The 21st Westword Music Showcase in 21 Words or Fewer: Part One

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Over 100 of the best Colorado bands and artists (plus a few notable out-of-towners) crowded onto fifteen stages in the Golden Triangle on June 20 for the 21st Westword Music Showcase: our annual celebration of Denver's music scene. To mark the occasion of our festival reaching drinking age, we asked our keen-eyed music writers to describe a few of their favorite sets in 21 words or fewer. Up first: Some thoughts on the action at venues including City Hall, Broadways, La Rumba, Dazzle and more. 

You'll find additional coverage of the Showcase in this space over the coming days, and be sure to keep an eye out for our comprehensive photo collections. 


Instant Empire

made its fairly complex musical ideas and heady lyrics seem informal and raw, even at noon.

-Tom Murphy

Native Daughters employed a gratuitous amount of drummers (two), like a synchronized demolition crew toward total crowd annihilation,
-Jef Otte

Reminiscent of early Stones Throw projects, Big J. Beats brought chill, late night sounds to a room filled with midday sunlight.
The Gin Doctors made full-grown adults lose their minds and sing along to a Backstreet Boys cover.
-Isa Jones

Surprisingly tuneful, grunge-y pop-punk from the Vanilla Milkshakes made the set one of the highlights of the day.

Dave Devine’s coolly instrumental Moog-music carved deep grooves. Pinback tribute to Rush, or vice versa?
Is waking up scared but alive on a fog-soaked coast too obvious a metaphor for A Shoreline Dream? Well, OK.

Soul as fetid as sex in a car, delivered with a wink – plus rapping. Nevertheless, Kitty Crimes was dead serious.

An unassuming force of songwriting, Patrick Dethlefs floors you with just simples words and an acoustic guitar.
Steel guitar tears poured from Andy Hamilton and the Whiskey Hitchers through a studio-tight set that would’ve done Mearle proud.

J'adore: Is it four in the morning or four in the afternoon? Am I in a house club in Belgium? I'm not sure.
-Alison Uralli

The Photo Atlas shredded through dance-rock angles and heedless jangles from easily the most wantonly played tambourine of the day.

The Dirty Femmes' vigorous Violent Femmes covers took the crowd down memory lane with bonus (kind of) star-studded guest appearances.

SpydaT.E.K: "Wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist, wrist."
Future Single Mom’s blistering brat-punk supplied a timeless message from the golden age of hardcore: fuck you, mom and dad.

Ian Cooke’s captivating solo set included some older songs and two songs about dinosaurs, which is the theme of his new album.
-Jon Solomon

Wiredogs kicked out a gritty, fast and fierce set that was vigorous and unrelenting from start to finish.

Rubedo destroyed any boundary between audience and performer by placing the guitar on the ground and letting the crowd kick, hit and play it.

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