Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Top Shows of 2016

Keeping the yearly tradition alive, I picked my tops shows of 2016. I was extremely lucky and got to see big acts in small venues such as Mudcrutch (Tom Petty's pre Heartbreaker band) at the Ogden Theatre and Chris Stapleton at the Fillmore Auditorium (feeling like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory getting not only one, but two golden tickets).  I witnessed the punk duo PWR BTTM go from an opening band to headlining within a year. Father John Misty made me a believer ... in his cynical dark lyrics and rock and roll delivery.  Lucius mesmerized me with their magical voices and futuristic caped outfits. Despite attending incredible shows throughout the year, my favorites were all strangely in April and May.  So here is the official 2016 Old Guy at the Show Best Concert List.  Drum role please...

5) PWR BTTM at the Bluebird Theatre on 4/4/16

Smeared glitter makeup, hilarious lyrics, shredding guitar, and comic banter 
are bringing the punk spirit to a new generation.

4) Chris Stapleton at the Fillmore Auditorium on 5/6/16

The hairy teddy bear of a man sang his heart out renewing my faith in 
country music.

3) Lucius at the Gothic Theatre on 5/14/16

Possible aliens with angelic voices singing in beautiful harmony.  

2) Father John Misty at the Ellie Caulkins Theatre on 4/9/16

Singing sarcastic poignant lyrics while channeling the Gods of Rock 
with a majestic performance.

1) Mudcrutch at the Ogden Theatre on 5/26/16  

Tom Petty getting back to his southern roots with his teenage band 
while sounding better and looking happier than he has in years. 

Honorable mentions: Courtney Barnett at the Ogden Theatre on 11/8/16 - a divisive American election night seen through the eyes of an Australian Indie Rocker, Blues Traveler at Red Rocks Amphitheater on 7/4/16 - John Popper threw me his trademark hat making it the best Independence Day ever.  Margo Price at the Bluebird Theater on 10/24/16 - Proving why Jack White (my Lord and Savior) signed the Midwest Farmer's Daughter to his record label, and Against Me! at the Marquis Theater on 9/2/16 - Pre-Riot Festival Transgender Dysphoria Blues.

Everybody here at Old Guy at the Show H.Q. wishes you happiness, peace, and music in 2017.

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one talking about the time I met PWR BTTM.

PWR BTTM and Old Guy at the Show

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Brian Setzer Orchestra and Beat Root Revival at the Paramount Theatre in Denver, CO on 12/13/16

In 1986, I went to Denver, Colorado's Rainbow Music Hall (now a Walgreens) to see Brian Setzer's The Knife Feels Like Justice tour (that's right. I'm that old).  He revitalized Rockabilly with his band The Stray Cats when a song called Pac-Man Fever dominated the radio. Setzer inspired me to learn guitar (I can still play a bad version of The Stay Cat Strut).  Twenty-five years ago, he rejuvenated another genre when he formed the Brian Setzer Orchestra. It was a welcome change from the early 1990's Grunge music. Instead of listening to a moody guy in flannel, Setzer brought back upbeat Swing music inspiring people to dance.  It also made Zoot Suits fashionable again, but I guess that can be forgiven.

The Brian Setzer Orchestra
The Brian Setzer Orchestra has been performing a Christmas show for the past thirteen years. The Christmas Rocks tour stopped in Denver for the first time since 2007 (I was at that show as well). The nineteen-piece band played a combination of holiday standards, Stray Cat hits, cleverly reworked covers songs, and their own catalog.

The Paramount Theatre removed the seats toward the front on the stage for the fans to get closer and dance. The big band came out dressed in black suits with bright green shirts complete with matching scarfs. Setzer still rocking his blonde pompadour was center stage wearing a leopard skin printed shirt matching his backing singers' short skirts.

Brain Setzer
Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree started the night off making the slightly older than me crowd get into the holiday spirit.  The BSO followed that up with Hoodo Voodoo Doll letting the audience know that they were there to rock ... and spread Christmas cheer. The combination of Setzer's guitar playing and powerful horns were amazing. The background singers' choreographed moves and retro-voices fit the music perfectly.

The Stray Cat Strut, Rock This Town, and Fishnet Stocking were all transformed into Big Band numbers satisfying the Stray Cats fans. One of the most mind blowing numbers of the night was AC/DC's Let There Be Rock. Hearing a trumpet player doing Angus Young guitar riffs was awe-inspiring.

