Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Denver was swept off their feet by the Current Swell

By Peyton Owen

Current Swell’s first time performing in Denver was not only a shock to the people that came out to the Marquis Theater that night, but it seemed as if the band was equally amazed at how the crowd embraced their music. Everyone was on the same level, singing along with the reggae, surf rock, blues, jazz, roots, etc. songs of Current Swell without holding back. This unique group of guys showed up in Denver just after a major snowstorm, and still all expectations for the show were met and even exceeded.

Current Swell came on stage around 10:15 pm. You could feel the excitement and anticipation in the air as the crowed gathered to get as close to the stage as possible, when BOOM! The Current Swell jumped into their first song, “Room of the Faded Moon.” The energy in the room exploded like fireworks in your backyard.

It took Current Swell a couple songs to warm up to the vibe of the venue, sound, audience, and simply playing in Denver, just as any other band. However, once they fell into their comfort zone, it was as if Stanton, bassist Ghosty, drummer Chris ‘Chrispy’ Peterson, and guitarist Davers Lang, let the music flow as naturally as when it was created. Completely consumed by music, this talented group of guys played as if it were their last night of their lives.

Lead singer Scott Stanton said into the microphone, “Denver, this is our first time here and we love it!” the crowd roared with excitement in response.

The band’s sound took on a new form when hearing their studio-produced albums in comparison to experiencing Current Swell live (this video doesn't do them justice).  It wasn’t simply the music that made seeing Current Swell live refreshing, but the genuine connection they made with fans. Current Swell took their vibrant sound without soft, sleepy overtones, which many of their tracks possess, and amped them up. Each unexpected point throughout the show, playing so hard you wondered if their instruments would crumble to pieces, were experiences that can only be felt live with Current Swell.

If you go to concerts to hear exactly what is on band’s studio album, then Current Swell would crush all your hopes and dreams. They played their music as if it were clay then added some cherry bombs to create an exhilarating feeling and surprising sound. You just want to do it again! 

They rocked out without thinking twice about what cord, beat, or note to generate. This made it clear that the strong bond between each band member was unbreakable. Current Swell was a unit. It’s rare to  go see a live band where all are equal on stage like the guys unconsciously did. The 150 or so in the audience could feel it too.

Off Current Swell’s latest album, Long Time Ago, there was a track called “Brad’s Song,” which was stripped down raw from the acoustic melody to eerie lyrics. It gave the song a mysterious sound and feel to it. There was something rooted deeper behind the music, but you aren’t quite able to grasp on to. Current Swell let everyone in the audience know.

Lang decided to open up about how personal “Brad’s Song” was to his heart. Many were caught off guard by the left turn in Current Swell’s insane performance. Especially after high energy tracks like “Stomach” and “Chesterman's Valley.” It didn’t matter though. The audience was intently listening to Lang explain who Brad was on the most personal of levels. The extent of his emotional and vulnerable state was uncommon to come from musicians while on stage in front of a large group of strangers. However, Lang and all of Current Swell demonstrated how one song was able to make an entire venue, including the band, feel vulnerable as a whole. No a single person was a stranger after that.

“This next song is about one of our best friends who passed away a bit ago. Brad had a huge influence on my life…our lives. Brad changed my life forever,” as he looked at his friends with instruments behind him with full support. “This is for him.”

Lang started “Brad’s Song” soft and slow. Emotions were flying and a calm quiet put the room into a trance. You could hear the person next to you breathing. The crowd was completely engaged, anticipating every word. They will never meet Brad. But through the song, they made a connection with him.  Some even shed tears.  It was the most powerful moment of the entire show.

Each musician knew exactly when to play, one by one as Current Swell slowly built up the song. Silent with emotion, audience members moved along with the band. “Brad’s Song” gradually went from a sense of mourning and transformed into a celebration, much like the grieving process.

Current Swell made sure not to end this dedication to their late friend on a sad note. Instead, they shared how important Brad was to them through their inspiring performance. The Marquis’ intimacy added to Current Swell’s ability to create a connection with fans, since there was no way to miss a single drop of sweat come off their faces.

As the tension level was about to burst through the doors, every single member of Current Swell jumped up in the air and came down in sync strangling their instruments. It was an incredible moment. The rush of adrenaline seeing the Current Swell in person gave many the chills, but you couldn’t help sweating and banging your head like it was the 90s.

