OneRepublic Denver Acoustic Christmas at Ogden, with Big Head Todd, 12/21/12
Eric Gruneisen Todd Park Mohr of Big Head Todd and the Monsters at the Ogden Theatre during Denver Acoustic Christmas. Slide show: Denver Acoustic Christmas
The Denver Acoustic Christmas show wasn't all about OneRepublic, of course. Big Head Todd and The Monsters played a solid, if low-key, acoustic set that included "Bittersweet" and "Please Don't Tell Her," along with a couple of new pieces, "Black Beehive" and "Travel On." We'd heard most of these songs a gazillion times, but here those tunes were given a slightly different treatment: the drums were played on a wooden box, which gave all the songs a new, rad and different flavor. Colorado music fans also always appreciate good harmonica action, and Todd Park Mohr gave it to us, as always.
Eric Gruneisen Brian Nevin of Big Head Todd and the Monsters at the Ogden Theatre during Denver Acoustic Christmas. Slide show: Denver Acoustic Christmas
Flobots brought the funk into the night. Their energy and stage presence always demands attention and their constant messages to "Rise" ensure that even some of the more "mature" audience members shook their money-makers. Because there was some bitch slapping school rivalry between Cherry Creek and Arapahoe High School caused by the comedian in the front of the theater earlier in the evening, Flobots took the stage by announcing the high schools they went to. (Yeah...this actually happened -- I guess at a sixteen plus show, high school is sort of right-there.)
Eric Gruneisen Flobots on stage at the Ogden Theatre during Denver Acoustic Christmas. Slide show: Denver Acoustic Christmas
But Flobots embraced the show and its causes, and announced that last night's event was meant to bring about change -- so they opened with "Stop The Apocalypse." The band's violist, Mackenzie Roberts, played absolutely beautifully which always adds a sweet edge to the band's in-your-face sound. They also played "Good Soldier," but because it's somewhat discordant to hear all about war when you're looking out into a crowd of stately ladies in their Santa sweaters, they performed "Handlebars," which, of course, sent everyone into a sing-along.
Eric Gruneisen Mackenzie Roberts of Flobots on stage at the Ogden Theatre during Denver Acoustic Christmas. Slide show: Denver Acoustic Christmas
Speaking of Santa sweaters... Zach Heckendorf, who kicked off the show, was dressed to the nines in some sort of tinsel-laden Christmas sweater that blinded the audience every time his fingers strummed the guitar. The Cherry Creek high schoolers in the crowd went mad over his self-admitted cliché love song "Roses" and "All The Right Places." This kid has mad guitar skillz, and his Jason-Mraz-like style was the perfect open to a night of eclectic acts.
Eric Gruneisen Zach Heckendorf on stage at the Ogden Theatre during Denver Acoustic Christmas. Slide show: Denver Acoustic Christmas
Personal Bias: I have a thing for rock stars who give to charity.
Random Detail: In spite of its billing, Denver Acoustic Christmas was largely not acoustic, nor was it uber-Christmassy, but screw it, it was all for charity. Speaking of charity, Zach Heckendorf donated all of the proceeds from his merchandise sales at the Ogden to charity.
By the Way: OneRepublic took a small enough break to auction off four VIP tickets to any Hall and Oates show (they are going back on tour next year) anywhere in the world - $3,000 was the final price, and all proceeds benefit Children's Hospital, Food Bank of the Rockies, Denver Santa Clause Shop and an Indiegogo campaign to help the victims of the Newtown shootings.