Smith Westerns / Wampire 8/6/13, Denver

Dates: August 6, 2013

Location: The Bluebird, Denver CO



On this evening The Bluebird was only about half full which means that this show could have been at the Larimer Lounge (sorry, Sebadoh was playing on this night) or the Hi-Dive (ok, that would have been a bit tight). But hey, I like the Bluebird and it was comfortable not being jam packed like sardines like so many shows feel like this day (try going to shows in San Francisco or Portland).



I had only heard of Wampire (above). These 5 young men from Portland seemed like they would have been just as happy touring Denver’s many cannabis clubs as they were on stage. Most of ‘em had sunglasses on  (not enough Visine) and the songs? Some of them were very good, some real pumping rave-ups while a few others had me snoozing.


I have waited a few years to see Chicago’s Smith Westerns. Missed them a few times in Portland and really like their first two records (sophomore one, Dye It Blonde, is really terrific) and the new one, Soft Will, is growing on me. On record they’re a trio but live they add an extra guitar player and a keyboardist and live they delivered. Leader/guitarist/vocalist Cullen Omari (his brother Cameron plays bass) has a live presence as is terrific guitarist Max Kacacek. In fact, it appears that he (Cullen) wants to be a rock star. Not a bad thing in and of itself (these guys are pretty young) and let’s face it, who doesn’t want to be a rock star? They played a few faves off said sophomore record including “Weekend” and “Imagine Pt. 3” as well as plenty of stuff off Soft Will  (“3 AM Spiritual,” “Varsity,” etc.).

Despite what I said about rock star-isms, I was expecting some cocky youths on stage, but these seemed, well, if not humble at least gracious. OK, so the only one who spoke was vocalist Cullen but he seemed pleasant if just slightly aloof.  The end of the brief 45-minute set came with Cullen stating “This is our last song and sorry, but we don’t do encores.” (Not true as live reviews I’ve read of these guys have the doing them).  Ok, so not a revelatory evening but still good and will be there next time they come to town.

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