art. What Midas has created with Son of the Crack Era is an album that tells not only his story, but the stories of many people whose lives are also shaped by hip-hop. Fashioning himself after the influences of the stories that drive his art, there is no glorification of the crack epidemic and its harshness, but an incredibly apt description of ghetto life.
First seen in 68AD in Les Deux Magots, a small Parisian cafe, he was reportedly arguing with Napoleon, Yusuf Islam and Jack Dempsey about the virtues of carrying a string quintet in his Maserati Quattroporte versus employing the new "Stereo 8" technology favored by the bourgeoisie. The carnage left from this argument stained the gutters crimson. He has since been spotted in various guises, debating in each the finer points of audio reproduction and usage with scholars, leaders, musicians and socialites, and in each leaving behind a swath of universal destruction, wailing and gnashing of teeth. This is Mu$a.
MY BODY SINGS ELECTRIC
My Body Sings Electric has quickly risen to become one of Denver's top live acts. The band has been in high demand after two straight top-three appearances in KTCL's annual Hometown for the Holidays contest and the release of its debut full-length, Changing Color. Don't expect the boys to slow down anytime soon. After a fast-paced year including appearances at Red Rocks, SXSW, the Westword Music Showcase and two West Coast tours, the group plans to release new material later this summer and a new full-length in 2013.
THE NEW BEN FRANKLINS
Waging sonic war on modern "country" music, the New Ben Franklins incorporate old-school twang and big walls of guitar to create a unique sound. In other words, take Waylon Jennings and run it through five fuzz pedals: You get the idea. Liberal doses of honky-tonk and rock and roll make for a loud, easily danceable sound. The Franklins recently released a critically acclaimed full-length CD titled [peter gabriel] and have a song featured in the roller derby documentary Derby Baby!
NIGHT OF JOY
Guitarist Valerie Franz and bassist Bree Davies started Night of Joy in 2008 as a shared way to cope with their fucked-up worlds. After a lot of drummers, they found Fez Garcia. You probably know him, because he's probably in your band, too. Night of Joy intersects somewhere between Nirvana, Black Sabbath, Joy Division, Sonic Youth, T. Rex and Mac Dre; what that sounds like can depend on the day. Or if you really want to know what they sound like, take it from some fifteen-year-old kid in East Moline, Illinois, who once told Night of Joy, "You guys, uh, sound like Flipper."
NO FAIR FIGHTS
As a band that has experienced significant musical and personal evolution over its years, No Fair Fights' approach to music is about one thing: Striving to make the best songs the band can make. This philosophy has encouraged the band to be unafraid to draw from whatever influences it may have at the time to create songs that come from a genuine place. At the end of the day, the music is about rocking the listener the way the band themselves would want to be rocked.
Denver native and autodidact Joshua Novak played his first show in early 2000. Since then, he has become a celebrated fixture on the music scene. Recently he placed in the top twenty out of 560 bands in the Denver Post's Best of the Underground and received his sixth Westword Showcase nomination. Joshua is one of fifteen winners in the Modmusic Records Indie Band Search in N.Y. and performed at Red Rocks as part of the epic Monolith Festival, which included acts like TV on the Radio, Vampire Weekend, Justice and others. In 2010, Joshua's highly anticipated full-length album, Dead Letters, was released to critical acclaim. Both the Denver Post and Westword included it in their best-albums-of-the-year lists.
Option4 recently relocated to Denver, where he has quickly made a positive mark on the electronic dance scene. From becoming the full-time resident of Lipgloss, Denver's longest-running dance party, to starting TheHundred, the overwhelmingly successful monthly dance party that has already received national acclaim, option4 looks forward to focusing specifically on production in the coming months. With his upcoming EP, To the Night, set to be released August 15 on VCR Records, option4 is something to watch in the coming year. Delving into a feel that is heavily house-influenced with a twinge of darker groove, option4 has a release schedule that is packed from summer to spring on several different labels and collaborations. He also is a BMX enthusiast.
Christened in 2006, Overcasters put their oars into a raging black ocean of towering waves of guitar amid the gales of hope and squalls of fuzz, never setting foot ashore, guided only by stars. In February of 2012, Overcasters released Curses/Prayers, pushing further out to sea, braving bigger storms in search of brighter lights at dawn. (Overcasters.com)
PANAL S.A. DE C.V.