The show continued with no lack of intensity from Current Swell. Eventually, they ended the night with “How Can They Trust Us Now.” Everyone sang smiling right along until their voices were gone. It was as if Current Swell had played in Denver various times and Denver was simply welcoming them back with open arms. Rarely do concerts burn into your brain like this one, but it was incomparable to anything else.

As they came off stage, Current Swell kindly hung around by the merchandise booth and talked to star struck fans as well as anyone who just wanted to say “hello.” There wasn’t a fake or impersonal part to any of the various conversations people had with the guys. They gave you their fully engaged attention, which unfortunately most bands don’t do, particularly after the rush lingering from being on stage performing live.

This was one of the best shows in 2013 and a complete departure from anything on their albums. Denver will also be more than ready for Current Swell to come through next time. Denver loves their music.

Current Swell is now on tour in Australia with upcoming shows in Northbridge, Bunbury, and Byron Bay for their blues festival. 

For more photos from the show, click here.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Challenging hip-hop, The Herd has something to say to the listening

Written by Peyton S. Owen

Courtesy - The Herd

An eight-piece group called The Herd, from Sydney, Australia formed in 2001, when they signed to Elefant Traks Records. The record label then decided to latch on and put together several compilation albums, featuring their very first single “Scallops.” This was the first of many from this dynamic hip-hop group who have a tendency to stir up controversy, intentional or not.

As the group moved forward with their career, playing show after show and touring for several years, The Herd came out with one of their most popular tracks, “I Was Only 19.” The song was originally by Redgum, but The Herd made transformed it to become purely theirs. Eventually this song turned out to be one of the most requested songs on the Triple J radio in Australia. The connection was instant.

“I Was Only 19” is an anti-war track, out of the Vietnam War era, about a young man’s experience with Agent Orange, bombs exploding, friends dying all around him, all while trying to get home and get out of the terrorizing jungle. Basically, it comes down to how this man became numb to death, whether he wanted to or not. That's a part of war. 

It may seem as though this is an extremely depressing song, yet The Herd, with their full instrumental band playing right along with them, give “I Was Only 19” a sense of hope for the character in the story. They also share hope for Australian's a a whole, and who were invaded by Iraqi forces around this time. Massive brush fires consumed the country. The Herd does this through calming yet upbeat melodies that don’t have too somber of undertones. Instead they have more of a “looking on the bright side” feel to it. They make a point to also show the robotic repetition of having to go through the same experiences over and over again, while praying to make it home alive. It’s catchy and became very popular for that reason. People were able to relate to it on a more personal level as well.

Their success only continued to explode from there. Don't forget petty controversy that comes along with it. Although many critics would say that The Herd is a politically motivated hip-hop group due to how prevalent it may be interpreted in many of their songs, this isn't necessarily true. If you dig too deep into any metaphor, poem, song, etc. people can make up whatever they want based on things they create in their own minds...True or not. 

Politics aside though, The Herd has a message/opinion about a particular issue and metaphorically as well as directly challenge the opposition. In reality and slightly cliche, any kind of press/exposure is good press/exposure. True fans also don’t necessarily abandon a group that has been a part of their life for years (that is, unless you are a Metallica fan from the beginning, and once they cut their hair, and constantly complain about pirating music a departure is made…Metallica fans, you made the right decision. Old Metallica was pretty good though).

According to The Herd’s website, “In an unconventional set-up, The Herd perform with two MCs, two singers, an acoustic and an electric guitar, bass, piano, accordion, clarinet, laptops and MPC 1000s. It’s big!”

Courtesy - The Herd
That right there makes The Herd and their music something truly special. Who have you heard of with that vibrant of a sound which actually sounds good? Not too many...

Imagine watching them performing live. It would be incredible to see how all of the members flow together when there is so much happening on stage. That's talent. A few tracks that show just how unique they are as hip-hop artists are would be, “Unpredictable,” “Sum of it All" off their latest album Future Shade, "77%," and recently released "Signs of Life." 

