SummerGrind at Gothic Theatre, 9/1/12
Tom Murphy Synthetic Elements at Gothic Theatre
Inside the Gothic, Synthetic Elements played a set of music influenced by ska, but it was often in the rhythms, especially in the drums, that you could hear it. When the rest of the band wasn't obviously playing that style too, it made for an interesting dynamic, where the drum would throw in an off beat to give the rhythm a kick ahead here and there. At some point, the guys did a cover of "Amazing Grace," and did it well, even though that cover could stand a rest for a while at this point. Petty grievance aside, these guys proved you can be inventive with how you incorporate familiar elements to do something a little different.
Tom Murphy Glass Delirium at Moe's Original BBQ
At Moe's, Glass Delirium may not have fit strictly inside essentially a punk festival, but the way it performed sure did. Musically, the sound was definitely within the realm of prog metal but played with a passionate intensity. The music also went into moodier territory close to something you'd expect from some old gothic-industrial band -- like Lacuna Coil with a greater emphasis on atmosphere. And the guitar work was more imaginative and intuitive than you'd expect from even a metal band. The masterful finger tapping wasn't flashy, but it was just well-integrated into the songs.
Tom Murphy Stolen Babies at Moe's Original BBQ
Stolen Babies came highly recommended, and the five-piece did not disappoint. With most of the band wearing white make-up, visible when flashes from cameras were going off, and everyone dressed up like a character from an Edward Gorey illustration, saying this band traded in a kind of dark cabaret was obvious. But the music was an often dense, lush and ultimately electrifying metal with an experimental edge, sounding something like if Lovelife, Mr. Bungle and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum formed a band together.
Dominique Persi kept making humorous comments about how this was the first night of the band's tour and that she was sick. But at least she could laugh about it and make a quip about what echinacea sounded like. In addition to a talented drummer who triggered beats, the band had a keyboard player who pounded and clattered away on what looked like half an oil drum hanging from a pole by a chain. Surely the steam punks are into that sort of thing, but his band definitely wasn't gimmicky. Stolen Babies got such an enthusiastic reaction from the crowd that an encore proved to be in order.
Tom Murphy Blag Dahlia of Dwarves crowd surfing at Gothic Theatre
Dwarves had the largest crowd of the day toward the end of the night. Beginning with "Dominator," Dwarves seemed to switch on something that made the crowd on the floor go berserk. It was a scene that you don't often get to see unless you were at those Warlock Pinchers reunion shows or, well, the most recent Dwarves show. At one point in the set, Blag Dahlia borrowed the glasses of one of the security guys and announced, "These are my emo glasses. We've gone emo."
Tom Murphy Dwarves at Gothic Theatre
Later on, Dahlia said, "This one goes out to Duane of the Derelicts -- old school Denver." Then the band played "Free Cocaine." The "Duane" in question is Duane Bodenheimer who played in an old Denver band called Psychodrama and who was definitely at the show. In a moment of classic onstage humor, Dahlia said, at the end of a song, "I knew I'd figure out what that song was eventually. Yeah, they all sound the same to me too." And later, maybe in reaction to the inevitable heckler, maybe not, "You ride the skateboard, we'll write the rock, junior. That's how we do."
"We are the greatest rock and roll band of all time," Dahlia declared. And while some people might disagree with this sentiment, everyone at this show got to see a band really go up and give it their all with energy and conviction. Not to mention, Dahlia can really sing, and even with all the aggression in the performance and outrageous lyrics here and there, Dwarves are one of the few bands around now that embodies the freewheeling spirit of pure rock and roll.
Personal Bias: Very much a fan of the Dwarves' live shows.
Random Detail: Ran into Steven Jackson and Michael Rouse of Ghosts of Glaciers outside Moe's.
By the Way: The cops came and shut down the outside stage because someone somewhere complained. Living near Broadway, one of the busiest streets in Denver. This has become a wearyingly common trend. Nonetheless, it didn't really slow down the festival.