Category Archives: Concerts

King Krule 4/25/18, Denver

Dates: April 25, 2018

Location: Ogden Theater, Denver CO

Live at The Ogden Theater, the King did come.

BY BEN CURNETT

Rock and roll belongs forever to the young. Sure, with age comes wisdom, but the wise tend to sleep on audacious geniuses who make stunning art out of shit that’s just lying around. In the case of Archy Marshall, the man behind King Krule who lit up the Ogden Theater in Denver on April 25, that was equal parts brit dub, blue jazz guitar, guttural baritone sax, and a London accent fished out of can of wet cigarette butts.

The band, washed in hollowed-out reverb over off kilter electronics from DJ Connor Atanda, dove one after another into five songs from the louder side of the catalog including the single “Dum Surfer” from last year’s essential LP The OOZ (a play on Krule’s previous moniker Zoo Kid) before settling in and slowing it down for a solid 30 minutes. During that time, Marshall seamlessly transitioned the music and the crowd over to the keyboard, where he showed off soulful songwriting chops that could stand shoulder to shoulder with any Winehouse torch song you’d care to mention.

Marshall is a crooner at heart, but a decidedly two-thousand-and-teens one. He stands the genre on its head, at once pulling in modern and disparate house elements while lingering on drawn out lyrics like some east-end Bing Crosby. But then he’s a producer, too, and it shows in King Krule’s live set. Throughout the night, brilliant live elements not available on King Krule’s records kept popping up, like the driving rhythm when the drums came in on “Easy Easy” after the achingly long build up. It’s a little something you want so badly on the studio recording and proves perfect in front of a crowd.

Marshall put his mark all over the show with his signature barbaric AAARRRUUGGGHHH! It’s an aching wail that turned King Krule’s echoing, aching songs into a wild display of genre bending brilliance on stage, captivating to beat poets and b-boys alike.

setlist:

Has This Hit?

Ceiling

Dum Surfer

A Lizard State

The Locomotive

Cadet Limbo

Cementality

Biscuit Town

The Cadet Leaps

Logos

Rock Bottom

Little Wild

Midnight 01 (Deep Sea Diver)

Emergency Blimp

(A Slide In) New Drugs

Badoom The Ooz

iPhone (My) X

Half Man Half Shark

Baby Blue

Easy Easy

Encore: Out Getting Ribs

 

Ghost 5/15/18, Port Chester NY

Dates: May 15, 2018

Location: Capitol Theater, Port Chester NY

Capitol Theater plays host to the Ghost!

TEXT & PHOTOS BY GREG KELLY

Cardinal Copia and the nameless ghouls took over the sold out crowd at the Capitol Theater. Seeing Ghost a few times now I was highly anticipating this show. The band has a highly devoted fan base and tonight was no different. This would turn out to be by far the most theatrical show I have seen at the Capitol. The stage was set up like an altar with stain glass windows and a stair case to the floor. The lighting was amazing and the crowd could not peel their eyes off of it. The band opened with “Ashes” and quickly went into their new single “Rats”. Cardinal Copia had his followers willing to do what the church asked. I found myself being drawn in more to the service.

Introducing a few new songs from their upcoming album and the name of it is called “ Prequelle” and a mix of past material the band finished Act  I of II. Taking a short set break the crowd was just as eager for Act II. The curtains open and the band started with “Spirit” from the album “Meliora” and the night service continued. In between two songs Cardinal Copia had a small sermon about the female orgasm, which was quit entertaining, the crowd seemed to agree.

Again mixing some new and old material, a point of the show that really stood out was the cover of the Roky Erickson song “ If You Have Ghosts,” a great original that the band made their own. The band finished with the highly entrancing “Monstrance Clock” the evening was incredible both sonically and visually. If you have a chance to join the congregation, I advise you do. Amen!

 

 

 

Messthetics / The Van Pelt / Tiers 5/17/18, Easthampton MA

Dates: May 17, 2018

Location: The Flywheel, Easthampton MA

Live at the Flywheel, in which erstwhile Fugazi-guys brought the noise.

