Blog Archives

Local Natives

9/23/16
Denver, CO
Ogden Theatre
Map of Colorado, USA
4 Stars
They don’t suck. Attending this show was a bit of an experiment for me. I loved Local Natives’ debut album and, many years ago, had gotten around to seeing them live while touring their sophomore album Hummingbird. (One of my favorite albums of any year or genre, I believe Hummingbird is without flaw and, if you haven’t heard it, you should stop reading this and seek it out.) The first time I saw them was at an outdoor festival, in the afternoon, in sweltering heat, with a horrible crowd of drunks; the second time was as an opener, in the afternoon, in sweltering heat, with a horrible crowd of hipsters. Both times, they played great, but the crowds HATED them. Was I missing something? Did one of my most favorite bands actually suck and I just wasn’t seeing it? I had to find out, so I jumped at the chance to see them play my local theater, touring behind their terrific third album, as headliners this time. And this time … THE CROWD WENT APE SHIT. It was awesome. We danced like animals, we sang along to every word, we cried. (Really, I saw a girl in the front row crying.) Okay, this is better. These are my people. And the band was charged, generous, filled with energy, happy. Their harmonies were gorgeous, their playing, tight. (The bassist was stoned out of his mind but his playing, too, was tight.) I’ll see them again, confident they don’t suck. Setlist

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra

8/26/16
Denver, CO
Ogden Theatre
Map of Colorado, USA
3 Stars
Lean and unpredictable. You learn quickly that UMO frontman Ruban Nielson’s not much of a talker — he comes onstage without fuss and, after a long time fiddling with his guitar, moves quickly from song to song — but that doesn’t mean you don’t get inside his head. One second he’ll be chillin’, like he’s on a quiet street corner playing for himself … and the next, he’ll bust a James Brown-style dance move out of nowhere or drop to his knees and shred like Prince. He’s not aping — he’s a terrific guitar player — you just don’t expect it. If that’s all that was presented it would be enough to keep things interesting … but holy shit the drummer, Amber Baker, is a beast in hip-hop style clothes, and the light show is on point. The songs alternated from the patient delivery of “So Good at Being in Trouble” to the shred-fest “One At A Time” to the bounce-a-thon “Ffunny Ffrends.” You don’t know which Ruban Nielson is going to play you the next note, but that was part of the fun. Setlist

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Explosions In The Sky

5/10/16
Denver, CO
Ogden Theatre
Map of Colorado, USA
3 Stars
Cinematic. Claustrophobic. Courageous. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a concert quite like the one performed by this band. It’s remarkable that their music, played in a rock club with no vocals (they’re 100% instrumental) and no video screens (just smoke, lots of smoke) manages to paint such clear pictures on the listener’s imagination. The songs build slowly, starting quietly, drawing you in. Sometimes they meander to unexpected places; usually they feature crescendos like tidal waves, walls of sound, thrilling and punishing. It helps that the band members can really play their instruments, I mean they can really play. There aren’t many other bands playing in the vocal- slash frontman-dominated modern rock scene borrowing more from symphonic film soundtrack music than from Led Zeppelin or Nirvana or EDM … and they’re killing it. Huge smiles in the audience everywhere you looked. Setlist

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Foals

4/26/16
Denver, CO
Ogden Theatre
Map of Colorado, USA
4 Stars
Another Foals corker. These guys just blow me away every time I see them. They’ve got a no-bullshit approach to their live show — walk out, get playing, chat a bit, keep it moving — but their energy is off the charts. Each man on stage is writhing and jumping and headbanging and swaying and sweating … for two hours. And the songs! They’re rock — even heavy at times — but they’re so, so danceable. A Foals show sees hipsters, club kids, metalheads and mathletes all shaking their asses. This was a great, eclectic crowd, and you could tell the band was loving it. Bonus points to opener Kiev for covering an obscure Paul Simon song, “Can’t Run But,” one of my favorites. Setlist

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Dr. Dog

2/12/16
Denver, CO
Ogden Theatre
Map of Colorado, USA
3 Stars
A butt-shaker. Stylistically this band is hard to classify — they weave through freaked-out psychadelia, blue-eyed soul and roots-based Americana with ease — but it makes for a great live show. You never know where they’re gonna go next, you only know that they’re gonna be soaked in sweat by the time the get there. True to form, this show was a work-out: drums and percussion held the line while pounding keys and a 3-guitar assault sealed the deal. And when they took requests from the audience for their encore, the crowd when bug nuts. The force is strong with these ones.

The Bright Light Social Hour, a band I hadn’t seen before but heard great things about, started the night by blowing the doors off the place. I’ll definitely be seeking those dudes out again soon. 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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Tame Impala

5/30/15
Denver, CO
Ogden Theatre
Map of Colorado, USA
4 Stars
Swirly whirly rock. These guys were blowing up around the time they made it to Denver so the little Ogden Theatre was packed. In a few weeks their awesome “Currents” would earn them a Grammy nomination, but for now, they were happy to smoke what must have been tubs full of Colorado green and smile along with fans for a spacey good time. I mean, these guys were so baked they could barely open their eyes or look up from their instruments, but what they lacked in delivery they made up for in creation, building a set of danceable psych rock heavy on synthesized keyboards, effects-laden guitars and trippy visuals (at one point Kevin turned to the backdrop and “played” a projector connected to his guitar). And you really can’t go wrong when you’ve got a song like “Let It Happen” to open with. I loved that and every second that followed, cherishing what would probably be the last time I’d see them in such a small venue. Setlist

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Jane’s Addiction

11/19/14
Denver, CO
Ogden Theatre
Map of Colorado, USA
3.5 Stars
A tainted return. I was completely stoked for this one: Perry, Stephen and Dave back together for a tour celebrating the anniversary of the release of Nothing’s Shocking — and Denver’s on the (very) short list of dates. The early Jane’s output is among my favorite stuff, and I know Dave and Stephen can still bring it. What I didn’t know was, onstage, Perry demands the spotlight solely on him; literally, there was a spotlight on him, no matter what he was doing or who was soloing, the entire show, leaving everyone else in darkness and barely visible. The vanity really pissed me off, but I tried not to let it ruin an amazing performance of the album-of-honor in full, including the highlight, “Ted, Just Admit It,” which I had never seen live, plus some random favorites from Ritual De Lo Habitual. Perry’s voice faltered at times, but Dave still solos like a champ, and Stephen cemented his status as one of alternative rock’s great drummers. Setlist

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The War On Drugs

10/10/14
Denver, CO
Ogden Theatre
Map of Colorado, USA
3.5 Stars
Classic rock throwback. My buddy Brian and I knew we were going to see these guys at an upcoming festival and wanted to see what the fuss was about ahead of time. They’re great; maybe not as great as their hype would suggest, but there’s passion in their playing, and sometimes that’s good enough. Many of the songs have a classic rock patina on them that makes it all feel a bit old fashioned — I hear Petty, Springsteen and even Jackson Browne — but all the energy onstage is just so … earnest … they’re hard not to like. Setlist

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Interpol

9/27/14
Denver, CO
Ogden Theatre
Map of Colorado, USA
3.5 Stars
Sound and energy. This was my second Interpol show but this time I recruited my partner-in-crime Brian. “A moody rock band using disco beats” was the persona I offered him and it’s pretty much the one they inhabited this night. Their touring keyboardist/vocalist Brandon Curtis (late of The Secret Machines) has become a crucial element of their live shows … and the touring bassist is a monster. These guys are near and dear to my heart; the fact that Brian loved the show and is now a fan validates the feeling. Here’s hoping we can tack on some new recruits the next time Interpol comes to town. Setlist

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