"77%" is about how racist and politically backwards Australia truly is, according to The Herd (See chart). Although many can say there is racism all over the world, no matter where you go, their relentlessness on the track makes you wonder about what else is going on in Australian politics and social world that we aren't aware of. However, unless you have been to Australia (not on vacation), are Australian, or studied the culture then you can't say too much about this topic without eventually looking like an idiot. Either way, The Herd has something to say, so they let it out.

All of their albums are available to download by donation (screw you Lars Ulrich) on their website. 

The Herd continues to tour all across Australia as well as having their spots in line ups for various major music festivals in places such as Sydney. The Herd let their opinions be known to the masses, and it doesn't look like much is going to stop them. Whether you love them or hate them, they could care less because they are going to continue staying true to their beliefs and music. That’s something to admire, except when a hip-hop or other music type becomes so political that it starts to alienate the listener, which in turn pushes fans away from the music. 

You be the judge, but remember...You never can truly get the feel of a band until you see them live. Their next scheduled performance is April 20th with Hermitude of The Herd at the Big Pineapple Music Festival on the Sunshine Coast in Australia. If you are out there, grab some tickets before they sell out! It's already almost April! 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tattoos help some heal from heartache, loss

Today, tattoos are more acceptable to show off without the feeling of being judged by others or stereotyped.  Instead of the meaningless heart, flower, or name of a boyfriend/girlfriend you will most likely break up with and have these permenantly on your skin, many are using the permanance for a purpose like healing and overcoming emotional events in their lives. 
A tattoo becomes a part of a person and who they are once the ink touches the skin. Most of the people I talked to about the meaning behind their tattoos had a heart wrenching story and, in turn, I then became a part of their life story, possibly in a positive way. The tattoos seemed to have given each of them strength to keep on with their lives, yet was a reminder to them of what they have overcome. Ink and art are very powerful and filled with emotion through the remembrance of the turbulent events that caused them to place a tattoo on their body. 


People and their stories

Stabbed in the Back:
Mercedes - On May 15, 2009 baby Zielg Edwin Moench tragically and suddenly died of SIDS. He was only three months old. This tattoo was done by the father of Zielg. Mercedes had him tattoo the dagger because he literally stabbed her in the back and hurt her during an already devastating time. The tattoo is a way for her to heal.

Close to the heart:
Adriel - On his chest is the name of his unborn daughter, Crystal Star. When Adriel was in his 20s, his girlfriend of five years became pregnant, but the child did not survive. He placed a tattoo of his daughter's name on the left side of his chest so that she is always close to his heart. It is a constant reminder of his love for his daughter Crystal Star.
Strength to Move Forward:
Dan - He described his tattoo as representing strength and unity between mankind. He got this tattoo when he was 19 years old and facing stuggles in his life. The directions of the nautical start point out in the five directions all around him, and the celtic knot symbolizes strength and bond.
Cody - He received his tattoo of the German flag with the German word for overcome above it, symbolizing the struggle he had with addiction. When Cody got this when after going through rehab, he was 17 years old. This tattoo serves as a reminder that he over came his addictions and has overcome his struggles in order to be as happy as he is today
More Photos:


Basement Lights On and KlassNine Boards, LLC

Basement Lights On - REAL MUSIC TALK DENVER, CO: KlassNine Boards, LLC: KlassNine Boards: More than just a snowboard company In association with Music Real Talk - Denver : KlassN...

Saturday, March 16, 2013

B.Dolan’s Midwest Tour takes independent hip-hop to new heights

Courtesy - B.Dolan
“We silently fell in love with hip-hop.” B.Dolan explained how he and now best friend Sage Francis, grew up unaware that the other was only fifteen minutes down the road, in old mining towns of Rohde Island.

Hip-hop artist, B.Dolan, is one of two bearded men ready to warm up the Midwest from a long winter. B.Dolan, also signed to Strange FamousRecords, gives underground hip-hop someone to look up to, which has been needed for years. Through his raw beats and lyricism, B.Dolan brings hip-hop back to it’s roots. He is more than thrilled to let loose on his upcoming tour throughout the Midwest and get back on the road again.

“This tour happened as the Treefort Music Festival in Boise, ID asked me and Sage to play, and then Vegas wanted us to come out, so I specifically chose where I wanted to go by regions on the map where we have good friends as well as where we have had good times before.” he explained, “I was also specifically looking at the strong regional sub-scenes and how it would be great for us to stop there.”

