Icons of Summer: Cold Cave & Austra, 07-30-11

Seasons change and passions change, but I live in a city with no seasons or passions at all‘  Wesley Eisold‘s first words on Saturday night could not have been further from the truth.  Denver is a city of seasons, a city of passions — and passions were running high at the Bluebird when Cold Cave took the dark stage with Icons of SummerDominic Fernow of Prurient joined Eisold center stage — matching synthasizers, black leather jackets — bathed in a low blue light, throwing energy and awkward dance moves in every direction as if the temperatures outside weren’t still pushing the red zone hours after the sun set over the peaks to the west. Cold Cave are the ‘coolest’ band I have seen since Interpol.  By the end of the first track the spell had been cast. This small, but enthusiastic crowd was entranced for the next hour.

The band tore through material from their new album, Cherish The Light YearsIcons of Summer, Confetti, Villains of the Moon and Burning Sage were all highlights.  Those hoping for Life Magazine might have been disappointed, but Youth and Lust and the title track from Love Comes Close came as a welcome compliment to the newer material.  Being too young to have ever experienced Ian Curtis live, my mind couldn’t help but run through footage I have seen in various videos.  The tall and lanky Eisold brought Curtis to mind throughout the night.  The music, accompanied by projected black-and-white images of eyes and faces and women, made it hard to believe this was born in modern-day Philly rather than England 30 years ago.

The set was a quick 45 minutes — including the experiments in noise, the power blast of I’ve Seen the Future and It’s No Place For Me and the encore.  An intense 45 minutes.  Like Bloc Party, this is a band whose music has to be experienced live to really be appreciated.

You’ll move to a new town and off to another‘  The last words from that stage might have rang true for the guys occupying it, but for those of us below, this night was just another example of why we won’t be moving on any time soon.

Riding the wave of critical acclaim they picked up at SXSW, the Canadian new wave band Austra were the perfect opening act for Cold Cave‘s dark wave performance.  Katie Stelmanis‘ band were openers in set time only, filling a full 45 minutes with material from their debut album, Feel it Break.  The sound was right on. The vocals perfect in the mix.  The set list was balanced — opening strong with Darken the Horse and mixing the downtempo with the uptempo to create an ebb and flow that was only thrown off kilter by the moves (or lack thereof) of the vocalists.  Three females vocalists.  Three incredible female vocalists that could not dance.  Birds with broken wings, but damn if those birds can’t sing!

Like Cold Cave, there was very little onstage banter, just one quick story from Stelmanis about how her fake id used to be from Colorado before one of the night’s highlights, Lose It.  But it was Beat and the Pulse that really set off the mostly male audience.  ‘I’m in love‘ could be heard echoing around the room, layered in the synth pop sounds of Austra.

Overall, this was a great show.  Unexpectedly good.   Sure, this has all been done before, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.  At one point in the night I was speaking with a few people about Austra; one brought up Blondie, one referenced Bat for Lashes and I couldn’t help but bring up Kate Bush.  The same could be said for Cold CaveDepeche Mode, Suicide, Joy Division, Bloc Party, the list could go on but what’s the point?  It’s no matter that these young bands wear their influences on their sleeves, the performances last night made sure the few who made it to the Bluebird did not leave disappointed.

Austra Set:
Darken Her Horse
Young and Gay
The Villain
Hate Crime
Lose It
Habitat
Beat and the Pulse
The Choke

Cold Cave Set:
Icons of Summer
Youth and Lust
Confetti
Love Comes Close
Theme From Tomorrowland
Villains Of The Moon
I’ve Seen the Future and It’s No Place For Me
Burning Sage

The Laurels of Erotomania
Catacombs