A LOVE LETTER TO ILLEGAL PETE'S | Locals Only | November 5, 2014

I would like to qualify this little editorial with the simple fact that I am the only Colorado native working for Ultra5280. I've spent a majority of my life taking pride in the things that you can truly "only do in Colorado", and rubbing it in for friends who live elsewhere. I've watched just as many films at Red Rocks as I have concerts (well, maybe...), spent summers hiking through Chataqua and Rocky Mountain National Park, driven for hours up I-70 in the winter just to get one run in on the weekends between homework assignments, and I promise you that *no* day spent in Colorado could be completed in a better fashion than by eating dinner at Illegal Pete's. Pete's food has been a staple in my diet for as long as I can remember. While I was working my way through college, I took the bus to and from work through LoDo every day from my dorm on CU's Denver campus. On Tuesdays I worked until 12am, and would often not get back to the dorms until 2-3am depending on what bus I managed to catch - far too late to get any food from my dining hall. I had few food options that late in the evening, and Illegal Pete's became my surefire choice for dinner each week. Slowly but surely, the staff at Illegal Pete's on the 16th Street Mall began to recognize my face, and would even sometimes delay their close just so I could run through the door and beg them to make one last Queso Burrito before their register closed for the evening. 

The amazingness that is Illegal Pete's does not start or stop with starving, college-aged Maddie. But grown up, post-collegiate Maddie is heartbroken by the negative words being shared regarding the monicker of my favorite burrito haunt, and i've come to take a stand. The older I've gotten, the more involved I've become in both Denver and the world around me. This deeper understanding has shed light on just how deeply rooted this restaurant is in it's community, and how important it is for us to celebrate. From serving local meat in all of their dishes, to the Greater Than Collective record label they run, Illegal Pete's is a community-based company full of like-minded thinkers who strive to make the world a better place. Their efforts to focus their time and financial resources here in Colorado benefits both their staff members and patrons in ways the average joe could never imagine. Unlike their globally franchised counterparts (who are also Colorado based, mind you), Pete's has stayed local, working to help make our Mile High state the best it can be. The fact that so many people are hung up on their choice of name opposed to the good this company brings to our community is absolutely tragic, and weighs heavily on my heart. Illegal Pete's has been a happily functioning restaurant in Colorado since 1995...that's nearly twenty years of happy people eating happy burritos without caring what the word "illegal" could accidentally ensue. Why must we now, in 2014, find the tiniest thing to nit-pick when Illegal Pete's is merely trying to expand their positive reach to another Colorado community?

CU Denver students rocking out at Illegal Pete's during the 2014 Underground Music Showcase.

No one seems to care that the restaurant's name is an homage to owner Pete Turner's beloved father who carried the same given name as he. It also seems that no one cares to educate themselves on all of the community-focused programs Illegal Pete's has to offer to the great city of Fort Collins. Instead, they've chose to focus on the sad, miscommunicated understanding of one measly little word. Illegal Pete's is more than just a name. Illegal Pete's is more than just a restaurant. Illegal Pete's is one of the few remaining local treasures that we as Coloradans are blessed to have all to ourselves, and they give back to this community in immense ways. Owner Pete Turner took his simple dream to open a place with a "fun and energetic atmosphere with music playing (and) employees having fun" and has turned it into a successful, well known food chain spread across the front range. He's created a hugely successful record label that supports some of Denver's most talented musical artists, and has expanded that support to artists worldwide through the Starving Artist Program, which feeds out-of-town bands at no cost while they travel through Colorado. Pete's also supports charities like the American Cancer Society, the Hatian Earthquake Relief efforts by the Red Cross, stepped in to help the Aurora Police Department after the movie theater shootings, the Colorado Springs Red Cross after the fires, the Boulder Flood Relief efforts and many more. 

How can the people of Fort Collins look past these incredible actions of a business, and get so hung up on one adjective that has taken on a sadly negative connotation in this new era of over sensitivity? Times like these make it clear why the world's good people are growing harder to find, as their actions are overlooked to focus on petty battles instead. I urge the citizens of Colorado to lay their negative thoughts to rest, as they will do no one an ounce of good. Rather, I encourage all of you to become more informed, and choose your battles not based on new-age stigmas, but rather based on facts. I hope that this will make all of you choose to research the companies you support just a bit more, and celebrate local heroes like Illegal Pete's, who've asked for no praise for their goodness other than the simple ability to open a new location. Ultra5280 are proud Pete's lovers, and owe them a great debt for late night business meetings, hangover breakfasts, and stopping the dreaded post-UMS "hanger" episodes. We hope Pete's stays "illegal" forever, and hope that Fort Collins can come to love them just as much as we do. 



If you'd like to learn more about Illegal Pete's, please read these articles on their namesake, as well as "Seven Facts You Didn't Know" right here: 

New Music Tuesday | Kid Astronaut & Bad Rabbits | November 4, 2014

We’re going to try to get in the swing of making Tuesdays “New Music Tuesdays” over here at Ultra5280, and what a better way to kick it off than with one of our favorite local artists, and one of the bands that has stolen our heart time and time again. This week we’re going a little on the soul side, and focusing on Jon Shockness’ new solo project Kid Astronaut, as well as Boston’s soul sons Bad Rabbits. 


