Category Archives: Concerts

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks 7/31/18, Denver

Live at the Gothic Theater – and the drums were a-drummin’…

PHOTOS AND TEXT BY BEN CURNETT

Jake Morris is really, really great at drums.

That’s where a rundown of the recent Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks show at the Gothic Theatre in Denver needs to start. Of course, the band was fun and energetic. The sound was perfect. The song selection was great for die hards and casual fans alike. Joanna Bolme hit deep dark brown notes and did a dead-on impression of Kim Gordon on “Refute.” Mike Clark filled the room with keyboards and guitars. The Malk (I’m not really a nickname guy, but that’s what I’m going with now) was the perfect song and dance man as per usual.

But the drums. The drums were something else. You get that to greater or lesser extents on the SM & t Jx studio albums, even before Morris, and the new release that this tour is supporting, Sparkle Hard, is no exception. Morris was an absolute highlight of the show; he played nothing short of perfect rock drums, a completely next-level performance. The spaces Morris left between beats were as musical and deliberate the beats themselves. His fills were graceful/drunk Dean Martin tumbles into steady but loping time signatures (“Stick Figures In Love,” “Bretheren”). His driving rhythm on longer, ramblier ventures (“Kite,” “Real Emotional Trash”) were riddled with all kinds of subtle flourishes that sprung up everywhere. On stage with a group of very talented musicians, Morris pushed the band higher and farther than their individual art would allow. He was a gift.

Live, the Jicks just get better. Four years is a long time, but 2014’s Wig out at Jagbags (and really, most everything under the SM moniker) bears repeated listening, so at least fans have had that. The live show, though, is what’s really been missing. The Malk (!) doesn’t shy away from his Grateful Dead influences, and it’s easiest/most enjoyable to see and hear on stage. “Middle America” from the new album came about halfway through the set and is the Jerry-est thing they’ve done since “Cinnamon And Lesbians” which they played a few songs earlier. Not to put too fine a point on it, they broke into a “China Cat Sunflower” teaser in the middle of “Shady Lane” during the encore, just in case you weren’t getting the vibe.

The other Pavement tune, “In The Mouth A Desert” closed the show, and was a crowd-pleaser, natch. The woman next to me almost threw herself off the balcony. But are those songs The Malk’s albatross? I hope not. Like everyone else, I love hearing them. Seeing them played live definitely takes me back, which is pretty great in its own right. At the same time, I’d be happy enough if he never played any of them again. It’s hard to remember sometimes, but SM & t Jx have been together for nearly twice as long as The Malk’s other band. It’s entirely its own thing, sans-nostalgia. To me, at this point in my life, that’s miles better, and that’s why I loved the show so much.

Put another way, I count myself lucky to have seen Pavement in Denver during the ‘90s; but I count myself much luckier to have seen Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks at the Gothic last Tuesday.

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SET LIST: https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/stephen-malkmus-and-the-jicks/2018/gothic-theatre-englewood-co-63eb0217.html

Lithics 7/26/18, Denver

Dates: July 26, 2018

Location: Lost Lake Lounge , Denver CO

Live at Lost Lake Lounge one fine Denver evening…

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY BEN CURNETT

“Hypnotic” is the best way to describe Lithics front woman Aubrey Hornor at their recent live show at Denver’s Lost Lake. Not hypnotizing. Hypnotic, as in: she was in a trance, letting the music and lyrics convey all the night’s emotion (or non-emotion, as the case may be). It’s a strategy that works. Along with the dense, dexterous rhythm from bassist Bob Desaulniers and drummer Wiley Hickson and the persistent jangling noise from lead guitarist Mason Crumley, I imagined the show as a four-way boxing match. Each musician was in their respective corner, throwing their own version of sweet science out in the middle of the ring to dance awkwardly with its sparring partners.

