Every year at the Westword Music Showcase, we enlist our army of Backbeat wordsmiths to host various stages. In addition to their emcee duties, we ask them to pull double duty by submitting a travelogue of their individual stage. Brad Lopez hosted the upstairs stage at City Hall this past Saturday. Keep reading for some of the highlights from that stage.
Noon is early for any concert, and Black Acid Devil's sludgy stoner rock matched the bleary attitudes of the most dedicated metalheads, those who will be here all day. Still, the band brought all its passion. Guitarist Arj Narayan kicked a can of beer off the stage, which landed harmlessly and spilled only on the hardwood floor. No shoes were soiled.
"I know this is a rock show, but let's keep it down, guys," Immortal Dominion frontman Brian Villers remarked to the humble crowd. The Fort Collins-based metal band has earned a loyal following, especially in northern Colorado, where it's been playing since 1993, but this was still early at City Hall, so no one really expected the place to be as packed as an Immortal Dominion show at, say, Hodi's Half Note or another Fort Collins venue.
The crowd was bigger by the time the Burial Plot took the stage. The Burial Plot, whose fast-paced hardcore sound is more suited to younger crowds than the bands that played before, reunited in 2012 and is preparing for its first tour since being back.
So much for any issues with a low turnout for the early sets. City Hall Upstairs was packed with a variety of music fans who came to witness the dual-drummer spectacle of Native Daughters and their brand of instrumental metal. And that was followed by Kitezh, a band that also incorporates the technicality of progressive metal. At the end of the thirty-minute set, one fan remarked, "What was that, three songs?"
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One noteworthy aspect of the bands on this stage is the fact that many artists were playing more than one set. Black Acid Devil and Il Cattivo share a guitar player, and IAMTHESHOTGUN's Alan Paredes also handles bass for Vale of Pnath, and In the Company of Serpents, meanwhile, was due to follow this afternoon's set with another one at the hi-dive. This Denver two-piece is fronted by Grant Netzorg, whose guitar is tuned so low that some in the crowd did not even notice the absence of a bass player.
Il Cattivo's take on hard rock and sludge was actually an upbeat change from the bands preceding them. They also incorporate some elements of hardcore, so their songs are all distinctly different from one-another. Crowd size was fairly consistent leading up to this point in the Showcase, though there had been different faces for almost every band.
IAMTHESHOTGUN was the first band to inspire a mosh pit at City Hall. A group of girls who were passing through were also swept into pit and stayed there through IAMTHESHOTGUN's entire set. A band downstairs was so loud that IAMTHESHOTGUN had to be even louder to compete, which is no problem for these Denver veterans.
If the members of Vale of Pnath were tired, you'd never know it. Although vocalist Stevie Bosier and guitarist Vance Valenzuela both played with their other project Dissonance in Design last night, and bass player Alan Paredes did not get a chance to leave after playing with IAMTHESHOTGUN in the last set, they all never missed a beat.
The metal-filled day ended appropriately with Vimana, a band that blends styles from every band that played before. Former Cephalic Carnage guitarist Zac Joe lends his signature death-grind style to one of Denver's biggest up-and-coming acts.
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