When you hear an act being referred to as a "musician's band," it usually means the band in question has incredible technical skill but not a lot in the way of emotional resonance when it comes to songwriting — especially if the outfit is instrumental. PANAL S.A. DE C.V. bucks that trend in every way imaginable. The band's music, which speaks for itself, has evolved over the past several years. PANAL has written some of the most interesting and evocative rock music to come out of Denver, partly because it knows how to speak directly and powerfully to the heart without having to spell everything out with words.
Ginger Perry has been throwing it down with G.L.O.W. since '81. After an unfortunate groin accident, she decided to pursue a career as a disc jockey. This was the best idea she ever had. Now she wrestles beats with the best of them. After a horrible catfight, she decided to start producing her own music. Ginger Perry now goes by the name of TillDawn for her production. Deejaying is not behind her; it's just on the side now. Her first EP is due to drop in a few months. (Soundcloud.com/gingerperry)
PETALS OF SPAIN
With a blend of musical influences pulled from almost every genre imaginable, Petals of Spain will leave you humming its tunes as you leave the venue. Founding members Hunter Hall and Nic Jay Hammerberg were harmonizing together before either of them received their first mustache hair, creating a vocal sound steeped in experience and familiarity. Rhythm section Mason Shelmire and Dylan Johnson round out the sound of Petals of Spain with an intense backbeat and pulsating excitement at every turn. The real centerpiece of this group, however, is the thoroughly original composition and arrangements, pushing the pop idiom to entirely new plateaus. Their new single, "I Gotta Know," is slated for release on June 19. They look forward to sharing their music with the world.
THE PHOTO ATLAS
The Photo Atlas — Alan Andrews (vocals/guitar), Bill Threlkeld III (guitar), Mark Hawkins (bass) and Josh Taylor — is a high-energy indie/punk/dance outfit residing in the Mile High City. Fast-paced dueling guitars, perfectly precise drumbeats and bellowing bass lines intertwine around cleverly crafted lyrics and uniquely brilliant vocals. The Photo Atlas continuously proves that it's one of the hardest-working bands in music by captivating audiences with impressive live performances at every opportunity. This is shaping up to be a banner year for the foursome, with a successful East Coast tour already wrapped up and a brand-new full-length album slated for release in fall. The new music is bolder, faster and downright more exciting than anything the Photo Atlas has done before.
PINK HAWKS & KOFFI TOGO COMPANY
Pink Hawks & Koffi Togo Company is an Afro-beat, Togo-jazz, global dance ensemble with Denver's imminent take on West African music. Their complex rhythms, addictive melodies and distinct arrangements make you wonder when the last time was that you felt so good moving your body. Having moved from the original free-form performance-art format, the Pink Hawks & Koffi Togo Company have tightened down into a far-reaching and accessible conglomeration of musical ingenuity that makes you happy so drugs don't have to. Where the new and the old worlds meet, Pink Hawks & Koffi Togo Company organically and collaboratively craft songs from the heart that are guaranteed to touch your soul and might inspire even the most timid kind of person to tear out in the dance-floor melee and release their own inner "Pink Hawk."
The Pitch Invasion met during the soccer riot of Manchester United vs. Chelsea. We beat the shit out of each other and then realized we were not even soccer fans. However, over a twelve-pack of RC Cola and a one-pound bag of grape Pop Rocks, we decided to form a country band. After being booed off stage at Farm Aid, we were told, "Get your city-slicker asses back to Denver, and take those damn skateboards with ya!" So we buttered our buns and called ourselves biscuits...and the Pitch Invasion was born. (Reverbnation.com/thepitchinvasion)
Potcheen is more than just a band; it's an ongoing journey of Colorado musical piracy bordering on chaos and mayhem. Founded by Christian Blochinger in 2003, the band has a lineup and sound that has evolved over the years. The crew has toured and played 36 states, from Florida to Alaska, playing roughly 140 to 180 shows a year, delivering high-energy sets fusing world music, Celtic, blues, funk, punk, folk, bluegrass, zydeco, Americana and rock music with a pirate sensibility, making folks shake their booty and drink their whiskey!
RACHEL & THE KINGS
Rachel & the Kings is a five-piece contemporary rock band made up of former Tickle Me Pink and Rachel James members. Their debut full-length album is in the final stages of production and will be released this fall. Though new, the band recently won a national competition (sponsored by Ford) in L.A. and was awarded recording time with legendary producer Don Was, as well as a professional music video. Their debut album is being described as sonically in line with Florence + the Machine, Adele, Grace Potter and Coldplay. (Rachelandthekings.com)
Raincheck features Steve Kovalcheck on guitar, Ben Markley on piano, Marty Kenney on bass and Chris Smith on drums. These artists are preservers of the classic Blue Note/hard-bop sound of the 1960s. This is memorable, swinging music.