The result was an FAQ of definitive punk elements coming together to make thought provoking rock that will immediately bring to mind your favorite parts and pieces of Devo, Bush Tetras, and The Fall. Lithics include more of one particular musical component than their influences: space. There was a lot of silence amid the sound in each of the 12 songs that were on the set list, some deliberately so (Still Forms, Burn On Burn) with others more subtle (Specs, Thing In Your Eye). That feeling is created by a few different Lithics touchstones. For instance, there’s no distortion or effects, for the most part. You get what you get. Also, there are lots and lots and lots of truncated notes, especially from the bass, that stop almost as soon as they start. Even when there’s not actual silence in a song, Lithics open up their music for the audience to insert themselves into. The rhythm guitar stops long enough for the bass notes to take over on Glass Of Water, for instance, before launching into the staccato punctuation of the verse’s coda. The drums fall over themselves, tumbling down over the guitars, and then jump back up into lockstep progressions.

Lithics music on stage is very true to form of their records, with the same clean tone they have in the studio. The stage just adds one more piece to a jangled, sometimes confusing puzzle that will one day explain why Lithics are so, so good.

Lithics newest release is Mating Surfaces out now on Kill Rock Stars.

 

Parker Millsap – 6/21/18, Philadelphia

Dates: June 21, 2018

Location: Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia PA

Johnny Brenda’s was the place, and the Okie rocker was an ace! (Above photo from Millsap’s Facebook page, where you can find tour dates and more, natch.)

BY JOHN B. MOORE

The draw of Oklahoma native Parker Millsap is wildly diverse. Proof of that could be seen at a recent show at Johnny Brenda’s, a mix of college students, 30-and-40-somethings and a slew of gray-headed music fans on the other side of 60. It’s hard to imagine many other 20-ish musicians that could draw such an eclectic audience on a Thursday night.

But much like his crowd, Millsap and his band play an equally diverse brand of music that draws from Americana, Blues, Alt Country, Folk and straight-ahead Rock. Over the course of the night, they dipped effortlessly in and out of songs from Millsap’s three-album catalogue for a remarkable enjoyable set.

With Millsap’s voice a little raspy, a month into this latest tour promoting Other Arrangements, he bounded onto the stage and asked, “Want to make some noise?” From that moment on, Millsap had the crowd on his side, starting off with a trio of songs from his newest record (“Fine Line,” “Other Arrangements” and “Your Water”).

Halfway into the set, his bandmates – fiddle player, drummer and bassist – all left the stage. Millsap was joined by his opener Jillette Johnson for a duet the two co-wrote, “Come Back When You Can’t Stay,” a sublimely heartbreaking track off of Other Arrangements. Once again alone on the stage, Millsap played a few songs on his own before the band rejoined.

Throughout the night, Millsap was charming, self-effacing (at one point joking that his sweat was washing all of the product out of his hair) as he and his bandmates roared through a stellar 20-plus song set, including an inspired cover of the “Hesitation Blues,” that put the bar remarkably high for any other bands those in attendance were set to see in the coming year.

Read John Moore’s 2016 interview with Parker Millsap HERE.

The English Beat 7/15/18, Englewood, CO

Dates: July 15, 2018

Location: Gothic Theatre, Englewood, CO

Live at the Gothic Theatre, where you better have a valid ID to get in….

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY TIM HINELY

I’ve been a fan of The English Beat since I first heard the band’s records back in the early ‘80s. They had played a 21 and over club outside of Philly when I was underage and had a crappy fake ID that I didn’t think was gonna work, so I missed them.  Fast forward nearly 30 years and it wasn’t until 2011 when I finally caught the band in Portland, Oregon on a great evening.

These days it’s leader Dave Wakeling and a whole new cast of players different from the old days—the original band broke up back in the ‘80s—but honestly, if you close your eyes it sounds like the English Beat of old. Not only that, but the band has  new record out entitled Here We Go Love, the bands’ first since 1982’s Special Beat Service, and it’s a real strong collection of songs.

We missed opener King Schascha (who’s one of the members of Wakeling’s band and who loves to talk, I get it, he’s a toaster but come on, it’s Wakeling’s show ), but got there in time to push our way to the front of the nearly sold-out club. Wakeling sang and played guitar, and had a full band with a bassist, drummer, two keyboardists, a sax player and a woman singing backing vocals and two toasters. These folks are road dogs who are always out playing gigs and know what they’re doing.

