The Ideal Fathers, I’m a Boy, the Bluebird Equation Thursday, July 10, 2008 Larimer Lounge Better Than: A totally random assortment of indie bands on the average Thursday night at the Larimer Lounge.
The Bluebird Equation had already started by the time I made it to the Larimer but it sounded like they’d only played a song or two. Bringing a piano into a band these days is pretty trendy, but fortunately, Bluebird Equation didn’t use it the same way as everyone else, who, admittedly or not, wants to be Coldplay. I guess you could say that the act’s singer had more Jerry Lee Lewis in him that Chris Martin, and the band is all the better for it.
The outfit’s guitar sound was crunchy but not obnoxiously so, more like the kind of overdriven guitar sounds you’d hear in old New Wave electro pop band songs, which is just as well, since the keyboard tones tended toward that vibe anyway. The group’s secret weapon, though, beyond the singer’s impassioned, vein-in-forehead induced singing, was the rhythm section. The drummer and bassist weren’t flashy and didn’t display wicked technique, but they were solid, and that allowed the songs to breathe. At times, the group fell short on tracks like “Circus Vodka” which seemed to be trying too hard to be clever, incorporating a circus organ sound translated to different instruments. But overall, the Bluebird Equation was in great form as it ran through songs from its excellent new record, Status of Brain such as, “Robot Town,” “Not a Dummy” and “Whiskey In My Sippy Cup.”
I’m a Boy hit the stage next with no fanfare and kicked into “One Man Revolution” with an unexpected energy. Jimmi Nasi was like Pete Townshend with less gruff vocals and his choice of guitar chords was decidedly more melodic without compromising any power. It was hard to believe a band this tight, powerful and fun was playing to a relatively slender crowd instead of to hundreds of fans. Song after song was an exercise in brilliant songwriting, and the three band members backed it up with viscerally inspiring performances. Somewhere along the line the outfit must have learned that it doesn’t matter where you’re playing or to whom, you put your best face forward and at least make it great for yourself, as well as for the people who showed up.
There was an impressive variety in tone and dynamics across the band’s entire set, and it’s been a while since I’ve heard a rock band write such catchy songs. It’s tempting to file I’m a Boy under indie pop, but really, the group isn’t coming from that musical direction at all. Essentially, what the act has done is stripped rock-and-roll to its essence but left in the artistry and imagination in terms of songwriting and stagecraft.
One of the things that struck me the most was how this powerful rock band had lyrics that revealed a romantic spirit with sentiments that express ideas and feelings that have fallen out of favor in our current cynical, detached musical era. Rather than trafficing in ironic distance from the kinds of emotional currents that make life sparkle with electricity, I’m a Boy delivers earnest, honest, beautiful sentiments. Someone in the band realizes that the third rate cyncism that many would consider cool is really lack of an ability to connect emotionally with art, with one’s life and with other people. Nasi is such a natural guitar pop hero, it won’t be too long before this extraordinary band gains more attention than its has up til now.
Someone once told me the Ideal Fathers, who closed the night out, were a straight up punk band. And while there's elements of that in the band's sound, the act seemed more like a mating of hardcore, danceable post-punk and atmospheric guitar rock. Likewise, the group performed like a punk outfit but sonically, there were far more interesting and expansive textures as well as tight, brutal rhythmic dynamics. At times the band reminded me of Brooklyn’s A Place To Bury Strangers, with its gritty, dense dreaminess. This is easily one of the best of the obscure bands going in Denver right now.
-- Tom Murphy
Personal Bias: I was already a huge fan of I’m A Boy’s music. Random Detail: The Ideal Fathers’ drummer had a Swayback T-shirt on. By the Way: Maybe it’s just me, but I’ll take a live band every time over playing Guitar Hero in a bar or going to the dance club on a weeknight.
This is the fourth of thirty-five 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.)