Watching Street Fever feels like going to a dance party in the Mad Max universe. The DJ, in a tight leather jacket and a heavy-metal mask with eyes that glow and change colors with the beats, looks like an alien. In front of him, standing on a chair, is a girl in a mask shouting out phrases in French. The beats sounds like something you would find at the best German dance club, except with a constant, sinister undertone. It's jarring, mind-melting, and somehow the perfect thing to see at the Treefort Day Party at 3 p.m. on a sunny Saturday at the Underground Music Showcase.
As part of a musical exchange, the UMS hosted a day party in March at Treefort, bringing some of Denver’s bands to the Boise-centric festival. For the UMS, Treefort returned the favor, showcasing Boise bands for four hours at the Skylark. The two we caught, Street Fever and Magic Sword, were so weird and wonderful that it made us want to hop on the next flight to Boise and spend the rest of the weekend exploring that music scene.
Street Fever was the best electronica act we’ve seen in ages, and also the most terrifying. Giant metal mask aside, the beats were catchy and consuming, and the vocals were haunting and full of fear: It was bubblegum pop mixed with the darkest depths of goth. At one point, one of the vocalists, wearing a mask that might be a robbery accessory, screamed “Fuck you!” over and over, then ran to the old piano in the bar, shoved his mike toward the keys and played an improvised, creepy melody. It should’ve been terrible; everyone should’ve booed and walked out of the Skylark. Instead, the act was met with mass applause. The fact that it came from Boise, a city Denverites know little about outside of Napoleon Dynamite, made it feel like maybe we were the weird ones, not Street Fever.
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Magic Sword was equally intriguing, and somehow even stranger. Playing off the concept of a magic sword — actually just a giant plastic sword with lights — the duo, dressed in cloaks and fencing masks, produced sounds that seem like what space electronica will be like years from now when all the cool teens have moved to Mars,or Pluto. There was a key-tar involved, a backstory about the magic sword, and a brilliant light show that made the South Broadway bar feel like an Eastern European underground rave.
Part of the fun of the UMS is the discovery and adventure. Half the bands playing are local acts you may have seen multiple times; the other half you may never have even heard of, then fall in love with when you wander into a random venue with zero expectations. And that was the Treefort Day Party, which promised, and delivered, music you'd certainly never heard before, from a state many in Colorado might not even think about. Taking chances usually pays off at the four-day party, and taking a chance on some out-of-state bands — as unknown as many of our own locals are outside of Denver — was the best decision of the weekend.