They opened up with “Rough Rider” and continued to play some of their early ‘80s classics, including “Twist and Crawl,” “Hands Off…She’s Mine,” “Save Ir For Later,” “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Ranking Full Stop” and they even pulled out the old General Public chestnut, “Tenderness” which sounded fabulous; unfortunately no “I Confess” but hey, you can’t have everything, right?  Off the new record we heard “The Love You Give” and (the politically charged?) “How Can You Stand There.” No encore, but we didn’t need any, the band played their asses off.

Despite King Schascha taking center stage much of the time, the band was really enjoyable and what I get from Wakeling is that the guy still seems to truly enjoy what he is doing. Imagine that. The guy just has this infectious energy about him and it comes out in his music and when he chats with the crowd. They tour all of the time so if you’ve never seen them before plan on it next time. You’ll get your money’s worth.

 

 

 

Car Seat Headrest + Naked Giants 7/28/18 Englewood, CO

Dates: July 28, 2018

Location: Gothic Theatre, Englewood, CO

Live at the Gothic Theatre and nearly ready to take over the world.  

BY TIM HINELY

I had missed Car Seat Headrest the two previous times they came to town—at least the times I was aware of—and did not want to miss him this time. Assured myself I’d be there and I made it; an Uber driver refused me so I threatened my 86 year old neighbor into driving me down.

Opener Naked Giants are a trio from Seattle who are a lot of fun and also act as part of Car Seat Headrest’s (aka Will Toledo) backing band. These guys had a ton of energy and could play the hell out of their instruments; as one point my pal turned to me and said that their last song “sounded like it combined three different Pixies songs.” The guitarist/vocalist looks like he could’ve been a member of the Surf Punks, while the drummer was completely dialed in, and the bassist/vocalist was the chatty one, welcoming the crowd, calling a few knuckleheads out, and generally having a good time and making sure we were fully entertained. We were. They played a handful of songs off their latest LP, Sluff (New West Records), including the title track and “TV” among others. Catch ‘em next time they’re in town.

Will Toledo and company hit the stage at 10:15 PM and there were seven folks on stage, Count ‘em, 7. In addition to the three Naked Giants, he had another guitar player, a keyboardist, and a second drummer; Toledo just handled vocals. With all of the positive press these past few years, Toledo’s confidence has likely grown by leaps and bounds from when he first appeared on the scene. On stage, from his moves, he comes across as part Nick Cave and part long-distance runner

They played a good mix of tunes off their records, including concert opener “Cosmic Hero” right into “Cute Thing” right into “War is Coming (if you want it).” A little later in the set the tossed out a medley of “Sober to Death”/”Powderfinger”/”Don’t You Worry ‘bout a Thing” (I heard the “Powderfinger” part and went a little nuts… love that Neil Young song).

They ended the set with the jittery, soaring “Nervous Young-Inhumans’” and then came out for one encore, playing the over-10-minutes-long, epic “Beach Life-in-Death” (off 2011’s Twin Fantasy) and called it a night.

The crowd loves this band. The fan base is dedicated, and with good reason: The songs are strong, and Toledo is basically one of them. I like ‘em a lot more than I thought I would, and really my only beef at all was the semi-obnoxious strobe light show. Retrain the lighting guy, hire Toledo a personal trainer to stretch (pretty soon he’ll have the Bob Pollard high kicks down pat), and this band will be ready to take over the world.

 

 

 

 

Tops in Waikiki: The Rock-a-Hula Extravaganza

Aloha From Hawaii! BLURT’s Travel Desk Editor heads to Waikiki for plenty of surf ‘n’ turf ‘n’ The King… (photos follow the story – Hashtag: #Elvis). Incidentally, Ms. Gaar has written previously about Hawaii – and Hawaii-related Elvis matters – for the magazine. Check out “Waikiki After Dark” and “Dancing Barefoot: The Great Waikiki Mai Tai Taste Off,” should you dare.

BY GILLIAN G. GAAR

I’ve been a fan of the Rock-a-Hula show in Waikiki since it opened seven years ago, and have seen it in its various incarnations. Initially, this tribute artist show (created by Legends in Concert Las Vegas) simply presented sets by four different impersonators. In 2014, the show boosted the Hawaiian quotient, and made it a more lavish production, with multi-screen projections, decorative sets, and dancers. They’ve recently given the show another facelift, cutting back on the tribute artists, and adding even more of that Hawaiian spirit.

