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 it in and left music altogether.
DeVotchKa, one of Denver's most celebrated bands, has been playing music since the late ’90s and broke out nationally after being tapped to score the film Little Miss Sunshine. DeVotchKa has collaborated with the Colorado Symphony, and its music has appeared in numerous film and television programs. This year, the group released This Night Falls Forever. But back before all the accolades, DeVotchKa found early recognition through Westword and the Music Showcase. Nick Urata, the band's lead singer, remembers those times well.
Westword: What memories and stories do you have of playing the Westword Music Showcase?
Nick Urata: Man, that was a romantic time in our lives. We had just released our first album on an obscure Russian label. No one knew who we were, but Westword gave us our first good review and a Showcase spot at the Soiled Dove. We were on cloud nine, but Mother Nature had different plans for that night.
I remember the sky over LoDo turning a weird shade of sea green and tornado-force winds battering the Westword banner that flew over the stage. The bands scheduled outside were forced to play inside, and we didn't go on ’til 1 a.m. In the end, we only got to play a few songs for an empty room, but I am still touched remembering that the Westword staff all stayed until closing time and cheered us on.
How has your own band evolved since playing Showcase?
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A lot has happened since that stormy night. As luck would have it, we found an audience and were able to travel the world. We were always hyper-focused on our live show and never turned down a gig. All those years of struggle, playing hostile bars in far away towns, paid off. Somewhere along the line, we graduated from geeks with ruffled shirts and stage fright to a band that could hold its own at Glastonbury.
Denver's music scene has changed a lot over the past 25 years. What are your thoughts on its evolution?
I think it's something we should all be very proud of. We've got a diverse and transient population always bringing new sounds, very supportive radio and press, and a multitude of great dives for bands to cut their teeth. The community and cross-pollinating nature of the artists here is very inspiring and has produced some world-class music. I'm constantly finding new bands to fall in love with.
The 25th Westword Music Showcase will sound off in the Golden Triangle on Saturday, June 29. Get your tickets and more details now at westwordshowcase.com.