Live Review: the Threatened and the Wilder Situation at Larimer Lounge

The Threatened and the Wilder Situation Sunday, August 3, 2008 Larimer Lounge Better Than: Everything else going on late on a baking Sunday night.

The members of the Threatened, who played an acoustic show without their drummer, informed us sometime toward the end of their set that they’re normally a heavy metal band and that they usually play all originals. This fact was fairly obviously even without the disclaimers from the first song they played, “Breaking the Chains,” by Dokken.

Why anyone would cover Dokken is beyond me unless you’re doing it as a goof, but obviously these guys were having fun with it and playing the music you grow up with is sometimes the music you grow out of, hopefully. The act followed that one up with “Fly to the Angels” by Slaughter and played it pretty straight, which had my eyes rolling a little even though I don’t hate Slaughter as much as think all of that era of music is incredibly funny. But it was obvious that the band wasn’t taking it entirely seriously, either, and the group’s sense of humor really made the show enjoyable.

Although an original song called “Your World is Burning” did surface at one point -- kind of a bluesy modern metal number with all three guys offering up decent harmonies during the choruses -- most of the rest of the set was covers including a less painful version of Winger’s “Who’s the One.” I The vocals on the Scorpions’ “Still Lovin’ You” were a little more believable, but hardly anyone should try to imitate Rudolph Schenker’s guitar licks. Like them or not, the Scorpions had talent. “Sail Into the Sun” was another original and even more bluesy than the act’s other song, and I’d swear their main riff was lifted from the ending part of “Miss America” by Styx.

The last trio of songs should be filed under “Music I Never Need to Hear Again Before I Die.” And yet, while each song made me appreciate the virtues of the originals, these guys were having fun and were likeable enough that I didn’t walk away until the next band came on. “Patience” by Guns N’ Roses really tried mine. Skid Row’s “I Remember You” was a little rough because, let’s face it, Sebastian Bach can really hit notes not a lot of people can. The Threatened closed with Whitesnake’s “Still of the Night” and more or less pulled it off. The guitarist more or less nailed those John Sykes guitar riffs and that was impressive to watch. Even though I now hate Whitesnake, I can appreciate that Sykes had good technique. I’m not sure I’d want to see the Threatened as the full band but they played with good spirit and humor and that counts for something with me.

The Wilder Situation immediately earned some credibility with me by acknowledging that its music was probably not the type of thing that graces the Larimer Lounge often. And it’s true. Each of the outfit’s three members are obviously well-trained players whose collective sound was very jazzy and adult-contemporary, but not in a bad way. The threesome’s material was underpinned by solid structures so that even a couple of the more generic sounding songs came together well. It is tempting to compare some of the band’s music to Dave Matthews Band, but I actually like frontman Chaz Wilder’s voice, which in context recalled Traffic from the Low Spark of High Heeled Boys-era. The Situation’s second song had the most interesting and emotionally evocative guitar work of the whole set, while the final song was also strong with some nice crash and quiet dynamics closing things out. I liked the band’s ability to play with a broad palette of dynamics and tones that are probably lost on people who need to be hit over the head by the music they listen to. Not sure I’d be into these guys on a regular basis, but they played well and projected a positive attitude toward a show that they announced would be for trying out new material.

-- Tom Murphy

Personal Bias: As a former metal head, I hate almost all of it but know it a little too well. Random Detail: The Wilder Situation’s Harlan Mager looks a little like the younger brother of Vanessa Angel’s rich jerk ex-boyfriend from Kingpin. Except I’m sure Harlan’s probably a nice guy By the Way: Larimer Lounge is probably the last place in Denver where you can never be absolutely certain what kind of thing you’re in for on an off night where often times radically different types of bands will be on the same bill.

This is the thirteenth 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.)

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