Review: Mothership @ Hi-Dive

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It was an evening of local inspiration or maybe experimentation, or how about extraterrestrial communication last night at the Hi Dive, where Denver’s Mothership hosted a CD release show celebrating their first full length, the Eleven Dimensional Symphony.

A dirty mix of camera difficulties, PBRs and lost keys led me to miss most of the opening band, the Widowers. From what I was told, though, they made a good showing for their first outing.

The snappily-dressed Achille Lauro took the stage next and lived up to the extravagant expectations that their suits and curiously wrapped neckties set. They started with some of the strong tracks from their EP You’re Going to Live, and Other Nice Things To Hear, then ventured into some newer material that infused Latin beats into their already jazzy cabinet of songs -- imagine Billy Holiday getting testosterone shots and starting an indie band with the Buena Vista Social Club. The players topped their set off with a fantastic new track, "The Hatter of Jamestown," directly inspired by the multiple stops that Man Man has made in Denver recently. Lauro is playing Saturday, June 2, at the Larimer Lounge and again on June 8 at the 15th Street Tavern. I suggest catching one of these shows because you won’t be able to see them again until late August.

Finally Mothership took the stage to a cultish crowd waiting for their transport home. And not looking to disappoint, the crew came down from their vessel like messengers from a not-so-intriguing planet: Planet Psych Rock. The clean but complicated composition made it clear that some of these boys have music degrees under their belts, but at points this trait became alienating and resulted in a thinning crowd. Mothership's strongest points came when it was at its quirkiest, like on the country tinged "Ida Lee," which lets the geek out of the bag as it tells the lonely story of one boy and his space cruiser. The rest of the songs, however, were hard to discern from one another, with repeated constructions and sometimes-dragging interludes -- a problem that isn’t so apparent on the album. Adam Shaffner’s deep baritone vocals create a solemnity that makes it hard not to take Mothership stone-faced serious, a dubious proposition when you consider that Shaffner is singing about Jedi Knights and the singularity of collapsing into black holes. Regardless, Mothership pulls it off. Drug use should be compulsory for those attending Mothership's shows, so that listeners are as spaced out as the music that they're experiencing.

--Taylor Sullivan

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