A sold out show at the Hi-Dive is always fun. The Drums were making their Denver stop on a warm and windy Thursday evening. I was happy to be double-teaming the evening's event with Peter, who is a photo ninja whereas I'm still in the apprentice stage. I ran into Dustin from the newly-opened Happy Coffee (yay!) as soon as we arrived, who had helped me with my camera settings during the Damien Jurado show I covered. The show started early and Peter and I blew through the front door right after the first band's set began.
Just Paul Vallesteros was wearing a v-neck that almost exactly matched the color of his guitar, his hair a perfectly curled coif. Not a photo shoot, but rather standing in front of the crowded room which had filled up to see the Craft Spells play before the Drums began. The foursome took to the stage with brightly-colored guitars, jean jackets and wind-blown hair - the performance begged for a beach scene backdrop on the Hi-Dive stage (scenery backdrops is an excellent idea regardless of the band playing, just putting it out there if anyone from the Hi-Dive is reading this!). The songs Craft Spells played carried more resonance and punch than their album counterparts with louder guitars and a full drum kit. In particular I am thinking of “Party Talk” which has a subdued and consistent drum track on the recorded version, but the live version began with a cymbal crash that spawned a dancy domino effect that didn’t end until the song had spent itself. I imagine this song to be used appropriately in a movie scene where a teen girl opens her locker door on the eve of a big party where she might see the cutest boy in school, and she finds a crumpled note that reads, “See you tonight. - Cute Boy”. Then the director wouldn’t show the girl’s facial response, but would cut to her hand as it shut her locker door and just then that first cymbal crash comes through. And the audience would dance.
Craft Spells played some new tracks from their yet-to-be-released EP Gallery, officially out on May 15. Vellesteros took a moment to address the crowd and let us know that he had no real tie to Denver besides the hockey games he played here as a kid, and later mentioned that he was impressed with the night's turnout. I’m sure the singer of Craft Spells may have been disappointed by the turnout at his childhood hockey games, but he should expect much more for the Craft Spells crowds. The group will be playing for enormous crowds at this year’s Sasquatch Music Festival during Memorial Day weekend.
Similarly to Craft Spells, the group’s music sounded fuller compared to the albums, which might be explained by the two bandmates they added to the touring line-up from New York City’s Violens: Myles Matheny and Chris Stein. It seemed a perfect pairing, as everyone played the song perfectly and the audience responded in kind. When the band played "I Need Fun In My Life," the group leaned into the chorus ("I need fun, fun, fun / fun, fun, fun . . .") and with each repetition of the word "fun" the audience's response was to be noisier, whether they were singing along or otherwise having fun. On the recorded version, Pierce's lonely voice echoes into a hollow space that expresses the absence of fun and it seems appropriately coupled with the minimalist instrumental arrangement on that song. At the close of the song, even Pierce seemed impressed by how well the song sounded with a full band, which probably prompted him to express to the crowd his appreciation. "Myles Matheny, everyone. One of the great loves of my life. In a friendly way." The group went into "I Felt Stupid" and later "Days," two songs on the farther ends of the Drums' discography, which just goes to show how well these two additions did as far as learning all of the music to do these tours. Hopefully we will see them as permanent additions soon!
The Drums ended their set with crowd favorites "Down by the Water" and "Let's Go Surfing"; everyone was singing and dancing. As the Drums dismounted the stage, Pierce took a moment for a fan picture before disappearing out the back door to the group's tour van. It's great when you get to see a band as popular as the Doors play such a small venue like the Hi-Dive, but I'm sure they will opt for more spacious digs for the next tour that stops in Denver.
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