Concert Reviews

Over the weekend: Six Months to Live at the Meadowlark

Six Months to Live, deadbubbles and Dario Rosa
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Better Than:
The second big snowstorm of the season outside.

Opening act deadbubbles set the pace for the rest of the show with an energetic set of rock and roll full of more than its fair share of weirdness and eccentricity mixed in to keep things interesting. Frontman Arlo White leaped, pranced and gestured with tasteful bombast about the room during the band's set, and during "6669," he held a utility light with a red filter close to his face. Normally this might come off as kind of a cheesy gesture, but White and the rest of the band performed each song with absolute conviction in the material that even this momentary affectation added to the showmanship. Toward the end of the set, the guys played one of their strongest numbers, the early solo Eno/T. Rex-esque "Sparkle Jets," before concluding with another of its best songs, "Rock Solid!" aided by Six Months to Live's Greg Hill on sax and Zack Littlefield of Dario Rosa on tambourine.

Up next was Dario Rosa, probably one of the most underrated bands regularly playing in and around Denver. Weaving together strands of country, pop and rock, the act never fails to be compelling. The harmonies were flawless, and Bobby Genser's wild leads were standouts in the set. Musically, the band is heavily influenced by mid-'60s Stones, early Who and Pink Floyd prior to the exit of Syd Barrett -- which may make the act sound like a throwback but this quintet makes it work and seem like anything but. An especially memorable part of the show happened when the band played the excellent and every so slightly trippy "Jagged Jones" and masterfully blended in some of Donovan's psych-rock classic "Atlantis" to the end. Rosa closed with a rousing version of "She Hates the Scene."

Before beginning their last show ever, Six Month to Live's Chris Brumbaugh teased a bit of "Cocaine" and Greg Hill answered with a bit of "Tequila" on his own guitar. Starting things off with a bang, the band played "Cool Kids," with Hill beating the heck out of a cowbell set on a stand with a drum stick until it splintered and pieces flew into the audience. From there, the group proved that a well crafted pop song with great hooks need not be pablum. The mixture of pop, funk, soul and outright rocking could have sounded like too much in one band, but it never once did with these guys.

The bittersweetness of "Ushi" was palpable, while "Sole Operator" sounded like it could have come out of Motown. After playing "Selective Hearing," Hill told us in his affectedly hilariously hoarse voice that he and his bandmates would take a quick break -- which they did and which lasted precisely two seconds, and back they were with the jazz-inflected "Carol Is." For what we were told was the first time, Six Months played "Welcome Home" right before a stupendously good version of David Bowie's "Starman." Near the end of its set, the act played a joyous, if gloriously warped, version of The Stones' "Dead Flowers," during which Arlo White and Dario Rosa joined in on the choruses. But the show wasn't over yet, and we were treated to an encore of "How to Conquer Grief" and "Do You Want to Rock and Roll?"

Fittingly, Six Months to Live played its last set ever like it had nothing left to lose.

Personal Bias:
Six Months to Live recently became one of my favorite Denver bands.
Random Detail: Zack Littlefield was the drummer for Six Months to Live for around two years.

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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.