Mile High Makeout: Playing Nice

I like nice people and good music. Fortunately for all of us, Denver is absolutely brimming with both. In fact, you could spend your whole weekend stumbling from venue to venue and never run out of potential makeout partners.

As much as I love good music, the joy I take in catching some of my favorite Denver bands comes as much from who they are as what they play. Looking through this year’s Westword Music Showcase ballot, I can’t help thinking of all the great people behind all this great music.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that all good music is made by nice people. I think the late Ike Turner is sufficient proof of that. And though the majority of folks I meet in the music world are delightfully decent, I’ve also had the misfortune of meeting a few along the way who offer further unfortunate proof. Trivett Wingo of the Sword and Mike Doughty are two who immediately come to mind. Though both were thoroughly unpleasant to me, that doesn’t change the fact that they make (mostly) good music.

It also follows that nice people don’t always make good music. But this particular axiom seems to raise hackles. Because of the thoroughly subjective nature of pop music appreciation, it’s nearly impossible to separate our feelings for the people making the music from the music itself (check out my first Makeout of the year for more on that), so we have a really hard time acknowledging when bad music happens to good people.

When I wrote my first negative review of a local band’s performance, I thought I’d never hear the end of it. Come to think of it, I still haven’t heard the end of it. People still bring up that review – though usually just for a laugh. At the time, however, there were a few vociferous readers who were positively aghast and deeply offended.

Now, I’ll grant that what I wrote about Dualistics was pretty mean. It was also my honest and completely subjective assessment of the music in the moment. But what shocked me were the people who came up to me after the review was published and said, almost with tears in their eyes, “But they’re such nice guys!”

In a lot of ways, the time for making out in Denver ended a long time ago. There was a time when being a band in Denver meant that you were automatically deserving of praise – especially if you were nice. But the bar has been raised. The outfits who’ve had praise heaped upon them over the past couple of years now have to turn up the heat and bring not just their A games, but their A-plus games.

Don’t get me wrong. You couldn’t meet a nicer group of guys than Dualistics. It’s almost scary how kind and friendly those dudes are.

But I still stand by what I said about that particular performance. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to see the band since then, but I hear the sound has really evolved. Even folks who agreed at the time with my scathing assessment now sing the band’s praises. And I’m glad. I’m always glad when music in Denver gets better. I look forward to the chance to completely revise my opinion.

Nice people making good music. That’s nice. And good. -- Eryc Eyl

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Sean Cronin