Johnny "Spazz" Hatton and Brian Setzer
All photos taken by the Rock and Roll Princess
In the middle of the set, most of the members of the orchestra left the stage to let Setzer play a rockabilly set. It wasn't the expected Stray Cats catalog. They performed Elvis Presley covers.  Mystery Train highlighted Brian Setzer's swagger.  At one point, Setzer stood on top of the drums and instructed bass player Johnny "Spazz" Hatton to climb on his instrument (get your minds out of the gutter).

Displaying a big piece of sheet music to introduce Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, Setzer thanked composer Patrick Williams who was in the audience. Williams and Setzer have been arranging the music for BSO since the beginning.

The night ended with Santa Claus tossing candy canes into the audience to Jingle Bells.  The lyrics were changed from a "sled" into a "57 Chevrolet."  Brian Setzer stated,  "There are good nights and great nights on this tour. I think this is a great one." Everyone smiling as they left the Christmas Rocks show agrees.

Beat Root Revival
Beat Root Revival opened the show.  The blues folk duo mainly played crowd pleasing covers of Fleetwood Mac's Thunder Only Happens When It's Raining, Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven, and KT Turnstall's Black House and the a Cherry Tree. Andrea Magee who is from Ireland meet London singer Ben Jones after appearing on X-Factor.  Their original song Forever was inspired about a missing block of cheese from a sandwich made by her aging father (sadly, no dairy products were mentioned in the song's lyrics).  They finished with the BeatlesCome Together having the crowd singing along to a song about Toe Jam Football (I still don't know what that John Lennon lyric means).

See you at the next show.  I will be the one dreaming of dashing through the snow in a 57 Chevrolet.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Diane Coffee, Ned Garthe Explosion, and Shady Elders at the Marquis Theatre in Denver, CO on 12/8/16

On an extremely cold Thursday night, people left the comfort of their warm homes to enter the non-heated Marquis TheatreRed Bull was the sponsor for the evening of music.  They provided three dollar tickets if you went through their website.  The first one hundred to arrive received free hot chocolate.  Complimentary cocktails (Red Bull and fruit juice) were given to the legal consumers (one per customer), and a Glam Bar provided free makeovers by Alison Renee Smith for anyone that wanted to emulate the feature attraction's glittery persona.  The headliner saw Headwig and the Angry Inch at the Denver Theater for Performing Arts Complex the night before compliments of Red Bull.  A perfect musical for a band named Diane Coffee fronted by a guy named Shaun Fleming.

Diane Coffee
After the band played a brief introduction, Shaun Fleming entered in a purple pantsuit channeling Prince and possibly Hillary Clinton with sparkling glitter providing a mask around his eyes.  A large number of the audience had matching glitter thanks to the Glam Bar.  The psychedelic Motown group had the crowd (still in their coats, hats, and gloves) grooving along to every song.  Fleming engaged his fans with a smile and gleeful (but hyper) between-song-banter. When he sang Green, so much energy was pouring through his grape color outfit expressing, "Now that I can't have you leaving again/My heart bleeds and I need a friend/Now that I can't have you leave anymore/No, no I won't ever walk out the door." Fleming fell to the floor James Brown style.  I was waiting for someone to put a cape around him like the Godfather of Soul.  But he got up and disappeared backstage while the band all dressed in conservative black continued to play their soulful hearts out.

Diane Coffee All photos by the
Rock and Roll Princess
When Shaun Fleming returned, he was wearing paisley pants and a sparking tuxedo jacket without a shirt.  Free from the constraints of the pantsuit, the pace picked up. Singing I Dig You, Fleming went all over the stage and even on top of some unstable amplifiers.  That alone would be a difficult task, but it was revealed that Fleming was doing it with vintage buckled shoes held together with duct tape.  The footwear started to fall apart near the end of the show.  Fleming's energy must have been too much for the leather to hold together. This is the third time I have seen Diane Coffee. The first time Fleming had a broken foot, the second time their instruments started to crumble, and now Fleming's shoes were the latest victims of their powerful music. Not That Easy could be the perfect song describing the hardship of being Fleming's foot, instruments, or shoes.  But the closing song appeared to be about coming home to a love.  The band left with the crowd full of free drinks, wearing sparkles, and wanting more.

