Watching 3OH!3's rise over the last few years has been an interesting one, and the best gauge of the duo's hometown success has been the venue capacities of each year's shows. From the Fox Theatre to the Ogden to last night's show at the 1STBANK Center, Boulder, Denver and every suburb between has come out to welcome Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte back to the home state that made their hand sign famous.
Although the 1STBANK Center was only about half-full, the crowd was stoked to be there, and so was the band, whose live act is one crucial thing that hasn't changed in the last half-decade of its evolution.
Local openers the Epilogues played a swift and jittery thirty-minute set, opening with "The World is Yours." The band was animated and gracious, leading the thickening crowd through songs with lots of hand claps and heel-pushing guitar jerks. A cover of Filter's "Hey Man, Nice Shot" couldn't have been a better choice for the Epilogues' sort-of dark and dramatic sound, the nostalgic trip sending the quintet into a heightened state of theatrical movement. Closing with "King Arthur," lead singer Chris Heckman came down in front of the monitors to touch hands with the first row of fans. Heckman's vocal sneer is definitely an acquired taste, but nonetheless projected from the sound system with a great, sharp clarity.
Next came L.A.'s Oh My Stars, led by Lee Miles, whose sung-spoken strut carried an act that was definitely on, but didn't translate as well as the Epilogues. Between lots of inappropriate kneeling and machine gun-stance guitar work by Josh Debney and Miles' incessant ego-stroking of his own band, Stars' shtick grew old quickly. At points, Debney's sound channeled a Brian May's arena-sized riffs, but still fell short in execution. The band's set was hardly boring, but it was still painful, as Miles' cross-bred sing-talk becoming exhausting after the first few songs. Closing with "Bleed In, Breathe Out," the band's attempt at harmonizing was not successful, but by all accounts, the set was -- throngs of kids screamed happily as the band exited.
Innerpartysystem was next, offering a nice bridge between the more instrument-oriented openers and the headlining 3OH!3. From within its cluster of synths, samplers and live drums, the trio opened with "Don't Stop," pushing its industrial-lite sound to pounding strobe lights. During "Obsession," a vocal rendition of Stardust's "The Music Sounds Better With You" was woven through the song's middle, and the 3OH!3-Ke$ha collaboration "My First Kiss" was tacked on to the end. Innerpartysystem closed its well-executed set with "American Trash," priming the audience for 3OH!3's entrance.
Soon enough, a black curtain was dropped from the arena ceiling to reveal not only an American flag made of 3OH!3 logos, but a small forest of fake trees filled with large plastic Rocky Mountain-native animals and the backing band. Topping off the virtual hometown red carpet roll out were two animatronic wolves flanking the stage from high atop speaker perches, both with green lasers shooting from their eyes.
The duo bounced out from backstage with "I Can Do Anything," Motte instructing the sea of peachy audience hands to make the 3OH!3 finger formation. Groupie anthem "Touchin' On My" followed, Motte stripping a leather jacket off to reveal his trademark tank top style before the band tore through the newish hit "I Know How To Say." "My First Kiss" came next, now accented with dub horns and some complementary vocal harmonies. Foreman and Motte then chatted with fans from the stage in their usual candid way, promising extra songs and emphasizing "old ones."
"Punk Bitch" and "I'm Not Your Boyfriend" were offered up, complete with a lyrical shout-out to Chauncey Billups. Just like past shows at smaller venues, the duo's friendly routine stayed the same, displaying their ability to fill the big space with dancing energy, while connecting with the crowd on a admirably personal level. Motte even climbed on to the barricade to get closer to the kids and crowd surfers, while Sean sang "Colorado Sunrise" from behind him.
The silly small talk with the arena continued, 3OH!3 half-pulling off a rendition of R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" as Foreman went on about his love for the Space Jam soundtrack. "Starstrukk" brought the guys' best dance moves together and led well into "House Party," before they transitioned into the finale, "Streets of Gold."
A very short pause brought the whole band back to the black-lit stage for the encore, "Love 2012," at which point the dudes gave many thanks to the crowd for the warm reception before spinning a fart-joke laden version of Scorpions' "Rock You Like a Hurricane," a hilarious attempt at Seal's "Kiss From a Rose" and even a few lines from Alice Cooper's "School's Out." 3OH!3's delirious teenage humor was not lost on its fans, but show finishers "Double Vision" and "Don't Trust Me" provided a happy end to a good night for both crowd and performer.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I have worked with this band and covered them since the virtual beginning, and though I don't so much enjoy 3OH!3's new record, I know they hardly ever put on a less than stellar show. Random detail: Seated next to the "band friends and family" section, it was cool to see the parade of parents and grandparents alike out in support of 3OH!3. By The Way: With tickets initially being sold for $9.33, I was surprised the arena wasn't closer to capacity.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.