The best DIY shows in Denver in September
In its third year, Goldrush Music Festival will again feature some of the most intriguing experimental artists in the world of underground music today, including Noveller, led by Sarah Lipstate, who as a member of Parts & Labor helped usher in a more experimental side of the post-punk revival. These days, as Noveller, the former Cold Cave alum produces layered guitar atmospheres of transcendent beauty and rich sonic detail. Having performed with Glenn Branca's 100-guitar ensemble and Rhys Chatham, Lipstate has been involved in some of the most innovative guitar music of recent years.
The Titwrench music festival was founded in 2009 by Sarah Slater, a longtime independent promoter, who received a Westword MasterMind Award in 2011 for her involvement in it. From the beginning, the festival has featured artists from Albuquerque's rich experimental-music scene, groups like Bigawatt and Milch de la Máquina, which are both returning this year alongside an array of notable local acts such as Dangerous Nonsense, Talk All Night and Rachael Pollard. But Titwrench (taking place this year on Friday, September 6, and Saturday, September 7, at Glob) isn't just music; there is a strong visual-art presence as well, including the work of local luminaries like Katrin Davis and filmmaker Kim Shively, who was involved in the making of Wesley Willis's Joyrides. As usual, there will also be workshops and good food on hand, making Titwrench more than just another music festival.
Because Facial is directly affiliated with DIY venue Mouth House, you might expect it to be a punk-rock band. Instead, the trio makes experimental instrumental music on par with that of Hella (only without the jittery time-signature shifts) and Don Ballero (but even more playful). Alex Norell's drumming is richly varied, with micro-fills and accents around Ethan Evanchak's smooth and driving bass work, while Joe Hatfield's vivid guitar tone and masterfully detailed melodies could have come from a GIT grad who's disenchanted with conventional structure but doesn't want to lose his chops. Catch Facial this Wednesday, September 4, at Mouth House.
A juggernaut of sound and emotional catharsis, the music of Echo Beds draws an immediate comparison with Einsturzende Neubauten and the more percussion-heavy end of SWANS. Fusing sound and performance ideas from post-punk, industrial and noise, this band's shows aren't going for performance art, though the visual side of the show with Keith Curts and Tom Nelsen seems to exorcise demons through their voices, while unleashing punishing rhythms on percussion, bass and electronic devices. The act's recently released split with fellow Denver-based experimental project Tripp Nasty is a low-fi trip through a nightmarish vision of industrial blight. Arguably the most beautifully terrifying and electrifying band from Denver.
There's no mistaking David Jacoby's alter ego with any other performer. Performing as WhiteCatPink, he wears a white cat costume, head piece and all. He also has dancers who often accompany his performance in cat-themed regalia, as well. Gimmickry aside, Jacoby is a gifted drummer and songwriter who writes well-crafted pop songs in the French fashion of the '60s and '70s, only using electronic sounds á la one of his musical heroes, Kraftwerk, whose "The Robots" he often covers. Jacoby also often goes out in public in costume when not performing and in his home of Fort Collins, and that must be considered somewhat heroic.
When this band started out, it was more or less the uncarved block of garage rock stone. If some kids got together and wanted to make an unholy noise but then decided it would be more fun to write coherent songs and got into proto punk and music from the Nuggets compilation, it would sound like this. These days, the band's music is much more honed, but it hasn't lost the charm of its primitivist edge or the sense that they're not too sure of themselves and thus willing to put it all on the line for the show.
Patrick Porter is not a savant. But he is an eccentric genius with a keen insight into the human experience and the nooks and crannies most of us don't look into. His catalog of songs ranges from the gentle melancholy of songs like his future classic "Wait For Another" to his more outwardly experimental compositions. But it is his knack for expressing his brilliant and idiosyncratic view on the world and how music should sound, and making that somehow sound accessible, that is Porter's genius. His shows have a welcoming spirit and warmth to them that can seem unusual at first because Porter dispenses with most of the social polish most of us wear, and he engages his audience with a direct line to the imagination. After having lived out of state for a handful of years, Porter has now returned to treat us to more of his signature storytelling in song on a regular basis rather than on a rare tour.
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