I was offered the opportunity to check out the show again, choosing whatever package I wanted. I eagerly accepted, choosing the top package, the Green Room “Ultimate Experience.”

This is the package to choose if you want to go all out, and get the very best seats in the house (there are also cheaper options; I’ll get to those later). The Green Room package spares no attention to detail from the moment you check in, when you’re given a backstage pass to wear around your neck. Green Room attendees are welcomed into the Royal Hawaiian Theater before anyone else, escorted down the red carpet while hula dancers perform. You’re taken to — where else? — the Green Room, where you’re greeted by one of the evening’s tribute artists (the night I attended, it was Michael Jackson), who poses for a picture with you (a free print is included in the package). The Green Room is supposed to be an homage to the tropical themed “Jungle Room” at Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion, which, well, wasn’t green. Never mind. There are glasses of sparkling wine awaiting you, along with hors d’oeuvres. Get snacking!

You’re then taken on a backstage tour, getting an idea of what the dancers deal with when they have to race through the small corridors between numbers. We were allowed to try on the Tahitian headdresses the dancers wear (very heavy!), and you get to pose on stage with the huge Taiko drum. Next, you arrive at your stageside table, where you’re served a four-course meal, including beef tenderloin and wild Alaskan salmon and Maine lobster with your salad. Two free drinks as well. Everything was delicious. And now, on with the show….

Rock-a-Hula is a multi-media production; there are screens on both sides of the stage, and one at the rear. It’s also very much a live show; the band is placed right on stage, and none of the performers are lip-syncing. One fun element is how the film footage is used to underscore the live action on stage. The show opens with footage of the SS Lurline arriving in Honolulu, illustrating how most tourists visited the island before air travel took off. Then a large prop ship comes out on stage and the dancers re-create the kind of pier-side hula that greeted the new arrivals; a surfer even hangs from the ceiling, in a Cirque du Soleil touch. A panorama of images on the screens highlight Hawaiian legends of the past, like singer Alfred Apaka (some explanatory text on these pictures would be useful for those who might not immediately recognize the performers).

It all builds to the arrival of the first tribute artist to appear, Elvis Presley. The King is played by Rock-a-Hula veteran Johnny Fortuno, who handles the ’60s and ’70s Elvis eras with ease, starting out in the outfit Elvis wore while performing “Rock-a-Hula” in his first Hawaiian film, Blue Hawaii, then graduating to a jumpsuit, for his homage to Elvis’ 1973 Aloha From Hawaii satellite broadcast. Among the well-known stuff (“Hound Dog,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love”), there’s also a rarity; “Slicin’ Sand,” from Blue Hawaii, a song I don’t believe I’ve ever heard an Elvis tribute artist perform. Fortuno also gets up close and personal with audience, passing out scarves, kisses, and handshakes to the faithful during “Suspicious Minds.”

Michael Jackson (as performed by Jason Jarrett) is the only other tribute artist featured in the show. Aside from a quick nod to his Jackson 5 past (“I Want You Back”), it’s mostly the latter day Jackson that’s on display: “Shake Your Body,” “Thriller,” “Billie Jean” (complete with moonwalking). It’s a set that’s as heavy on dancing as it is on singing, and Jarrett has the moves down.

Though the show has no underlying narrative, there is an unifying theme; Rock-a-Hula is meant to take you on a “Hawaiian Journey,” the idea of a trip being referenced from that first footage of the SS Lurline. There are more dance numbers, with the energetic troupe performing to a medley of surf tunes, as well as traditional Hawaiian dancing (the Tahitian dancing is especially thrilling). The fire knife dancing is another highlight. No, it’s not a knife; think of it as a torch, or a baton, lit at one or both ends, and then vigorously spun around.

Also new to the show are spots for a local singer (who will rotate; Hirie was the performer when I attended). Hirie was featured in the show’s opening, and throughout the rest of the performance; in one moving sequence, when footage of Hawaiian legend Israel Kamakawiwoʻole was shown while his medley of “Over the Rainbow”/“What a Wonderful World” was played, the song segued into Hirie performing the final verse live. The show comes to a heartwarming conclusion with the entire cast on stage, leading everyone through the chorus of “Aloha ‘Oe,” written by Queen Lili‘uokalani (Hawaii’s last ruler). Afterwards, everyone’s welcome to meet the cast in the lobby, where they happily pose for photos and sign autographs.

