Live Review: The Pseudo Dates at Auraria Campus

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The Pseudo Dates Tuesday, August 12, 2008 Auraria Campus Better Than: Most other outdoor shows I’ve seen.

Rarely are good bands, local or otherwise, featured on college campuses in and around Denver, but at 10:15 a.m. yesterday, someone made an exception. There’s always something surrealistic about a band playing in daylight, much less before noon, and the Pseudo Dates seemed well aware of this fact even though it didn’t seem to affect the trio’s performance. The act was basically given a two hour slot to fill, so it gathered together eighteen -- which is to say virtually all -- of its songs and proceeded to play them for the transient crowd of students going to class, waiting for class to start, sitting on the shade between classes, as well as the few people who came specifically to see at least part of the band’s set.

The band kicked off its first set with, appropriately enough considering this was the first week of classes at Auraria, “Goodbye Summer.” “Revolving Door,” featured one of the greatest psychdelic pop rock riffs of recent years, and Nathan Brazil’s tastefully intricate soloing within that riff was electrifying. “You Don’t Wanna Know” is the song that is the basis for the band’s joke of a tagline: “A little bit crunchy, a little bit rock & roll.” Indeed the song has plenty of both, but of the wiry and witty variety championed by the Kinks. Suzi Allegra’s smoothly ascending bass lines underpinned the wistful “You Have Time,” even as it ended in a polyphonically melodic harmony between Allegra and Brazil.

Brazil let loose with a squeal of feedback before launching into “Sleepy Shoes,” but he seemed aware of the ridiculousness of such a gesture from a band that is anything but extravagant in its songwriting. “You Have My Number,” sounded out of place and time in the broad daylight on a busy college campus, mostly because it was a heartsick, introspective number. All the same, it may have been the best performance of this song by the band I have yet seen. Allega’s voice quavered ever so slightly with the weight of emotion in the song, and Brazil’s background vocal accents in a higher register were perfect.

Naturally, the act followed this up with the happy, upbeat “Wine and Coffee,” followed by “Amateur Night.” Despite having heard the song many times before, it wasn’t until this show that I realized how beautifully sentimental it is and how vivid the poetic imagery is that Brazil weaves in the lyrics for this song.

The final third of the set was comprised of the band’s newest material, beginning with “Last Night I Dreamed That I Cut My Hair,” a lively upbeat song that reminded me a bit of the Electric Prunes, only less overtly psychedelic. The song was a good representation of the character of the act’s latest material, which tends to be longer, less poppy, but no less catchy, and more experimental. “Ah! Sunflower” had a more languid pace, but that was appropriate, considering it contained lyrics from a William Blake poem.

The band’s first set of the day ended with the completely un-ironic “We Love You” and it’s combination of chimy guitar sound, Beatles-esque vocals and propulsive rhythms. After a short break, The Pseudo Dates re-played seven of its songs, which is just as well, considering most of the crowd probably hadn’t been there previously. All in all, this was one of the band’s best shows and it was a great way to end my extended trek of consecutive shows.

-- Tom Murphy

Critic’s Notebook

Personal Bias: Nathan Brazil and Suzi Allegra are one of my all-time favorite songwriting teams. By the Way: You can download 5 albums for free at www.dirtylaboratory.com.

This is the final entry (number 39) in a series of what was supposed to be thirty consecutive shows that Tom Murphy (overachiever) planned on attending. His whole idea was 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.)

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