Photo: Tom Murphy
Action Packed Thrill Ride
Breezy Porticos w/Action Packed Thrill Ride Friday, July 25, 2008 Old Curtis St. Bar Better Than: Spending the rest of the night trying to wrap your mind around the Jandek show.
After leaving the Jandek gig, I headed back through downtown and remembered that the Breezy Porticos had a show going on at Old Curtis St. Bar. I had missed Six Months to Live but plan on reviewing one of their performances later on in this series. Instead, Action Packed Thrill Ride was nearly done setting up for their show as an eight-piece band instead the usual five.
Sitting in was a guy named Luke on banjo, a woman named Jenny on trumpet and Corey Teruya of Hello Kavita fame on lap steel. They opened with a new song with something of a glittery guitar intro before they went into their usual excellent and compelling blend of country and rock and roll. Sure, we’ve heard a lot of that kind of thing in Denver, but this group has their own sound and can’t really be lumped in with “alt-country” or Americana so easily. There is a loose-edged, shambolic quality that wouldn’t fly with a lot of bands that embrace the Americana style and its seeming emphasis on tight playing. It’s not that this band is full of people who can’t play their instruments very well. Quite the contrary. It’s that they play well enough that they can have a little fun with it and let it grow beyond what you’d immediately expect in a song.
Lucas and Mark have surprisingly effective and melodic vocal harmonies and even as vocal soloists, both possess strong, melodious voices that bring warmth to their songs. But they also allow themselves to indulge some impassioned playing when it makes sense within a song.
The thing that most impresses me about this band and their songwriting is that they never try to stretch a song beyond where it needs to be. Yes, they can be a little loose with their playing but that comes from confidence, and the songs themselves are well-written enough that they clearly know when they have just enough of a good thing. As a result their shows never seem to drag on and on even when they have an extended set list. I love a band that can get up and rock and make you feel and even think and then get off the stage before they’ve overstayed their welcome and Action Packed Thrill Ride always seems to grasp this concept.
Photo: Tom Murphy
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Speaking of loose, Breezy Porticos had a looser-than-usual set for this night. The first three songs had Andy Falconetti on the acoustic and they opened with “Trick of the Light.” Even though the guys seemed to be less tight than usual, for once I could hear all their vocals really well and could appreciate how great their vocal melodies really are and in particular, the contribution of Jeff Almond to the carrying of melody overall in a song.
Andy switched to his Rickenbacker electric for “Starry Eyed” kept with that guitar for the rest of their set. “Crayola Sunset” sounded a lot more somber and loungey than usual, possibly because the keyboards dominated the sonic character of the song for this night and perhaps they played it at a slower pace than usual but I enjoyed this different take on a song I’ve heard several times before. Andy dedicated “Ramona, Just the Other Day” to Jandek and ABBA and got a chuckle from people in the crowd who knew who both artists were. During “Olivetti,” Falconetti’s and Almond’s harmonies were perfect and they pulled everything together for the last part of their set with “Vichy Sun,” and ending with “Paint a Picture.” Not one of the band’s best shows but they knew it and it was fun anyway. -- Tom Murphy
Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: Longtime Breezy Porticos fan and I’m rather partial to Action Packed Thrill Ride as well. Random Detail: Ran into Ryan and Crawford of the Vitamins at this show too. By the Way: We Are! We Are! had a CD release at the Larimer Lounge this same night and after seeing them live, I’m sure the record is great too.
This is the twentieth in a series of thirty consecutive shows that Tom Murphy is planning on attending. His whole idea is to prove that there's cool stuff going on any night of the week in Denver, if you bother to make any effort whatsoever to find it. He suggested naming this series, "This Band Could Be Your Life," a fitting designation to be sure. Since there's already a similarly titled book, however, we opted to file these entries under Last Night's Show -- you know, to avoid being sued an all. (Sorry, Tom.)