Fresh & Onlys, The Shilohs, Emerald Siam 7/31/14, Denver

Dates: July 31, 2014

Location: The Hi-Dive, Denver CO

Fresh

BY TIM HINELY

I really wanted to see San Francisco’s Melted Toys, but alas, they went on at 9 PM and could not make it down there in time (and four bands on a Thursday night is a bit much, no?). Anywho, Denver psych-rock gods Emeralds Siam took the stage next and seem to have a growing fan base here in their hometown. I caught them about 6 months ago and there was a decent-sized crowd there, but the amount of folks up front, cheering them on and singing along, has surely grown. The smoke machine was a nice touch, I called them Denver’s version of the Black Angels and I don’t think I’m too far off there. Tried to chat it up with keyboardist and all around good guy David Meyer but he was off in a rush to catch a flight to North Carolina. The life of rock stars, I tell ya!

The Shiloh’s hail from Vancouver, BC and while I’ve heard their last few records (2013’s So Wild and their self-titled one from this year, both on Light Organ Records), I had not seen them live. The songs are good with sticky melodies and strong vocals but my pal opined that it seems like they need an identity (and I agreed) as some of the songs were in the Wilco vein while other are more akin to the more rockin’ Shins songs. Maybe it’s two distinct songwriters with two different styles? Again, these guys can play and write good songs, maybe just stick to one style. Still, if they’re on a bill do show up early to catch them.

I’d caught San Francisco’s Fresh & Onlys a few years ago in Portland where they played a real laid-back set but tonight’s set was anything but. These guys rocked! They started off the set with two songs from 2011’s Play It Strange, the first two songs, “Summer of Love” and “Waterfall” at which point singer/guitarist/leader Tim Cohen let he crowd know that they were going to play the entire new record House of Spirits, from start to finish and indeed they did! Kicking off with opener “Home is Where?” kicking right into a driving version of “Who Let the Devil” and a raucous version of “Bells of Paonia.” and on and on. Leader Tim Cohen seems like a weird cat but hey, weird is ok when you write songs this good. The final three cuts, “Ballerina,” “”Candy” and “Madness’ all sounded ace as well.

When a band is firing on all cylinder like this band is right now trust me, it won’t be long before they’re playing bigger venues. These guys deserve it — and be glad that wild lead guitarist Wymond Miles is still in the band, he and his crazy playing and even wilder hairdo.

Photo via the Fresh & Onlys Facebook page

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