RANDY RAMIREZ (THE HEYDAY)
THE RAVEN AND THE WRITING DESK
The Raven and the Writing Desk: crapping creativity since 2010.
With a summer tour around the corner, RED STiNGER is pursuing a conquest for bigger things. Denver has always treated us well, and we love it here. The scene here is a big part of us now, and we are doing what we can to help put our stamp on the state's musical attributes. We have currently recorded with Felipe Patino of Green Door Recordings for an upcoming four-song EP. Look for it to come out toward the end of summer or beginning of fall. We are also planning to record more in the fall. It will definitely be something different.
With equal parts Orange County punk rock, honky-tonk country and rockabilly swagger, Reno Divorce strikes a unique chord of its own with its brand of "punk rock and roll." The band's longevity is proof-positive that paying dues is the only way to the top. The well-crafted and deftly executed songs that straddle the line between Smithereens and Social Distortion are the bread and butter for these guys, and one listen is all it takes to realize you've got a band that truly stands out among the herd.
Rubedo is the physical manifestation of sound streaming from the psyche of its members. The group's debut album, Massa Confusa, has been crafted under the wing and direction of producer Ikey Owens (The Mars Volta, Jack White, Free Moral Agents). As a whole, Rubedo creates a familiar vibration that audiences actively relate to, integrate and use to transform their own individual state of awareness into one of universal love and collective understanding. This is the alchemy of rock and roll.
SAFE BOATING IS NO ACCIDENT
Initially part folk and avant-garde performance art, Safe Boating put on the kinds of performances people talked about for a long time afterward. For its next chapter, Safe Boating is temporarily setting aside its overtly miscreant ways in favor of sculpting cathartic pop songs akin to what you heard of early Elvis Costello and the Jam. Safe Boating has never been about gimmicks as much as involving those who show up in the moment if they dare.
Born from toxic sludge leaked from the Beach Boys' amps.
LUKE SCHMALTZ (KING RAT)
After eighteen years of playing in King Rat, I didn't just wake up one day and proclaim: "Okay. This is it. I'm now an acoustic performer!!" It's the sort of thing that slowly creeps into being. It starts with getting put on the spot to play a song at a party. Then maybe a bandmember gets sick the day of a show, and you say, "Fuck it. I'm doing the damn thing acoustic anyway." Then perhaps you lose a bet and get shoved out onto the stage, wasted with no pants and only a guitar to hide your parts...and so on. After the right mix of enough of these experiences, you just give in to the gravity of the phenomenon and get into it. It's nerve-racking, masochistic and lonesomely addictive. Tie me off.
Individually, Caleb Slade's songs tell stories — engaging tales of love and revenge, hope and reason. Together, they convey a message that the path to bliss is not ignorance, but intellectual honesty. As compositions, his songs are full of bravado: strong vocals backed by steady and rhythmic piano. Their cinematic qualities create scenes of people finding the authentic victory in defeat and the determination to live a worthwhile life.
SlaughterHouse Rootz brings the party! Since 2007, this reggae-rock ensemble has evolved from a three-piece (think Sublime) to its current five-piece lineup, adding in more country and blues. Founding members Kyle Halligan and Dana Oviedo recently brought in friends Johnny Thieson, Glenn Marquez and Casey Hrdlicka to expand the band's drunken party sound. The group is currently working on its upcoming EP release, Let's Just Be Friends, featuring many other local artists playing a major role on the album. "Denver's reggae scene has just exploded in the last five years, going in different directions: hip-hop, dubstep, jam band — it's all merging. We like that, so we got our friends to help out," explains bassist Oviedo.
"Lush, atmospheric dream-pop.... Of all the year's new acts, Spires is the most promising." (Westword) "Spires is absolute post-punk bliss that takes you back to all those U.K. bands you've loved for years: the Sundays, the Smiths, the Cure, etc." (Jesse Livingston, Buzzine)
SPOKE IN WORDS
Working in its own self-contained bubble over the past decade, the Swayback has cobbled its own sonic recipe and aesthetic outside of trends or commercial pressure and is threatening to break into the national consciousness with its new album, Double Four Time. The album is named after a fictional dive bar where the jukebox plays an eclectic mix covering the full rock-and-roll spectrum, from the classics to the obscure, where the patrons aren't sure if they want to close their eyes, sit back and absorb the music or get up and dance. The Swayback is the Double Four Time's perfect house band, with its hard-to-succinctly-label sound that has elements of bluesy punk swagger, dark Brit-goth atmosphere and hauntingly beautiful vocal tones.