BY JENNIFER KELLY

Fifteen years ago, Fugazi played a benefit for the Flywheel at the Holyoke War Memorial, a show that has become legendary (you can view it in its entirety here) but which I remember mostly as something that sold out before I had even heard about it. The show came about a year before Fugazi’s hiatus, and while Ian MacKaye has been back as Evens since, other members of the band have not. The news that Messthetics, comprised of Fugazi’s Joe Lally and Brendan Canty plus guitarist Anthony Pirog, had booked a show at the Flywheel was therefore exciting. The trio’s self-titled LP, released this spring on the Dischord label, is a monumental jam, proggier and shreddier than you’d maybe expect (that’s Pirog) but powered by monstrous pummeling rhythms.  It’s the kind of record that you hear and immediately want to experience live, and here was a chance.

To add to the appeal, The Van Pelt, a much revered 1990s post-hardcore band out of New York City, was also on the bill, as well as a space rock/shoe-gaze-y trio from Brooklyn called Tiers. My first thought: how great that they’re playing the Flywheel. My second: I hope to hell we can get in. (Dischord very kindly put me on the list, though that has been known not to work on occasion.)

Long story short, we do get in. It’s a nice size crowd but nothing crazy.

The tiny stage is stacked with electronics, an Akai AX 50, a couple of Rolands, a sampler and a drum pad. Tiers, as it turns out, sculpts its eerie, shoe-gazing sound largely from keyboards and synths. Glen Maryanski, who is also the drummer in post-punk Love as Laughter offshoot Cult of Youth, presides over the largest rack of electronic instruments; Jennifer Mears, the singer, makes due with one Roland synth and occasional whacks at the drum pad. Chad Dziewior, who also plays in Minneapolis hardcore band Threadbare, plays a trebly atmospheric guitar, alternating between pick and e-bow.

 

Tiers recorded a 12-inch with Hand Drawn Dracula’s Artificial Records imprint in 2013 but seems not to have left much of an internet trail since. Their music is full of cathedral sized synth swells and hypnotic drifts of vocals, anchored by hard, four-on-the-floor beats. It’s a very dream-pop, shoe-gaze-y vibe, with echoes of the Cure (those Roland synths) and Cocteau Twins, but also a dance-y post punk vibe a la New Order.

The next band is the Van Pelt – original members Chris Leo (whose brother Ted may be familiar to you) on guitar and vocals, guitarist Bryan Maryanski, bassist Sean Greene and drummer Neil O’Brien aka Foggy Notion. The Van Pelt emerged out of a mid-1990s NYC post-hardcore scene and made two records—Stealing from our Favorite Thieves in 1996 and Sultans of Sentiment in 1997—before disbanding. In 2014, after a long hiatus, the band re-formed and released Imaginary Third, a collection of previously unreleased material and also reissued the two original albums.

The Van Pelt let loose an onslaught of hard, Minuteman-ish punk, the bass thudding antic, off-kilter lines while Leo unspools strings of hallucinatory beat poetry. “Here it is, plain and simple,” chants Leo coolly over a heated mesh of mathy rock, as “Nanzen Kills a Cat” sputters to life. Indeed, it’s hard to reconcile the explosive bass-drum-ruckus of live Van Pelt with the chillier temperatures of their recorded output. “Young Alchemists” comes closest to what you hear on Sultans of Sentiment, liquid and pensive as it contemplates trading the mystic for the scientific,  while “We Are the Heathens” brings on colliding waves of dissonance and hurtling stop-start rhythms. This is a band that’s clearly glad to be there, banging out the same complicated, poetic shards of chaos, 20 years on from the heyday. There’s some grey hair on display and Greene’s bass looks like it’s been through a war, but all four of them are tossed in the same waves of sonic vibration, bobbing and nodding in unison as these side-slanting riffs kick in. The set closes with “The Speeding Train,” the final track from their post-hiatus album, and it’s a blistering, pummeling, hypnotically propulsive song, the train rattling on towards wherever, bolts flying, destination uncertain, the motion itself everything.

And now, it’s time for Messthetics whose set up is basic – bass, drums, guitar – but whose sound is unclassifiable. The set starts, as the self-titled record does, with “Mythomania,” a relentless, unstoppable, muscular chug of bass and drums, layered over with Pirog’s vaulting guitar. Live it becomes apparent how fundamental Pirog is to Messthetics, even though we writers tend to spend more time on the ex-of-Fugazi hook. He plays wild, shreddy solos and works loops and effects with the pedals; he’s the color and light in Canty/Lally’s monumental architecture.