 It’s a lively and engaging show, and making it more of a theatrical production than it was in its original incarnation has definitely made it more exciting. But in this latest iteration, I felt the tribute artists were a bit short-changed, with their spots cut back to allow for more dancing and the local singer.

Elvis in particular I felt was underused. If you want to make the show more Hawaiian-flavored, why not draw on more of the songs he performed in his other Hawaiian films (Girls! Girls! Girls! and Paradise, Hawaiian Style)? Including Hawaiian-born songwriter Kui Lee’s “I’ll Remember You” would also be a good touch during the “Aloha From Hawaii” sequence (the concert was a benefit for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund). It felt like Elvis was in and out too quickly. And while I enjoyed Hirie, since she wasn’t playing a character herself, it made the show feel like a bit of a mish-mash. Is it a tribute artist show? Or a Hawaiian production where Elvis and Michael Jackson drop in for a couple of numbers?

It’s still a show I highly recommend. It’s just too much fun to pass up. And there’s so much going on, you can’t properly take it all in, in one viewing. That’s why I look forward to seeing Rock-a-Hula again.

Now, about those other ticket packages. The theater seats 750, with most seats in the upper auditorium (which they call the mezzanine), and Green Room and Stageside VIP packages seated at tables down front. The cheapest package is the Rockin’ Show ($69 adult/$41 child) which gets you a seat in the rear part of the mezzanine. I’ve sat in a variety of places in this venue and the view is good wherever you sit. But of course it’s more exciting to get as close as you can to the performers, so if you don’t want to do one of the deluxe packages, I recommend the Luau package ($109 adult/$66 child), which, you’ve guessed it, includes a very tasty luau buffet, with all the luau staples (roast pig, hulihuli chicken, lomilomi salmon), a mai tai, and better seating in the mezzanine. The Stageside VIP ($149 adult/$89 child) includes a reception before you’re seated at your not-quite-as-good-as-the-Green-Room-seating-but-still-pretty-good table, where you’re served the same dinner as the Green Room package, and you get two free drinks. The Green Room package isn’t that much more ($185 adult/$111 child), and consider that you also get an extra drink (that glass of sparkling wine in the Green Room itself) and a free souvenir photo (which otherwise costs $25). Depending on your budget, it might be worth the upgrade.

Tip: Be sure and take some time to explore the lobby, which features various rock memorabilia. There’s also a bar, and you’re allowed to take drinks into the auditorium. Want a scarf from Elvis? The stageside seating, or the front row and aisle seats of the mezzanine, give you the best chance.

***

 Jumpsuit Elvis (Johnny Fortuno) sends you plenty of Alooooooha!

The ever-energetic dance troupe of Rock-a-Hula

All hail the awesome fire knife dancer!

The swanky Green Room. Sparkling wine and snacks to spare.

Local non-character performers are now part of the Rock-a-Hula show. Pop-reggae artist Hirie was one of the rotating performers.

Jason Jerrett cops all the right moves as Michael Jackson.

Can you feel it? Michael Jackson (Jason Jerrett) gets it on with a Rock-a-Hula dancer.

Maine lobster, flown all the way to Waikiki — just for you.

Your humble correspondent and Johnny Fortuno, après the show.

Johnny Fortuno in action as the Blue Hawaii-era Elvis.

2018 Montreal International Jazz Festival 6/28/18-7/7/18

Dates: June 28 - July 7, 2018

Location: Montreal, Canada

Hot Fun in the Summertime: The Montreal Jazz Festival Burns Away the Bluster

BY ALISA CHERRY

As the namesake city of the internationally renowned jazz festival it’s hosted for the past 39 years, Montreal is a cool, cool city. However this year it was hot, very hot in fact. And that has nothing to do with the hot acts… or, for the matter, the cool performances either. With temperatures approaching the mid-90s, and the stifling conditions that made even brief walks between venues a daunting challenge in itself, this year’s Montreal Jazz Festival which took place June 28 to July 7 was not without some tedium due to its temperatures. (Go HERE for our  2017 coverage.)