Face-melting pirate-punk rock and roll. Synthetic has been around for eleven years, and the only things these guys have ever cared about is creating kickass, feel-good music they love and having it shouted back in their faces from their fans. I'm supposed to write a hundred words about Synthetic, so...here you go: music, punk, ska, Irish, badass, life, humble, rock and roll, family, friends, brothers, extravaganza. Boom.
TAKE TO THE OARS
With a name based on the Latin proverb "If the wind will not serve, take to the oars," the members of Take to the Oars are no strangers to hard work. The act's sound is packed with soaring vocals, infectious hooks and a catalogue of instant rock anthems. Rising to the top of the burgeoning Denver music scene, TTTO's live show never fails to deliver. The band has been seen sharing a stage with Young the Giant, Rooney, Fuel, Sleeper/Agent and the Gracious Few, and is slated to perform at the historic Red Rocks Amphitheatre on July 30 for Film on the Rocks. Fans can also expect a new EP from the quartet in the fall.
My style of deejaying is a forward-thinking blend of minimal, techno and dub, with an emphasis on the art of programming a DJ set. I try to introduce my audience to new tracks that may slide under the radar, or have been out for many years but for some reason have been passed over. As a live act, I like to create a high-energy performance by blending original tunes with live, improvised remixes. Dance music is often stereotyped as unintelligent, and my goal is to showcase the music that stimulates the brain as well as the ears.
TIN HORN PRAYER
God said, "Don't give me your tin horn prayers; don't buy roses off the street down there." Took it all and took the dirt road home, dreaming of Jenny with the light-brown hair. Night is falling like a bloody ax. Lies and rumors and the wind at my back. Hand on the wheel. Gravel on the road. Will the pawn shop sell me back what I sold? I'm gonna take the sins of my father. I'm gonna take the sins of my mother. I'm gonna take the sins of my brother — down to the pond.
Dan Treanor and the Afrosippi Band are considered one of the top blues bands in the Rocky Mountain region. The group has played all the major blues and music festivals at one time or another over the years. The music is a unique blend of world beats, blues, funk and rock and roll. Dan is the 2012 recipient of the Blues Foundation's Keeping the Blues Alive award and has released several award-winning CDs in the last decade. His Mercy CD was named Best Blues CD by Westword in 2006.
Inspired by artists like Jamiroquai, Chromeo, Prince and Daft Punk, Trichome brings an experience nothing short of a rowdy, high-energy dance party. Taking elements from funk, Afrobeat, rock and electronica, Trichome fuses a sound that will make your body move. Couple that with tailored, unique set lists and song transitions for each outstanding live show, and the energy this band exudes is a force to be reckoned with. Trichome's electrifying shows have been creating rabid fans across the state of Colorado and beyond, including appearances at major music festivals like Summer Camp and Wakarusa. (Trichomemusic.bandcamp.com)
VALE OF PNATH
Being a musician in a band today means having the same level of excitement about a "record deal" as hearing back from that pizza-slinging job you applied for. Hi, I'm Eric W. Brown. I play drums for melodic death-metal band Vale of Pnath. I also play for death/grind outfit Vimana, pirate-metal trio Swashbuckle and dark electro-pop songstress Roniit. I spearhead two electronic projects: Rainbowdragoneyes and Magic Hammer. It sounds counterproductive to be flat broke and investing all of your brain cells, time and money on endeavors providing little to no valuable return (and I assure you, it is). But I sure as hell can't think of anything better.
Varlet is female-fronted Doors-revival-meets-Gillian-Welch, with the earthiest drums you've ever heard — and a buried pop-catchiness delicately woven in. Minted from psychedelic, dream-woven and driving '70s rock influences, Varlet breaks the genre boundaries of independent music. On the band's November 2011 release, The Drifter, Lilly Scott's vocals rise like bubbles bursting into a rocking jazz wail, as if Billie Holiday were resurrected and fronting a Neil Young-inspired indie act. The drums pulse with earthy distinction and song structures on guitar, lap steel and piano range from classical composition to jazz to intricately woven '60s and '70s psychedelic progressions.
Hello. I'm Coles. I've been singing since I was seven, but only recently did I settle into a style. It's a tricky thing, determining a style. I'm going with singer-songwriter, including, but not limited to, country, blues, jazz and pop. Presto Colesio. My fifth record came out in February of this year on my own label. I've become a big fan of the do-it-yourself model: We do all booking, press and social media in-house and are really enjoying it. I'm loving living in Denver, and really happy to be a part of this great music scene.
