High Plains Underground Archive

High Plains Underground Archive: Denver Reunion Shows Part 1

The current musical era is not short on nostalgia and reunion shows; bands performing classic albums in their entirety have become commonplace for tours and for the Pitchfork Music Festival. In addition to the "classic rock" nostalgia circuit, many bands who had their heyday in the '50s-'70s seem to embark on reunion tours to demonstrate why anyone cared in the first place.

While not always obvious, Denver and Colorado have produced bands—many no longer active—that have proved influential in the music world at large.As mentioned in a previous High Plains Underground Archive entry on indie pop, The Apples in Stereo and Elephant 6 initiated an important movement whose influence can still be heard in modern pop music. In 2014 Neutral Milk Hotel staged its own reunion tour, performing its 1998 magnum opus In An Aeroplane Over the Sea in its entirety — an album recorded in Denver.

Denver plays host to its share of significant reunion shows, whether for local, formerly local, or out-of-town bands with a connection to the region. Sometimes it's a low-key, one-off show, sometimes the band gets back together for a festival (as Crestfallen did for 2007's Denver Fest), and sometimes the reunion launches a career encore. In the next three weeks, I will share photos of bands at their reunion shows, including features on Warlock Pinchers and The Fluid. Today's entry features Christie Front Drive, 40th Day, Planes Mistaken For Stars, and Sin Desires Marie.

Christie Front Drive made waves well outside of Denver during the late '90s era of emo and math rock.

40th Day proved influential on space rock and dream pop in Denver in the '80s and '90s and reunited in 2013 after a nearly twenty-year hiatus, performing at The UMS in 2015.

Planes Mistaken For Stars brought together people who were part of the '90s punk and emo scene in Denver as well as fans of a hybrid of posthardcore and metal. Known for their raw honesty, compassionate outrage, and the catharsis of their live shows, Planes toured extensively within and outside the U.S.

Sin Desires Marie blended a posthardcore sensibility with a post-punk sound. Starting in the late '90s, SDM made connections with the DC punk world and performed at Ladyfest DC. While not a widely popular band in Denver, SDM represented an era in Denver when riot grrrl and third wave feminism influenced a significant segment of the local punk world. That the band could come back after splitting for eight years and find an audience was not insignificant. 

*Author's Note on the High Plains Underground Archive:
In the late 1990s, I started going to local shows on a regular basis. Growing up in the '70s and '80s, I didn't know there was such a thing as local music worth checking out. But I was drawn in after seeing a band called Rainbow Sugar (an all-female punk/hip-hop/experimental guitar rock extravaganza) opening for Sleater-Kinney's first show in Colorado at The Fox Theatre in October 1998. Next, I learned about a show at the now-defunct Rebis Galleries. From there I went to the first Monkey Mania show, and there was no looking back.

Rainbow Sugar was the first local band I photographed at Herman's Hideaway in 1999. But it was in 2005 when I got my first digital camera that my extensive photo archive started. In this series, called High Plains Underground Archive, I will share a small fraction of the tens of thousands of those photos, focusing on specific venues, bands, time periods, movements and whatever else seems to make sense. The title of this series comes from the working title of my book on the history of underground music in Denver 1975 to the present.