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A Look Back

Howdy, folks. So the end of the year (nay the world!) is neigh and I guess that means I should do a recap post. What did I learn? What were my favorite shows? Will I ever see another concert again? What’s next?

This has been a long and eventful year. I began with a goal I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull off. A goal I figured would eventually fall by the wayside, as things so often do. I’ve ended the year both richer (in musical knowledge and bands that I love) and poorer (uh, concerts are expensive you guys.) I also started the year single and I’m ending it with an exceptional and lovely lady in my life. I don’t know that that is related to my concert quest, but it certainly gave me something cool to talk about on our first date.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned in this quest is always go for the opener. Always. There are too many absolutely great bands out there opening shows for other great bands. I was rarely disappointed in an opening act and I never regretted getting to the show early to see them. In the end I’ve learned about excellent bands by getting to shows early that I ever have from listening to the radio or reading things on the internet. Music is not about stadium shows and big names. Music is about passion and love, joy and pain. Music is about life and often you get a much clearer picture of that from a little know band than you ever would from an international superstar.

I will of course be attending concerts again, many of them hopefully. Though possibly not too soon as they really can be expensive. I love music too much to not keep going to concerts, even if I am a little burned out after seeing 52 in a year. Odds are when I do see a show I’ll return here and write about it because I’ve really enjoyed doing that. A couple of people have suggested that I do 52 different kinds of shows next year, so 52 community theater plays, or 52 stand up comics. I kind of like that idea but I don’t know that I know enough about either of those things to write weekly reviews. I also don’t know that I care enough to stick with it. I’ve also been considering doing a Let’s Play of Crusader Kings II in the form of journal entries. Though I’m not sure what kind of interest there’d be in that, and if I did that it wouldn’t be here I’d start another blog. I’ve also recently started a Game of Thrones tabletop game with my gaming group and it might be fun to recap that as it happens. We’ll see what happens, I’d like to keep writing on this big blank internet wall though.

So, my top 5 shows of the year. It has been no mean feat narrowing these down. I saw so many great shows this year but I didn’t want to do a top ten list because that felt like too many. So, here they are:

#5 Alabama Shakes with A. Tom Collins at The Fox Theater on 2/4/12

I talked about this show way back in my very first post. At that time I had a feeling that the Alabama Shakes were on the cusp of blowing up and apparently I was right. Their song Hold On was named the #1 song of the year by Rolling Stone and they are playing sold out shows everywhere they go. And I saw them for $5. I’m weirdly happy because I can be totally hipstery and tell everyone about how I saw them before they were famous. Of course I learned about them from Mumbles but I can leave that part out.

This show was also great because it introduced me to A. Tom Collins who are now my favorite Denver band. Their music is wonderfully different being a beautiful mix of ragtime and rock. They perform with a reckless abandon that is fun to watch and I’m pretty sure they ended up being the band I saw the most this year.

#4 The Lumineers with The Outfit and Sawmill Joe at The Bluebird on 5/11/12

This is another band who has skyrocketed to stardom since I saw them. Though arguably their rocket had already taken off by the time I saw them in May. They play the sort of antiquated acoustic folk that I love. Their songs are well written and they bring a ton of joy and passion to their live performances. I actually saw them twice this year, on back to back nights actually, but I chose the first show over the second because it introduced me to Sawmill Joe.

Sawmill Joe is a bluesman through and through. His voice is rough and soulful and his songs reside in that part of the heart that exists to ache. They just crawl right in there and ease that ache away. Which is what the blues are supposed to do.

#3 Trampled by Turtles with Brown Bird at The Ogden on 5/18/12

Trampled By Turtles is one of my favorite bands so it would have taken something monumental to leave them off this list. Actually it took two somethings monumental to make them number three. There were a lot of reason this show was great, though I will admit that chief among them was that it was the first show I saw with my lady. The crowd was raucous, the opening act was great and the Turtles delivered as they always do.

This band plays with so much speed, so much energy, so much life. I’ve seen them many times and I’ve never been disappointed and I will see them again (I’m hoping in mid January.)  Though I will say that the next time I see them I probably won’t stand quite so close as the front of the stage is about as close to a mosh pit as you can get at a bluegrass show.

