Britt Rodemich, Ellison Park, Ian Cooke and Levi Weaver Friday, April 25, 2008 hi-dive Better Than: Enduring yet another uneventful happy hour.
The matinee show is an idea whose time has come in Denver. Instead of doing happy hour and then heading home only to amble back out around nine or ten, how about meeting friends for drinks, checking out three or four bands and then being done and in bed in time to catch Letterman (or to make your way to another show, if you're so inclined)? Unfortunately, given Friday night’s meager turnout at the hi-dive, this notion hasn't quite caught on. Yet.
Clearly nobody mentioned any of this to either Britt Rodemich or Ellison Park, who both played with a notable amount of vigor, the kind typically reserved for performers playing packed houses. Rodemich is a fresh, bright new talent whose delightful hummingbird of a voice walks a tight rope between Harriet Wheeler and Hope Sandavol. Everybit as good as Syntax’s Jonathan Bitz originally touted, this young songstress is sure to be on the lips of discriminating local music fans in absolutely no time. With the exception of a sure-handed yet slightly head-scratching cover of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” Rodemich’s set was as strong as her voice was beguilling. Likewise, Park, one of the dozen artists spotlighted in the Class of 2008, possesses an equally striking and nimble voice, which, when not obscurred by the same mike effect used by Gregory Alan Isakov to make his voice sound rustic like a crackly old AM radio broadcast, was in fine form. Keep an eye on this promising pair.
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Levi Weaver was up next. Not knowing much about the singer-songwriter from Tennesee, I didn’t really pay too much attention to the first part of his set, other than noticing that he had tapped Albrea Alford from the Autumn Film to accompany him on violin for couple of numbers. Weaver’s biggest selling point is that he evidently does a mean cover of “Idioteque” by Radiohead with a series of loop pedals – not an especially unique concept, that whole looping thing. I think I was impressed the first time I saw Joseph Arthur utilize the technique at the Lion’s Lair years ago, a little less so when I watched Howie Day do it at the Buell a few years ago, and even less when Phil Keagy did it at the Gothic a year or two later. Now, however, I’m essentially unimpressed. All the same, by the end of the set, Weaver had me in the palm of his hand with a pair of earnest, heart worn songs -- one about the girl that got away and one about losing his thirteen-year-old brother in a car accident that he was also involved in – that were surprisingly endearing and poignant.
A freshly shorn Ian Cooke ably closed this portion of the night (Blood On the Wall and Monofog played the late show) with his dependably intoxicating and unique performance style. When he finished the last song of his set, I shook my head as I looked down at my watch and noticed that the show was ending right about the time I’d normally be heading out. What a concept. Hopefully Bitz and John Baxter (Old Curtis Street), who put the show together, will be undaunted by the inaugural turnout and continue to explore this concept. It's definitely time well spent.
-- Dave Herrera