He made it clear that Colorado was a region he wanted to play. He made it seem like it had been too long of a time since he had gone on tour in the Mile High City, and was excited about coming back to Colorado as a whole. The music scene is so diverse that you can go and see a show any day of the week, and Denver loves their hip-hop, so it isn’t surprising that he has such a great time in Colorado.

“Denver is one of our major cities. Wheelchair Sports Camp, who we’re playing with too, has made it really easy for us to book shows.” B.Dolan went on,  “Colorado really has always been a great region. I’ve heard really good things about the Hi-Dive [in Denver] from other people who have been there.”

B.Dolan’s Midwest Tour will be his first run of shows in 2013. He will be playing material off of his latest mixtape, House of Bees Vol. 2, which came out last summer. You can tell how much fun he had making that mixtape, simply from how dynamic many of the tracks are and you can feel his laid back nature through the beats and remixes he chose to put on it.

“I fell in love with hip-hop because of mixtapes. I would play the tapes until they fell apart.” he said laughing. “Mixtapes almost are a genre of their own within hip-hop, you can just throw anything on there and less pressure.”

B.Dolan also talked about how he will have more freedom to play new tracks and try different things that he wouldn’t necessarily pull out of his pocket while on tour. He specifically picked out smaller venues because he likes the intimate setting and having a better connection to the crowd.

“This tour is traveling for me, which is exciting because there’s low pressure and no pretense. I’m in the process of writing a new album, so I wasn’t looking for a hug blow up tour.” said B.Dolan.

Sage Francis will also be joining B.Dolan on a few stops of the tour. More importantly, after they play in Lake Tahoe they will have eight days straight, off in Las Vegas. He said how this was “another cool thing about this tour” since during the break he will be able to dedicate those eight days of writing with Sage Francis.

“We’re going to have eight days of nothing, where all we’re going to do is write under our Epic Beard Men title like on both of the ‘2Bad’ tracks. Sage and I’ve talked about making an album together for a while now.” he said with enthusiasm, “We are going to just go to a casino and get some writing done. We have song concepts and beats, and even have this Beastie Boys style going back and forth with each other. It’s a new kind of writing when you have been writing one way for so long.”

B.Dolan went on about how he essentially wanted to challenge himself, yet at the same time enjoy writing an album line by line with Sage Francis because they are both reaching into unknown waters. It's incredible to see artists step out into a street that they know of, but never took the time to explore. Many stay cozy with what they have been doing their entire life and/or career.

B.Dolan said with a laugh, “I’m going to write the best shit I possibly can, ya know?”

This sounds like one hell of a project. Imagine if they were able to write that album over those eight days. It would be refreshing as well as bring a different sound to both of their musical profiles. Epic Beard Men…quite suiting.

Get ready for B.Dolan to take on the Midwest with his intelligent rhymes and old school beats. Everyone is in for a truly special set of intimate shows with this talented MC from Rohde Island. The second leg of his tour will be on the Strange Doom Sayers Tour with, Mike Mictlan and Toki Wright. B.Dolan had everything set up at the right time, right place, and with the right people. Both halves of the tour, but especially B.Dolan on his own, is going to be insane and filled with high energy performances.

“It’s going to be great getting back on the road. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone on tour.”

Courtesy - Strange Famous Records

Monday, March 4, 2013

Robby Schechter and The Motion Detectors rock Denver's Best of the West

Copyright - Peyton Owen
 As a former student from the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver, Robby Schechter decided to put together a vibrant six-piece band including Max Manoles-sax/ewi/vocals, Cat Ackermann-keys/vocals, Eli Acosta-bass, Patrick Shields-percussion/vocals, Lem Williams-drums. These incredibly brilliant musicians all make up the band, Robby Schechter and TheMotion Detectors. Their music is dynamic and influenced by all types of music across the spectrum although majority of the group has a prominent jazz background. It’s amazing to see musicians step out of their element and try something like never before.