#2 Mumford and Sons with Dawes and Slow Club at Red Rocks on 8/28/12

This was as much a cultural event as it was a concert. It was a destination show. The kind of show that people plan a vacation around. It was monumental and I loved it. There really is something about witnessing a band’s first Red Rocks show that is exciting. The place just has this history of being a place that you play when you’ve made it. It’s a place that bands aspire to. It a place bands film documentaries about and I kind of love that I live within an hours drive of it.

Mumford and Sons put everything they had into this show and it was clear that the night was special for them. It was a beautiful night, with beautiful company, filled with beautiful music. It was actually a better show than I had expected which is saying a lot because I had high expectations.

#1 Pearl and the Beard with The Foot and Shaky Molars at The Hi-Dive on 3/8/12

Interestingly this was a show that was all over the place from an opener that I probably gave my worse review of the year to to a closer that didn’t have much of a crowd to play to. It really seemed like it didn’t have the makings of an incredible show, certainly not the best show of the year. But it wasn’t just the opener and the closer. No, between them was nestled one of the greatest musical experiences of my life in the form of pearl and the beard.

They have so much charisma, so much life, so much joy. They play so incredibly well together. Each song was like an arrow directly into my heart, my soul. I was simply spellbound by every note, every word, every moment. It was like nothing I’d ever seen because they are like nothing I’d ever seen. Their songs aren’t typical, nor formulaic, but they are beautiful all the same. Perhaps it is the uniqueness of their music that makes it stand out so much. I don’t know. All I know is that they are exceptional and you should see them. Seriously. I said that a lot this year about a lot of bands but this is the one you really absolutely can’t miss. See them. Seriously see them.

This show also contained the single greatest moment I’ve ever experienced at a live show when they came off the stage and played Lovin’s For Fools. When I am an old man withered and bent and stuck in a home somewhere I’ll still be telling everyone who will listen about the time that Pearl and the Beard played that song two feet away from me. Unamplified and off mic. I will never, ever, forget it.

This post has been light on images and music so in closing I’ll leave you with this song by Pearl and the Beard which is another thing by them that is exceptional.

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The End of the Road

SHOW #52: Around The Bend at Swallow Hill 12/13/12


So this is it internet. I’ve pulled it off. 52 shows in a year. Less than a year technically. I started the last week of January and now here we are mid December and I’ve completed my goal. 52 shows in a year. To be honest I wasn’t quite sure I’d be able to pull it off at the beginning but apparently I went a little overboard and came in ahead of the game. Part of me wanted to make the 52 show something special, a huge celebration of the year as a whole. That just wasn’t in the cards though. I’d though about aiming at making it the Lumineers New Years eve show but that sold out too fast. I thought about making it Trampled By Turtles in mid January but that was too far away. So instead I did something I’d been meaning to do but never got around to. A simple, low key show at the cafe in Swallow Hill. It wasn’t a big blow out, it wasn’t phenomenal, but it was good and it reenforced something I’ve learned this year. There is a lot of good music out there, you just have to go out and listen. Eventually, probably next week or something, I’ll put together a bit of a retrospective post and look back at the year. For now though let me tell you about who I saw for show number 52.

Around The Bend


It seems to me that there is a certain sort of uniqueness to songs written by song writers who aren’t famous. Specifically when those song writers get old. There are two troubles with fame in music. The first is that far too often it traps the artist into this place where they were when they first became famous. They have fans and an income, they are living the dream but in doing so they lose their passion and their music doesn’t grow it just kind of stays where it is. The second is that with fame often comes fortune, and with that comes a certain disconnect from society at large. A forty year old man who is a millionaire is bound to write different songs than a forty year old man who has a mortgage, and office job, and a family. As a result there is a certain amount of realism that comes from an unnotable person who is writing songs because they love writing songs that you just won’t get from someone who is writing songs to buy a new swimming pool.

The reason I bring all this up is because Around The Bend was just that, a collection of middle aged folks who have probably never been famous but they have continued to make music for the love of it. The result is a collection of songs that are achingly beautiful in the way that they capture the simple idea of growing older. Their music and lyrics come across as authentic because they are authentic. Not that that means that they were exceptional. They weren’t. They were good, just not great.

Throughout the entire show as I watched them play I couldn’t help but compare it to sitting around in my parent’s living room when my dad would play. Except that, really, my dad is better than them. Again they weren’t bad they were just missing something. Maybe it was a little polish that would come from more practice. Maybe it was the setting. I don’t really know for sure but there was something lacking.