Messthetics follows album order for this show. “Mythomania” segues into faster, squallier “Serpent Tongue,” then the liquid lyricism of “Once Upon a Time,” a Sonny Sharrock cover. The impossibly note-stuffed “Quantum Path,” is just as frenetic in concert as it is on the record. All three of the musicians are very good in distinct ways – Joe Lally is compact and contained, eliciting blistering basslines with a minimum of visible effort. Brendan Canty is flushed with concentration, working furiously over his kit with an athletic abandon (at one point, he’s playing eighth notes on the kickdrum for so long that my ankle starts to hurt in sympathy). And Anthony Pirog has the air of an introverted virtuoso, pulling off complicated things and then peering out under his hat bill to see if anyone appreciates the difficulty.

It’s a great show, and though of course lots of people came because of the Fugazi connection, Messthetics has made its own case by the end. Though really 15 years is a long wait. I hope they’ll be back again before that next time.

 

Jason Isbell + Richard Thompson 5/8/18, Knoxville

Dates: May 5, 2018

Location: Tennessee Theater, Knoxville TN

Isbell and his 400 Unit team up with the British legend at the Tennessee Theater.

By Lee Zimmerman / Photos by Alisa B. Cherry

Though some members of the audience might have had some reservations about a 50 year musical veteran like Richard Thompson playing a solo opening set for a comparative newcomer like Jason Isbell and his band the 400 Unit, the commonality in terms of their songwriting styles helped ensure a seamless evening.

Thompson, armed with only his guitar and his subtle sense of humor, was consistently communicative with the audience, albeit in a self-mocking manner. “Some say that my music is almost devoid of emotion,” he joked. “Can you believe that? It may be depressing but it varies from slow depressing to medium depressing. Now here’s some fast depressing,” and with that he launched into an uptempo take on “Valerie.”

“I’m quite old, at least compared to you frisky young people,” he wryly remarked, before catching a glimpse of the mostly middle aged crowd and causing him to correct himself. “Oh I take that back,” he joked. Nevertheless, a touching take on “Who Knows Where the Time Goes,” written by and dedicated to Fairport Convention co-founder Sandy Denny brought some sobriety to the proceedings, before being upended by the rousing “Feel So Good,” one of the most rollicking tunes in the Thompson repertoire.

Introducing his classic “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” Thompson credited Del McCoury for turning the song into a hit on the bluegrass charts, while also noting that though he originally referenced the rolling hills of England in the lyric, the imagery could just as well have referred to East Tennessee.

Nevertheless, it was evident that the crowd was there to see Isbell and his crew, and the recognition that greeted his hour and half- long set — much of it drawn from his remarkable new album The Nashville Sound — was both rowdy and receptive. Isbell showed off his skill on lead guitar, but it was his sheer presence alone – an image that suggested a cross between Bruce Springsteen and Steve Earle – that had the most riveting effect. A journeyman musician of the working class variety, his songs evoke both persistence and pathos, and when the band went full throttle on songs such as “Anxiety,” “Hope the High Road,” “Last of My Kind” and “Something More,” they did so with a ferocity that was absolutely anthemic in proportion.

 

That said, Isbell kept his comments to a minimum, thanking the crowd for coming, introducing the band and noting his admiration for his surroundings — no surprise considering the historic theater’s regal environs. Mostly, he dug into the melodies, extracting every bit of energy and intensity he could ply from his delivery. By the time the band reached the second offering of the two song encore, he was content to simply ply some emotion. The tender and touching “If We Were Vampires,” a song about the fleeting time span of lifelong romance, ended the set on a thoughtful note, a compelling contrast to the intensity he and his bandmates exuded earlier.

Contact photographer Alisa B. Cherry: alisabcherry@gmail.com

 

 

 

Franz Ferdinand 4/13/18, Philadelphia

Dates: April 13, 2018

Location: Fillmore, Philadelphia PA

Live at The Fillmore!

BY JOHN B. MOORE

It’s been more than a decade since Franz Ferdinand’s self-titled debut took over just about every radio with songs like “Take Me Out” and “This Fire,” earning the Scottish dance rock band platinum status here in the U.S. But the years since have done little to temper the enthusiasm from diehard fans who turned out to see the band 14 years later, and just two months after the group put out their fifth record.

