Scene One: Setting the Stage
All right, who wants to make out? No pushing. No shoving. Just take a number, form an orderly line, and let’s do this!
Welcome to the first installment of Mile High Makeout, a Westword Backbeat Online exclusive weekly column that lip-locks with anything and everything related – even tangentially – to our fair city’s fertile and feral music scene. Each Thursday, just as the pulp-and-ink version of the paper hits Denver’s dusty streets, I’ll submit – for your approval and contempt – fresh musings, questions, interviews and lies about the musical life of the Queen City of the Plains.
I’ve been writing about music in Denver for about seven years, and during that time – like most of the music writers in this town – I’ve not only developed knowledge and opinions about Mile High music, but have also built relationships with musicians, promoters, club owners, photographers, bartenders, scenesters, drunks, derelicts and diner waitresses – all of whom have something meaningful to say about what we lazily label, “the scene.” It is my hope that by sharing their insights and perspectives – peppered with my own slanderous and nefarious commentary – I’ll be able to inspire folks who aren’t aware to get out and feel the amazing energy of this little world, and to enrich the experience for those already involved with it.
Fair warning: this column will often be a big, wet, sloppy tongue, plunging deep down the throat of the Denver music scene – hence, the title. I honestly believe that what we have here is special and worthy of both attention and affection. I feel honored even to have the opportunity to observe, so I will unabashedly lavish praise on the musicians and other magicians that make my job so much fun.
On the other hand, as anyone who has read my recent live reviews will attest, I calls ’em like I sees ’em. That means if the bartender was rude – or remarkably polite – I’ll note it. If I see something that seems phony or lacking in integrity, I’ll question it. And if I don’t like the music your band plays, I’ll say so. Since this is bound to ruffle some feathers, let me just say a few things preemptively:
1. If you are making music to please critics, you have been tricked and your priorities are askew. Your job is to play music you believe in as if your life depended on it. It does. You won’t become artistically (or commercially) successful by winning over – or whining over – critics.
2. My opinion carries no more weight than yours. My criticism is not an indictment of anyone’s character, a fact of any kind, or even the truth. It’s just one aging, cranky hipster’s informed perspective.
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3. As a writer, I derive joy from stringing together abstract symbols in an attempt to say something meaningful, funny, inflammatory or beautiful. That means that function occasionally takes a backseat to form.
Finally, for the three of you who have read all the way through to this point, thank you. I’m humbled and delighted to have this opportunity to pay tribute to a phenomenal city and its lusty music scene, and I have you to thank for it. Please give me your feedback and tell your friends about this little column.
Next week, I’ll share my experiences with Skrewdriver, skinheads and shopping.
-- Eryc Eyl