I made a second trip to the Hi-Dive last week, this time on Saturday night, but I was met with a familiar outcome - another quality show. This time it was a mix of local indie acts playing a variety of music, putting together a fun show for a music hungry weekend crowd. By the end of the night, the audience got a taste of indie pop-rock, mellow indie rock, and surf inspired modern rock to get their fill of music. The show demonstrated that this will indeed be a strong new year in music.
The show began with the indie pop group Shaky Molars. Shaky Molars performed as a five piece band; Chuck Potashner on vocals/guitar, Kat Roscoe on bass/vocals, Kayla Martin on cello/vocals, Nate Adelmann on guitar, and Ryan Mulligan on drums. They create music that sounds like pop yet doesn't quite sound like anything else at the same time. Apparent influences seem to be scattered all over the place, without really being able to pin down anything definitive. I can say though that their sound, song content, and live performance is centered around providing energy and humor to make for a fun and unique concert experience
|Chuck Potashner of Shaky Molars|
I'd seen this band once before and since then I'd say they have progresses a lot and really stamped out an identity for themselves over that time. As a band, the performance of their music came off very fluid, injecting energy into the crowd with their instrumentation. Lead singer Chuck Potashner did a very good job exhibiting stage presence. His performance was assertive and strong, and his occasional quips came off humorous and not awkward or out-of-place. I think he did well to let his personality shine in this performance as it was very genuine.
|Kayla Martin and Kat Roscoe of Shaky Molars|
The show began with the pop-punk styled "Colorado Girl", a song that mates uptempo rhythm and a bit of distorted guitar with smooth melodic lead and backing vocals. After a taste of pop-meets-country with "Little Dipper", Shaky Molars continued to exhibit their local pride with "Denver" and "Daniele Marie Miller" through pop-rock styling. Most of their songs were along a pop-rock style set apart with melodic guitar and and an orchestral element from the addition of cello. I really liked their retro styled pop song "Blueberry Wine" with it's extremely catchy melody. All in all, when Shaky Molars lets their personalities shine as they did Saturday night, they perform with a very infectious and fun energy, which made for a great to start to the evening's show.
|Will Walden of StaG|
Next up was Boulder based band StaG. This three piece band consists of Matt McGuire on bass/keyboards/sampler/vocals, Will Walden on guitar,vocals, and Mac Welch on guitar/trombone/vocals. This band has a moody and mellow indie rock sound that seems to mate modern surf rock with experimental electonic music, shoegaze, and the tiniest hint of folk. They create a powerful yet soothing wall of sound with their instruments, match that with clever sampler driven rhythms, and layer emotive vocals on top to complete the sound.
I also had a chance to see this band once before, and I was captivated by what they were doing. This time, I was extremely impressed once again. Saturday's show was almost entirely new material - I went into the show expecting to hear a lot of old favorites from their album Rifle Meeker, but got a pleasant surprise instead. The show began with "Loss At Tacoma", featuring vocals from Mac Welch and an almost Super Mario-esque keyboard/synth line.
|Matt McGuire of Stag|
From their, they kept a flowing set going, blending one song into the other starting with "Lived Like String". This stretch of songs had the familiar psychedelic surf rock vibe led by Will Walden's vocals and guitar that I really liked from their last show. They included one song off of their album, "Noise", one of my favorites that they seemed to enhance with an even more driving and present drum beat. The progressive style of "Big White" was incredible, exploding into an almost psychedelic western song with an incredible chorus. "Wayill" was a song I saw in its infancy the first time I saw StaG perform that stood out because of its inclusion of trombone, and it has definitely progressed well over time. The closing song, "Guts", included a heartfelt and powerful vocal/keyboard performance from Matt McGuire that brought the set to a fitting close.
|Mac Welch of StaG|
I think musically, StaG has their sound pinned down and their songwriting is very good. They've shown the ability to continue to innovate by bringing new compositions to their performance tonight. As much as I enjoyed the performance, there is still room for improvement that will really set this band apart. Some of the vocals weren't completely on or could use a little more assertiveness during performance. I think in the future the band would benefit from a live drummer and/or full time synth/keyboardist to add more oomph to their sets. Still, working with the pieces they had, they did a great job and I can't wait for them to release more music.
Finally, Fort Collins based band Moon Tides came out to close the show. Although Moon Tides is usually the duo of Dillon and Lexa, only Dillon was there from the original configuration of the band. Dillon was on vocals/guitar/sampler and he performed with the help of Emily on vocals/drums. They created dreamy surf rock inspired music built from simple but colorful instrumentation and quiet yet catchy vocals.
|Emily of Moon Tides|
It became immediately evident that Moon Tides wasn't at full capacity - not because Lexa's fill-in Emily did not do well, but because the other half seemed to not be as into the performance as one would hope. It seemed Dillon was dwelling too much on who/what wasn't on stage rather than being focused on delivering a performance on stage and that seemed to hinder the band's set Saturday night. From the apprehensive opening performance of "To Be" to the halfhearted closing of "Swimming", it just seemed that too much energy was missing from stage. I'm a big fan of the song "1966" but it's live performance just wasn't what I'd hope. If it wasn't for the fact that the sampler/drum machine did a lot of the work, I'm not sure if the performance would have been bearable.
|Dillon of Moon Tides|
If I get to see Moon Tides again, whether or not they are at full strength I hope whoever is on stage strives to give as heartfelt a performance as they can. I understand missing band members changes the dynamic, but if the music is strong and delivered with energy it can still make for a great show. Thursday night's show at the Hi-Dive comes to mind - Luke Price of Dean! still delivered an incredible performance despite him being the only band member to make the trip from Portland. Hopefully the next time I see Moon Tides the performance will be as energetic and colorful as the way their songs are crafted.
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