Westword Music Showcase

Highlights From the 2015 Westword Music Showcase

The party hadn’t gestated yet for MTHDS’ early set, and that was too bad: the band jounced through cheerful dance-rock tunes like it was playing for thousands, though it was more like tens, and the little crowd bobbed listlessly, sluggish and not yet primed. A dude in purple pants chugged a Coors Light and gave skanking an honest try, but lost steam after a few seconds. Beach balls were tossed up and listlessly fell.

Still, MTHDS soldiered earnestly on, unsinkably energetic and studio-tight. What the listener would miss in a studio recording, however, was a hype-man dressed in a tinfoil robot costume who served no other apparent purpose than to be a hype-man dressed in a tinfoil robot costume. Perhaps the most heartwarming moment I witnessed in the day came after MTHDS wrapped up the set, when, soaked in sweat, the robot-man removed his robot head and was embraced by the key-tarist, who sported a foot-tall Mohawk. The gaggle of watchers broke up and wandered off in the heat, leaving MTHDS without a single bad vibe, celebrating a set well played.
—Jef Otte
Andy Hamilton and the Whiskey Hitchers’ flawless outlaw country (sample lyric: “This old life I been living’s got to change”) came with all the fixins: weeping cascades of steel guitar, punchy telecaster licks, Stetsons, bolo ties, and at least one legit-looking leather vest, plus two women in classy black dresses in the corner square-dancing so perfectly in sync I wondered if they were some kind of secret prop for the band.

It turned out they were sisters Anna Horn and Erin Eubank, and they were not in the band, although they were friends of Hamilton’s previous band’s guitarist. They just happened to be really good at square dancing. “We’re from South Dakota, so we grew up with it,” said Horn, as if that explained everything. And maybe it did.

The sisters danced on, tears were shed in beers (Coors Lights?), and Hamilton’s waterfall of a beard lassoed a steer while the band played ballads of waywardness and heartbreak for the shuffling crowd.
—Jef Otte
While you could a good sense of what people were wearing during the Westword Music Showcase in the individual venues, the biggest concentration of folks was near the Main Stage. Sure, there were some cool ass t-shirts — like a guy wearing a homemade Wu-Tang Clan/Full House T-shirt (with the Tanner sisters inside the Wu Tang logo) — or another guy wearing a Smiths t-shirt using the same font as ninety percent of the Smiths’ albums, only this guy’s shirt had what appeared to be Will Smith’s family underneath the letters. And yeah, of course there were quite a lot of Hawaiian shirts, aviator and wayfarer sunglasses, and girls wearing floppy hats.

But man, tank tops were in full effect big time. The striped ones and patterned ones were king, some with stars and stripes but there were also a few odd dudes out were wearing tanks with the rapper Ice Cube, a rubber ducky, Corona beer, the film Endless Summer, and a gal sporting a Mumford and Sons tank.
—Jon Solomon

From the outside of just about any venue, if the sun ducked behind a cloud for long enough to look up in the sky and not be blinded, one could see a mass of partiers on a seemingly mysterious balcony six stories above Broadway. On the top of Bar Standard, the DJ sets were cutting the 90 degree weather, and listeners were swaying with Coors Lights in their hands. Getting up to the "venue," was as much of an adventure as exploring the audience above. Through the back alley and up six flights of rusted metal stairs was the doorway to the roof, where no wristbands were needed and the only entrance fee was the physical stamina required to climb the stairs. The vibe above was that of a "house DJ" playing anonymously while mingling, dancing and conversations flowed as much as the booze did. 
—Mary Willson
A parallelogram wall of the DAM’s Hamilton building flared up in the lengthening light as if to deliberately contrast The Black Angel’s plodding sludge, dark and thick as the bottom of a well. Also juxtaposed, or at least incongruous: Jason LeBlanc cheerfully bouncing to the trudging beat with a baby strapped via elaborate contraption to his back.

“We take him everywhere – we figure, expose him to it early,” said LeBlanc. Eighteen-month-old Lucian seemed to be digging it. He blew a spit bubble and gestured toward the stage, and I’m pretty sure he said “Metal,” but it’s hard to be sure.

LeBlanc’s wife Heather, visibly pregnant, agreed. But I couldn’t help but wonder: Would they keep up the rock-n-roll education even in the face of the logistical challenges of hauling two babies along? “I don’t know,” Heather said, “but yes.”

“If it doesn’t work,” Jason added, “we can always go home.” That’s the spirit.
—Jef Otte

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