Ned Garthe Explosion
Denver's own Ned Garthe Explosion was the second band on the bill.  When lead singer Ned Garthe appeared, he started shouting, "Boring.  Get off the stage" to himself.  This set the tone for a fun spirited set of music. Their humor filled lyrics had the audience chanting "Dumb Friends League" (a reference to a local animal shelter).  When they performed I like You, the crowd broke out into a PBR soaked mosh pit.  Shady Elder's own Fox Rodemich was near the front of the stage singing along and tossing her gloves at the band.  Bass player and Joe Walsh doppelgänger Tyler Breuer kept the band grounded despite Garthe's microphone stand falling down throughout the night.  Keeping the free stuff coming, lighted mini flashlights were handed out to the crowd to promote their new album Flashlight Tan.  It provided a cheap special effect and made me wonder how long I needed to keep dancing with a flashlight.  

Shady Elders
The band Shady Elders started the showcase.  Denver native, Fox Rodemich, lead the four-piece through a genre of music known as Cold Summer (think Goth beach music).  In an effort to warm up the crowd, Rodemich told the audience to move around and dance while they played Summer Song.  She slowly strummed her guitar and sang like she was the only one in the room.  Rodemich's haunting voice and Miles Eichner's surf guitar licks had the crowd swaying back in forth.  Keeping with the night of give aways, the band gifted vinyl albums of their music to the first few fans at the merch both that saw their message on social media.

See you at the next show.  I will be the one dancing with my free mini flashlight not dressed in a pantsuit.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Strumbellas and Dave Simonett and Dave Carroll of Trampled By Turtles at eTown Hall in Boulder, CO on 12/3/16.

Three guys all named Dave walk into a solar-powered converted church as a prize for a radio station contest.  It's no joke. It's the award for the KBCO's Select A Set Weekend contest.  Listeners sent in songs with a common theme.  The participants whose sets were played over the airwaves in October won tickets to an intimate performance by The Strumbellas and Dave Simonett and Dave Carroll (from Trampled by Turtles).  It was a generous prize because The Strumbellas just played the 7,500 capacity 1st Bank Center the night before and Trampled by Turtles recently sold out the 10,000 capacity Red Rocks Amphitheatre.  The show took place at eTown Hall the solar-powered 200 seat refurbished former church (home of the eTown syndicated radio show).  I don't want to brag, but KBCO chose my set.

The Strumbellas
The Strumbellas (inspired from the word umbrella) are a Toronto, Ontario band that formed in 2008 from a Craig's List posting.  Their hit song Spirits has brought them mainstream success.  Singer Simon Ward led the joyful six piece band through sing-along songs with positive messages (their newest album is entitled Hope after all).  After performing the song Young and Wild about the feeling of youth, Ward joked that it was easy for them to play because they were all just nineteen-years-old after all.  After performing their latest single We Don't Know, Ward surveyed the crowd for approval. An older gentleman in the front row named Gregory indicated it wasn't his favorite.  Which is hard to believe because of the song's infectious lyrics, "We don't know if we're lost, that we'll find a way/We Don't know if we leave, will we make it home/We don't know, there's hope, then we'll be okay. "  The man's disapproval was mentioned throughout the rest of the evening as a reminder that someone in the adoring crowd wasn't that impressed.  Ward thanked the gentleman for being the center of his self-deprecating humor at the end of the night.  Proving the stereotype true. Canadians are exceedingly nice.

Simon Ward and David Ritter
One of the most memorable moments was when the entire band walked away from their microphones and sat on the edge of the stage to sing Wild Sun.  Everyone in the band had a remarkable voice.  It wasn't difficult to convince the audience to sing, clap, and stomp along.

David Ritter, a doppelgänger for Judah Friedlander (the guy from the 30 Rock television show with the baseball hat and big glasses), played keyboards, sang backing vocals, and performed interpretive dance moves.  There was a reason he was positioned front and center of the band.   Ritter stated that The Strumbellas were accustomed to playing bars and music festivals.  They were not used to the polite Boulder crowd.  Ritter pleaded with the audience to start talking on their cell phones and tossing beer bottles for a sense of normalcy.  Pointing to the DAVE printed on the front of his hat, Ritter expressed his outrage of not only having one Dave, but two Daves that are more talented and handsome than him open the show.

Dave Carroll and Dave Simonett
Those two Daves are from the alternative bluegrass band Trampled by Turtles from Duluth, Minnesota.  The band's name derived from a brain storming session making sure they didn't sound anything like bluegrass (mission accomplished). Lead singer and guitarist Dave Simonett told the crowd they were dressed in suits because thought it was a formal affair. Banjo player and backing vocalist Dave Carroll only spoke to the audience once during the set.  He thanked someone in the crowd that expressed his love for Carroll's exceptional banjo playing.  One of the highlights was a song from Simonett's new solo project Deadman Winter.  The singer told the crowd he would give it a B+ or maybe a C-.  Judging by the loud applause the crowd disagreed.

