As much as I love catching big names at big venues, I'll always have a soft spot for catching new names in the smallest venues. Of course, I enjoy watching a band playing in front of a huge passionate crowd in a large packed space, but there's something to be said about the intimacy and connection found in much smaller shows. Last night I checked out a new spot for me, Old Curtis Street Bar, and I found it to be another great place to catch live music in a very intimate setting.
|Drew Mitchell of Painted By Numbers|
First up was the newly formed Painted By Numbers, a Boulder based indie alt-rock band. They didn't have much out there that I could check out beforehand, but I still thought I had a good idea of what to expect. Once they started playing though, it all kind of fell into place. I went into the performance with their description - new grunge indie rock - in the back of my head, and once the music started it made more sense. The band is a four piece; two guitars - one electric, one acoustic - an electric bass, and a drum kit. With these tools they create rhythmic acoustic/electric grunge that has a pop sensibility but much too raw to be called pop. On top of that instrumentation are the punchy, throaty vocals of lead singer Drew Mitchell. His vocal style adds another layer of grunge to their sound, really shaping the overall sound.
|Painted By Numbers|
Being the first band up in a small bar, they didn't play for the largest crowd, but it allowed those there to get up close and personal, and it helped me get a good feel for the music. The driving acoustic rhythms made sense when paired with the expressive vocals, at first coming powerfully out of an unexpected source, but validated by the passion in Drew Mitchell's delivery. I really enjoyed "All Black" with its catchy chanting hook. "The Wave" brought the electric guitar (over the acoustic) into the forefront, and I really liked the way the guitar work drove the song. They also played a cover of the Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?", giving it an extra dose of grungy masculinity. Painted By Numbers has a good sound going on, and with more time and polish they can really hone in on what sets their sound apart from the rest of the fold.
|Cody Clayton of Peaceful Peaches|
Next up was the headlining band, Peaceful Peaches. The Peaceful Peaches brought their brand of energetic do-it-yourself punk. The recordings I could hear of the band lacked the instrumental intensity that I was looking for, with the unconventional vocal style dominating what I could hear. But that's why I go to see bands live, because they had all the amps cranked up on stage last night to fully deliver that loud, fast-paced punk sound. The juxtaposition of the forceful instrumental sound with the laid back but articulated spoken-voice vocals of Cody Clayton created a likable uniqueness to the overall sound of the band.
Frontman Cody Clayton had great stage presence, letting the energy present in the band's propulsive sound flow freely through him as he moved dynamically across the whole stage. If the rest of the band matched his level of intensity, it would really bode well for future performances and help transfer more energy off to the crowd, making for the best possible experience. Overall, I enjoyed the upbeat and attitude-riddled "This Town". Also, "Dusty Winter" did a great job of combining a serious mood with a carefree feel. If you are into energetic garage punk, check out a Peaceful Peaches show.
|Laura Stratton and Mic Carroll of Tommy & The Tangerines|
Tommy & The Tangerines came on stage last to close out the night, bringing with them an eclectic mix of uplifting and fun alternative/pop rock 'n' roll. Although there isn't actually a Tommy in the band, frontman and lead vocalist Mic Carroll filled that role. He is incredibly entertaining to watch, with so much dynamism on stage he captivates the audience with his wild movements, commanding attention with every gesture. The rest of the band would be the Tangerines, a collection of sweet and likable musicians creating an upbeat soundtrack to Mic Carroll's eccentricity.
|Tommy & The Tangerines|
Most of their songs have a happy alt-pop appeal, as if their music would be at home as part of the soundtrack to an episode of the sitcom Friends. When I heard them perform songs like "Better Off Dead" and "Power Pop 5000" I kept scanning the bar to see if there was a large water fountain everyone could splash around in. They saved two of their more stylistically varied songs for the very end; the soulful and bluesy "Face" and the alt-country "Great Mistake", the latter of which had everyone two-stepping hoedown style. Tommy & The Tangerines are definitely an amusing listening experience that's hard not to like. By the end of their performance, it was smiles for everybody all around. If you want a quick pick-me-up, check out a live performance of Tommy & The Tangerines.
It was great to see another local showcase at a small venue, and the variety of music presented all kept the energy level high but in each band's own distinctive way of delivery. I always cherish these smaller venue shows because it's so much easier to get a personal connection to each band. When they perform so close to the audience it's the closest thing to a private performance. If you like checking out new music, try checking out a small venue show. The bands always appreciate the support and you just may appreciate the connection you get to the music.
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