Concert Reviews

Over the Weekend ... Bang Camaro @ Bluebird Theater

Bang Camaro Saturday, February 23, 2008 Bluebird Theater

On the line: Denver’s rep as a bastion of metal magnitude. (Hint: The Jury’s still out.) It was nearly 10:30 when I rolled up on the Bluebird last Saturday night. Joel Simches, the sometimes JV rocker and once long-time master soundman for the goth theatric duo, the Dresden Dolls was smoking out front. (Pssst: He’s also worked audio magic for Denver-based DeVotchKa, a group with a sound and a mission even weirder than their name.) All this he tells me through the clove-y haze of his self-rolled Drum roaches. He was tequila gold trippin', checking out the Colfax skirt outside the venue.

I gave up watching the rebirth of Swayback at Westword’s own Artopia to watch a burnout get shot down? By hookers, too?

I did. And it was worth it.

Because Simches’s mission that night wasn’t to score. And he wasn’t working sound for any whack experimental noise group. This 40-something carried no less than the weight of the metal world last weekend. And he didn’t fail to deliver, even with the Bird’s wusstastic volume restrictions. You see, Joel Simches works boards for Boston’s arena-rock sensation, Bang Camaro. And when the Camaro rolls into town, you better believe that nary a head will not bang.

Backup. Forget what you know about modern metal. There is no end of talent, sure. But most of the time it’s as if metal musicians today have abandoned the timeless drop D tonality that once made the Headbangers Ball an MTV legend and forgotten the sheer, unadulterated pleasure of the power chord.

Bang Camaro remembers. They tore the house down Saturday night with an hour and a half of the very kind of stripped-out, anthem-inspired metal mania that once made you proud to stock Y & T videos in your library. From the moment they took the stage, they were the opening bars of Judas Priest’s “The Hellion.” Through every shredding solo, they were the sustain in Nigel’s guitar. And with every thunderous chorus, they were they cod piece that kept Udo Dirkschneider in check. You want your balls to the wall, man? Then when the Camaro rolls into town, you’ve got to get your ducket.

Apparently, Denver didn’t really get the memo. The crowd was a bit thin, especially by Camaro standards—the band’s used to selling shows out at legendary halls like L.A.’s Troubadour.

“Denver’s a tough nut to crack,” offers Simches. “It’s a hard town to pin down. But you come out to a Bang show, and you’re gonna have some fun! Hell, you might even get to be part of the band.”

He’s talking about “the Choir,” Camaro’s own secret weapon. Out of their entire repertoire, the band has only one, maybe two songs with more than 20 words. So, fewer words, more singers; that’s the plan, the whole rhetoric driving the band. And who needs words when you’ve got three lead guitars and a stack of Marshalls? All you really need is a stage large enough to let the leather seraphim vent their metal fury.

This weekend, the Camaro only brought six singers—the hotel costs alone for 20 throatmiesters is enough to put any band in the red. But every once in a while Camaro will add some local schmuck who auditioned well on the band’s MySpace page. “You can be a part of this band,” exclaimed a wide-eyed Simches. “You get to sing their songs, drink their beer, lay their women—what other band let’s you do that?”

Man’s got a point. This Camaro definitely takes the road less traveled. And when they do, there’s an even chance you might even score on the floor, if not on the stage. “Have you been to the SLT?” continues Simches. “Salt Lake is a town that knows how to rock—playing there—it was the first time I’d seen people fucking in the aisles. That’s what we need in Denver: fucking. In the aisles.”

I’m not sure that City Park sensibilities are liberal enough to allow for anything more than hard R sucking in public. But there’s always hope for the future.

Down in front were no fewer than seven or eight kids — none of them could have been older than fourteen. (Who was working door that night?) These guys weren’t even old enough to know that “Randy Rhoads” was a guitar god, not a street name in the Red Light district. But there they were, bangin’ heads up and down like someone had asked if they’d care for another Red Bull.

Maybe next time the Camaro rolls into town these kids will spread the gospel six-string, and we can show these bean-town bangers that Denver remembers how to rock. -- R. Kelly Liggin

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Sean Cronin