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one not named Dave.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox at First Bank Center in Broomfield, CO on 11/12/16

Scott Brandlee's Postmodern Jukebox is a variety show filled with talented people that have been on Broadway, television singing competitions, and motion pictures.  Postmodern Jukebox takes modern hit songs and re-imagines them into old-fashion genres of music.  The audience dresses in bygone styles of attire. Men wear suits, ties, and hats.  Women wear dresses, shawls, and bonnets.  All with the hopes to be transported back in time.

Post Modern Jukebox started as YouTube videos and has grown into a worldwide tour.  If you have some time between your daily doses of cat videos, I provided links to the videos throughout this review.  This is the second time the show has hit the Denver area.  Last year they played the Paramount Theater with a capacity of 1,870.  This year the tour moved it's way up to the First Bank Center with a capacity of 7,500.

Mykal Kilgore - All photos taken by the Rock and Roll
Mykal Kilgore came out in a shiny suit, silver shoes, and dreadlocks to host the evening's night of music.  He has performed in Motown The Musical, The Book of Mormon (US Tour), and the Broadway Revival of Hair.  Kilgore sung a Jackie Wilson style version of Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On (Yes.  That Titanic song).  It's fun to think of Leonardo DiCaprio vanishing into the ocean while tapping your foot.
Postmodern Jukebox video link

Von Smith, who was on the 8th Season of American Idol, sang Justin Timberlake's Cry Me a River.  He sang it in a dramatic cabaret style with a trombone accompaniment.  Smith also did a vintage take of Guns N' Roses Sweet Child O' Mine (just like Axl Rose always envisioned).  His vocal range was amazing.  Some of those notes still might be bouncing around the venue.
Postmodern Jukebox video link

Von Smith, Mykal Kilgore, and Sara Niemietz
The show was mainly about the ladies.  Sara Niemietz is as beautiful as her voice.  And her voice is pretty amazing.  Niemietz has been performing since she was four years old.  She has appeared on The Grande Ole OpryGlee, and major motion pictures.  Niemietz wowed the crowd with a doo-wop version of Outkast's Hey Ya! with Smith and Kilgore providing the backup vocals and hand gestures.  Niemietz also did a killer jazz version of Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive. 
Postmodern Jukebox video link

Brielle Von Hugel is an American Idol semifinalist from season 11.  The twenty-two year old blonde singer from Staten Island sang a 1960's version of Bruno Mars' Grenade. Von Smith and Mykal Kilgore provided backing vocals.  It's her first tour with the veteran group.  Not that you could tell.
Postmodern Jukebox video link

Ariana Savalas

Ariana Savalas, the youngest daughter of Telly Savalas, might be the star of the show.  She had more costume changes than Cher and more one-liners than a modern Mae West.  Savalas pulled out a "volunteer" from the audience to perform a sultry jazz version of Ginuwines' Pony.  It involved a raincoat, a bolo hat, and very little clothing.  Savalas recreated a scene from the film Magic Mike that used the same song.  I didn't see the movie (since I don't seek out cinema involving male strippers ... not that there is anything wrong with that). Savalas also performed Taylor Swift's Blank Space that featured a scantily clad tap dancer Sarah Reich performing a fan dance (more shows need scantily clad women doing fan dances).
Postmodern Jukebox video link
Brielle Von Hugel is All About the Bass
The talented musicians that backed the vocalists effortlessly switched from jazz, do-woop, and rhythm and blues throughout the night. When Brielle Von Huge sang Megan Trainor's All About the Bass, the band danced along showing the audience how they are "bringing booty back."  Pianist Jesse Elder played a haunting version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.  Michael Kilgore encouraged the audience to sing along as a tribute to the recently deceased singer-songwriter.  The style of Cohen's music wasn't changed since he will always be a classic.

The night ended with Von Smith leading the entire crew to a Motown version of Taylor Swift's Shake It Off.  Like most of the songs that evening, I almost didn't recognize it until they sang about "Players gonna Play."
Postmodern Jukebox video link

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one wearing the fedora looking for the fan dancer.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Courtney Barnett and Alex G at the Ogden Theatre in Denver, CO on 11/8/16

On Tuesday, the sold out crowd wanted to escape the election. They wanted to brake away from a divided nation. And most importantly, they wanted to avoid watching someone named Wolf Blitzer point to a map.  Music fans were there to witness one of the most original voices in the last few years.  You know that singer that won Best New Artist for that song All About the Bass.  Well, Courtney Barnett is the Australian Indie Rocker who lost to her (Meghan Trainor) at this year's Grammy Awards.

