The Say So ended its release for show for The Romantic last night at the hi-dive with one of the best songs from its previous release, Something Like Wild. "Fools" was replete with the melodic, triumphal tone that is part of the band's overall sound, but also with what separates this band from some of its more obvious peers in indie rock and that's with inventive rhythms. For this song, Chris Beeble's slides and stops on the bass proved to be a kind of springboard/backbone for the melody. And in the end, all four musicians brought their sounds crashing together for a chaotic sound of escalating intensity that splintered apart back into the song proper.
The Denver band's set started off with a black cloth draped down across the entire front of the stage and a sample from a movie and then part of someone's head was back projected so that there was a silhouette that seemed to sing. When the introductory vocals faded out, the drape slid down and The Say So went into "American Girl." Banks of lights were set on the back wall of the stage to the left and right of Rob Spradling's drum set. Toward the front of his kit, on either side, were square-ish, illuminated columns to match those at the front of the stage, which reached to the ceiling. Coupled with spotlights set in the middle of the room at the stage and floodlights at the floor, it looked like a lower budget version of something Cut Copy might do. Performing most of its new album, The Romantic, The Say So put on a strong stage show with songs that didn't stick to one specific set of sonic tricks, as is too often the case with a lot of pop bands.
The bass tone and heavy beat in "Oh God" felt like something you'd experience at an electronic music show and even more so when abstract bass swell introduced "Letters to a Cynic." During "Modern Revolver" it sounded like Sean Palmer made some, to us, indiscernible mistake because he let out an "Oops" but really didn't miss the beat.
Perhaps the band took this as a cue to step things up a bit because the song, reminiscent in the middle part of The Police's "Roxanne," was the strongest performance of the night. Partly because at one point, the pace slowed down, Beeble and Spradling went to either side of the stage and hit the drums on stands as each drum pulsed with an inner light as Palmer sang out a chorus of "Just like the ocean."
The show started off with Eldren. Apparently Josh Lee, the band's multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, had some immigration issues that prevented him from being there, and with the band generally, into some unknown time in the future. But the remaining four members made the best of it.
Performing a cover of Pink Floyd's "Time" could have been a misguided gesture but Eldren pulled it off convincingly, even the evocative guitar solo in the middle. The band's original material sounded like an odd mixture of Supertramp, Styx and Todd Rundgren. Certainly some amalgam of '70s rock with modern sensibilities.
Toward the end of the set, Eldren brought up its friend Tara to fill in some of the vocals Josh would have done, and she said, "I know I'm not Josh but at least we're five now." She added well to what was already a solid vocal interchange and harmony between Nasir Malik and Tyler Imbrogno.
Review and more photos are on the next page. Take to the Oars filled the middle slot with its mixture of blues and late '90s-esque alternative rock. Apparently these guys played at The People's Fair last weekend, proving that maybe that event was taking a few more chances with the music offered.
During "White Noise," Oars were deft at coming in strong off the verses. A moment that solidified the '90s alt-rock came when the guys performed a song that sounded so familiar and yet sounded like so many of their other songs. Then it became obvious that it was a song by The Flys from fourteen years ago called "Got You Where I Want You."
To be honest, it was a bit like when a lot of the glam metal bands of the late '80s were covering Loggins and Messina -- puzzling at best. At the end, Mike Trujillo asked, "You guys like that one?" and laughed. Maybe they thought it would be funny to cover the one hit by a now deservedly obscure band.
Toward the end, Oars played a new song called "Morning Coffee" that had a nice guitar bend in it and finished the set with "Stones & Sticks" where JP Manza set down his bass and took out an accordion for the first part of the song. Interestingly enough, as the song progressed to the end, the rapid guitar riffing and atmosphere sounded like a latter day Catherine Wheel song. Which is no bad thing.
Bias: Honestly, I didn't have a much of an impression of any of these bands before going into the show, beyond some hearsay and reading Kesley Whipple's article on The Say So but I respect anyone who gets on stage and performs like they actually took time to put something good together and in a manner that shows they're very into their material. None of these bands lacked in that aspect of things.
Random Detail: A woman yelled "Yeah! Party rockin'!" during The Say So's set. Apparently she was still recovering from the LMFAO show on Memorial Day at Red Rocks.
By the Way: It's nice to see three bands have a solid show on a Friday night without it being packed to capacity and where people are having fun and not being unmindful of others.
Slide show: The Say So at the hi-dive
Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.