Two Cow Garage. Lion’s Lair. 10.18.13

LL

Lion’s Lair is just another dive bar in a parade of dive bars that trudge up and down East Colfax Avenue. Positioned a little too far from the Fillmore and Ogden Theater, and not far enough east to benefit from the Bluebird crowd, the unremarkable stain on a street of stains is truly a locals only haunt. It’s the type of place where hipsters in skinny jeans drink tallboy PBRs next to old timers who drown their sorrows in rotgut whiskey. The ATM is always broken, but the jukebox never skips a beat. The bartenders have good hearts and (more importantly) heavy hands. If you happen to show up on Sunday afternoon, your poison of choice will come with a complimentary hot dog. Losers and dreamers write songs about places like this, so it’s no wonder that Two Cow Garage felt right at home there on Friday night. The band might be from Columbus, Ohio, but Micah and Shane have been honored guests of the Denver scene for quite some time now.

It was nearly midnight when I found myself walking down the longest, wickedest street in America. It was uncharacteristically quiet outside, so there was nothing but the sound of my own boots on the sidewalk to keep me company — until I came up on Vine. Someone came stumbling out the mouth of the Lair, and along with them came the sound of Micah summing-up the Colfax condition in a few lines…

“well don’t bury me,
because I can still see
the stars from the gutters at night.”

The scene inside was something out a movie. You know, when they show the cool kids going out to see that cool new band, but somehow that band is playing some little dive bar with only hundred people? That thing that never happens anymore? Well, Two Cow Garage might not be that cool new band, but they are one of my favorites, and there is nothing like seeing one of your favorites in a tiny room with like-minded individuals. I know I have said this quite a few times before, but literally every person packed around that small corner stage knew every word to every song. Even the bartenders were singing along. It was like going to see your buddy’s band play the local bar — but only if your buddy is in the best Springsteen-soaked punk band working today.

Shane mentioned that they haven’t written a setlist in 12 years. I believe him, but I also have to believe that it takes some kind of planning to perform a 20 song set that spans 5 albums. Maybe not. Maybe they just are that good. Either way, it doesn’t matter, because I got to hear my favorites from the past (“Jackson, Don’t You Worry”, “Skinny Legged Girl”, “Soundtrack to My Summer”, “No Shame”, “My Great Gatsby” and “What Dying Is For”), as well as a handful of tracks from the new album — an album that they quietly released recently. I’ve only listened to The Death of the Self-Preservation Society a few times so far, and although I am not a fan of the production value (it sounds like it was recorded in the Lion’s Lair), I am really feeling the lyrics. Seeing the songs live helped me understand what the band was going for as well.

Old songs, new songs…the set was over before I knew it. The crowd set the surfing guy down on the ground. The band stepped down from the stage and became part of the crowd. The jukebox came back on and the bartenders kept pouring. Two Cow Garage had done their job for the night and the Lion’s Lair went back to being what it had been all along — another dive bar in a parade of dive bars. It just happened to be the one with the best music on this particular Friday night.

Setlist*:
Glass City
Jackson, Don’ You Worry
Born to Run
Skinny Legged Girl
Soundtrack to My Summer
The Death of the Self-Preservation Society
Annie, Get Your Guns
Mantle in ’56
Your Humble Narrator
Pantomime
No Shame
Lucy and the Butcher Knife
Hey Cinderella
Swingset Assassin
Come Back to Shelby
My Great Gatsby
Folksinger’s Heart
Bastards and Bridesmaids
What Dying Is For

* from the time I arrived

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Setlist