Pink Hawks, Bad Weather California, Pictureplane Saturday, January 9, 2010 Hi-Dive
Ideology unites these three bands. Specifically, a belief in the importance of right now. Which makes for a set of live shows that is rough around the edges but breathing and dynamic, with the bands responding to the audience in their music and greeting failures of equipment or preparedness as opportunities to do new things.
What does not unite these bands is the music itself. Each of the three acts is so different from the others that you can separate them with massively broad and loose genre labels: jazz for Pink Hawks, rock for Bad Weather California, and electronic for Pictureplane. This was an especially interesting show because it encouraged the audience to focus on the more abstract concepts behind the music rather than the style of it, and maybe that's what matters the most anyway.
Pink Hawks were the most literally adaptable band of the night, of course, because their shows are improvisational. On Saturday, Yuzo Nieto and the gang welcomed Danberry of Josephine and the Mousepeople to the stage, and maybe his rhythmical stylings contributed to the heavily latin flavor of the set. Nieto did more singing than he usually does, often in Spanish, although he still spent the bulk of his time on the sax.
It was Bad Weather California's night, technically: They were listed at the top of the bill and were releasing a 7". But they played second, presumably in deference to Pictureplane's self-described Sunday Morning Sex Music. (More on that in a second.) Bad Weather California are the rare band that sounds absolutely nothing like their influences. You can hear the punk and indie rock name checks in the lyrics, but in the chord progressions, the rhythms and the melodies, you hear something different, something more like what a childhood spent in Grand Junction might produce, much groovier, easier on the ears and warmer than anything frontman Chris Adolf's idols produced.
Not that the music is soft. Far from it. The lyrics are smart and, even more impressively, the sort of simple poetry that gets a crowd full of people singing along. Adolf has talked about punk rock as a willingness to go against the grain, and his punk music is defiant and honest and passionate. Bad Weather California seems to have settled into its lineup and its sound, and a band that was always one of Denver's most interesting is only getting more so.
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Travis Egedy immediately requested that basically every light in the Hi-Dive be turned off, which is why it was hard to get even the above picture. Still, notice the black glove, a somewhat new accessory for Egedy and something he called "true real" on his blog not so long ago. All this to explain the man's strange relationship to goth culture, which amounts to an aesthetic appreciation but not something he can really join outright. He's too generous of spirit, too thrilled to be playing his music to be a real goth. Not that we're complaining, obviously.
He overcame some glitchy equipment, apologizing for not preparing better, and proceeded to close the night out with his characteristically hacked apart, blinding dance songs. He is the right choice to end the night because his music is full of extremes, full of exhaustion and the sort of uninhibited idealism that you know is true real only in the weird tiny hours of the morning. His is not music for uncertainty or contemplation -- it is the sort of thing you must share with people to fully appreciate, the drunker and sweatier the better.
Critic's Notebook: Personal Bias: These are all incredibly clever dudes, and they come from what I think is Denver's most exciting scene. Random Detail: Despite the fact that the show was ostensibly Bad Weather's 7" release, they hardly wasted breath shilling the thing. They aren't exactly trying to haul it in with this one regardless, as they only cut 60 copies of the thing. Get em while you can. By The Way: You get the sense all of these bands would sort of prefer to be playing in someone's basement. That said, they did a good job making the Hi-Dive feel that intimate anyway.