Quicksand at Bluebird Theater, 1/15/12
Tom Murphy Quicksand on stage at the Bluebird Theater last night in Denver.
QUICKSAND @ BLUEBIRD THEATER |1/15/12
In the moments before Quicksand took the stage last night at the Bluebird, the room lights dimmed and floor lights on stage came on to the sound of Basil Poledouris's theme from Conan the Barbarian. Quicksand frontman Walter Schreifels looked pleasantly surprised at the enthusiastic reception the band received when it took the stage. His jaw dropped, and he smiled as though he was genuinely awed that so many people showed up and remembered the band. Maybe these guys play the same set every night, but on this night, the welcoming reception seemed to spark the band, which opened with "Omission."
Tom Murphy Quicksand at the Bluebird Theater
If you never got to see the band during its initial run, listening to the recordings alone does not fully prepare you for how dense and fluid the low end is and how it pushes the songs along with an inexorable and dynamic flow. Sergio Vega's bass tone straddled the perfect line between mechanical and sinuous, between incandescent and crunchy, while Alan Cage struck the ideal balance between textural and driving percussion with accents. The band, including guitarist Tom Capone, created a notable dynamic tension, whether the music transitioned into a hushed, darkly vibrant section or burst forth with an energized, transformative shattering of angst and desperation.
Schreifels gestured broadly, often lifting his Telecaster into the air in a visual embodiment of a moment of suspended force before bringing the sounds crashing down together. Capone, Vega and Schreifels also caught air on multiple occasions as each surged into the songs with a passionate joy. "Freezing Process," with an intro that sounded like it could have come from a space-rock band or from Swervedriver, blossomed into a weighty catharsis and showcased the band's mastery of creating vivid, contrasting sound ideas within its music.
Toward the end of the set, Schreifels told us they were going to play a song they used to way back when, and it ended up being the band's cover of "How Soon Is Now?" Naturally the echoing guitar line was turned into something sonically heavier than The Smiths' original, with Quicksand transforming the number into something it could have written, as the dynamics of the original fit into its own aesthetic perfectly.
Tom Murphy Quicksand at The Bluebird Theater
Following the Smiths' song, Schreifels mentioned that the next tune was one that didn't make it on to an album and that the band didn't really play it on its earlier tour, the fiery and drifty "Shovel." The main set ended with bouncing, melodic "Landmine Spring." Throughout the show, the band deftly mixed heavy, melodic and dark elements with the kind of sinuous dynamism that informed earlier Soundgarden material -- that is, if Soundgarden had come out of hardcore and stripped that music to a raw emotional core and embraced the naked vulnerability of it all.
Before leaving the stage, Schreifels introduced the band, starting with Capone and finished with, "We're Quicksand. You've been amazing. You make it worth it." Of course pretty much everyone there cheered for more, and the band didn't keep us waiting and returned for an encore, closing the show with "Can Opener."