Highlights from the Westword Music Showcase
The twentieth annual Westword Music Showcase brought over 11,000 people to the Golden Triangle to watch more than 150 bands of every possible variety. Our writers and photographers saw excellent lunacy and affecting songs -- the bands and artists of Denver have built a music scene that contains the best of this city.
Focus 4 Design
We're looking forward already, talking about how we can make the Showcase even better next year and preparing for this Thursday's Westword Music Awards ceremony at Casselman's. As for the events of Saturday, we leave you with this -- a guide to the coverage you'll find elsewhere on Backbeat and a few lingering thoughts and images. Thank you to everyone who played, and thank you to everyone who showed up to sing along, find new things and generally enjoy what Denver music has to offer.
Focus 4 Design
Backbeat's Showcase coverage
Focus 4 Design
-Ten things I learned at the Westword Music Showcase
-CP-208's Tripp Wallin on why he performs in drag
-One spectacular photo that sums up this year's Westword Music Showcase
-Video: Westword Music Showcase attendees on fashion and festival essentials
-Shout-outs from bands who played the Westword Music Showcase
-Photo: King Khan and the Shrines buy (legal) weed in Denver
Photos of, among other things, nearly all the over 150 bands on the lineup
-City Hall, Roostercat, Dazzle, 100% De Agave, Stoney's Bar and Grill and Krewe, by Eric Gruneisen
-Vinyl, Bannock Street Garage, Broadways, Rooster and Moon, La Rumba, Curious Theatre and Bar Standard, by Brandon Marshall
-Main stage, by Aaron Thackeray
-The people of the 2014 Westword Music Showcase, by Aaron Thackeray
And a few more things we saw and heard...
VIDEO: What makes the Denver hip-hop scene unique
Mighty mighty emcees
We tried something a little different this year, asking various Denver music organizations we like to hold down MC duties. The were remarkably great. I saw ZetaKaye House's John Baxter set the tone in Curious Theater and the powerful voices of Minor Disturbance make Rooster & Moon seem like an arena rather than a coffee shop. Everywhere I went, they were turning sets into special occasions. Check them all out:
City Hall -- Welcome to the D.O.P.E. Game
RoosterCat -- CAM Records
Vinyl -- Ultra 5280
Bar Standard -- Holy Underground
Stoney's -- Souls in Action
Bannock St. Garage -- Mutiny Information Cafe
Rooster and The Moon -- Minor Disturbance
La Rumba -- Cafe Cultura
Dazzle -- FoCoMX
Krewe -- Greater than Collective
100% De Agave -- Souls in Action
Curious Theatre -- ZetaKaye House
Broadways -- Denver Music Task Force
Cover songs that totally ruled
The '90s have been back for, oh, the last four years. That said, I don't often see or hear of contemporary bands taking stabs at challenging covers from the era. But at this year's Showcase, I saw two very distinct and admirable versions of well-known tracks from seminal '90s renditions that literally stopped me in my tracks (there is a lot of hurrying past live bands performing at the showcase, not because you're ignoring the band on stage, but because you're usually trying to see a few minutes of several different sets within each hour. There are a fuck-ton of great musicians in Colorado, and the Showcase is where you can get a good listen to many of them.)
The first cover crushed was Beastie Boys' "Intergalactic," which I caught MTHDS in the midst of doing just as I was dipping out of City Hall. The song itself might not seem challenging, but these dudes went above and beyond, bringing out a robot (JUST LIKE IN THE VIDEO!) on stage to dance. But more than that, the members had MCA, AdRock and Mike D.'s own dance moves from the video down AND a vocal effect that mirrored the robotic "intergalactic planetary" vocal lines that run throughout the song almost exactly.
I don't know if this band does the song for other shows or if it was a one-time special to the showcase event or not, but it was incredible. The Beasties are one of those bands that can unite a crowd easily, but MTHDS took it to the next level. The audience screamed "Mmmmmm, drop!" at that meta-moment self-referencing break in "Intergalactic," further proving that MTHDS picked the perfect song for the raucous room.
The second cover came courteous of Lil' Thunder, which I heard purely by accident. On my way to help some friends load their gear I passed by the 100% Agave stage and heard Smashing Pumpkins' "Cherub Rock" blasting out of the the mexican restaurant. It was gave me chills, it was so good, and I had to take a detour in to see who was performing. Every note was perfect and Marie Litton's voice was like a better version of Billy Corgan's. It was one of those moments in time where I found something completely new and different in a song I had listened to hundreds of times over in my life.
King Khan's banter
After the opening song of a thoroughly vigorous and entertaining set, the typically riotous King Khan asked if the barricade in front of the stage could be moved. "We're from Germany," he said. "We can't have segregation like this."
At one point during "I Wanna be a Girl" Khan essentially tucked his junk, or possibly least the best a guy could do wearing pants. "Marijuana is legal so everything is possible," Khan said.
Khan introduced "Luckiest Man," from the band's latest effort, Idle No More, by saying (approximately), "This is an ass crusher. But different from the Gay Pride Fest."
Near the end of the set, Khan thanked Bruce Banner, aka the Incredible Hunk. No idea why.
Our thoughts continue on the next page.