All Photos by the Rock and Roll Princess
Courtney Barnett is a mixture of stream-of-conscious beat poet and grunge musician.  She incorporates subjects like road kill, purchasing suburban real estate, and avoiding parties in her insightful clever lyrics.  Oh, and she can rock (Barnett is from the same country as AC/DC after all).

A screen flashing her name built anticipation to the hipster crowd. That's when bass player Andrew Bones and drummer Dave Mudie took the stage appearing like they just rolled out of bed.  Courtney Barnett followed looking like Leather Tuscadero joined Nirvana (that's right. I just referenced Happy Days). She performed almost every song from her debut album Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.

Courtney Barnett
The backing screen displayed striking images tailored for every song.  During Dead Fox an animated homicidal fox drove his car hitting several other cartoon characters on a bloody highway. During Pedestrian At Best, clowns crossed the screen while Barnett sang, "I think you're a joke, but I don't find you very funny."  This incited the restless crowd to mosh. One of the body-slammers started to climb the stage.  Before getting too close to Barnett, he was pulled down by a rather burly fan that didn't want the headliner to be tackled.  Apparently security was to busy watching election returns to care.

During Depreston, Courtney Barnett described house hunting with her girlfriend.  The screen displayed an animated car driving through a suburban neighborhood.  The crowd sang along to the lyrics, "If you got a spare half a million, you can knock it down and start rebuilding."  The irony of the song was not lost to the crowd that knows Denver's obscene housing market.
Courtney Barnett "Drunk on
Election Night"

Barnett switched to an acoustic guitar to perform Dan Kelly's Drunk on Election Night inspiring the crowd to sing along.  The explicit lyrics made me blush, but Barnett's charm was never stronger.   Barnett admitting to the audience that she was sober, but hoped the audience was liquored up.

She ended with Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go to the Party.  The audience jumped up and down chanting, "I want to go out, but I want to stay home."  After waving good-bye to the audience, the band left the stage.  The house music slowly faded up to R.E.M.'s It's The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).  I realized that the majority of the audience wasn't born yet when that song was released twenty-nine years ago (And I Feel Old).

Alex G
Standing in line before the show, I noticed a shifty fella dash out from a 7-Eleven and run into the theatre with a stained leaky bag full of food. When the opening band emerged on stage, it turns out that dude was Alex Giannascoli who performs under the pseudonym Alex G.  In the last two year, the Pennsylvania native went from recording demo songs in his bedroom to playing on Frank Ocean's recent album. With a belly full of convenience store cuisine, his band played low-fi songs that could be compare to Elliot Smith.  The music was a suitable match to Barnett's grunge trio.  Waddling like a duck to the rhythm, Giannascoli captured the audience attention with his sparse guitar sound.  The experimental noise songs were ... interesting.

See you at the next show.  I will be the one wondering what ever happened to the Leatherettes (that's right, another Happy Days reference).

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Margo Price and William Tyler at the Bluebird Theatre in Denver, CO on 10/24/16.

Forgoing seeing the Denver Broncos play on Monday Night Football, I headed down to the Bluebird Theatre to witness what Modern Traditional Country Music sounds like... It sounds like Margo Price.

The audience was a mixture of cowboys in their black hats and plaid shirts, women in their skirts and expensive cowboy boots, and hipsters with their beards and lack of hygiene.  They were gathered there to witness an artist who not only performs Country Music, but also lives Country Music.
Margo Price - all photos by the Rock 
and Roll Princess

Broke and desperate, long time Nashville musician Margo Price sold her car and wedding ring to make an album at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee (where Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley recorded their first hits).  After being turned down by numerous labels, Jack White (my lord and savior) signed her to his label Third Man Records.  Being the label's first Country Artist, people took notice.  Price appeared on Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, and Prairie Home Companion. She has been hitting the road playing small venues between performing with musical legends like Willie Nelson and John Prine.

Every member of her band is so talented each of them could headline their own show (okay, the drummer's show might be awkward).  After the band's instrumental build-up, Price took the stage and had the audience captivated instantly.  She sounds like a cross between Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton mixed with a rock and roll attitude.

