Two Cow Garage at 3 Kings Tavern

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Two Cow Garage w/Colder Than Fargo, Raleigh, Six Months to Live and Jon Snodgrass
Friday, February 20th, 2009
3 Kings Tavern, Denver
Better Than:
A five band bill has any right to be.

Colder Than Fargo opened this show on a snowy, icy night with its brand of warm, sentimentally-tinged music, part Americana, part experimental rock and part power pop. The set was a little loose and yet I'm not sure I've seen the band play with such ease and confidence. On this night, the outfit displayed a strong talent for setting a mood as well as building to electrifying and emotionally sweeping passages of song rife with imagery pulled straight from the people and places around us.

Raleigh hasn't played in a while, and this line-up looked all new except for the singer/bass player. This band was always good, but for this show it seemed as though that instead of frustrated emotions and desperation being an aspect of the music, it was plugged directly into it, and the result was a shockingly powerful reinvention of the band, including great new versions of "Hollywood, Florida" and "Come Back."

Six Months to Live used to make me think, "If only!" because the last time I saw them they were probably the worst band I'd seen in a long time. Fortunately, this act has evolved into a solid power pop group with a refreshingly playful and energetic stage presence. Sure, there was a bit of that '70s rock thing in the sound, but think the Raspberries and not Led Zeppelin. Six Months closed its set with a killer cover of "Starman" by David Bowie.

I can't lie and say I've ever been a fan of Drag the River. But one thing about that band that cannot be denied is Jon Snodgrass's earnestly great voice. On this night, although he performed alone with just an acoustic guitar, his charisma and clear confidence on stage made supporting players irrelevant. He played almost entirely requests from the audience who returned the favor by singing along and the set included classics like "Graces" and a rare live performance of "Jessica's Suicide."

After his set was over, Snodgrass stayed on stage where he was joined by Two Cow Garage for the first two song of that band's set including an incredibly spot on, raucous, worthy-of-the-original-band cover of "Can't Hardly Wait" by the Replacements. Snodgrass and the guys in Two Cow Garage jumped into the song and it felt like what I imagined what it must have been like to see the Replacements in their heyday.

After Snodgrass left the stage for the first time, the three members of Two Cow Garage laid down one great, country-flavored rock and roll song after another. This was not a show for contemplative music and yet each song seemed to have devastatingly thoughtful lyrics. Two Cow Garage is not a punk rock band but the band laid into the music as though it was. Even as the set crossed the 1:30 a.m. mark, the audience demanded and got an encore that concluded with Snodgrass joining the band on stage for a soulful cover of "I Shall Be Released" by Bob Dylan done in the style of Procul Harum.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I'm a longtime Colder Than Fargo fan and a recent convert to Two Cow Garage.
Random Detail: Ethan from Blue Million Miles paid my cover even though I was pretty much on the guest list. Never hurts for the bands to get some more money, right?
By the Way: Suburban Home Records put out the latest Two Cow Garage record, Speaking in Cursive.

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