On June 29, we'll present our 25th Westword Music Showcase. The event has grown dramatically since it was founded in 1995 with just a handful of bands playing around LoDo. In 2019, more than 75 local acts will fill venues throughout the Golden Triangle, while national headliners CHVRCHES, Jai Wolf, JAUZ, Bishop Briggs, Crooked Colours, lovelytheband, the Knocks, the Wrecks and SHAED will play the two main stages.
Many of the artists who have participated in the Showcase have gone on to worldwide success, while others continue to perform for loyal local audiences. And some have cashed in and left music altogether.
The Milk Blossoms rose from Denver's DIY music scene, pushing the boundaries of beatboxing, soul and songwriting to create a moody sound driven by poetic lyrics. The band, now in the Westword Music Showcase Hall of Fame, has garnered a strong fan base while remaining true to its independent roots. We caught up with the three musicians — Harmony Rose, Michell Rocqet and Blair Larson — to find out more about their memories of the Westword Music Showcase.
Westword: What memories and stories do you have of playing the Westword Music Showcase?
The Milk Blossoms: The first year we were invited to play at the Westword Music Showcase was back in 2016, and we actually didn’t end up playing it because that was the year when the power went out on two major blocks of Broadway. Our venue was on one of those blocks. It was a strange year. Michelle was sick and threw up in the parking lot beforehand and tripped while carrying her amp and hit her mouth on it pretty hard. They offered for us to play acoustically, but we weren’t really set up for it, so instead we found ourselves getting to chat with other bands and see some of them take to the streets. We probably will never forget witnessing the magic of the Denver music scene that day. Like when Wheelchair Sports Camp did their set out on the sidewalk with just a megaphone and trash can or when Jen Korte stood up on the bar with just her voice and her guitar. It just proved that DIY still runs this town.
In 2017, the showcase fell on Michelle’s birthday, and we got to play at the Church nightclub. Between the visual setting and that amazing sound system, it was a dream to be able to play that venue. Last year we got to play on the ground at 100% de Agave which is always such an engulfing way to connect to the audience. It makes you feel both invincible and so unguarded when people are that close while you’re performing. Every Showcase we’ve been a part of always has a unique sense of intimacy.
How has your own band evolved since playing Showcase?
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In the past few years, we’ve had big transformations that inspired our sophomore album, Dry Heave the Heavenly, which was released a year ago. We’ve grown out of some things and into other things. We’ve found a lot of self-assurance in that growth, because at one time festivals would incite nervousness in us, but now we’ve been able to really enjoy our time with each other on stage, filled with adoration for what we get to do together.
Denver’s music scene has changed a lot over the past 25 years. What are your thoughts on its evolution?
As the city changes rapidly, so does the music scene. Perhaps it’s because we’ve become more aware of its importance, but we’re very proud to have seen the larger community work for more inclusivity in who is represented. We think that’s essential to be mindful of as we approach the next 25 years.