Oddly from that critical point I’m going to turn back to a positive point. To the positive point of all of these shows. That being that there is a ton of good music out there. More than I ever expected there to be. Maybe I’m just a sucker for live music, because I know that not everyone would enjoy all of the bands I’ve seen as I did. Even these guys, though lacking something to put them over the top provided a lovely evening full of well written songs with a unique perspective. In a way I’m judging them against the bigger acts I’ve seen which maybe isn’t fair but despite what they lacked I didn’t regret the money I spent to see them. I got to hear songs I never would have heard otherwise. These guys aren’t on the verge of making it big, hell they might be on the cusp of retirement but because I went down and listened I heard what they had to say. I experienced their perspective and I’m richer for it. That’s the true joy, the true beauty of love music. It’s that moment shared, that solitary moment that never was before and never will be again. Sure the song will be played again but never just that way in just that place to just those people. It’s communal and beautiful. It’s music.

Oddly these guys have no website but they do have a video available so have a listen:

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Yay for Brave!

SHOW #51: Jonathan Coulton with John Roderick at The Soiled Dove on 11/28/12

Holy crap, Internet. It’s the penultimate show. The show immediately before the last show. The show to almost end all shows. For this one I ventured to a place I haven’t been this year and enjoyed the musical stylings of one Jonathan Coulton. It was a joyous and fun filled show.

John Roderick

Starting off the proceedings was John Roderick who plays in a band called The Long Winters. His music is decidedly different from that of Coulton and he warned us of this fact by explaining that his songs contained neither monkeys nor robots. It was a funny introduction and it did a great job of winning over a crowd that was largely unfamiliar with his work.

I was one of those that was not at all familiar with his work, he described what he was playing for us as indie rock but, due to the way it was delivered, it certainly had more of a folk music vibe to it. It was just he and his guitar, which is kind of how I like my music. So it might not be surprising that I liked his music.

The songs were lyrically complicated and rife with metaphor and imagery and they were delivered in such a way that the lyric were highlighted rahter than buried. Part of that is probably the sound mix but part of it is also the simplicity of a man and his guitar. It just works and with music like this it’s probably the best way to be introduced to it live because you are able to hear everything clearly and get a good idea of what the music is about.

the most impressive part of his set was when he did an impromptu mashup of two songs. The songs in question were Cinnamon and Bride and Bridle which were songs I’d never heard so I’m really not quite sue how well the mash up was blended from one to the next but it didn’t feel awkward or stilted it just flowed and felt like a complete piece of music so I’m willing to guess he pulled it off successfully. He admitted after the mashup was done that this was partly due to the fact that the two songs have many chords in common but that doesn’t make mashing them together on the fly any less impressive.

I’ve never heard anything by The Long Winters but after Roderick’s set I definitely want to check them out and see what these songs sound like in their indie rock form.

Jonathan Coulton

Like many people I was first introduced to Coulton’s music by way of Portal’s Still Alive. That song plus the appearance of a few of his songs in Rock Band drove me to his website where I found tons and tons of fun, funny, and good music. That’s the thing about Coulton, he’s widely known as nerdy song writer or a comedic songwriter. He’s not really either of those things, what he actually is is a good songwriter who happens to be a funny nerd. Maybe that’s just semantice but I do think there is a difference. He’s not a man who writes nerdy songs to pander to people, he writes these songs because that’s who he is. That’s one of the reasons he’s as popular as he is. He’s genuine.

It’s also kind of a shame that some of his not as funny songs can get overlooked because people like to pigeonhole artists into one category or another. Most of his songs contain more than a few wry turns of phrase or mundane absurdity but they aren’t always intended to be wholly comedic. One of the songs he sang called Glasses was a really beautiful tale of an aging couple in love. Given what you tend to hear about his music it’s sort of unexpected but it’s good and it works.

Of course the comedy was there too, it being especially present in the banter between songs,  because he is a genuinely funny human being. It helps to keep the show cohesive and the audience engaged. I especially loved the part where talked about the ‘pretend end of the set’ because I’ve long felt that encores are kind of a strange thing these days. If they are expected by both the audience and the musician then are they really encores? In any case, funny was present, from dropping a little science to introducing us to his merch assistant Scarface it was just an incredibly entertaining show.

