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Live Review: Yerkish, The Skivies and New Ancient Astronauts at the Falcon

Photo: Tom Murphy
Yerkish

Yerkish, The Skivies and New Ancient Astronauts Friday, July 18, 2008 The Falcon, Denver Better Than: Having to wait even longer to see The Skivies again.

Though this bill wasn’t touted as a D.A.R.C. gig, that’s essentially what it was and that was fine with me. By the time I got into The Falcon, Yerkish had already started. I’d only really heard one EP and some tracks online so I wasn’t prepared for the band that performed. Sure there were elements of the prog metal I had expected but inside each song was an interesting use of space and dynamics that pushed them beyond what you’d expect into the realm of truly artsy music.

They didn’t pummel with their sound even though there’s no doubting the heaviness of some of their material. Some of the song structures and some aspects of the singer’s vocals were reminiscent of Tool but really this is just because they, like Tool, incorporate elements of classical and jazz structure in their songwriting. The singing soared in moments that verged on the hilarious stuff you hear in a lot of metal bands but with this guy, it came off more like he had a knack for melodrama in the best sense. In fact, his rapid lyrical delivery was paced masterfully. Even when the band verged on fairly conventional rock and hard rock tropes, they did it in a way that made it compelling instead of staid. They finished with a great new song called “When Glaciers…”

Photo: Tom Murphy
The Skivies

The Skivies haven’t played since their infamous November 3, 2007 show where they were going to cover John Cage’s “4’33”” in which the players do not play a note for that duration but their gig got 86’d before they could “perform” the song once the club owners caught wind of what was going to transpire. But you wouldn’t know these guys haven’t played live in that long because it ended up being one of the strongest shows of their entire career.

They had the house lights turned down and had set up their customary black lights up front as well as some strategically-placed red lights to add sinister highlights. They came out one by one in completely white suits and a single, bright red head light that shined down on their faces like something a spelunker would wear. Each of them took up positions in the band that they normally don’t, except for Bonus Bacon who played bass. DJ Von played guitar, Zahari sat at the drum kit and Christian went to “The Brain” and started doing vocals and twisting and tweaking them with the controls. It was a different sound for the band and they had come up with it two days before the show. You’d never know it wasn’t entirely rehearsed. But this band is at their best when they wing it a little and have some fun. They know each other as musicians and performers so well that they can get away with keeping things loose even if their music sounds anything but loose.

They are a bit Helios Creed, a bit Butthole Surfers and just a hint of Suicide and really just creating a new type of psychedelic music that would have been called “punk” twenty years ago. They were clearly having fun and they played their music with a freedom and energy beyond their usual level of excellence. They won’t be playing that often anymore but expect each of their shows to be even more wildly creative and visually compelling than before.

Photo: Tom Murphy
New Ancient Astronauts

New Ancient Astronauts took the stage and, too, seemed to play with a renewed sense of fun and purpose. They opened with the now classic “Catasteroid.” Their third song in, whose title I don’t know, was the sonic equivalent of a freight train. This band has done the unlikely thing of slapping together metal, jazz, punk, funk and psychedelic space rock in a heady mixture that will either drive you off or draw you in with the sheer enthusiasm with which this band usually plays.

They played “Sun Diver” and “Monkeys in Outer Space” and never let up with their fiery momentum until the very end. Guitarist Kasey Elkington seemed to be in especially good spirits and supplied some much-needed comic relief. Also for this show, their light guy, Adam, really seemed to be a part of the band and he handled the controls like he was playing an actual instrument and that just made the show all that much more enjoyable. -- Tom Murphy

Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: I’ve never been to a D.A.R.C. show and wondered why I was there. Random Detail: Jeremy and Paul from Action Friend were at the show. By the Way: Yerkish has a new album coming out at the end of September.

This is the twelfth 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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