Opening with “Always Ascending,” the title track off their latest – a song that seems to have morphed into an instant classic with fans despite the short amount of time it’s been out – the band played with the enthusiasm and energy of a group headlining stadiums (rather than the 2,500-capacity club they packed that night). On the surface the band seemed to be checking off all of the boxes on the Rock and Roll Cliché Live Show list (Constant namechecks of the city you’re in: “Are you ready to feel the love Philadelphia?” Check; holding the mic out to the crowd to sing the chorus? Several times; bringing up an audience member to play on a song? More about that in a minute, but yup). But none of that seemed to matter as the band played a brilliant set and seemed to genuinely be enjoying themselves, rather than simply running through a game of modern rock band bingo.

About two-thirds into the set, singer Alex Kapranos spotted a sign being held up by someone in the audience that read “I want to play drums on ‘Michael’”). Kapranos brought the fan on stage and drummer Paul Thomson handed her his sticks and got up from the drum stool. The fan than led the band into likely the most spirited version of that song the band has ever played, (I apologize in advance for this) with the sit-in drummer not missing a beat. It could not have been scripted better.

The set included a decent mix across their catalogue, including “Come On Home,” (a song they rarely play live) but they rewarded the crowd for sticking around saving the biggest hit, “Take Me Out” toward the end of the show. They closed out with a blistering version of “This Fire”.

The band’s music may not be nearly as ubiquitous today as it was in 2004, but to anyone at this Philly show, it’s clear that Franz Ferdinand is still just as impressive now as they were then.

Moose Blood 3/29/18, Dallas

Dates: March 29, 2018

Location: Gas Monkey Bar & Grill, Dallas, TX

Gas Monkey Welcomes Moose Blood!

An Emo band from Canterbury, Kent UK came to Gas Monkey Bar and Grill to play and what a show it was. A cool night at the end of March was the setting for Moose Blood to take over the outside stage at Gas Monkey Bar and Grill in Dallas, Texas. The crowd began to come in early for the show and kept getting larger and larger. I had heard their music but never seen the band live. I was very impressed with the performance. It was nice to be out of town to see my best friend, Nicole, and then to see a good show was even better. No matter what one thinks of emo music, it has a fandom all its own. It is one of the most productive of all music genres. There were all ages at this show, from the very young to the old. All were there enjoying a good band play a good show.

Moose Blood is one of those bands that is emo punk and does it right. The new song is “Talk in Your Sleep” and it has feelings behind it. This is what emo is. The band formed in 2012 and have had a nice career on the emo punk music scene ever since. This night in Dallas they gave a great performance. It was well received by the audience and Moose Blood has a following of fans of all ages.

There is nothing like attending a concert with your best friend. It makes great memories and reminds you of the bond that you have. Attending an emo concert is more of an emotional experience than it is just a concert. No matter what band it is, there is a connection with the audience that the band is playing for. A cool night had many in long sleeves but the feeling was there. The special feeling you get when seeing a good live band. Moose Blood took the stage in hoodies and there was a roar from the crowd from the get go. From the first chord strummed to the last it was a night to remember for many.

Blue, White and purple lights cycling through illuminated the stage throughout their set. The colors complimented the songs that were played. One of the most popular song form Moose Blood is titled “Honey”. This is a song that also received the 2016 Kerrang! Awards nomination for best track. This is the way to begin the set that caught the attention of the audience with them even singing along. There were other songs that were sung along by the audience throughout the show. One of my favorite song is called “Cherry” to see it performed live for the first time was one of those special moments that is a great memory for life.

Moose Blood is a band that can go to any town on any stage and put feeling into their music. There fans are the kind that show up to see just that. An outside stage in Dallas, Texas seeing a good band with my bestie, life is good. Rock On!

 

Phoebe Bridgers + Daddy Issues 4/6/18, Englewood, CO

Dates: April 6, 2018

Location: Gothic Theatre, Englewood, CO

Live at the Gothic Theatre!