Speaking of Scarface, I’m sorry to posts that picture without warning. He’s truly monstrous to look at. Despite his hideousness he treated us to a great version of Skull Crusher mountain immediately after selling the hell out of some shirts. So hooray for Scarface!

About half way through the set John Roderick came back on stage and he and Coulton played several selection from their recently released Christmas album One Christmas at a Time. These songs included tiny amps, rocking guitar solos, a comparison of that Atari 2600 and the Intellivision, a rocking comb solo, and the sage advice “Don’t future fuck yourself with multiple Christmases.” I guess what I’m saying is that you should probably go ahead and buy the album. And this is coming from someone who really dislikes Christmas music.

In closing I’d like to say that the title of this post is what Jonathan Coulton wants on his tombstone. It’s fitting given how he got his music career started. He said that we could put it on there if any of us ended up being in charge of what goes on his tombstone. He also said that this was an unlikely scenario so I want to get the word out there to everyone to increase the odds.

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Old Times are New Again

SHOW #50: The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band with Trapper Schoepp & The Shades

This was one of those shows where I didn’t know what to expect going in. My decision to go was very last minute and I only went because a friend of mine mentioned that he had really enjoyed The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. If you read this blog you can probably guess that I enjoyed myself, because hell, it seems I enjoy every show because live music is a beautiful thing. There are levels of enjoyment though. Levels of awesome. Levels of ‘Dear God please keep playing music and never ever stop.’ This show and these bands managed to chart in at somewhere around 99 out of 100 on all of the scales I just mentioned. I find it hard to rate shows because, as I said, I enjoy them all but seriously, honestly, if you get a chance to see either of these bands take it. Here’s why:

Trapper Schoepp & The Shades

Holy Christ these guys are young, I mean just young young young young. Super young. Youthful, one might say. Really, they looked like they should be playing a high school house party or something. They didn’t sound like they should be playing a high school house party though. No, they sounded much better than that.

I actually didn’t notice their youth at first. Perhaps I registered just how young they looked when they stepped on stage but I wasn’t really thinking about it. I think perhaps how good they were brought their youth to light. You just don’t expect a group of musicians in their early 20s to have these kind of chops and when they launched into their first song I was thoroughly impressed. Their sound has a classic rock, late 50s early 60 feel to it. A sort of Chuck Berry vibe but it’s infused with a smattering of other influences to create a wholly unique sound that is at once old and new at the same time. The familiarity of the guitar riffs, the steady beat of the drums and the smooth bass just sort of lull you into this state of ‘I’ve heard this before’ and then suddenly a run on the violin or a hard rocking guitar solo will perk up your ears and draw you in.

The songs were well written and the band was clearly having a lot of fun playing them. Actually they were just having a lot of fun in general. There were several people in the front row who clearly knew their work and loved them and they played up to them. Hamming it up at the front of the stage with a solo or just giving knowing smiles and nods to the people who were really showing their appreciation. There was also a fair amount jumping around and more than one guitar solo where the guitarist ended up writhing on the ground. The fun that they brought to the stage was infectious and the crowd really got into it. It’s safe to say that they made more than a few fans at this show. I know they made one in me.

The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band

The first thing you notice about The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band is that they aren’t a very big band. They are in fact an incredibly small band, a trio if you will. They are perhaps the smallest amount of people you can have on stage while still referring to yourself as a band. The second thing you notice, after they start playing, is that the name is entirely appropriate because these three, with just a guitar, a washboard, and a drum kit make more music than bands twice their size. It’s a beautiful thing.

It’s fair to say that a lot of the music they create comes from the two hands of The Reverend Peyton himself. (His real name is Josh but I don’t know him that well so I’ll stick to his formal title.) I have never seen a better guitar player. Never. It’s also pretty safe to say that I’ll never see anyone better as long as I live. The man is a magician on the guitar who takes country blues finger picking to a whole new level. I spent a large portion of the show in awe of what I was seeing, asking myself again and again, ‘How is he doing that?’ How is he making that much music with just one guitar. The real beauty of it is there are no theatrics here, no technology, no loop pedal. Nothing, it’s just him and his guitar and it’s outstanding. At one point during the show he introduced us to the band’s bass player, that being his thumb. At one point he switched to a three string cigar box guitar and got more music out of it than many can coax out of a twelve string. He’s simply an incredible musician.