Margo Price and her amazing band
Margo Price's set list mostly focused on material from her debut album Midwest Farmer's Daughter which is about her life as .... a farmer's daughter from Aledo, Illinois. The songs give the listener great insight to the heart of the artist.  Since You Put Me Down states, "I'm an outcast and I'm a stray/And I plan to stay that way."  Price mixed it up and played Merle Haggard's Red Bandana and Loretta Lynn's Rated X (it's about divorce get your mind out of the gutter). Price shared how she recently got a text asking if she would like to sing Me and Bobby McGee with Kris Kristofferson at a music festival.  She found herself on stage next to him thirty minutes later.

Jeremy Ivey and Margo Price
Price introduced here husband Jeremy Ivey as her "Baby Daddy."  The two had great chemistry while he played harmonica next to her while she strummed and crooned. Performing Four Years of Chances, Price looked his way when she sang the lyric "He loves me every moment/Of them three hundred sixty-five days."

A sad tale about her time spent at the Davidson Country Jail introduced the song Weekender. The moral of the story was to avoid drinking and driving especially if the result is hitting a telephone pole in front of police officers.

The opener William Tyler joined them for their final song Rodney Crowell's I Ain't Living Long Like This.  With Price's authentic talent and her band's excellent musicianship, they ain't going to play small venues like this much longer.

William Tyler
Nashville guitarist William Tyler was the opening act.  Since he played a solo instrumental set, it was interesting to see most of the bejeweled cowboy booted women in the audience just fold their arms while the bearded hipsters bobbed their head to every note. Tyler's latest album is entitled Modern Country.  He stated that it's misleading since it's not modern or country.  The theme of the album is a disappearing America.  Tyler explained the song Going Clear being about the instant an AM radio station signal disappears as you drive on a highway late at night.  He described the experience as "better than drugs."  Tyler, an established Nashville session player, expressed his gratitude of playing with his long time friend Margo Price.  When he later joined Price on stage, his guitar playing was amplified by her band and switching to a Stratocaster.

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one just listening to Country Music.  Not living Country Music.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

GROUPLOVE, Muna, and Dilly Dally at the Ogden Theatre in Denver, CO on 10/18/16

Waiting for the band to start, I found myself in a sea of overly self-medicated young people. After asking one of them to politely refrain from leaning on me (I had a seven dollar beer to protect). I was told I was too old to be there.  Then this absolute delight informed me I should be home with my wife (I am not married) and my five kids (I don't even own a house plant).  I was being shamed for being the Old Guy at the Show. I was captivated by the amazing rhetorical exchange.  But sadly this 'person' with a sparkling personality disappeared into the crowd.  Thankfully there was love coming my way.... GROUPLOVE.

The band formed in 2009 when singer and keyboardist Hannah Hooper convinced her boyfriend singer and guitarist Christian Zucconi to join her at an artist commune in Greece.  That's where they teamed up with the rest of the band to form GROUPLOVE.  This is the first tour after an extended break for the birth of Hooper's and Zucconi's daughter.

A hype man came on stage to introduce the band because.... why not.  That's when the five musicians sprang on stage. The backdrop consisted of giant hands from their latest album Big Mess' cover art painted by Hannah Hooper. I guess the band brought the heat because drummer Ryan Rabin, son of former Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin took off his shirt after only one song. A pink haired Hooper dressed in a belted black body suite never stopped smiling and dancing.  A green haired Christian Zucconi dressed in his signature oversized t-shirt and ripped jeans lead the band through a fevered set.

Their hit Tongue Tied started right after Hooper ordered the crowd to lock their arms around each other. I guess you should expect these kinds of practices at a GROUPLOVE show.  The song's bouncy chorus made the crowd's chain brake and bodies started jumping to the beat unchained.

Lead guitarist Andrew Wessen sang the fuzzy synth heavy song Cannonball.  It could easily be mistaken for a noise pop Sleigh Bells record. The rest of the band joined in at the end while bouncing along to the infectious beat.

Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi
The only cover of the night was the Beastie Boys' Sabotage. The attitude of the 1990's song fit the band perfectly.  It was sad when Hooper had to inform the young crowd the 22-year-old song wasn't one of their own.

Things slowed down when Zucconi performed Enlighten Me with only his acoustic guitar.  The song describes the passing of time. Let's call it quits and see what the future holds/I've been here before, yeah, we just went down this road/A long time to feel young, short time to get old.  The band joined him near the end because they are a group of love after all.

