Every year, for the Westword Music Showcase, we enlist our army of Backbeat wordsmiths to write up the acts that appear on the individual stages across the Golden Triangle. Jon Solomon was at the Bannock Street Garage stage, which was graciously hosted by Jim Norris. Page down to read his thoughts and see some photos.
With two of his King Rat bandmates on a road trip to the Grand Canyon, frontman Luke Schmaltz opened the day with a solo acoustic set, which was mainly made up of songs that were King Rat rejects. Wearing a Denver Joe T-shirt and playing to about forty people, Schmaltz's noontime set was an ideal way to ease into a long day of punk bands at Bannock Street Garage. Schmaltz dedicated a tune to his fiancée and said, "She's probably drooling on a pillow somewhere. I hope it's the one in our bedroom." Near the end of his set, he sang a tune about how all his friends are musicians, with a line about a friend of his that tried to turn him on to electronica and he kicked his ass.
Citizen was up next and launched into a heavy set with the frontman screaming his ass off. Dude was seriously belting so hard he sounded like he could have ripped a vocal on nearly every song. At one point early in the band's set, four dolled-up sorority-looking gals looked a bit freighted by it all as they walked by the stage to the front of the bar, where it was slightly less noisy. The band motored through a solid set with a crunchy drop-D tune near the end that started out slow and then shifted to a faster pace.
By the time Elway took the stage, the middle section of the bar was almost packed, and singer and guitarist Tom Browne urged the crowd to move right up near the small stage. The quartet came out of the gate strong with a revved-up set of punk soaked in a bit of pop, dropping in some great harmonies and the occasional Husker Du reference at times. Browne said the band was releasing a new EP next month, and the band delved into two songs from the disc. Browne also mentioned the band was about to go on tour to Canada, the West Coast and Europe.
While Pitch Invasion singer Jim Yelenick claimed he had bit of hangover, it didn't stop him and the rest of the five-piece from digging into a solid set of old-school-inspired punk. Playing to a packed room, Pitch Invasion ran though an aggressive set that pulled from the band's album, Live to Regret, including "Suburban Lies," "Blackout" and the hilarious "Peeping Tom." The band also blasted through a track from the forthcoming Mile High Low Lifes Volume II compilation, which will be released next month, that also includes Allout Helter, Chingaso, the A-Oks, Hawk Attack and more.
While a lot of the punk bands that played yesterday afternoon had some energetic singers, RED STiNGER's frontman, Tim Stinger, pulled some crazy shit like crawling behind a speaker and hopping on an amp and started to grab onto a beam above him. It looked like the guy, who admitted early in the set that he was a bit sauced, was going to take a serious fall any minute. Stinger's acrobatics and shenanigans fueled the band, which delivered one of the more rowdy sets of the day.
While Pitch Invasion and RED STiNGER both ran through some heavy and lively sets, Frontside Five kept the energy surging in the mid-afternoon, even though it was hot as hell in the bar by then. As the band's name suggests, Frontside Five knows a thing or two about skate punk and proved it with a muscular set that included tracks like "Visions of Glory" and "Thrasher." The outfit also dedicated a tune to the Denver skate punks in the house.
Sure, there was some fast punk at Bannock Street Garage throughout the day, but Dead Ringer really brought it hard, fast and furious. Taking a few cues from the old-school punk of the Ramones and the Descendants, as well as newer acts like Rise Against, Dead Ringer dug into one of the more vigorous sets of the day, plowing through pop-punk tunes, some doused in metal at times, as well.
Boldtype was on par with Dead Ringer with the hard and fast punk, punching through a thoroughly explosive set. While hundreds of people filtered through the bar over the course of the day, Boldype seems to have had the biggest draw, with wall-to-wall people in both the room where the stage was and in the front room. As more people filled the place, the temperature seemed to rise about ten degrees as well. While a ton of people were sporting tattoos throughout the day, there might have been the biggest concentration of tats during the band's set.
Eleven years together, Synthetic Elements has established itself as one of the area's finest ska-punk acts. Opening with an energized take on "Amazing Grace" with horns, the five-piece ran though one of the more fun sets of the afternoon, that included a song about zombies, a rowdy take on "Evelene (Pirate Song)." Closing out the set with "Life Will Fade Away," the group never let the energy drop. An eager and sweaty crowd ate up pretty much everything the band threw at them.
Bannock Street Garage seemed like it was close to capacity by the time Reno Divorce took the stage. The band ran through a few bars of Link Wray's "Rumble" before launching into some hard and fast punk. Frontman Brent Loveday mentioned that Reno Divorce formed eleven years ago, when George W. Bush was in office and then tore through "World War III." After blistering takes on "Has it Been Long Enough" and "I Gotta Rep to Protect," the band ripped into "All Show, No Go" and guitarist Tye Battistella was hoisted up above the crowd. Near the end of the set, Reno Divorce dug into a righteous take on Motorhead's "Ace of Spades" and then segued into a few more bars of "Rumble" before riding the set out with a few more cuts.
-- Jon Solomon
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