I love music. And decided to start a website dedicated to music. Head on over to eardru.ms (yup, that’s a Monserrat domain) and take a listen to whatever I’ve got going on. Right now, it’s a trip up to the State Bridge Lodge to see the Infamous Stringdusters.
First I want to start off by saying that I am in no way compensated for any of the stuff I am doing for the Underground Music Showcase in Denver. Not because I wouldn’t take money for this, but because they never asked me. That being said…
I attended the 2011 Denver Post Underground Music Showcase and really enjoyed myself. I wanted a way to decide which of the 300+ bands to go see. Spotify had just launched in the US, and I saw an opportunity to make a playlist for each day with the bands who had music on Spotify. I then listened to copious amounts of music, and decided what I loved, liked and loathed.
I’m doing the same thing this year and you can join in the fun. I personally think that the promotion behind the Denver Post Underground Music Showcase is seriously poor, and their one-directional approach excludes the social aspects of marketing & promotion. It’s a fun festival, though, and I like to discover new bands. So if they’re not going to promote their event in a contemporary way, I’m going to do this work for them instead. Think of it as my way of giving back (and showing them how to do it the right way).
There will be more posts about who I’m loving and liking, but this can get you started – Spotify playlists for each day of music. Have any favorites? Leave a comment and let me know who you’re liking and why you’re liking them!
These links are confirmed as working, but if they aren’t it’s most likely a problem with Spotify’s servers. Not working for you? Leave a comment and we can investigate.
Saturday at the Underground Music Showcase (UMS) brought more live music to South Broadway. This day was by far the most music packed, at least on paper. I had about 2x the number of bands on my list for Saturday as I had for Thursday. I tried my best to experience as much of it as possible. Here are the highlights.
I won’t be at the UMS today because I’m going to see Bela Fleck & the Original Flecktones and Bruce Hornsby at Chatfield today. But if you’re going, the bands I recommend for Sunday at the UMS are Rob Drabkin, Vices I Admire, John Common, Overcasters, Coles Whalen, Dan Craig Band (super bummed to miss this guy’s set), Busman’s Holiday, Gregory Alan Isakov, Timber Timbre, and The Orbans.
Fox and the Bird, 5pm, Irish Rover
The Fox & The Bird ended up being at the Irish Rover at 5, although I thought it was supposed to be a different band. Sometimes you make mistakes, and those mistakes turn out to be beneficial. The band playing was the Fox & the Bird, a folk band from Dallas. It was no shock to me after hearing their music that Paper Bird were pals of theirs. String band music paired with horns (sometimes) is a nice way to explain their sound. The PA wasn’t exactly working so well, and it was cool that they walked into the crowd at the Rover to play in the middle of us. It was a unique treat at the UMS, I didn’t see anyone else do this at the UMS.
The Photo Atlas, 6pm, Hi-Dive
Another band I liked listening to on my Spotify playlist was The Photo Atlas. Their music in lots of ways reminds me of At The Drive-In. I saw ATDI in Toronto in 2000, and it was just before they broke up. It was a great experience, and good to know there are other bands playing similar music. My favorite banter from the show: “This song is called White Noise, clap along if you know it.”
Pink Hawks, 6:20 Indy Ink
In a few words, Pink Hawks can be explained: Afrobeat, face paint, percussion. They had a song with a chorus of “everyone’s addictied to pain”. I thought they were saying “everyone’s addicted to brains” and that this was a zombie funk band. My friend Rachel told me I was wrong. They were good, but it was SO hot in Indy Ink that I had to check out some other music. Before I left, I saw the hat of the festival: it had a horse throwing golden human shoes at a post in the ground.
Jay J Matott, 6:40 Illiterate Gallery
I wandered next door to the Illiterate Gallery to check out Jay J. Matott & the Arctic. They were on my list anyway, but they were giving out great “fliers” that were really just transparencies with black Buddy Holly glasses & a stylish mustache on them a little earlier. I had to go now. I saw my first cello at UMS. They were a solid 5-piece band.
Old Canes, 7pm, 3 Kings
Old Canes was a solid folk rock/Americana band. I liked the melodica + trumpet melodies a lot. I also “stole” some flash from other people taking photos at this show. It was actually kind of nice to borrow their light, by luckily snapping some photos while they were using a flash 10 feet away.
My Gold Mask, 7:20, Hi-Dive
My Gold Mask was one of the most unique bands I saw at the UMS. They had a drummer lead vocalist. A drummer lead vocalist who is a woman. A drummer lead vocalist who is a woman and also stands up while she drums. Different. Amazing. She has a pretty great voice, too (although there was some insane reverb on the vocals). I liked them a lot.