Before the final song Colours, Hooper expressed her gratitude towards the females in the opening bands.  Stating it's nice to tour with talented women so it's not just her and their daughter traveling with the guys.  The house music played them off stage with the appropriate Beatles' All You Need is Love.

Muna a trio from Los Angeles was one of two opening bands. I would compare their sound to Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill era.  The members are gay and their confessional songs produce compelling takes of a wide range of emotions. Lead singer Katie Gavin wore a dress that was made up of silky trash bag like material.  The song Winterbreak combined with Gavin's movements and haunting voice mesmerized the sold out crowd.  When she addressed the audience between songs, someone from the audience yelled out, "It's okay to be gay."  Gavin repeated the statement before she went into her next song.

Dilly Dally
Dilly Dally, a Toronto based band, opened the show.  Many of their songs had the same feel as Nirvana's In Bloom.  Katie Monks' raspy voice sounded like she just woke up making her instantly likable. The grudge guitar playing by Liz Ball who was sporting a half shaved head (I first thought she was wearing a weird hat) brought their music to 1990's guitar driven glory.  After seeing a doctor that day, lead singer Katie Monks was happy to share the news she didn't have strep throat. Having an inflamed throat could be one of the reasons their debut album is entitled Sore.

Despite being elderly shammed. I still feel lucky to be able to see so much live music. It's a celebration of life.  GROUPLOVE summed it up best stating, "A long time to feel young, short time to get old."  See you at the next show.  I'll be the one proud to be the Old Guy at the Show.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

CAKE at the Boulder Theater, Boulder, CO on 10-15-16

CAKE began in the early nineties when Grunge was still dominating the airwaves. Instead of mumbling guys in flannel shirts, CAKE's music had humor, trumpets, and a vibraslap (a percussion instrument that sounds like a rattlesnake with rhythm).  Their music crosses many genres.  They have covered Disco - Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive, Country - Kenny Rogers' Ruby Don't Take Your Love to Town, and Heavy Metal - Black Sabbeth's War Pigs.  Lead singer John McCrea is a man before his time.  He sported a Trucker Hat before Ashton Kutcher wore it on Punk'd and had a beard before your favorite Starbucks' barista was born.

The show began with an announcement stating all photography would be prohibited. Anyone using a device will be escorted out of the venue.  This post doesn't have any of the prohibited pictures.  I abide by an artist's request ... and I don't want to be kicked out of a show.  Electronic music played a cheesy Rocky like theme song for several minutes to set the mood before the band took the stage.

Photo taken from a wolf shirt website
Dressed in a wolf tee shirt and a zipped hoodie, McCrea started the show with Oprah Singer from 2001 album Comfort Eagle.  From that moment on, the audience of mostly middle age men (hey - that's me) started to sing ... badly to every song (hey - that's me too).   The top of the singers' American flag boxer shorts appeared ever time he raised his hands making the few women in attendance hot and bothered or maybe just bothered.

After a few songs, John McCrea asked the crowd to put away their devices and enjoy the show to get the most of their entertainment value.  The stoned guys in front took pictures of the singer pleading for them not to take pictures.  Staying classy Boulder.

The sing along portion of the evening involved CAKE's darker songs.  Starting with Sheep Go to Heaven from their 1998 album Prolonging the Magic.  The lyrics state, "As soon as you are born you start dying/So you might as well have a good time." Giving everyone an excuse to yell along.  Half of the audience was instructed to sing "Sheep Go to Heaven" while the other half sang, "Goats Go to Hell." McCrea conducted the audience like an orchestra while at the same time stating we all had "beautiful voices." Satan is My Motor from the same album was introduced as "a song that is alright for a Christian Evangelists to sing because it's just symbolism...mostly symbolism."   The first set ended with Sick of You from their 2011 album Showroom of Compassion.  The crowd sang, "I'm so sick of you/So Sick of me/I don't want to be with you."

CAKE lead singer John McCrea and tree winner
Guinevere.  Photo taken from CAKE's Social Media
After a fifteen minute intermission, the band came back to give away a tree.  You might think this is a strictly Boulder, Colorado incident.  But I saw CAKE give away a cherry tree in Denver in 2011 and a peach tree at Red Rocks in 2012.  After asking for only responsible individuals to participate, they gave an apple tree to new homeowner Guinevere.  You can track all of the trees they have given away at CAKE's virtual forest on their website.