He’s not alone up there though and he doesn’t bring all the music himself. The drummer brings a hard fast and steady beat and keeps up easily with the changing tempo of the songs. The Reverend’s wife plays the washboard and what can I say I love the washboard. It’s one of my favorite musical instruments and I was really happy to see it used as a main attraction as it is so often relegated to just a song or two. She really rocks it too. I mean if you have any inkling that the washboard isn’t a real musical instrument then I’d suggest that you watch her do her thing. Your mind will be changed. She’s hard core as all get out too, at one point she lit the washboard on fire and kept playing and at the end of the show she smashed it to bits. Also, right near the end of the show she pulled the tambourine off her washboard and played it on my head for a while. It was unexpected and hilarious. Also it was awesome.

Finger style country blues is music I’ve been listening too my whole life Robert Johnson, John Hurt, Charlie Patton, there are some of the men who pioneered the style.  I’ve seen people play finger style before but never this well, never this fast, and never this powerfully. The power comes from the other influences the band has, this is not a straight forward country blues band. This is country blues with a hard rock twist. That’s where the speed comes in. It’s frenetic but so good and so powerful. You really have to see these guys to believe it and see them you can. They are touring constantly so you really have no excuse. At the very least you should go to watch The Reverend do what he does on the guitar. The man is a once in a generation talent and you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t see him at least once.

Now, as usual I’ll leave you with some songs:

First the Cigar Box:

Then some country blues:

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Super Dillard Brothers

SHOW #49: Daniel Dillard with Josh Dillard at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret

Once again before I get going I must make statements of disclosure. I’ve known Daniel Dillard for at least five years. We’ve never been much more than acquaintances and prior to last night I’d never heard him perform. Still I know that he’s a good guy and there is a chance that has colored what I’m saying about his show. Of course I don’t think that’s the case but in the interest of integrity you, imagined reader, must be made aware of that fact.

This show was a CD release party for Daniel Dillard’s new album After LA. However it’s also important to note that it was a charitable event as well. Proceeds from tickets and CDs are being donated to Charity Water which helps fund wells and other clean water projects in places that desperately need it. He’s actually sponsoring a specific well which you can donate to by clicking here. If you want to donate and get some awesome music you can purchase his album by clicking this.

Josh Dillard

Josh Dillard’s opening set was very straight forward acoustic folk. So of course I loved it. Anyone who reads this blog knows of my love for simple acoustic music. In my opinion it’s just the way that music is supposed to be. Of course that is just my opinion and it’s heavily influenced by my up bringing (When you’re raised by a man who worships Dylan such opinions are bound to form). Music bias aside it was a very good set.

He played almost all original songs and I was really blown away by the lyrical quality of them. His songs are filled with intricate wordplay, honesty and emotion. His vocals have a very serene almost haunting quality that is unburdened by vocal theatrics. Bringing the two together creates this sort of perfect storm of simplicity and complexity. the words carry the power and the music accentuates it. It’s folk music at its best.

Daniel Dillard

Daniel Dillard plays what I like to call heart swell music. The kind of music that carries such power and emotion that it digs its way into your chest and makes you feel full. The kind of music that drags emotion out of you whether you like it or not. The kind of music that can only be born of a passion for music.

The most impressive part of his performance for me was his voice. It’s the type of voice that sounds like it would carry for miles unamplififed. He sings with incredible power and reckless abandon. I really must say, having known Daniel socially for a while, that I never really expected it. His speaking voice belies his singing voice. They just really don’t seem like they should come from the same person.

I always talk a lot about passion and honesty here but I think this is the first time I can say it and be 100% certain that it’s true. Daniel delivers his music with passion and honesty. I’m sure that there are musicians out there who are capable of creating the illusion of passion. Hell, you might even be able to argue that any musician who has hit it big has to find that skill after a while. I know Daniel though and I can say without a doubt that he is passionate about music and that that passion shines through in his performance. His voice carries the songs but his passion brings them home.

I don’t think Daniel performs very often. Perhaps if this album is a hit that will be change. I’m not sure. In any case if you get a chance to see him do.

Perhaps more important than all of this is the cause he’s donating too. Even if you don’t like any of the music here please donate what you can to Charity Water.

Daniel is not on YouTube so I’ll just embed the new album below. Give it a listen.