You are (hopefully) by now familiar with Air Dubai, Denver’s six piece electro-pop hip-hop group. A band who’s been making waves in the Mile High city since before the release of their first full-length Wonder Age was in 2010, lead vocalist Jon Shockness has been working double time recently to begin experimenting with his own material under the name Kid Astronaut. Jon’s efforts working towards a solo career have existed just as long as Air Dubai, but the first track dropped under this monicker came this past July with the song “This Day”. His solo stuff is a sure departure from the upbeat radio hits of Air Dubai, but brings out the same lyrical strength we’ve come to expect. Tracks like “This Day” and “Phone Home” let us hear Jon rap more than we’ve heard on any of his previous releases, and I truly hope this change sticks, as it’s obviously a strong talent that suits him well. With great cadence, and wonderfully smart lines like “I’m feeling happier than Pharrell ever been/ walking on clouds baby this day is on ten” we’re excited to keep hearing more from this solo project. My favorite release so far has been the song “Finally it’s You” simply because of how starkly different it is from anything else I’ve ever heard Jon release. The track features no rapping, very different lyrical content, and to top it off, a beautiful violin humming through the background. The song is beautiful through and through, and you can check out the newly released music video for the track below. We love watching artists grow and change, and this new era for Jon Shockness is one I’m curious to continue to follow. If you’d like to see his work live, he’s playing a show this coming Friday night at 7pm at The Atlas Theatre. You can find more info on the Kid Astronaut Facebook page


Boston natives Bad Rabbits have been around for quite some time, and their EP Stick Up Kids has been on my iPhone since the day I first heard it in 2010. The band has toured with Travie McCoy of Gym Class Heroes, done the Vans Warped Tour twice (in 2011 and 2014), and just came through town this past month opening for singer/songwriter Allen Stone. If you think the list of acts they’ve played with is eclectic, try listening to their music. With hints of soul, gospel, hip hop, and 80’s pop all wrapped into one neat little package, the only thing one can do to adequately process their music is dance about it. The band released their first full length American Love in 2013, and have been touring nearly the entire year in support of the album. Songs like “Booties”, “Stick Up Kids”, “We Can Roll”, and “Doin’ It” are my personal favorite tracks, but nothing in this world compares to this band’s live show. Full of choreographed dance routines, jumps off of bass drums, an insanely impressive vocal performance and more clapping than you could expect (both to keep rhythm, and for applause), I have said it time and time and time again, this band cannot be topped; they are one of my favorite live bands without question. They may have a fascination with booties, but don’t let it deter you, their music is just as fun and beautiful as the butts they showcase on their album artwork. The band only has two shows scheduled through the end of the year, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted the next time they roll through Denver. In the mean time, get your dancing shoes on and put your headphones in - it’s time to study up so you’re fully prepared to have your mind blown when you see them live. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about this band’s addictiveness, and let me be the first to welcome you into the Bad Rabbits fan community by teaching you our motto: BR ALL DAY, BAD RABBITS!

Kendrick Lamar | i | Video

We've been feeling this song ever since it came out and now we get to see the video. Are we the only ones thinking the new dance club move is going to be the "Kendrick Elbow"?

HOZIER | The Fox Theatre | October 24, 2014

Hozier. A name we’ve all been hearing over the radio waves for a few months since the track “Take Me To Church” has made it’s way from commercial to commercial, station to station. It’s not often that people take a chance to dive into the rest of the catalog of an artist who some consider “a radio hit”, but after weeks of seeing over five different tracks from Hozier’s self-titled album sitting in the “Top Songs” chart on both iTunes and Spotify, I hunkered down for a listening session of the album. Little did I know I was stumbling across what I genuinely consider to be the premiere release of 2014. Andrew Hozier-Bryne, an Irish singer/songwriter, has been functioning under half of his surname since 2013, when “Take Me to Church” went viral on YouTube. After releasing two separate EPs in 2013, this self titled release of 2014 has been a slow, calculated progression, waiting to pounce on his audience when it was just right. It’s not often that you have the chance to see an artist perform live just as they’re breaking on the radio, but lucky for us, Hozier and his band visited The Fox Theatre towards the end of October, and I had the chance to see him live, excited to see if his sound could translate into a successful live show. 

That Friday night the Fox Theatre was packed. I hadn’t seen it that loaded since The Fray’s secret show prior to their dates with U2 back in 2011. It was so packed that I physically ran into Governor John Hickenlooper the minute I entered the room. Yes, John Hickenlooper. What was he doing out at a show on the Friday prior to the election, you may ask? Campaigning? Or was our Governor tipping his hat to this young artist? I choose to think it the latter, which is not only a powerful gesture, but a truly impressive commentary on just how quickly this artist’s music has captivated listeners by storm. The Hick can make his way into any show in the state, but choosing to take time out of his hectic, pre-election schedule to make it to a concert? That’s commitment. That’s passion. A true compliment to the group.