My favorite song Stick Shifts and Safety Belts from their 1996 album Fashion Nugget was next. The lyrics state, "Stick Shifts and Safety Belts/Bucket Seats/ All have to go/When I am driving in the car/It makes my baby seem so far."  Guitar player Xan McCurdy played the fast paced country licks perfectly.

CAKE's event poster
Never There, featuring the excellent trumpet playing of Vince DiFlore, encouraged the crowd to yell "Hey" loudly after every verse. Meanwhile, McCrea played his vibraslap during every dramatic pause to complete the signature CAKE sound.  After another sing along with Short Skirt/Long Jacket had the drunken crowd shouting about "a girl with a smooth liquidation and good dividends."

The night ended with The Distance.  Inspiring an audience member to crowd surf causing their foot to land on the head of a ten year near the front of the stage.  It's just good parenting to take a child to a concert full of drunk stoned smelly hairy guys.  The child who was wearing a Make America Cake Again red baseball hat was all right ... physically.  Who knows what kind of emotional scars he will be sharing with his psychologist years from now?

See you at the next show.  I will be the one hoping we can make America CAKE again.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Bonnie Raitt and Richard Thompson Trio at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO on 9/8/16

Walking up the stairs leading into Red Rocks Amphitheatre, it appeared the entryway was closed due to a number of people gathered by the gateway.  When I got closer, I realized it wasn't a line... just music fans of advanced years trying to catch their breath from the steep climb.  It occurred to me that I might not be the Old Guy at the Show tonight.

B.B. King stated, "Bonnie Raitt was one of the best damn slide guitar players (ever)."  Rolling Stone Magazine ranks her in the top 100 best guitar players of all time.  She has a distinctive guitar tone, an amazing soulful voice, and a loyal fan base that has given her a career for over forty years.

Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt started with INXS' I Need You Tonight from her latest album Dig in Deep (her 20th studio album).  She reshaped the 1980's pop classic into a slow sexy blues number. Since Raitt has made a career transforming other artists' music into her own, it was a perfect indicator of the night to come.  A few songs later, Raitt covered Los Lobos' Shakin' Shakin' Shake.  The sign language interrupter off to the side of the stage momentarily stole the spotlight with her expressive signing and dancing (signing a song about shakin' sure looks like fun).

Bonnie Raitt
Opener Richard Thompson joined her to play guitar on Not the Only One (he played guitar on the 1991 record).  Thompson continued to play while Bonnie Raitt covered his song Dimming of the Lights. It was momentous to see two legendary musicians perform together.

Her version of John Prine's Angel From Montgomery was the highlight of the evening.  Armed with only an acoustic guitar, Raitt's voice combined with the heart breaking lyrics echoing off the rocks on a perfect summer night melted the audience hearts... "just give me one thing that I can hold on to /to believe in this living is just a hard way to go."

Raitt and her band
Keyboardist Mike Finnigan took over vocals for a cover of B.B. King's Don't Answer the Door.  "Yes, I don't want you to open the door for anybody, woman/ oh, when you're home and you know you're all alone." He made the paranoid delusional hostage taking lyrics fun.  It made you want to dance instead of call the authorities.

Bonnie Raitt declared, "I am going to play this heart-breaking song because it comes with the gig" as an introduction to I Can't Make You Love Me.  She played it on the keyboard with a slight delay for dramatic effect.   Raitt sang with such strong emotion the audience had a collective sigh when it ended.

When she wasn't talking about the upcoming election or fracking between songs (in her charming non-preachy way), Raitt continuously reapplied lipstick.  She didn't want to appear as a frazzled red dot for the fans in the cheap seats.  Raitt joked it the real reason behind her strict no camera policy.  It was lifted for the last song Your Sweet and Shinny Eyes.  Raitt remarked, "Look at all those fireflies coming out."

Richard Thompson Electric Trio
The Richard Thompson Electric Trio opened the show.  Thompson is a renowned musician that has been performing since the late 1960's. He started with the rocking Fork in the Road from last year's Still album.  With his British accent Thompson clarified the title was Fork and to get your minds out of the gutter.  My favorite moment was when he put down his Stratocaster and picked up his acoustic guitar to play 1952 Vincent Black Lightning.  His unique finger picking was impressive and the song is my favorite motorcycle ballad ever (okay... it's the only motorcycle ballad I know).

My Mother stated if I thought the crowd was of advanced years, she remembers Bonnie Raitt's late father John Raitt performing on Broadway.  See you at the next show.  I'll be the one contemplating about re-naming his blog.