Last night: Frontside Five at the Marquis Theater

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Frontside Five, Git Some, Speed Wolf, St. Fall Apart
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Marquis Theater
Better than:
Attending a show devoted to only one subgenre of punk music.

Frontside Five's new full-length album, Resurrection Cemetery, veers from the Denver ensemble's skate-punk roots in many ways, incorporating new sounds and textures ranging from thrash, to hardcore, to death metal. The new record's diversity found a fitting complement in the lineup at the Marquis Theater on Thursday night. Frontside Five's CD release and summer tour kickoff show featured a roster of bands that included a little bit of everything, from St. Fall Apart's more straightforward punk aesthetic, to Speed Wolf's tongue-in-cheek paeans to death metal and even Git Some's frenzied, frenetic speed rock. The diverse array of openers served to encapsulate the new directions Frontside Five has taken in the past couple of years. The quartet's performance as the final act, playing new tunes from Cemetery as well as songs from releases like Fall Out of Line and No Pegs, seemed to take subtle cues from all of the other acts and at the same time stake out its own distinctive dynamic.

As an opening act, St. Fall Apart paid tribute to forebears of modern punk like Rancid and the Vandals. With Joel Hansen's bombastic vocals and dynamic lead guitar playing, paired with Vic Ferro's more straightforward, barred approach to spelling out chords, the band's best moments echoed some of the legends. More importantly, the group managed to mix defiance with engagement, quickly involving the small crowd gathered on the floor. Songs like "Woe as You," "Help You Help Me" and "Stay Home" drew on Hansen's distinctive guitar style and a consistently driving and rousing rhythmic backup from Ferro, Phil Wallice and Anthony Sunderland.

The consistent energy continued with Speed Wolf, albeit in a different form. Lead singer Reed Bruemmer immediately advised the growing audience, "We're still a new band," and his words showed in some of the group's rough edges. Still, while Speed Wolf's driving brand of death metal may have lacked in nuances, the group made up for it in pure energy. Bruemmer incited the largely punk crowd to participation, even though the group's set consisted of driving chords, speedy solos and lyrics paying tribute to "the blood of Satan" and words that claimed that "Satan is king." The crowd ate up Speed Wolf's knack for theatrics, cheering on Bruemmer as he rambled about the stage and hooting up Chris Wells' guitar solos. A lengthy cover of Motorhead's "Overkill" rounded out the set.

The communal enthusiasm on display for Speed Wolf continued with the penultimate band, Git Some. While the beginning of the quartet's set included a more straightforward, hard rock sound, the performance included numbers with syncopated, driving cadences, stretches of slide guitar  and frantic, insistent thrash beats.

The breadth of Git Some's set would prove a fitting introduction for Frontside Five's fourteen-song set. While the group included older songs like "Chin," "Thrasher," "She Spitz" and "Conspiracy," the show yielded a valuable opportunity to see the new songs from Resurrection Cemetery play out in a live setting.

Happily, the band performed songs like "Killing Time," "Nuclear Solutions," "Bernall Hill" and "Destroy" just as competently as their older material. With dual vocals from band members Bart McCrorey and Shane Henry, the new songs benefited from vocal diversity. What's more, McCrorey's thrash- and metal-infused guitar styles found expert execution live, and bassist Brooke Crawford hopped easily from structure to structure and sound to sound. Drummer Robdogg also showed an impressive amount of development in his performance of the new tunes, with a style that included expanded syncopations and rhythms from the sound that marked the group's earlier albums.

All in all, the group's kickoff show hinted at a rich live output from the band and hinted at expanded sounds to come on future albums.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I enjoyed Frontside Five's new songs more in a live setting - seeing the chemistry between the four current members added depth to the music.
Random Detail: Speed Wolf frontman Reed Bruemmer predicted that the Broncos will have its "best season ever" in the coming year.
By The Way: People watching at any bar on Larimer street can be a spectacle in and of itself. A man in search of spare change serenaded people in front of the Marquis with acapella versions of Temptations songs.

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