Last year’s Westword Music Showcase was a highlight in a year of great music. It was a full day of fun in the sun. Local bands on cramped stages in the corners of bars, DJs on rooftops, national acts on the main stage and 11,000 of your friends and neighbors. This event really does a great job of showcasing what Denver‘s music scene has to offer. This year saw the largest attendance yet with 13,000 tickets sold, although it didn’t seem as big.
If you want a true review of 2011’s Westword Music Showcase, check Westword. This is just a personal timeline; one man’s observation of the sites, sounds and surroundings. A record of a slow descent into an alcoholic haze…
2:10pm: We were dropped off on 11th & Broadway and proceeded to trade our Deal of the Day vouchers for tickets, before learning our vouchers were tickets and we just needed to head to the Main Stage to get wristbands.
2:20: Ate half a slice of lukewarm pizza while watching Young the Giant. The band was ok but not enough to hold our attention this early in the day, so I dumped the greasy slice in the trash and we went in search of a real bar. (I heard good things about this band later in the day though, so a little sorry we didn’t stick around)
2:25: We passed by the Curious Theatre and figure we’d pop in and see what was happening. The Raven and the Writing Desk were an interesting baroque pop group. They were just wrapping up a little violin jam and once again, we were looking for something a little harder to get our day started. After a couple songs, we were on our way.
2:40: Rockstar Lounge. Found the rock we were looking for. Caught the ending of Kingdom of Magic‘s set and ordered the first round of cocktails. Decided to stick around for Adai‘s set. I had heard these guys advertised as hardcore but then I read they were a black metal band. They were neither.
Adai @ Rockstar Lounge
3:00: Adai took the stage. These two dudes played a mostly instrumental set of what would be described as sludge, with some psychedelic metal thrown in. Very atmospheric with limited vocals that were more death growls than actual words and a drummer who was an absolute machine. They lost some of their crowd with the first growl and a few more during their long compositions, but the last song was enough to leave the small audience in awe. I really enjoyed their set and plan on seeing them again.
3:30: Leaving Rockstar Lounge I felt the streets were much less crowded than last year. The venues as well. Sure, it was early but I felt there were people everywhere much earlier last year. Then we got to Bannock Street Garage and found out where everyone was. The place was packed, too packed to get in. So we wrote off our punk rock ambitions and went in search of something else.
3:45: Broadway’s was decked out for Pride and Hindershot were taking the stage shortly. We hung out on the packed deck with a couple drinks before heading inside to see the band. No less than six people, one on crutches, on that stage was a little much, but the place was packed and they seemed to be having a lot of fun. Geeky indie rock reminiscent of early Weezer. We stuck around for a few songs, but it was too cramped and hard to see anything, so we went to meet up with some friends at the Main Stage.
4:15: Back at the Main Stage, met up with friends, couple beers in the baking sun and starting to feel buzzed.
The Sword @ Main Stage
4:30: The Sword took the stage with their brand of modern-day psychedelic Sabbath jams. I saw these guys down in Austin a couple years back and was really looking forward to this set. They started out with an instrumental track and at that point we lost our friends to their girlfriend’s/wives’ wishes, but we stuck around for the full set. An hour of in-your-face rock ‘n roll was just what we needed at this point in the day. For the first time ever, I feel the vocals could have been brought down a notch, but other than that, this was a great performance and the highlight of the day.
The Sword @ Main Stage
5:30: Felt the first drops of rain as The Sword were ending their set. It had been beautiful up to that point, so we listened to their last song while making our way out of the Main Stage area
5:35: Bar Standard. Must of been feeling the affects of drinking in the sun already, because I ripped a $20 in half trying to get it out of my wallet. Open tab it is. Caught the end of the rock band, The Overcasters before heading to the roof, where once again I felt the lack of community, the lack of crowds. Last year this place was packed. This year I felt we had the place to ourselves after the poor sweaty guy was dragged back out into the sun by his fiancé. We hung out up here, putting drinks back and catching up on life. It was a nice interlude. We missed Del but we weren’t in the mood to head back out there yet and I wanted to catch Snake Rattle Rattle Snake anyway.
Snake Rattle Rattle Snake @ Bar Standard
7:00: Back downstairs, one last round before closing my tab and then Snake Rattle Rattle Snake. I have to admit I have had a crush on Hayley Helmerick since the first time I saw this band when I moved to Denver, but even beyond the sex appeal she brings, this is one of the best local bands out there. Reminds me of something that would be associated with the Black Mountain Army. Great, energetic set…looking forward to their new LP.
7:40: Gone from buzzed to slightly drunk. Back to Main Stage. Rain hadn’t lasted long, probably only a few minutes.
Yo La Tengo @ Main Stage
8:00: Yo La Tengo are legends, I will give them that. I’ve just never been a big fan. Seeing them live did nothing to change this but it did give me an opportunity to get social. I used the majority of their set to talk to people, take candid photos and drink more.
8:40: Chromeo took the Main Stage. Things start to get fuzzy at this point., relying mostly on technology for what happened from here on out…
8:45: We left the Main Stage. Couldn’t take it.
9:00: Met up with some friends who were eating at Dazzle. Probably should have ate. Didn’t. Sat at the bar and had some drinks instead.
9:45: Met up with another friend in front of Dazzle, had a conversation around Okkveril vs. Mumford shows, how the Nathaniel Rateliff after-party wasn’t much of a party and other blurry things. Somehow decided going to the Pharoahe Monch show at Marquis would be a good idea. Talked myself out of that idea. Got talked back into it. Lost a good portion of the people I was hanging out with.
10:00: In a cab to Marquis Theater
10:15: Hip-hop, horns, white emcee
10:30: Slice of pizza, burned roof of mouth, more hip-hop
10:45: More pizza, making phone calls, sending texts…
12:35: Couldn’t find friends (who were evidently standing right where I left them in a venue smaller than a 7-11), so took a cab home.
1:00: Home. White Russian, because really, why the hell not?
…passed out sometime before 2am.