DENVER DIY NEVER DIES
As the city’s older, less attractive face crumbled under the facade of a new, youthful and pricey cardboard cut-out of what is now being sold to the world as “neo-Denver,” our DIY music scene scurried under the rubble like a cockroach. But like that sturdy cockroach, it survived. In April, we celebrated ten years of Rhinoceropolis (and its companions Glob and an incarnation of a house now called Club Scum) as a global hub for do-it-yourself musicians and artists who — despite the decade’s frequent bleakness — thrived on Brighton Boulevard.
Once an area considered blighted and unruly by the money class, the billion-dollar block is now being pumped up with luxury hotels, multimillion-dollar craft brewery enterprises and all-artisanal everything. Still, there stands Rhinoceropolis, a shitty little warehouse, a dream venue and home, the perfect reflection of what this Queen City wasteland once was: an affordable magnet for weirdos, kooks, introverts, extroverts and every nuanced version of the extremely motivated, capable and fearless artist that exists here.
Don’t let the newest version of Denver’s story fool you: We may look like we’re made out of money and new development and weed. But just below the surface of that IKEA-ed-out kitchen inside a condo complex with a dispensary/brewery/social eatery next door, the art is still here.
The kids, the elder statesmen and -women, the scene staples, the record-store curmudgeons, the punk-house holdouts, the tap-dancing bucket drummers — they are all still here. And as long as Denver has venues like Rhinoceropolis — and Glob, Club Scum, Seventh Circle, Mutiny and every house that opens its living room for that moment — DIY will live. But even if those places are gone one day, Denver DIY will never die. No high-rolling developer, city official or neighborhood association can stop art or the people who make it.
— Bree Davies
DIY SHINING BRIGHT
No matter how much end-times talk surrounds Rhinoceropolis and its neighbors Glob and Club Scum, this productive nexus of activity continues to spill forth new music. Here are ten albums that highlight 2015’s output from Denver’s DIY community.
1. Recovery, by Killd By. Dance music for a high rise overrun by orchids.
2. Refulgent Osmium, by Docile Rottweiler. Ambient reworks of YouTube clips and trap hits. No website (type “refulgent osmium” into youtube.com).
3. Doggod, by 2kwateva. Textured pop jingles recorded exclusively on iPhone.
4. Bang Play, by Bang Play. Afrobeat jazz punk.
5. In Rotation, by French Kettle Station. Electro-pop both melancholic and euphoric.
6. Pieta, by Sister Grotto. Distant choral noise.
7. Todo, by Pizza Time. Tender Spanish surf tunes.
8. Ben E. gringo & his Popkorn of feer, by Ben E. gringo. Anti-capitalist eight-track avant-pop.
9. Hardcore Pop, by Sugarsplat. Left-field pop chronicles of life’s non-moments.
10. Empty Girls 2, by Nancy Strong. Sweetly rendered lo-fi rock.
— Luke Leavitt
This was an outstanding year for experimental music in Denver. Listed below are a number of noteworthy local releases from 2015 that reflect the scene’s diversity and depth. The fact that there are a couple dozen excellent projects here hints at greater things to come in 2016, especially as several of the artists behind them develop and become more widely known outside of Colorado.
1. Acidbat — The Magician
2. Animal / object — unit — R
3. Animposter — Animposter
4. Bang Play — Bang Play
5. Biostatic — Cloudland
6. Blackcell — Mixed in Black
7. Chromadrift — Arctic Memories
8. Church Fire and Morlox — Church Fire vs. Morlox
9. Curta — Replica
10. Death in Space — Winter/Summer Demo
11. Echo Beds — “Licking Wounds”/
“Linear Lives” + “Double Dare” single
12. Equine — Medical Ecstasy
13. Fire & Sigh — Fire & Sigh
14. French Kettle Station — In Rotation and Wreath of Always
15. Janet Feder — THISCLOSE
16. Numina — Through the Gate to
17. Keldari Station — Brave New Worlds
18. Killd By — Recovery
19. Little Fyodor & Babushka Band — Truly Rejected
20. Of Earth and Sun — Uncoil
21. Sugarsplat — Hardcore Pop
22. The Milkblossoms — Worrier
23. Thug Entrancer — Arcology
24. Victoria Lundy — Miss American Vampire
25. Voight — “Shadow”/“Excision” single
— Tom Murphy