Blog Archives

Ray LaMontagne

9/18/16
Morrison, CO
Red Rocks Amphitheater
Map of Colorado, USA
2.5 Stars
Accomplished but schizophrenic. This was an interesting tour for Ray LaMontagne: promoting a psychedelic concept album produced by Jim James, backed by the members of James’ band My Morning Jacket, playing as a member of a group larger than the sum of its parts. Will it feel like he’s wearing the material or like the material is wearing him? Pulling it off is a tall task for a guy known for earnest ruminations on vulnerability and pain, via a live show that must satisfy fans of Bearded Folkie Ray and Punk Rocker Ray. He answered the call by opening with a solo acoustic set, then bringing the band onstage for a by-the-numbers presentation of the new album’s songs in running order, and finishing with a set of electric songs pulled randomly from across his catalog. What at times felt adrift (not helped by his penchant for whispered between-song ramblings) was saved by his often-amazing lead guitar and the undeniable musicianship of his backing band. Still, I’ll take 90 minutes of Bearded Folkie Ray next time, thanks. Setlist

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The Head And The Heart

8/28/16
Morrison, CO
Red Rocks Amphitheater
Map of Colorado, USA
2.5 Stars
Where’d you go? This was Aida’s and my second time seeing this terrific band at Red Rocks and this one was … just okay. They seemed uncomfortable onstage, and made the awkward vibe worse by breaking between-song silences with admissions that they’re no good at talking to the audience during shows. And those silences! The crowd was not into it. A shame since the band delivered a serviceable performance — albeit without founding member Josiah Johnson — that focused on the most celebratory moments of their album Signs Of Light and the best sing-alongs from throughout their catalog. Whatever … we’re seeing them again next summer and I’m confident that one will be a step back in the right direction, especially if they’re reunited with Josiah. Setlist

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Silversun Pickups

12/8/15
Denver, CO
Ogden Theatre
Map of Colorado, USA
2 Stars
An evening rescued. This band has talent — they’ve got the atmospherics I like in my guitar bands — but they lack showmanship. The frontman has zero charisma and no chemistry with his bassist who he insists on chatting with between songs. And the sound mix this night was a brackish, incoherent mess. Much better was the opener, Foals, the reason I bought a ticket at all. They screamed, sweated and stage-dived their way through a 10-song set, wailing on their instruments like champs. They saved the night. Setlist

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Avett Brothers

7/12/14
Morrison, CO
Red Rocks Amphitheater
Map of Colorado, USA
2 Stars
I am nonplussed. Can these guys write great songs? Yes. Can they play and sing their asses off? Yes. Do I need to buy a ticket to see it every summer? No. Great company at this show though: a colleague of Aida’s flew in with his wife and we all had a fun time. Setlist

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The Queers w/ Reno Divorce

Reno Divorce

The Queers

4/25/14
Denver, CO
Bluebird Theater
Map of Colorado, USA
2.5 Stars
One-two punch. The Queers, a goofy punk band from the Northeast, headlined this show, but I went for Reno Divorce. I had been hearing about them for quite some time; little did I know that their bass player is an old friend of an old friend. So off we went to my beloved Bluebird Theater. By no means is punk my cup of tea, but Reno Divorce has swagger — and chops — I can really appreciate. They weren’t just a great opener, they are a great band. And that friend of a friend is cool as a cucumber. The Queers did an admirable job but, being out of my comfort zone, I mostly just people watched during their set. It turns out punk rock shows are great for people watching.

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The National

9/17/13
Morrison, CO
Red Rocks Amphitheater
Map of Colorado, USA
2.5 Stars
Weirdo in front. Does Matt Berninger spend every show walking around the stage like an Autistic guy deserted in a movie theater? Is he always so uncomfortable in his skin when he performs? The frontman never stopped walking quickly back and forth across the stage and rarely looked at the audience. Is he always like this? Because it’s annoying. That was the unshakable thought nagging me the entire time The National was onstage. I really wanted to like this band’s concert — there’s a cinematic quality to their songs that I figured would be perfect for Red Rocks — but goddammit that guy made it a chore. My beloved Local Natives opened so there was that … but even their support couldn’t win over this ticket buyer. This was a strange one. Setlist

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Avett Brothers

6/30/12
Morrison, CO
Red Rocks Amphitheater
Map of Colorado, USA
2.5 Stars
Earnest and energetic. These four guys can fill an awful lot of space with just their voices and a few acoustic instruments. That’s all it took to get this Red Rocks crowd moving and singing along to every word. Their enthusiasm for their craft is infectious; it’s hard to resist getting caught up in it. Setlist

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Cold War Kids

5/8/11
Denver, CO
Ogden Theater
Map of Colorado, USA
2.5 Stars
Serviceable but forgetable. I bought my ticket to this one on the love of “Hang Me Up To Dry” alone. I love that song. Every other song they played: not so much. I know these guys can rock but I just wasn’t feeling it. Setlist

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Doves

5/26/09
Englewood, CO
Gothic Theatre
Map of Denver, Colorado
2 Stars
Earth-bound disappointment. The thing I admire about Doves’ music, like the best psychedelic indie rock being made today, is its ability to envelope you and take you to extraordinary worlds outside your imagination. It surprises you. There was nothing surprising or otherworldly about this show: not the stage set, not the weak projected visuals, and certainly not the performances. The bassist, the primary vocalist on the best songs of their catalog, could barely be bothered to acknowledge the crowd or the fact he had a stage to work with beyond his mike stand. And the live vocals by the other two in the band, brothers, were god-awful. I’ve pored over every note these guys have committed to tape … but their live show just didn’t measure up. Setlist

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Oasis

12/8/08
Broomfield, CO
Broomfield Event Center
Map of Colorado, USA
2.5 Stars
Thrill is gone? I saw Oasis once prior to this show so I knew to expect an aloof band of “brothers” performing as though they had somewhere better to be. That show had an energy to it that this one was lacking. Some variables weighed on me this night — I’m not a fan of the venue, there was a blizzard outside — but I think it just comes down to the fact that Oasis, live anyway, fail to live up to their own hype. They’ve got the songs; I just wanna see them lay it all out there for their fans. Setlist

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