Although I haven't been doing this blogging thing for very long, I hadn't gone a day without at least one post before this Saturday. That came about because of two reasons: 1) It was a little more work than I anticipated trying to cover a festival as opposed to a regular show. There is a lot more going on, a lot more bands, and way more pictures to process at the end. 2) I was going to spend Saturday afternoon putting the review together, but then I found out about something else I had to cover. I had just woken up from the long night before and was greeted by a message telling me ManCub was playing Brass Tree Sessions Saturday afternoon, so I grabbed my gear and headed out the door.
For those of you that don't know, Brass Tree Sessions is a special once a month live music event featuring local bands. The bands play in a house off South Broadway and people can attend for free. What makes the event special, is each band gets to choose a couple songs to have recorded in HD video. The Brass Tree Sessions crew will capture the performance and turn the footage into a music video. You can see the past six episodes and future sessions at the Brass Tree Sessions web site.
I left Capitol Hill shortly before two o'clock and walked through the hot afternoon sun towards the South Broadway neighborhood. Beads of sweat started to run down my brow as I turned the last corner and saw a welcome sight; a group of people gathered on the porch of the fabled house sharing conversations and cold beer. Alex Anderson of ManCub was lounging on the steps, and he was surrounded by people there for the show and some of the Brass Tree crew. I cracked open a beer, sat down in the shade, made myself comfortable, met those around me and readied my camera. I could hear the first band getting ready to perform, the echoes of their sound check pouring out into the street. As I got to the end of my beer, everyone started to make their way inside to catch the first session.
Amazing Twin played first, and they began to perform in the house's makeshift stage area - the dining room centrally located within the house. The four members were crammed in the no bigger than 15' x 15' space, with as many onlookers as would fit inside, the rest spilling out either side packing the kitchen or the living room. Before Saturday, I hadn't heard of Amazing Twin, and it turns out they are made up of members of another local Denver rock band, Hindershot. Amazing Twin started playing their brand of shoegaze inspired indie rock to the delight of the crowd.
|Patrick Kelly of Amazing Twin|
Amazing Twin is Patrick Kelly on vocals/guitar/keyboard, Lucas Johannes on guitar, Stuart Confer on bass, and Chris Durant on drums. Together they produce an impressive range of sounds. Their songs vary musically from one to the next using varying tempos, beat structures and hints of other music styles. Patrick Kelly's vocals are the glue that holds it all together and makes all their songs cohesive. It was an awesome set, and I can't wait to see the resulting video, especially for "Time Capsule In Reverse", the song that stuck with me well after the performance.
One of the best things about Brass Tree Sessions is the casual atmosphere. Amazing Twin finished their set and there was a good sized gap in time before ManCub went on, allowing everyone there to meet each other and meet the bands. Aside from the bands performing, I also ran into a few members of other local bands while hanging out between sets. Sammi from Sauna and Victoria from Nipples-n-Dimes were around that afternoon. Both of their bands had been previously featured on Brass Tree Sessions. (Sauna was on Episode #1, Nipples-n-Dimes on Episode #2) I also ran into Claire Connoly of Number Station and Nate Adelmann of Shaky Molars. If you really want to know local Denver music, the Brass Tree house is a great way to hear it and meet the people behind it all.
After meeting more people and sharing some more cold beer, I went back inside as ManCub was finishing setting up their gear. I've covered ManCub a lot, but I definitely don't get tired of doing it. They always manage to do something different every time I see them, yet consistently blow away whatever crowd they play for. Thanks to the informal setting of the Brass Tree house, ManCub treated a few onlookers to an impromptu song that offered a small window into how their songs are created. After a loud sneeze, Alex recorded the phrase "T'was a violent sneeze" into the microphone and immediately started playing it back, messing with filters to change the sound. Alex Anderson and James Wayne then began to lay down various beats, and Alex knocked out a quick melody on his keyboard. Within a minute they had something resembling a song - although I don't think they'll be performing "T'was a Violent Sneeze" anytime soon. Still, it was cool watching a song take shape freestyle right before your eyes.
|Alex Anderson of ManCub|
Soon, more people packed into the house and ManCub began their set. They played much of what they did the night before at Denver After Dark, but this time to a crowd of mostly fresh faces. By the time "Post Modern War" and "Mt. Rushmore" came on, hardly anyone in the house was standing still. People went particularly crazy this time for "Sound", and they ended with "Summer Rain", getting everyone in the house nice and sweaty. I overheard people coming up to ManCub after the set who had just heard ManCub's music for the first time, praising them for doing something a little different with electronic music that still hits hard but is an alternative to dubstep. I would have to strongly agree. I've said it before but I'll keep saying it - if you haven't heard ManCub yet, check them out!
Finally it was time for Accordion Crimes to hold their session, and I was excited to hear another new-to-me local band. Accordion Crimes is Bryon Parker on vocals/guitar, Brian Feuchtinger on bass, and Dave Sprague on drums. Together, they produce some sweet indie post-punk/hardcore noise rock that completely blew me away. My first thought was they were a less random but just as awesome version of At The Drive-In, with a similar amount of energy and similar vocal register. The Brass Tree house is a very old Victorian house, and by the end of Accordion Crime's set, I thought it might be wise to check the place for structural damage.
|Bryon Parker of Accordion Crimes|
It was the first time I heard Accordion Crimes, so it was tough to pick out individual songs as opposed to getting an idea of the band as a whole. Still, two songs stuck out to me in their set. The first was the easiest to remember because Accordion Crimes announced they'd be playing a cover song. I wasn't familiar with Shellac at the time, but Accordion Crimes did a fine job of covering their song "Song of the Minerals". I went back and checked out the original (and learned about a new band) and they were very true to Shellac's version, and it is now evident where some of Accordion Crimes' influence came from. The other song that stuck with me was "Forecast". My jaw hit the floor when they played this song and I was scrambling through the rest of the session trying to gather it back to my face. Those looking for a high energy band need to look no further than Accordion Crimes. Check them out and keep your eyes open for their videos on the next Brass Tree Sessions release.
|The Brass Tree House|
Brass Tree Sessions was an amazing experience, and all you have to do to be a part of the next one is keep your eyes open. There is no more intimate way to listen to music than experiencing it less than a yard away from you in a small room of a house, and no better way to connect to bands than sharing beers and conversations with them on a summer afternoon in and around a home of music. The Denver music scene isn't just the bands that make all the awesome music; it's the people that help host bands and spread the word like the Brass Tree crew, and all the people that come out to support the music by being there when the bands perform live. We're all in this together, and the bands can't take it any further without people coming out and being a part of the music community. The more people come out and see what's happening, the greater and more prosperous the scene will become. Come on in, the door's wide open.
Check out more pictures from the sessions in the Facebook photo album. Like the Concerted Effort page and stay up to date!