Westword Music Showcase reviewed: Bar Standard

The Swayback (1).jpg
Chad Fahnestock
The Swayback turned in one of their best sets in a packed Bar Standard.

See more photos from Bar Standard at westword.com/slideshow.

MS = main stage, P = patio

Six Months to Live - 12:00 - MS
Actually, this got started at more like 12:20 or so. What, a festival running late? Inconceivable! I've got the most recent Six Months to Live album and have enjoyed its poppy goodness for sometime - matter of fact, I had "Spin a Top" stuck in my head for a couple days before the festival. And they played it for me. The rock elements of this band definitely came out more live than on the disc. Also, I loved the keytar and the contrasting fashion of the two leads - one wore a bathrobe and pajamas, the other a suit and tie. Classy.

Verdict: Not as tight as on the album, but considerably more rocking. I'd definitely enjoy a full set from this band sometime.

DJ Tyler Jacobson - 12:00 - P
Trying to cover two stages simultaneously is hard -- especially when one is a DJ stage where it's all about flow and mood. I only caught a few minutes of Jacobson's set, but he had a lot of heads nodding at this ridiculously early (for dance music) hour on the surprisingly full patio. Electro-indie stuff, not really my preference but plenty fun.

Verdict: Jacobson, what's a good night to come check you out? I owe you a deeper look.

The Magic Mice - 1:00 - MS

The Magic Mice.jpg
Chad Fahnestock

I know you aren't supposed to judge books by their covers, or bands by their name, but come on: who doesn't think the Magic Mice should be a cutesy pop band? Well, they aren't. They unleashed a dual-guitar blast of serious RAWK. I was put in mind of a much harder rocking Wilco or the heavier side of Yo La Tengo, which I am totally down with. The opening song really hooked me, but the next couple weren't quite as sharp - although still rocking.

Verdict: Could maybe use some tighter tunes, but I will be seeing these guys again.

Satan's Eighties Love Child - 1:00 - P
Speaking of name issues, this name is all kinds of confusing but totally awesome. Mr. Lovechild had a knob-heavy Korg synth controlling his laptop rig. He wasn't playing anything on the keyboard as far as I could tell, just triggering loops, using the knobs as controllers and maybe running sounds through its filter. It still looked a lot cooler than the usual "dude with a laptop" setup. He sounded pretty good too - like a homegrown version of Justice or Daft Punk: lots of big, ripping electro bangers.

Verdict: The few tracks I caught sounded really good, if not terribly original. But not everything has to break new ground, and it's cool to have a homegrown act doing this.

The Still City - 2:00 - MS
The Still City were a fairly hard-rocking two-guitar outfit with a lot of synth elements and some super-emotive vocals, and I just could not get into it at all. They seemed like they had really dialed in what they were doing, and it didn't sound bad by any means, but it definitely was kind of washing over me without making a real impact of any kind. The place was getting full and the crowd seemed into it, though. I think those vocals were the real culprit - I just find them a bit grating with their earnest intensity and general wailing quality. It's a popular style, it just doesn't push my buttons.

Verdict: Seemed good at what they do, but what they do isn't my thing.

Wesley Wayne - 2:00 - P

DJ Wesley Wayne (1).jpg
Chad Fahnestock

Wearing a coonskin cap at a jaunty angle, and propping a vinyl copy of the Clockwork Orange soundtrack up in front of his rig, Wesley Wayne certainly made a visual impression. And his indie club style had girls dancing despite the heat, which earns him some serious points. But even in the short time I was up there I heard a couple awkward transitions that had me tuning out.

Verdict: Probably sounds a lot better after a few drinks while trying to chat up a tattooed hipster hottie.

Alan Alda - 3:00 - MS
Wait a minute, this is not the star of M.A.S.H.. Oh, but it is a terribly inventive and intense three-piece rock outfit that is coming out of left field in a really awesome way, so I forgive the band for its misleading moniker. The rhythm section was super tight and drives this outfit, but don't let that imply the guitarist is slacking -- he was also awesome. The group played an abbreviated set and when I slipped away to check out the patio stage I ended up missing a good chunk of it, which made me a sad monkey.

Verdict: I'd heard good things about this band from folks I really respect and they were not lying. More, please!

DJ Soup - 3:00 - P
One of the more inventive dudes doing the DJ thing in Denver, and as usual his set was entertaining and full of surprises. I wish I had caught more of them though - he seemed to be blowing things up real good but I was eager to get back to Alan Alda, only to find I had missed the end of their set. Curses, why can't I be in two places at once? It's the curse of festivals - the acts you want to see most are always playing at the same time.

Verdict: If you haven't seen Soup, you need to. The guy is wildly creative.

The Knew - 4:00 - MS

The Knew (1).jpg
Chad Fahnestock

By this point, Bar Standard was packed to the gills. There was barely enough air to breathe. And the Knew pretty much ignited the place. Holy shit, these guys are amazing performers. The addition of a bass player (yes, it has been a while since I saw them perform live) really added to the band, and the outfit's wild-eyed, cow-punked rock was just amazing. If an act outside the lite-rock arena (and the Flobots, of course, who have their own thing going on) is going to break from Denver, I think it will be these guys.

Verdict: I won't be waiting so long between making a point to see these guys again. What the hell was I thinking?

DJ Dragon - 4:00 - P
It was good to see the patio so packed (way better than last year!) and Dragon was getting this crowd moving. His progressive and trance stuff isn't exactly my bread and butter, but he definitely knows his stuff. Good transitions, good energy and people were into it -- despite being about 100 degrees up there, he had the place moving. Quite an accomplishment.

Verdict: If you can make a blistering afternoon feel like a club, you're doing something right.

The Swayback - 5:00 - MS
Oh wow. You'd think that Knew set would be tough to follow, but holy shit were the Swayback up to it. The act launched into this amazingly deep, spaced-out instrumental jam that had me feeling high as a kite despite being dead sober (if a little dehydrated). By the time the band kicked into its trademark moody, dark indie rock, I was totally feeling the vibe. The new guitarist is an awesome addition, too.

Verdict: Best set I have ever seen from the Swayback.

Paul Garcia - 5:00 - P

Paul Garcia (1).jpg
Chad Fahnestock
DJ Paul Garcia
I hated to sneak away from the Swayback to catch this, but was pleasantly surprised to find it quite enjoyable. Garcia built on the clubby vibe Dragon had laid down, switching from the progressive and trance to an electro house set, but losing none of the energy. And it was blissfully cool, which should have been a warning - just as I was really starting to feel it, the rain came down, hard and put an end to that. Damn.

Verdict:
The weather hates Paul Garcia, but I think he's pretty good.

Everything Absent or Distorted (a love story) - 6:00 - MS
Everything Absent or Distorted is one of my favorite Denver bands, and it is no surprise the group delivered one of my favorite sets of the day. There's something about this band live -- the guys don't always play a super tight set (there were definitely a few miscues today) but the energy they deliver is just amazing. The chemistry and affection they all feel for one another is palpable and it makes the music something really special. The fact that they have a killer repertoire of beautifully wrought pop songs doesn't hurt things a bit, but the way they come off in the midst of such beautiful chaos is just special.

Verdict: The day built in intensity throughout and this was the perfect release. Brilliant.

Ivy - 6:00 - P
The rain did not want to play nice, and Ivy had to cut things short due to electrical problems just as I got there. Damn it.

Verdict: The guy is always great, so I assume his set would have been great had mother nature cooperated.


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