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Westword Music Showcase reviewed: Curious Theatre

Westword Music Showcase reviewed: Curious Theatre
Aaron Thackeray



See more photos from Curious Theatre at westword.com/slideshow.

Elin Palmer, 12 p.m.

Overcoming technical difficulties and an initially cumbersome stage setup (the stage manager had to find room for a drum riser amid the creative and complicated set -- including a desk, a bed and a road -- for Curious Theatre's latest production, 26 Miles), Denver's most luminous Swedish singer-songwriter wowed an early crowd with her unique instrumentation, bilingual vocals and guileless stage presence. Palmer was joined by Charles Parker on bass, the one and only Patrick Meese on drums, and Patrick's wife, Tiffany, on a thrift-store Casio. Tiffany's harmonies captivated the crowd while Palmer sang the kinds of songs that nearly ruined a whole trip for Odysseus.

Verdict: Though this was a rather low-energy way to kick things off at the Curious stage, the theatricality of Palmer's music and the adoration of a few ardent fans really made it work. This was my first time to catch Palmer live, and I look forward to hearing her again very soon.

Westword Music Showcase reviewed: Curious Theatre
Aaron Thackeray



Andy

Hamilton's Houses -- which has taken its place, for the moment, as

Denver's indie rock darling -- is as much a happening as a rock band.

Finding room on the crowded-yet-intriguing Curious stage for all the

outfit's players was tricky, but once they settled in, the bliss and

melancholy of Houses filled the room and snagged the attention of an

eager crowd -- which included many of the day's performers, who stopped

by to hear what the fuss was all about.


Westword Music Showcase reviewed: Curious Theatre
Aaron Thackeray



Following

Houses can be tricky, but Corey Teruya's band handled the situation

with grace and professionalism. Where the former band builds to

ecstatic crescendos, Hello Kavita often whispers and simmers with

restrained bliss. I can't even count the number of times I've seen this

act, but I can't remember a time when Jimmy Stofer's vocal harmonies

sounded more crystalline.


Verdict: By

this time, Curious Theatre was downright packed with happily attentive

listeners, and Hello Kavita held them rapt. I'd venture to guess that

the group gained more than a few new fans when it closed with the

number that's becoming its signature -- a clever and surprisingly

tasteful mashup of the original "Pensacola" and Paul Simon's "You Can

Call Me Al."


Achille Lauro, 4 p.m.
Achille

Lauro was the ideal band to follow Hello Kavita, and not just because

both bands include talented guitarist Luke Mossman. Both bands have a

quiet intensity that rewards careful listening. Fortunately, the

house-filling crowd at Curious Theatre gave the group its full

attention. Like Astrophagus, Achille Lauro has recently reinvented

itself, writing some surprising and exciting new songs, and giving its

older tunes a slightly more electronic and less jazzy treatment. The

new sound worked wonders in the auditorium-like space of the Theatre,

causing singer/guitarist/keyboardist Matt Close to exclaim, "This is

the coolest stage I've ever seen!"


Verdict: While

the folks of Notably Fine Audio continued to do an admirable job of

delivering high-quality sound in a challenging space, a number of

monitor issues and other technical glitches occasionally blemished

Achille Lauro's set. In spite of that, the band managed to come through

with one of the most engaging sets I've seen since Brian Joseph's

departure. 


BDRMPPL, Cacheflowe, Iuengliss, Married in Berdichev, Pictureplane and Slight Harp, 5 p.m.
Putting

six experimental electronic acts on stage simultaneously was a bold

move, and one that could have gone horribly wrong. In fact, had

Josephine and the Mousepeople been able to perform as planned, the

total number of acts would have been seven. In spite of the potential

trainwreck, the well-organized round robin of performances went off

without a hitch. Each act played one piece, then faded out as the next

act joined in with its piece. Then the whole circle repeated. There

were moments of brilliance, flashes of chaos and several prolonged

minutes of delight, all enjoyed by a nearly-capacity crowd who had come

in to escape torrential rains. Lucky for them.


Verdict: When

it comes to listening to music in my house or car, I make no secret of

the fact that I'm a pop music guy at heart, but I absolutely love

seeing the envelope pushed (no pun intended) in live performance, and

these acts certainly did so. Cacheflowe's painstaking Kraftwerk covers

and Iuengliss's impassioned performance were highlights, but all the

outfits came through with great ideas and exciting presence. The only

downsides were a slightly amateurish performance by Pictureplane during

the first round (he completely made up for it on his second turn) and

some unnecessary sniping -- understandable, given the stressful nature

of pulling something like this off -- between a couple of the

performers. In many ways, this was the highlight of the day, and

probably should have been the closing performance at Curious.


Bela Karoli (with surprise guest, the Wheel), 6 p.m.
Julie

Davis, Carrie Beeder and Brigid McAuliffe continue to perform dark,

seductive and slightly sinister jazz rock that deftly combines

electronic and organic instrumentation. The trio played some new songs,

along with old favorites, with characteristic professionalism and

confidence. The gathered crowd were largely Bela Karoli fans who

cheered for and sang along with several of the group's songs. When

Davis invited Nathaniel Rateliff and Joseph Pope III onto the stage to

perform a song by Rateliff's band, the Wheel, the Theatre shook with

cheers and applause.


Verdict: While

Bela Karoli's performance was flawless and beautiful, I think it might

have had greater impact earlier in the day -- especially preceding the

electro experimental weirdness that instead preceded it. As it was, the

group's performance -- which ordinarily might have felt transcendent and

goose bumpy -- fell a little flat.