BY TIM HINELY

I waited until the last minute to decide to go to this show. The night before Built to Spill played here and lots of my friends were at that one (or at Ty Segall at the Ogden across town) so I decided to chill on the Thursday night and head on out this Friday to see Phoebe Bridgers. Been hearing lots of good things about her so what was not to like.

Openers Daddy Issues hail from Nashville and have been on the scene a few years. You have to be careful as a few bands have that same moniker but none as good as this all-female trio who really brought the noise to the Gothic. A lot of the reviews I’d read on them kept mentioning “grunge” so I was a little hesitant (that word’s not a compliment when I hear it) but the writers who use that word are a little off base, me thinks. The band had a low growl but with pop hooks all over the place. The crowd sure appreciated ‘em and yes, they did bust out of their cover of Don Henley’s “Boys of the Summer” (slowed down version).

Phoebe and her band bounded on stage at exactly 10 PM, they were dessed to the nines (all the men in suits and Phoebe looked lovely as well in a dress). The drummer was up front to the right as was the female bassist on the left, Phobe front and center and the keyboardist and pedal steel/multi-instrumentalist hidden in the back.

Her debut , Stranger in the Alps , was released late last year on the Dead Oceans label to mucho critical acclaim and she’s been on the road ever since.  Bridgers is young but she seems like she’s an old soul as many of her songs focus on love, life and especially, death. Apparently she spent some time busking on the streets of Los Angeles and was discovered by Ryan Adams. So there you go.

Opening with “Chelsea” then going into “Demi Moore” and then “Steamroller.” After that third song she took a break and chatted with the crowd a bit , thanking everyone for coming and jabbing “because I know if it was this fucking cold I’d wouldn’t go out to a show. I’d be at home!”

She and the band certainly did justice to a Tom Petty cover (“It’ll All Work Out”) then into her hit “Motion Sickness” and they ended the set with a goegeous version of “Scott Street.”

She opted for two covers for encores, Mark Kozelek’s “You Missed My Heart’ and ended it with Sheryl Crows’ “If It Makes You Happy” (not a cover I would’ve expected but ok).

With this much talent her fan base will keep growing and I could see her playing a place twice this size next time (though not sure if I’ll be there, as talented as she is, not sure I’d need to see her again, at least not right away).

 

 

Rose Cousins 3/10/18, Toronto

Dates: March 10, 2018

Location: Harbourfront Centre Theatre, Toronto, Ontario

Live at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre Theatre, with opening act Ken Yates. Check out some videos following the review.

BY ERIC THOM

You don’t just open for Rose Cousins at the convenience of some promoter. You’re carefully selected and, in essence, become part of her family. One listen to Ken Yates’ 7-song set made complete sense to her fans on this special night as his smart songwriting was evident from the opening chords of “Grey Country Blues”, his exceptional voice and guitar-playing finesse serving up an impressive start to this show.

If the London, Ontario native seemed slightly nervous given the larger-than-usual, acoustically sound room – he had no reason to be, quickly winning over the crowd with two additional ‘new’ songs before leaning into four more from his second release, the award-winning “Huntsville”. The title track was set up with a hilarious tale about proposing on a camping trip while the song itself revealed an innate sensitivity and uncommon storytelling finesse. “Keep Your Head Down” exposed a highly talented finger-picker while his vocal on this more aggressive song revealed a distinctive country edge that might play itself forward at such an early phase in his career. Other highlights included the darker “Roll Me On Home” (bearing a distinct resemblance to a Cousins-calibre composition) and the somewhat offbeat, yet uncommonly satisfying, “Leave Me The Light On”.

As Rose Cousins took to the stage, the fact that something special was about to happen had already been communicated – without the need of words. The stage, arranged in a semi-circle with multiple music stands, chairs and microphones for eight or more, suggested that we were about to be presented with even more than expected. Armed with little more than her acoustic guitar, Cousins took no time in warming the crowd, asking whether we were first-timers and where we were from, launching into her amiable Atlantic Canada patois as her audience erupted into intense laughter. This is a big part of Rose Cousins’ personality – she can pack a week’s worth of Netflix comedy specials into her stage presence as clearly as she can draw tears of emotion with her original compositions of love lost, tragic disappointment and inner strife. She’s well aware of her darker side and perhaps it’s a way to compensate – letting us know she’s anything but the person her music might seem to project. With so much of her introspective material cloaked in raw shades of black and grey, her more comedic side delivers a welcome, cauterizing antidote. “Let’s see now… we’ve covered devastation, betrayal, heartbreak, added a touch of encouragement and some torment….what else can we do?”

