Concert Reviews

Over the weekend: Extra Kool at Leela's European Cafe

Extra Kool, with Joshie Juronimoe, Damon JeVon and Doctype Saturday, February 20, 2010 Leela's European Café

Despite the nasty weather and biting cold of the evening, a good number of people made it out to Extra Kool CD release show. Leela's is a little odder place than most venues in terms of who might show up because it's in downtown proper and serves as a 24-hour coffee shop and restaurant. So more than a handful of the people in the crowd were not there specifically to see the show, but they were, nonetheless, drawn in by the performances.

Joshie Juronimoe started off the festivities with a set of smooth and soulful R&B. The synth work accompanying his vocals deftly skirted that line between adult contemporary, jazz lite and the melodically moody.

Damon JeVon took stage next to much fanfare from the crowd, and he opened with the fantastic "Babylon." The layered story telling and poetry in the song talked about the inevitable collapse of the world as we know it while hinting at the better world to emerge from the rubble because we're bold enough and creative enough to make that happen.

It was easy to see why JeVon has been something of a mentor to the Dirty Lab crew, as his charisma and intelligence shined through with each song. Especially an a capella performance of "Sweet Lord," during which JeVon got the audience to clap along a cadence to perfectly underpin the meter of the lyrics.

Doctype put in a rare performance with his combination of thick synth samples, electronic drums and a single live drum that he pounded with his hands. The music was like dubstep, but with better percussion and a heavier vibe. Doc is still getting his footing with his vocals, but his passionate delivery, even in the midst of a downtempo song, was absolutely compelling. Maybe people were hoping Doc would break his drum head by going for it so furiously, but he didn't.

An older gentleman brought a cup of water to Extra Kool once he took the stage and Kool told us the guy was his dad and had never seen a solo Extra Kool show before. In the assembled audience you could see a number of old fans -- more than a few "Denver Rap Sucks" shirts, which instantly gave away their vintage. Kool asked us all to come in closer, at which point he performed the entire new album from beginning to end -- for the first and, quite possibly, the last -- with Time on backing vocals and handling the samples.

When the set ended with "A Dracula Factory," Kool dropped the mike to the ground. He then picked it back up and told us he would do a slowed down version of the lyrics without the music and, without trying to make it his point, proved how his words manage to be both playful and thoughtful. Afterward, Doctype and Kool laid out three songs from Creature From the Whack Lagoon, his previous album, ending the night with many accolades from the crowd and signing copies of the new album.

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: A bit of a fan of the acts on Dirty Laboratory. Random Detail: Piper Sartain of Titwrench finally made it to an Extra Kool show. By the Way: Even's Dead: The Chronicles of an American Waster, Extra Kool's latest album, is not as harrowing as Creature , but it also doesn't pull punches.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.