Welcome to the seventeenth annual Westword Music Showcase. Seventeen years! On the one hand, that's a long freaking time — a lifetime, in fact, for some of our performers. The members of Sauna, for example: They were born the same year that Westword launched this event: 1994. (Yeah — let that sink in for a moment.)
But on the other hand, seventeen is an enviable age. Ask Winger. And like those precocious kids in Sauna, the Showcase is still young and good-looking, as the Dwarves would say, old enough to know right from wrong but too young to say "no" — and young enough to raise some hell without it going on your permanent record.
On Saturday, June 18, we'll be raising a lot of hell, essentially throwing a big-ass kegger in the back yard — the Golden Triangle, where the Westword office is located — and inviting our friends and our favorite bands to throw down at the Westword Music Showcase. Hands down, this is one of the values of the summer — seriously, each of the national acts on the main stage (read about them on page 68) is more than worth the price of the ticket — with performances by more than a hundred of the town's best local acts, culled from this year's Westword Music Showcase ballot (which you'll find on page 48) and playing on fifteen stages in the neighborhood.
To help you get to know this year's performers a little better, we asked each of the featured bands to tell you everything you need to know about them in 100 words or less. Read what they have to say, in their own words, and then check them out this Saturday.
But first, get your tickets. They're $30 the day of the Showcase — and that's assuming there are any tickets left (last year's sold out). And be sure to stop by Backbeatblog.com for a more thorough rundown and download free music from the performers.
See you at the Showcase!
— Dave Herrera
A. Tom Collins
Nominated in Singer-Songwriter
6:00-6:30 Curious Theatre
Before you ask, the answer is "yes": a. Tom Collins is the great-great-grandson of Tom Collins, creator of the eponymous gin cocktail. Other notable relations, near and distant, include British monarch Anne Boleyn, second man on the moon Buzz Aldrin, fictional detective Hercule Poirot, and saxophonist Clarence Clemons. But here we are, in the present moment, the only time that actually exists — according to Zen Buddhism (and the Stooges) — and a. Tom Collins walks among us, taking note of the wilderness of horrors and occasional blips of joy that are this waking life and turning them into boozy, moody, stomp-and-wrangle-worthy anthems of the times. With inexhaustible insight and a smoky voice, Collins slithers, smooths and seduces his notes into your skull and soul, lilting and tilting the moments between awareness and suffering, the hot-potato game of tragic flaws, leaning on and propping up love, alternately.
Nominated in Jazz
Aakash Mittal is emerging as a fresh voice in the creative music scene. His latest self-released album, Videsh, has been hailed as "point[ing] toward new possibilities in improvised music." This stems from his approach to composition and improvisation, where Mittal is not held back by specific genres but draws inspiration from an eclectic mix of modern jazz, rock, Indian raga music and field samples of our modern world to tell a story of the human experience. As a composer, Mittal has written extensively for jazz quartet and was commissioned to write "Urban Raga" for the Playground Ensemble. Mittal has self-released two recordings, Possible Beginnings and Videsh, to rave reviews (aakashmittal.com).
Nominated in Post-Punk
1:30-2:00 Bar Standard
Our live show is tossed up in a way that would appeal to anyone out there thinking they could do the same thing if they had enough time to ever get around to it. We follow three rules: First, a lack of proficiency on our chosen instruments — this allows a more unique style to emerge. Second, a definite omission of melody. And third, a demeanor of abandon, a reckless execution mixed with an offhand delivery with hard-to-hear wordplay.
Nominated in Rock — Indie
3:45-4:15 Curious Theatre
What should Denver know about Achille Lauro? We love you. All of you. Even the ugly parts.
Nominated in Metal
3:00-3:30 Rockstar Lounge
The Denver duo enlarges its innovative experimental doom-metal sound on its latest release, Felo De Se (June 2010 on Cavity Records). Adai is massive both on stage and record. Felo De Se was recorded by Matt Talbott of Hum and mixed by Kurt Ballou of Converge, and not surprisingly, Adai achieves an astounding amount of color (instead of just going for "dark") while keeping it crushingly heavy. The two friends that comprise the band, Justin Trujillo (drums, samples) and Devin Mendoza (guitars, vox, amps) are hard-working, diligent, focused, and they clearly love what they do.