Patrick Dethlefs, 8pm, Michelangelo’s
Of all the UMS music I listened to on Spotify, I thought 21 year-old Patrick Dethlefs (det-lefs) was the most intriguing. He played a set in a full bar, full of attentive people. He’s got a wonderfully soft and warm voice. In many ways, the warmth of his voice makes his songwriting sound even more honest than it already is. He has a lot of the qualities that I like in Todd Snider’s music. There was a nice mix of originals and covers, the covers included “Dark Hollow” and a really nontraditional version of “Red Rocking Chair”. Patrick also played some nice simple riffs along with the rhythm, nothing too showy but he definitely can play guitar. Something I liked was the unique alternating bass notes on c-shaped barre chords. He told us that he recently released a Daytrotter session, released July 1st. Dethlefs is also playing August 6 at Larimer lounge with celloist Ben Sollee. Great line: “this goes out to all the pretty ladies in the audience. There’s more than one.” #BrowniePoints
If I wanted to start a band, Patrick Dethlefs is the kind of guy I would want to play with.
Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, 9pm Goodwill parking lot
Their music was just “eh”, but I got a nice photo of their set.
Abi Robins, 10pm, Michelangelo’s
Another Singer/Songwriter I enjoyed was Abi Robins. Abi recently relocated to Colorado from Saint Louis. She was a great guitar player who at times played pretty technical riffs and sang at the same time (classy). Her songs were honest and melodic.
Well, I was pretty haggard Friday morning, but was able to put the pieces back together and make it out to Denver’s Underground Music Showcase Friday evening. It was blisteringly hot (by Denver standards), but sometimes that’s what you have to do in the name of music appreciation. I saw a lot of bands, and there were definitely highlights and lowlights. I’m going to focus on the highlights.
Hellogoodbye, 6pm, Goodwill parking lot
Even though it was so hot, it was worth getting to the UMS early to see Hellogoodbye. This band had a ton of energy, with some great musicians. One guy played guitar, mandolin and a ukulele (which has a Descendents bumper sticker on it – hilarious). Happy sounding, lots of jumping around. Plus there were guys wearing shorts on stage (go shorts). There was also liberal use of a tambourine. The guys also had sweet hollow body electric guitars. Hellogoodbye had good crowd interaction, and I loved their short replay of some wasteoid dancing earlier in the day. This was a great way to start off Friday at the UMS.
I was looking forward to a few bands at 7pm, but they turned out to pretty much suck. Instead of writing about them, I’m just going to post this nice photo of the sunset from yesterday.
Gardens & Villa, 10pm, Hi-Dive
After plopping down at Barry’s on Broadway for 90 minutes to watch the Rockies, I mozied down to the Hi-Dive to see Gardens & Villa. It was maybe the first time I’ve seen a flute on stage at a rock show and actually enjoyed it. Some of their tunes were reminiscent of the Talking heads, with a solid, hard driving beat beat. Plus there was 40% mustache participation from band members.
A Great Big Pile of Leaves, 11pm, Skylark
After a mostly subpar evening of music, I was waiting outside the Irish Rover to see another band. But they were taking too long to set up, so I cruised down to the Skylark to see A Great Big Pile of Leaves. They were on my list of bands I’d heard on Spotify leading up to the UMS, and Hellogoodbye gave a glowing recommendation of them during their set earlier in the day.
And I am very happy that I made it to see them. AGBPOL were definitely the best musicians I’ve seen so far at the UMS. They played loudly and with a good amount of distortion, but were very melodic at the same time. These guys from Brooklyn definitely brought their A-Game. One of my favorite parts of their music was the unique strumming rhythms, not something you usually see in an indie band. They were super tight, and have definitely made it into my regular playlist. In listening to their albums on Spotify, though, their live show was better than their albums. Maybe I just need to listen to them a lot louder.
There’s more music happening tonight, excited to see it even if I’m tired. Definitely stoked to see bands including The Photo Atlas, Patrick Dethlefs, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, Abi Robins, Bear Hands and the Black Heart Procession.
Last night at The UMS was pretty amazing. Lots of great music, friends, Maker’s Mark, some women in trashy 80s clothing, bands I’m discovering, Maker’s Mark. Did I mention there was Maker’s Mark there? I took notes, photos and videos last night, here are the fruits of my labor.
Dirty Mittens, 8pm, Skylark
Dirty Mittens this was not. It’s actually some guy playing electric guitar. He gets bonus points for playing in shorts. I liked his singer/songwriter stuff. Not bad, but most exceptional was his amazing beard. He announced who he was: Jacob Metcalf from Dallas Texas, which makes the beard that much more impressive. He said he hadn’t touched an electric guitar in 10 years. Still, not so bad. I got a tweet from @DirtyMittens telling me their bus broke down in Salt Lake City. Hopefully I’ll get to see them soon.
Pictures of Then, 9pm, Moe’s
I walked up to Moe’s, which is weirdly out of place considering the other venues are all within 3 blocks of each other. I’m happy I made the trip to see Pictures of Then. This was their first time playing Colorado. They had a million effect pedals in front of them. Hilariously, the TV was still on behind the band. The bar was relatively empty, maybe 20 people were there. At one point the bass player puts on sunglasses. Either he’s “that cool” or on acid, sometimes it’s hard to say. Both guitarists and bassist sang some songs together (classy). Both guitarists take leads (also classy). There was also a kid watching who looks like he’s straight out of Huck Finn. Suspenders, jeans rolled up, only thing missing is a piece of hey betwixt his teeth. The main vocalist guitar player’s voice is what would happen if Jim Morrison and the dude from Modest Mouse had a baby, and that baby started a band that played at The UMS. A dude volunteering for the UMS was dancing not unlike Andy Richter dancing as a harem girl in the film “Cabin Boy”. There’s also a woman drawing an ink sketch of the band which was cool to see.