Accompanied herself on guitar for the opener, “Dreams” (which included a hilarious variation on a patented, Pete Townshend-type ending), Cousins is joined by her band (Asa Brosius – Pedal Steel; Zachariah Hickman – Bass; Joshua Van Tassel – Drums) and they fit like a well-worn garden glove. The upbeat “Freedom” (from her Grammy and Juno-nominated Natural Conclusion) becomes putty in their hands as the seasoned foursome blend elements of Indian music into its gospel core.

Calmly referring to the obvious innuendo of “Lock & Key”, the frisky foursome quickly steered it into jazz territory, Cousins moving over to piano, the song warmly bathed in Hickman’s rich acoustic bass. Cue the wings as four additional players took to the stage to support a fresh arrangement (compliments, Drew Jureka) of “White Flag“: Rebecca Wolkstein and Praime Lam (both on violin), Kathleen Kajioka (viola) and Lydia Munchinsky (cello). (OMG, it’s The Rose Cousins Orchestra!) This lush instrumentation only served to lift “White Flag”’s piano-driven excursion further into full-on, Wuthering Heights territory, freeing Cousins’ dynamic vocals to soar in heavenly proportions above the full, goosebump-inducing tapestry created by her eight talented musicians.

 

Introducing “Tender Is the Man” with a half-chuckle (“it’s okay, guys…”), the strings seemed to afford each composition added gravitas, as the subtle weeping of Brosius’ pedal steel and Cousins’ beautiful piano bolstered the intensity of each lyric. “Go First”, from We Have Made A Spark, mines Cousins’ ability to pen strong elements of pop artistry, breathing added life into each gut-wrenching exposé. Here, the string section helped plunge the knife of a spent relationship even deeper – with stirring results. Followed by the equally disastrous loss realized in “My Friend” – Brosius’ pedal steel shared centre stage with its equally poignant lyric. (“Sad songs – yeah [catcall]!”).

As the string quartet retreated from the stage (no doubt in tears), Cousins & band took a funky detour with the upbeat “Chains” (Natural Conclusion) – a showcase for the rhythm section (a buoyant blend of Van Tassel’s uncommon drum patterns and Hickman’s tight, uptown sound) and a natural gear-shift towards Cousins’ strong R&B leanings. Cue The Send Off’s “White Daisies” – her self-admitted “Emmylou song” (and one of her best) – as Cousins returned to guitar, reminding all of her uncanny ability to imbue her less-than-subtle sense of melody with indelible hooks. Back on piano (as her beleaguered sound man struggled to keep up), the stunning highlight of “Farmer’s Wife” (from ‘’2014’s Stray Birds) – an ode to her mother and sister and the farm life left behind –– revealed vocal pyrotechnics reminiscent of, at times, Laura Nyro, as Cousins’ deft piano-playing skills were on full parade.

Known for her spirit of collaboration, Cousins leans toward co-creating and exploring the art of writing and performing with an impressive cast of talented others. As if to offer a break from – let’s call it Part One, Cousins introduced us to Ria Mae – a well-decorated, fellow Haligonian (and co-comedienne). Sharing the piano stool, they embarked upon the uplifting “All The Time It Takes To Wait” which, in turn, merged into Mae’s own, rap-hued “Bend” from last year’s My Love. Next up, another friend and collaborator, Donovan Woods – a burly, yet surprisingly soft-spoken bear of singer-songwriter who simultaneously taps folk and country to support his rich storytelling. Cousins’ duets on “I Ain’t Ever Loved No One” from his upcoming Both Ways, debuting it here.

