On June 29, we'll present our 25th Westword Music Showcase. The event has grown dramatically since it was founded in 1995, with just a handful of bands playing around LoDo. In 2019, more than seventy local acts will fill venues throughout the Golden Triangle, while national headliners CHVRCHES, Jai Wolf, JAUZ, Bishop Briggs, Crooked Colours, lovelytheband, The Knocks, The Wrecks and SHAED will play the two main stages.
Many of the artists who have participated in Showcase have gone on to worldwide success, while others continue to perform for loyal local audiences. And some have cashed it in and left music altogether.
The indie-rock act Faceman formed in late 2009. In the years following, the group has dropped four albums, toured the world, and played alongside nationally renowned acts including the Rebirth Brass Band and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Faceman has not only played the Westword Music Showcase several times, but the act has organized festivals of its own, including one that showcased 100 bands each playing twenty-minute sets at the Oriental Theater. We caught up with Steve Faceman to discuss his band's success, the Denver music scene, and his memories — albeit hazy ones — of the Westword Music Showcase.
Westword: What memories and stories do you have of playing Westword Music Showcase?
I think you could say I have fond memories of no memory. In other words, the four or five times that we were lucky enough to be included in the festival were one hell of a good time. I think the best part of our experience was playing venues that don't normally have live music, and also being able to play in front of people who do not normally support the local music scene. I remember meeting a guy named Dorian DeLong who was a longtime supporter of the local scene. We were playing Broadway's, and he was squirting our band with a penis squirt gun. Sadly, Dorian passed away, but he was such an inspiration that there is an annual show at the Oriental supporting Dorian's legacy and a college fund set up in his name, put on by his close friend Matt. Apparently we were one of his favorite bands. That's a special memory for me (not getting squirted by a penis squirt gun).
How has your own band evolved since playing Showcase?
As of this August, we will have officially been a band for a decade. That's a long time for any band to exist, in my opinion. One of the ways we evolved since playing Showcase was actually putting on entire festivals of our own. We did a 44-band fest at Ophelia's called FaceMan's Journey to the Sun, and then followed that with a festival at the Oriental Theater a year later called FaceMan's 100 Year Storm. Both experiences had many of the same bands that play the Denver festival scene.
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Denver's music scene has changed a lot over the past 25 years. What are your thoughts on its evolution?
I think the strangest thing about Denver's music scene is that it is so enormous that I can't honestly say I've ever actually felt a part of the scene. I know that is completely false because of the hundreds of shows we have played in Denver over the last decade, but it illustrates how enormous the actual scene is.
We have always tried to remain very humble and realistic about exactly what we are trying to accomplish and our role in Denver's scene. You're only as good as your next show, in my opinion, and I think we try to focus on putting on the most incredible show we possibly can every time we play, and continue to move forward with writing music we like. For that reason, I do not think any of us spend much time thinking about the actual scene in Denver. I know it exists, it is large, and it means a lot of things to a lot of people.
The 25th Westword Music Showcase will sound off in the Golden Triangle on Saturday, June 29. Find out more about who's playing, vote for your favorite acts on the Westword Music Awards ballot, and buy tickets at westwordshowcase.com.