Recently, RSMD entered a battle of the bands contest for a chance to win a time slot at the venue of all venues…the epic Red RocksAmphitheater. The winners also will win $4,000, a professionally recorded EP, and new equipment. All of this is a massive opportunity for any band trying to make it in such a competitive industry where everyone wants to be the next Led Zeppelin or signed to a major label.
Copyright - Peyton Owen

Schechter has become the leader that many of his band mates look to for signals and writes a majority of their songs. He shreds as lead guitarist on every solo and every song. Not to discredit the rest of the band because each person in RSMD has an amazing amount of talent that they put into perfecting their craft. It comes alive on stage and particularly exploded when competing at the Best of the West: Battle of the Bands at Herman’s Hideaway in Denver. RSMD was in the groove, while not letting their nerves get the best of them. However, stage presence is something that needs work, but that comes with practice.

“We have definitely been working hard to become better performers. It’s something we have been told about, and we have gotten a lot better at it than previous shows.” Schechter said with determination. “I thought we did a much better job tonight.”
Copyright - Peyton Owen

Herman’s Hideaway had become RSMD’s home. Excitement and a better sense of confidence poured out more so than previous shows. Music was injected into their veins from just picking up their instruments The 150 (+/-) people that were in attendance, hopped off their seats, and started rocking out to the jams of Robby Schechter and The Motion Detectors as if they were a magnet for dancing and having an awesome night. It was awesome to see how many people embraced the passion and talent that shook their eardrums, especially because they are an unknown group of young musicians.

According to Schechter, “Most of the band has jazz backgrounds, so they are used to having a leader. In jazz there is a leader that everyone looks to.” He continued, “We have a ton of talent coming from each member and have been working hard to get our music to be heard by anyone and everyone. Playing in this competition is great exposure for us.”
Copyright - Peyton Owen

As their one-hour time slot went on without a glitch, more people continued to gather in front of the stage, clearly having a great time. There was an instant connection between the music and the audience, which isn’t something that necessarily happens for bands starting out. RSMD’s creativity and unique style, made it happen. Their music has the ability to appeal to those who enjoy a wide variety of musical genres drawing in all walks of music lovers. In a way, RSMD can’t be set in to a specific category or type of sound because they cover everything from rock, to blues, to jazz, to funk, and so on.

However, RSMD are Rock and Roll at heart. Schechter strangles his guitar with passion as the rest of the members show how dynamic they can be with their instruments. Every single played as if their instrument is fully a part of who they are, whether it is a Saxophone, keys, percussion, etc. the music and instruments are purely extensions of themselves. This isn’t found very often with bands trying to make music their profession, especially in young bands. However, each person adapted to their surroundings and what was being played at that moment.

Copyright - Peyton Owen
Copyright - Peyton Owen
When it came down to the end of the night, and the major decision for who was to move on to the semi-finals of the competition, Robby Schechter and The Motion Detectors to much amazement didn’t win. This didn’t get the band down though.

“Thank you so much for all of the support we’ve received from everyone.” Schechter said, “After playing a live show there is a high that we all feel because this is what we love to do.”

Copyright - Peyton Owen
An audience member also added, “I don’t know how they didn’t win. They blew away all the competition, especially that last band. They sucked.”

If anything, this show seemed to be motivation for RSMD to keep moving forward with their music. In an industry that has no room for the weak hearted and those only trying to get paid, these guys know the next steps they need to take in order to create a larger fan base at larger venues. To them, it’s all about the music.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without the support from our friends, family, fans, and each other.” Schechter said with a positive attitude and smile on his face.

Copyright - Peyton Owen
RSMD has a unique enough sound that will enable them to reach people on a much larger scale further down the road. Each set the band plays better than the previous time because they are all determined and motivated by the love for what they do as well as taking the time needed to spend working out the bugs. This makes way for these recent college graduates to constantly progress and stay true to their passion for the band.

Copyright - Peyton Owen
Herman’s Hideaway has also had a wonderful impact on making this happen because they are constantly booked for shows at this small, yet well-known venue in Denver. It has opened doors that will only come more often as RSMD grow together and continue building the strong bond that a band needs to succeed.

Copyright - Peyton Owen
Currently, RSMD has their first self-titled studio album out for sale as well as several videos of their live performances. Watch out Denver and the music industry as a whole, Robby Schechter and The Motion Detectors will be blasting through your speakers faster than some may think. Keep your eyes and ears open.