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The Joy of Calming Music

SHOW #48: Dark Dark Dark with Emily Wells and The Changing Colors

Oh dear sweet internet. How have you been? I’ve been pretty fantastic, though I’ll readily admit that I’ve also been a bit lax. It’s been almost two weeks since my last post. What the heck is going on here? I think I may have become a bit complacent because I know that not only is the end in site but, it’s entirely possible for me to succeed now. I hadn’t really been certain I could pull this off. Of course just because I hit 52 shows doesn’t mean I’ll stop talking to you internet, we’ll still be buds, I’ll probably just stop by less frequently. I might also talk about stuff other than music. I haven’t quite decided. None of that has come to pass yet though so let me tell you about the musics I saw last night.

The Changing Colors

This is literally a band of brothers. If you can call two people a band, which I can, mostly because I just did. These two brothers hail from Manitou Springs right here in Colorado and their music as well as their look speaks to a certain mountain sensibility. It’s both simple and beautiful. Though it’s far from perfect.

From a lyrical standpoint nothing they did really stood out to me, which isn’t to say that the songs were bad they were just simple and straightforward. That’s not always bad but when you’re presenting what they did last night, that being a guitar and a  pedal steel with nothing else the lyrics need to shine as much as the music itself does. These lyrics simply didn’t they felt kind of cliched and generic. They just didn’t speak to me. It’s a shame too because the music the two of them created were haunting and beautiful, they just needed a little bit more.

They also suffered a bit from a lack of structure in their songs. Almost every song they played just kind of stopped. They didn’t end they just stopped. There was no sense of motion to the music so when the songs ended it usually felt strange and a little jarring. It was almost as if they were playing snippets of songs getting bored with them and just dropping them. From the perspective of a listener and an audience member this makes the songs feel incomplete and it made it hard to tell even when to applaud. There were several moments where I, and I’m guessing other members of the audience , were wondering of the song had ended or if they were just pausing dramatically. That led to a lot of delayed and sporadic applause.

There is potential here though, their songs did get better as their set went on. Songwriting is just like any other skill the more you do it the better you are at it and the songs will eventually catch up with the music. I also see potential in these guys because the songs were delivered with passion and the singer strayed a bit into an are that reminded me a bit of Ray LaMontagne, and it wasn’t a hackneyed attempt to sound that way it was just the natural passion of the singers voice coming through.

Given time these guys could really become something special so it would be a good idea to keep an eye on them.

Emily Wells

The only thing I can really say about Emily Wells is that she is ridiculously, incredibly talented, and that her music isn’t really for me. Okay, not all of it isn’t for me but on this night, at this show, the drums were just too oppressive. They washed everything else out to the point where they were overwhelming.

She uses drums, a violin, a synthesizer, and well I don’t know what it’s called. It was a pad that would generate different sounds when she hit it with her drum sticks, it was configurable to make different sounds depending on where it was struck. She also made use of her voice as another layer in the music. She brought all these elements together using looping and created incredibly dense and complicated music but the drums took center stage. If there is anything I’ve learned about myself on this concert journey it’s that I don’t like too much drums and this was just too much drums.

In my cursory youtube searches for her I noticed that the drums are a recent addition and I really wish I’d had a chance to see her before them, because the video I’m giving you below is damn incredible. I honestly don’t know that I’d seek her out again, because I wouldn’t be sure what I’d be getting. If I knew for a fact though that she wouldn’t have the drums I’d be there, because there is a lot of good music buried under those drums. just watch this and see.

Dark Dark Dark

Dark Dark Dark’s music is beautiful and their singer Nona Invie has one of the best voices around. Their music melds so well with what she brings vocally that everything they do just comes across as pure serene wonder. I hadn’t listened to a ton of their music going in, I had heard some and I always liked what I heard but I wasn’t sure how it would translate to a live performance. Apparently the answer to that question is, exceptionally well.

From what I’d heard online I felt like they might be a bit one note but when performing they don’t come across that way at all. Their songs might never wander into danceable territory but they go from up beat to down and back again. Somehow though even their upbeat songs have a relaxing quality. Maybe it’s the vocals, I’m not really sure but it’s true. Their music is calming and yet somehow also powerful and moving. Something tells me that’s not easy to pull off, yet they do, and quite well at that.

