Denver Afterdark travelogue: Safe Boating, Gauntlet Hair, Force Publique and more

Categories: Concert Reviews

Tom Murphy
Bringing the members of Safe Boating is No Accident back to life
While there were many memorable performances at the Denver Afterdark festival -- presented by Analog Space, curated by Peter Black and spread out between several venues on the 2700 block of Larimer last night -- the most unusual and, subsequently, memorable set of the evening belonged to Safe Boating is No Accident, who played a late night set that involved an execution and resurrection of the band members in a dark alleyway between Larimer and Walnut.

Before any of that happened, Neil McCormick and Leighton Peterson picked up their respective instruments, introduced themselves and got down to business. A Casio drum beat kicked in as Peterson and McCormick played a rendition of "Hall of the Mountain King" from Peer Gynt. After one iteration, the tempo changed and the duo repeated the whole thing again multiple times, increasing the tempo each time until they reached a pace too hectic to really keep up on bass and banjo.

Tom Murphy
Safe Boating Is No Accident performing in the alley, post execution/resurrection. See many more photos in the full Denver Afterdark festival on Larimer slide show.

As the pair queued up another song, McCormick laid a spiel on us about how the other half of the band had quit on them and just as casually mentioned how he had gone back to his heroin habit as part of that process. He said it so matter-of-factly that we all went along with it as part of the show. After all, this is one of the few bands that always seems to have some inspired gimmick up its sleeve. After revealing that both of them had grown up in remote towns and had dogs named Lucy, McCormick and Peterson sang/spoke a story song about another dog named Lucy, who apparently changed genders throughout the song, which just added to the hilarity.

The story of this Lucy took that whole Go Ask Alice kind of narrative to new levels, first cast as a friend of Lindsay Lohan's coke dealer, then ending up on a prison reality TV-show, in which Lucy laid waste to the Aryan Brotherhood collectively, because she was Jewish and took umbrage at their whole anti-Semitic and white supremacist jibber jabber. In a final stroke, just as Lucy was about to "curb stomp" (this was an actual lyric in the song) them all in one fell swoop, she said, "Mazel tov, bitch!"

Tom Murphy
Safe Boating Is No Accident in the alleyway of broken dreams. See many more photos in the full Denver Afterdark festival on Larimer slide show.

Following this bizarre song-tale, Safe Boating went into a pretty straight forward folk song, the kind it generally excels at, and when the last notes of the song rang out, two figures in black turtle necks, wielding long carrots stormed into the room proclaiming that they were "Disciples of Pitchfork" and that they were going to "take over the show." The two demanded Safe Boating play Bon Iver -- who, apparently, is the only acceptable person to musically emulate.

Leighton and Neil indulged their demand with a kind of mocking impression that only served to outraged the Disciples, who hinted at some sort of execution out in the alley. Right about then, we were all forcefully encouraged to follow the Safe Boating guys into the alley between Larimer and Walnut, and so out we marched for what turned out to be one of the most bizarre episodes of street theater and performance art in recent memory.

Tom Murphy
Pitchfork Disciple with the members of Safe Boating. See many more photos in the full Denver Afterdark festival on Larimer slide show.

Once we all got to the alley, Leighton Peterson and Neil McCormick were marched down to a smelly dumpster, where one of the Pitchfork disciples had the guys put down their instruments and told them to get on their knees. At that point, he executed McCormick with one of the carrots he and his co-hort were packing, prompting Peterson to cry out to the heavens: "Why?!"

The thug then made Peterson dance for the assembled crowd of about twenty, and when Peterson awkwardly tried to dance he was told to shake his "money maker." He made an attempt, and when that wasn't good enough, the Pitchfork devotee set about executing Peterson, which is when Zay Alejandro Dicamara jumped out from behind the dumpster and beat up the black-turtle-necked thug.

Tom Murphy
All hands on deck were required to bring Safe Boating back to life. See many more photos in the full Denver Afterdark festival on Larimer slide show.

Immediately, Dicamara checked McCormick and found him dead, and he informed us that he was a conjurer or a sorcerer but that he needed our help. So while Leighton and Dicamara laid hands on McCormick, we all chanted "Zim Bim" repeatedly until McCormick started to shake and slowly come back to life, at which point he held on to Dicamara like a baby monkey.

From there, the band played some of its more popular songs acoustically with Dicamara playing some stuff he either found (placed?) in the dumpsters with some drum sticks he happened to have with him. At one point somebody whose was not part of this whole performance art experience walked down the alley through the whole proceedings with raised eyebrows. The price of admission was worth this experience alone.

Tom Murphy
Everyone is Safe and accounted for apparently. See many more photos in the full Denver Afterdark festival on Larimer slide show.

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