Wire Faces, 10pm, Hi-Dive
Previously known as that band my local bartender plays in, Wire Faces put on a pretty great show. The drummer is often the main singer, and also gets to set up his kit in line with the guitar and bass, not unlike the band Telekinesis. The drummer has Chili Peppers-style vocals sometimes. Ian does sweet guitar tapping on a few songs. The drummer was rocking a Pittsburgh Pirates shirt. There were flashes of the “punk-era Police” crossed with the Clash. I also enjoyed the dude in a tie-dye in the front pretending he was a drummer. 2nd band in a row that has 3 people singing on songs. Impressed.
Oh No Oh My – 11pm, Irish Rover
Hailing from Austin, Oh No Oh My also used the first acoustic guitar I’ve seen so far at The UMS. They had some loud and good vocals. Reminded me at times of Doug Martsch from Built To Spill. Different band members played different instruments as the set progressed. “Summerdays” off their album “People Problems” was the best song of set. I really have enjoyed listening to these guys over the last week. Hope to see them again in Colorado soon.
El Ten Eleven, 12:30am, Hi-Dive
The band that caught my attention the most while listening to so many bands on Spotify was El Ten Eleven. It’s sort of this funkified instrumental dance fuzz music with just a guitar and bass player. There were no less than 5 guitars on stage – which turns out to be wrong. It was 3 double-necked guitar/bass electrics, and an electric bass. This was the first real multimedia show of The UMS. Great lights. Back screen projection. Multiple cameras broadcasting live to the screen behind the two guys. The multimedia show featured awesome old timey movies, including a medley of scenes from an old movie about gangs and beer pressure. Loop stations and bass harmonics were used liberally. And some cowbell! They also rocked a great version of the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army. Often times with the double neck guitar, the left hand would play bass while the right hand would play guitar. He also bowed the bass at times, and this was no upright. Expert use of the Boss loop station, even the reverse button with some bass. This was definitely the highlight of my festival, and I still have 3 days to go.
So that was Thursday. Here’s the Spotify playlist I’m listening to for bands playing tonight at The UMS. Stay tuned for more tomorrow!
Sometimes I forget things. Like how passionate I am about certain stuff.
In this case it’s music. Passionate enough about it to waste 3 solid days listening to, categorizing, and planning an entire weekend of music. Passionate enough to write a blog entry about it (yes I know I still have to post photos from Prague and Barcelona from November – I’m working on that).
The Denver Post Underground Music Showcase (The UMS) is a music festival in Denver, starting Thursday and running through Sunday night. In fact, it’s so underground, that most of the people I’ve talked to about the UMS had no clue what it was. You’d think there would be a better social campaign for this cool music event. But that’s another blog entry for another time.
Look for blog entries today through Saturday telling you what I’m stoked about for the coming day, along with Spotify playlists of the bands I’m interested in going to see. Obviously I can’t see them all, but thought a good list of each band I liked would help me figure out where to go and where to go if a bar was crowded or if a band sucked.
HOW DID I COME UP WITH THIS LIST?
Spotify launched in the US last week, which coincided with my learing of this music festival a few miles from my house. So I decided to find as much music from the UMS as I could on Spotify, and listen to as much of it as I could to decide who to go see this weekend. Working from home is nice because I can listen to what I want, when I want it. So i listened to music. Lots of it. Basically all day, every day for the last few days. I’ve made a list, and nerdily color-coded it.
COLOR CODING SYSTEM
RED – can’t miss
GOLD – hope to see
GREEN – maybe want to see
BLUE – if I happen to be there, I’ll check it out
So here’s what I’m planning on seeing on Thursday. Stay tuned for what I’ll be checking out on Friday. If you’re a Spotify user, here’s a playlist of the bands I am going to try to see Thursday at the UMS.
Dirty Mittens (indie pop) – 8:00 – Skylark
Pictures of Then (indie pop) – 9:00 – Moe’s
Gauntlet Hair (Britpop?) – 9:00 – Hi-Dive
Wirefaces (indie) – Thursday, 10:00 – Hi-Dive
Porlolo (lady singer indie rock/americana) – 10:00 – 3 Kings
OH NO OH MY (indie) – Thursday, 11:00 – Irish Rover
Royal Bangs (indie fuzz rock) – 11:00 – Hi-Dive
El Ten Eleven (indie/instrumental) – 11:55 – Hi-Dive
Minor Note Orchestra (big band) – 11:55 – Irish Rover
Stay tuned for more music tomorrow! I’m pretty excited to rekindle my addiction to music. It’s been a while, good to see you again.