They hail from Minnesota, which is a state that seems to produce a fair amount of good music, and in a lot of ways I think that you could point to them as the quintessential hipster band. For a long time the singer wore black thick rimmed glasses (though they weren’t present here), they have an accordion and a clarinet, these are things that people look at and see hipster. Though I’m still not 100% clear on what defines a hipster I have a feeling that it’s the kind of thing that might scare some people away from this band. (Though clearly not that many people because the Hi-Dive was packed) So maybe that’s just a strawman built up in  my head, this cadre of imaginary people that don’t listen to Dark Dark Dark because they are too hipster. If they do exist though, I’d have to tell them they are crazy because who cares what they look like when they produce music like this?

The answer should be/hopefully is no one. No one should care what a band looks like, you’re there for the music and when it’s music this good you can just lose yourself in it. This whole thing has taken a weird turn, but I’m too tired to course correct. So look. Dark Dark Dark is awesome, you should listen to them, and see them. I’ll help with the listening. Right…about…now:

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Like Night and Day

SHOW #47: Marinade on Pearl Street and at Sancho’s Broken Arrow 10/7/12 and 10/8/12

You might remember Marinade. I saw them way back in June. The full disclosure from that night still stands. I’m dating the saxophonist’s sister so I might be biased. I mean I’m not, because they are awesome, but I might be. So, I guess take everything you read here with as many grains of salt as you see fit. Just remember that salt is bad for you, so you don’t want to go too crazy.

This is a slightly different post than my usual posts because not only will it only contain one band, it will be talking about them in two different venues. I toyed with the idea of making it two posts, because hey, two shows. In the end though, I only saw about half of their busking performance on Sunday and probably less than half of their bar performance last night. To me that makes one show so I’m going with it. To the musics!


I think I’ve probably spent too much time trying to determine what does and doesn’t count as a show for this blog. As though there is some higher authority who is officially keeping score and will dock me at the end of the year for any non concerts I counted. That’s kind of crazy because live music is live music. Granted, I shouldn’t count it every time I pass a singing hobo but busking is a concert, damn it.

I bring all of that up because for the first of the two Marinade performances I saw they were out busking on a Sunday afternoon in Boulder. I’m not sure how frequently a full band will get out and busk as I don’t partake of much busking but it was pretty cool to see. Their busking set was somewhat different in tone and feel from their bar performances because it was acoustic. If you read this blog at all, you know that’s kind of my thing and it almost goes without saying that I loved it.

They played well together like a band that has, well, played together for a while. All of their varied instruments (wash board FTW) made an appearance and their percussion was handled by a drum box which was unlike anything I had ever seen before. It was amazing the amount of sound that came out of that one little box. The only real downside to the acoustic busking set was that the vocals weren’t quite as clear as they could have been. Which is a shame given how great Talia’s voice is. Granted she wasn’t mic’d, because what kind of busker would be, but I do also wonder if it’s hard to tell how loud you should be singing in such a setting.

That’s a relatively small gripe though as they were fun and energetic and really just pretty damn great. I found out the following day that they rarely do the acoustic thing. I would implore them to change that. Seriously, you’re missing out on a whole different brand of hippie if you only play in bars. Think of the unmusiced coffee shop hippies (Hippicus Cafinicus) they deserve music too.

The second night, or set I guess, was over twenty four hours later and it was much the same as their original set from way back in June, though I did get to see more of it this time. Vocals were great, music was excellent, and the band was just as malleable as they were before- taking several different forms. They played some originals, which are available on their brand new album, (which I would totally link to but can’t because it’s not available online yet,) played some covers, swore profusely, insulted the audience, pretended like their audience insults were compliments, and really just had a great time.

They seem really at home in bars and, really, Sancho’s is a place that’s tailor made for these guys. It’s a Grateful Dead bar full of Grateful Dead people. It’s a bar that demands jamming, and jam they did. Though I think it’s been established here that jamming isn’t really my thing, I do enjoy it in small doses. Had I stayed for the second set it might have worn on me, but for one set it was good.

They don’t get out of Utah that much so you should take the opportunity to see them if you can. It’s worth it.

This little van session is a pretty good example of the busking (I really like the word busk) experience.

I’ll leave you with the music video for their song Tie Die, which I had always thought was called Hippie Killer. I’m wondering if they changed it to lure more hippies into their trap?