As Woods remains, Mae returns, together with opener Ken Yates and singer-songwriter Charlotte Cornfield, to join Cousins in an elegant version of the bittersweet “Grace” (its enlarged chorus succeeds in making inner anguish sound appealing), followed by Sparks’ “What I See”. As her guests file out, the string quartet returns, resulting in a riveting, if not jaw-altering, epic version of “The Grate” – one of Natural Conclusion’s brightest….err….darkest gems. At the same time, as the music swells behind her, Cousins’ unleashes the power of her voice (and piano accompaniment), flying high above the room with other-worldly power. Back to guitar and, with the support of the strings, Spark’s “All The Stars” offers its ever-hopeful reprieve. The relatively hushed, if not somber, “This Light” shows Cousins at her best – accompanying herself on piano, her tender yet robust voice winging skywards, propelled by another sympathetic string arrangement. Following this and back on guitar, “Chosen” – her poster child for self-doubt, gets a similarly sumptuous read.

As the show approaches its natural conclusion, the final song is, appropriately enough, “Coda” – a fitting close to a lovely night that has married gut-wrenching introspection to musical bliss, adding significant colour to the black and white rawness of her highly emotional fare.

The rousing ovation from the house was successful in its bid for more. Always the showman, Cousins returned to the stage decked out in a pair of dark sunglasses as she sat behind her piano to do her best Corey Hart impersonation. What better to follow the main course if not a little dessert as she lit into Hart’s deliciously camp “Never Surrender”? With its defiant message of never giving up on yourself, we’re reminded that such a takeaway is all too apt. Winston Churchill couldn’t have said it any better.

All-in-all, Cousins is a powerhouse of a singer-songwriter. Her talents on piano – alone – could still any room while her pure, distinctive vocals serve to reveal each layer of an emotional landscape few others could begin to fathom, let alone share. At the same time, like a musical prism, she mines light from life’s darkest of corners, refracting it forward in a show of strength over frailty. Hope over despair. The way she appears to leave the door open on her vulnerability is never asking for more trouble. Only by taking such risks does she earn the richest rewards. It’s life – and she’s living it more honestly than most. Such accounts for her monumental appeal.

Escondido/Kolars/Sammy Brue 3/21/18, Denver

Dates: March 21, 2018

Location: Globe Hall, Denver CO

Live at Globe Hall!

TEXT BY TIM HINELY/ PHOTOS BY J.D. BAMFORD

It had been a few years since Nashville’s Escondido was in town. That was  fabulous gig at the Lost Lake Lounge on a magical evening. They came back with a few openers that I hadn’t heard of.

I only caught the last few songs by Sammy Brue , a very young (maybe 17) but amiable chap with an acoustic guitar, long hair and a heart full of longing that needs to get out. It was he on stage with an acoustic guitar and a lovely lady that had a violin and I like what I’d heard, even though it was only a song and a half. Wanna catch this guy next time (and make sure to check out his 2017 release on the New West label, I Am Nice).

I hadn’t heard of Kolars (above) but I know this much. They’re a duo, man/woman who call Los Angeles home and used to be in a band called He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister, but decided on a better name. The dude (Rob Kolars) is on guitar and vocals and the gal (Lauren Brown) is well, I think it’s a bass drum that she stands on and does sort of a tap dance on it while smacking the other drums with sticks. It’s quite a sight to see. They had a cool rock n’ roll vibe, with as dash of rockabilly and I’m guessing some Cramps influence in there, too (some dream pop in there as well).  Not even sure if they have any records out but they’re well worth your precious time (they didn’t even do their Neutral Milk Hotel cover and were still righteous).

The folks of Escondido, Jessica Maros on acoustic guitar and vocals and Tyler James on guitar and occasional trumpet (plus a solid, entertaining rhythm section) hit the stage a little after 10 pm and proceeded to play a superb set. I know it was a Wednesday night, but there really should’ve been a lot more people here. This is Escondido, people! Off the first record, 2012’s The Ghost of Escondido, we heard “Cold October,’ “Black Roses, “Rodeo Queen” and while on their sophomore effort, 2016’s Walking with a Stranger, they pulled out “Heart is Black,” “Try” and  few others and rthey also played out a few new cuts that sounded terrific (especially “You’re Not Like Anybody Else”).

I can’t wait for the new record and you guys need to give this band a serious listen if you’ve never heard ‘em before. The songs are  lovely (a little Mazzy Star with lots of twang) with plenty of heart and Ms. Maros has a voice from the gods.

In addition to great songs the band are truly appreciative of their audience (always a plus) amd just loved to play. The next time they hit Denver I’ll be there again (and again and again and again).

JD Bamford Photography: http://jdbamford.photography/performance