WHEELCHAIR SPORTS CAMP
From its inception, Wheelchair Sports Camp has turned heads without regret. From Kalyn Heffernan's high-pitched, technical rhymes and strange beats to Abi McGaha Miller's wailing tenor saxophone and Isaac's boom-bap drum styles to Joshua Trinidad's screaming trumpet, WSC is a unique mixture of independent hip-hop, soul and jazz that is simultaneously thought- and dance-provoking. Having already been featured in Spin magazine, the Huffington Post, Colorado Public Radio and the cover of the Village Voice, Wheelchair Sports Camp is a band primed and ready to take its place in the national hip-hop scene.
Whiskey Tango uses its diverse musical talents and tastes, combined with its intense passion for music and telepathic communication, to create a dynamic, highly energetic, feel-good musical environment. The band will play anything from a hundred-plus-year-old traditional bluegrass song to many different styles of originals, varying from bluegrass to funk to rock! You can catch live shows all over Colorado, from the Front Range to the deepest depths of the Rocky Mountains.
Whygee is one of those effortless MCs that you can tell has been rapping forever. Openly known by his peers as the grumpy rapper, he has at least ten projects out there floating around the web. Backed by a technical DJ named brikabrak, who some would say is one of the best, Whygee is still a staple in Denver's music scene. His most recent release, I Need $, was produced entirely by Qknox and showed a different, more grown-up sound that hadn't been heard from Whygee yet. As he prepares HK2012, the sequel to his first mixtape, Hype Killz with DJ Sounds Supreme, Whygee continues to champion lyrical prowess.
Stylistically blending elements of post-punk with a more "groove-focused" experimental rock, Denver's Wire Faces has gained a wide regional acclaim over the past few years. The group's 2011 release, the Diamonds & Gold EP, which finds the band examining a more raw, visceral approach, charted on the CMJ's Top 200. Diamonds & Gold was recorded, mixed and mastered in the world renowned punk-rock studio the Blasting Room (the Descendants, Rise Against, the Lemonheads, Drag the River) over seven days during 2010 and the beginning of 2011. Wire Faces has been writing extensively since then and will have a whole set of new songs for this year's Westword Music Showcase! The album is yet to be titled and is set for release in fall of 2012, so here's your chance for a sneak peek at the new material!
Wonderlic is a four-piece funky rock band hailing from Denver. Our high-energy shows focus on creating a positive and upbeat environment that appeals to dancers and groovers of all ages. If you really want to get a feel for what we do, you should probably see us live and buy our album, available at iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby, Spotify, Facebook, MySpace or direct.
Led by dynamic young singer-songwriter/guitarist Nate Cook, young Boulder trio the Yawpers (named after Walt Whitman's promise to "sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world") recall a grittier version of Wilco, with as much raw country sensibility as twisted indie imagination. Equally akin to Deer Tick, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan and Elvis, the Yawpers give a fresh blend of indie-country and rock 'n' roll.
YO SOY SAUCE W/ CACHEFLOWE
Yo Soy Sauce — enjoyers of enjoyment, Toms of foolery, star-crossed lovers of beat and rhyme. It is a campaign year, and booty-shaking is our platform. Juke the ballot box and come get all Hanna-Barbera with us. YSS is Brer Rabbit (Flobots) and CacheFlowe.
YOUNG AUSTIN AND NO DIFFERENCE
Young Austin and No Difference is an exciting electric blues trio out of Colorado Springs. The band, with Austin Young on lead guitar and vocals, along with a rhythm section of Noah Mast on bass and Tim Young on drums, is evolving the face of the blues. The young band has already been the highlight of many festivals, like the Stevie Ray Vaughan remembrance concert the past three years in Dallas and the International Blues Competition in Memphis, where it was a semi-finalist in 2010 and plans to return in 2013 to represent Colorado and take the title. Young Austin and No Difference has a new CD coming out at the end of the summer titled Blue As Can Be, with a sound certain to cross cultural and generational lines, keeping the blues alive and vital.
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So...here is our blurb. Since our deal is that we are a party/performance-art punk band, we thought if we only had one word to describe ourselves, it would the word "Zebroids" one hundred times. Is that okay? Can we do that? Or we would be fine with the word "Zebroids" 98 times and at the end put "Fuck you." We don't take anything seriously. We just make art and party.