The Photo Atlas at the hi-dive, 2/8/13

Categories: Concert Reviews

Tom Murphy
New Lungs at the hi-dive.

Earlier in the evening, the show began with New Lungs from Omaha. The three piece had that kind of splintery yet angular lo-fi rock sound that came in the wake of Archers of Loaf and Sebadoh -- kind of punk, kind of garage. Singer/guitarist Danny Maxwell had a bit of a Lou Reed, dark poet to him, and that served as an interesting contrast to the dense, distorted melodies and rhythms of the music.

Tom Murphy
In the Whale with Erin Jo Harris at the hi-dive.

In the Whale followed with a set of material taken both from its 2012 debut EP, Cake, along with a pool of newer material. Eric Riley attempted to get the crowd riled up by reminding them this was a rock show, and in the end his efforts paid off. People often marvel that a two piece such as this can make such a big sound, but this observation has rarely been quite as true as it is for these guys. Nate Valdez uses a Fender Twin Reverb guitar amp, as well as an Ampeg bass rig.

He's clearly done his homework, as his rich and sharp guitar tone makes what were sometimes bluesy guitar riffs sound like these guys are going more for a Melvins or Dinosaur Jr vibe. And it's not just in the overall sound but also in the fact that they sound like they're not trying to be quite like anyone else. Valdez and Riley both sang and played with a spirited display of raw rock and roll that we don't see often enough. For the final number, the duo brought Erin Jo Harris up, and she added yet another layer of soulfulness and attitude.

Tom Murphy
The Epilogues at the hi-dive

The Epilogues had a little trouble with its lighting rig in the first third of the set or so, but the guys didn't let that get in the way of putting on a fine performance. "This is how The Beatles did it," joked bassist Jeff Swoboda, eliciting a heartfelt laugh from singer/guitarist Chris Heckman. The way the group's sweeping, kaleidoscopic, atmospheric melodies were shot through with fluid but distorted guitar work and rhythms made every song feel like an elevated emotional state.

One song in particular sounded like a Gary Numan tune, if Numan had collaborated with Catherine Wheel. Heckman seemed so swept up in the moment, his singing felt like he was reliving the original inspiration for the words yet again. Clearly he'd done these songs before, but his delivery here felt fresh and real. It didn't hurt that the band was engaging and had a good sense of humor about the lighting situation and about themselves generally.


Personal Bias: I've been a fan of the Photo Atlas since first seeing the band at the Climax Lounge in November, 2004.

Random Detail: Ran into poet and experimental musician Max Rommerdahl at the show.

By the Way: I never really cared for the Epilogues. This show, however, changed my mind, and Cinematics is a pretty good album.

Location Info



7 S. Broadway, Denver, CO

Category: Music

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I can't believe there is no mention of the new amazing guitar player Luis Gorostiaga that has joined the band. His playing is angular and on point to say the least. Allowing Alan to be freed from the guitar to be an incredible front man and playing with such melodic precision has given this band an incredible new dynamic that will push this band into a whole new realm of stardom. Here's to you Luis Gorostiaga. You are more than noteworthy for this westword write up.

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