Nevertheless, those who attended either the free outdoor performances, the dozens of ticketed events or a bit of both, mostly agreed it was worth dealing with the heat at least for the sake of witnessing some amazing music. And indeed, with choices between dozens of world class artists, both known and occasionally obscure, the 2018 Montreal Jazz Festival proved yet again how all-inclusive it is when it comes to its musical offerings. As anyone who has attended the fest over the course of the past several years will attest — its handle aside — The Montreal Jazz Festival isn’t just about jazz. In years past, such rock luminaries as Brian Wilson, King Crimson and Bob Dylan have graced its stages, either as featured artists or associated performers. This year, such popular luminaries as Ry Cooder, Jann Arden, Seal, Boz Scaggs, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull took to its stages.

It may be sweltering outside, but the Montreal Jazz Festival — or as it’s referred to so eloquently in French, the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal — is cool. Very cool indeed.

Montreal is indeed a model city for a festival so sprawling it takes up several city blocks just to contain it. Fortunately, the heat notwithstanding, all the venues are easily accessible. The venues come in all varieties, from a multitude of clubs to the expansive Place des Arts, home to several ample staged stages within its massive confines. Then of course, there are the outside locales spread along the main drag, Rue St. Catherine, all of which invite the choice of a concerted devotee.

Naturally, those who consider themselves diehard jazz aficionados had plenty to cheer about. Herbie Hancock, Carla Bley, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Dave Holland, and Terrence Blanchard were among the more iconic names that headlined the many stages and featured concerts. Those weaned on a rock or pop pedigree had opportunity to soak up the blues, bluster and boogie of George Thorogood or marvel at the performance by Number 9, a group comprised of young musicians who faithfully reproduced every note and nuance of the Beatles famed “White Album.” A spectator whose tastes weren’t necessary confined to any particular parameter could marvel at the genre-bending abilities of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, the classic and contemporary musical fusion of Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, or simply find themselves dazzled by the ageless Dee Dee Bridgewater and the sultry sounds of Beth Hart.

Personally, we found ourselves immediately impressed on the first night by the combined talents of John Medeski and Marc Ribot. It was jazzy indeed. Or was it? The sheer sweep and intensity of the music’s remarkable dynamics had us completely held in sway.

That perhaps is the greatest gift the Montreal Jazz Festival provides for all, an opportunity to venture into unknown realms, jump between genres and learn to understand and appreciate sounds which may not be immediately familiar. Those who normally find adventurous sounds of this sort alien or intimidating in any way are given a chance to explore on their own without judgement or disdain. It’s a vast musical market boasting a wide array of wares, all of which make Festival International De Jazz De Montreal one of the coolest festivals around.

Even when it’s just too damn hot.

 

LAKE STREET DIVE 7/12/18, Raleigh NC

Dates: July 12, 2018

Location: NC Museum of Art, Raleigh NC

Sonic art one beautiful Tar Heel eve at the North Carolina Museum of Art. (Scroll down for more images.)

TEXT & PHOTOS BY TODD GUNSHER

On a clear Carolina night, the amphitheater at the NC Museum of Art was filled with the sophisticated pop sounds of Lake Street Dive. On tour supporting their latest record, Free Yourself Up, this was their third sell out of this venue, causing lead singer Rachael Price to comment that it is starting to feel like home.

Opening with the first cut from the new album, “Baby, Don’t Leave Me Alone With My Thoughts,” the 21 song set included all the tracks from the new record interspersed with songs from their previous two albums, closing with a longtime fan favorite, the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back.”

Price, Mike “McDuck” Olsen, Bridget Kearney and Mike Calabrese, always had a full sound but the addition of Akie Bermiss on keys adds just enough extra to help fill out the live sound. He even took a lead vocal singing Shania Twain’s “Still The One” in a style suited to a dark jazz club. Throughout the night the vocals and playing were tight and on point, with Kearney’s bass playing delivering numerous amazing moments. But to me, what really makes Lake Street Dive stand out in a world of beats, jam-bands, and singer/songwriters is their finely crafted songs. Even songs that at first sound simple still contain interesting chords, changes, and rhythms that harken back to The Beatles and Brill Building, in approach, if not actual sound. That’s what keeps me coming back whenever they come to town.

Opening the show was Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear (above), a mother/son duo with a soulful, bluesy sound. They grabbed the audience’s attention from the first song and I’m sure gained a lot of new fans.

Follow master shutterbug, journalist, and vinyl enthusiast Todd Gunsher at his Instagram page.

 

 

 

Cut Worms 5/29/18, Denver

Dates: May 29, 2018

Location: Globe Hall, Denver CO

Live at Globe Hall!

TIM HINELY

I’ll have to admit I didn’t know jack about Cut Worms until la week before the gig, but I listened and liked what I’d heard. On this tour they were opening for King Tuff (who I didn’t feel like staying for but the gig was sold out on this Tuesday night).

Also, I swear one of these nights I’m gonna show up to Globe Hall early and get some of their BBQ that many folks have raved about. I usually show up late, catch the gig and leave, but next gig there I’ll come back with a full food report. Promise.

Cut Worms (admittedly not the best band name ever, but apparently from a William Blake poem) was already on stage when I sauntered in at 8:55 PM (they went on at 8:45 PM). Main guy Max Clarke (a NYC guy via Chicago) had a full band including bass/drums and a keyboard player. You’ll read lots of reviews comparing him to the Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly, and those aren’t totally wrong, but it’s even more whimsical than that, with dashes of folk and country, too.

From his recently released debut full-length, Hollow Ground (on the Jagjaguwar label) he played cuts like “How It Can Be,” “Coward’s Confidence,” “Cash For Gold,” and “Till Tomorrow Goes Away.” Also, from the Alien Sunset EP (from 2017, also on Jagjaguwar) they played “Song of the Highest Tower” and ended the (short) set with a cut from that EP, “Don’t Want to Say Good-bye.”

I don’t think there’s any tongue-in-cheek irony with this guy, I think Clarke genuinely is a throwback to a different era where you threw your coat over puddles for women and a pack of cigarettes were in the back pocket, not a cell phone. Come on people, get with the progam, Cut Worms already have!

 

 

Anna Burch / Xetas 6/16/18, Denver

Dates: June 16, 2018

Location: Larimer Lounge, Denver CO

Live at the Larimer Lounge, a triple bill for the Mile High crowd.  Above: Xetas.

BY TIM HINELY

I’ve really liked the two album by Austin trio Xetas (both released on the 12XU label 2015’s The Redeemer and 2017’s The Tower) but had yet to see them live. They were opening this triple bill, Speedy Ortiz headlined (who I like but have seen before and I had an early morning the next day) so I made sure to get down there early and catch ‘em.

The crowd grew during their set and the band did not disappoint. All three of them: David on guitar/vocals, Kana on bass and Jay on drums tore the place apart. The energy level was up to 11 (on a scale of 1-10 ) and they played a good bunch of cuts from their two records.  The band was completely  locked in on this night and even seemed a little possessed (always a good thing). If Xetas come to your town and you can peel yourself off the couch (and miss a Matlock rerun) then by all means do it.

Michigan native Anna Burch burst on the scene a few years ago (and co-sang for the Fred Thomas band Failed Flowers…in fact it was Thomas who hipped the Polyvinyl label to Anna’s work) and released a few random singles before inking a deal with Polyvinyl this year and releasing the solid/at times excellent  Quit the Curse. She  assembled a band together of Summer on bass, Nick on drums and Joe on guitar (with Anna singing and playing rhythm guitar) and they played most if not all, of the songs on said debut LP. The songs sounded pretty much as they do on record (which I happen to like though some folks prefer more experimentation) and the soundman did a fine job on this evening. A few of the highlights included the melodic, quirky pop of “2 Cool 2 Care,” “Asking 4 a Friend” (which Burch introduced  as “this is a song about dating your drug dealer”) and “Belle Isle. “ (with Burch giving a little history on the place prior to the song).

In between songs Burch was amiable, chatty and witty (just the kind of person you’d think would write a line like, “The stabbing hatred for you suddently felt softer,” from the almost jazzy “What I Want”) and seems genuinely happy to be out on tour. I’ll be there next time as well (whenever that may be).