After a quick set from opener James Bay, Hozier’s name appeared on a backdrop hanging above the stage. As the lights dimmed and the show began, a six-piece band followed by Mr. Hozier-Bryne took to the stage. His choice to travel with a full band not only surprised, but excited me. A cellist, two backing vocalists, a keys player, drummer, and a bass/tracks/backing vocalist surrounded the artist on stage, and filled the room with every distinct layer of each song. Listening to the album, the idea of someone performing such musically intricate songs without the proper instrumentation live broke my heart, so I was thrilled to hear the album fully come to life. Without sparing a minute to talk, the band immediately kicked into “Angel of Cold Death and the Codeine Scene”, “Jackie and Wilson, and “To Be Alone” - three of my favorite tracks off the record. It was with awe that I looked around the room and found a majority of the audience were singling along to every word - an uncommon sight for a band playing their first show in Colorado who’s known mainly for a radio hit. Fans other than myself had taken a chance on this album, and it appears that I was not the only one who’d been hypnotized by it’s bluesy, soulful, singer/songwriter crossover. The show continued quickly without much small talk between songs - Hozier seemed a bit exhausted. Although it took no toll on his musical performance, it was clear that the artist has been working overtime doing press junkets, radio performances, and sold out shows such as this one. The artist played with skill and poise beyond his years, captivating the audience. Covering an old blues standard “Illinois Blues” by Skip James, Hozier finger picked the song with skill I haven’t seen in person in quite some time - if ever. His voice a soulful blend of Van Morrison with hints of Dan Auerbach, he sounded identical to his recordings, perfect tone throughout the set despite his choice to be timid with some high notes. He was joined on “In A Week” by his cellist, Karen Cowly, who sings on the album version as well. A haunting song about two lovers who’ve passed and are waiting for their bodies to be found, I was mesmerized watching the duet, cheering right along with the crowd during the final chorus’ harmonies. 

Closing the show with a hilarious yet spot on cover of Amerie’s 2005 club hit “1 Thing” followed by the fan favorite off of the album “From Eden”, the audience erupted in roars, giving the band a standing ovation and allowing them to do a group bow onstage before walking off. Hozier’s album is powerful, deep, poetic, and is some of the best blues I’ve heard in years. Emotional, musically captivating, and lyrically brilliant - Hozier’s self titled album has become a default in my music library, and I can’t wait to see how the group’s live show grows and progresses when they come back to Denver in February.

Art Outside | Our Ideal Schedule

We covered Texas' upcoming 10th Annual Art Outside last week, and we're now onto the planning phase and creating our ideal schedule for the festival this weekend, October 24-26. The lineup is jam-packed from Friday through Sunday nights, from early in the day till....sunrise. And there's three stages, spreading the talent across the venue, along the river, and beneath the aforementioned pecan trees. 

There's always, of course, the fun of discovering new artists, but here's our for-certain list of artists we cannot wait to see next weekend (and the guaranteed crowds we'll be stealthily moving and sweating among):

Friday (10/24)

We're going to begin our day with Tauk at 5 p.m. Friday, who just announced a New Year's show with Disco Biscuits. We already loved Tauk, but you cannot go wrong with any Disco Biscuit endorsement! We're going to move onto the Malah, then to the Dome Stage for Austin's very own Brede (Jesse Brede—producer and founder of Gravitas Recordings). Next up: the Jumpsuit Records' trifecta of saQi, Wildlight, and The Polish Ambassador to really get the dance party going. The rest of the evening? Quixotic -> Little People -> The Motet -> Orchard Lounge. And, if we're still awake (we damn well better be), we're going to watch The Human Experience bring in the jams with the sunrise from 6:30-8 a.m. Saturday morning. Then it's gonna be nap time to prep for Saturday night.

Saturday (10/25)

It may be ambitious (if we bring in the morning with The Human Experience), but we'd like to begin our day with Zach Deputy for his funky one-man goodness. If our day begins in the afternoon instead, we'll begin with Toubab Krewe, followed by Pumpkin, Marco Benevento, Random Rab, Austin's Sorne, Fort Knox Five, and Phutureprimitive. From there, it's a toss up between Conspirator and Psymbionic. Austin-based folks should take the Conspirator route since Psymbionic throws weekly dance parties at local Barcelona. And on that note, Conspirator just knows how to jam. Next up is Golden Dawn Arkestra for a trippy, vibrant, intense performance that'll lead us even farther into the night, err, morning. But the party isn't over, because we have an epic 4-8 a.m. in store: Thriftworks -> Kaminanda -> D.V.S. -> and, lastly, Desert Dwellers. Good morning!

Sunday (10/26)

Sunday has fewer musical acts on the roster, but after two all-nighters, we'll need to slow down and easy into the last day of the festival that, good for us (because we'd keep going otherwise), ends at midnight. We'll likely begin the day with Mingo Fishtrap, followed by Orgone. It's a tough call between Lynx and Nth Power. We'll make this determination based on our mood. If we're feeling sultry and soulish and sway-y, we'll head the Lynx direction; if we're back in jam mode, Nth Power it'll be. From there, there's only one direction to go for us: Blue Sky Black Death -> Emancipator -> and Papadosio closing out the fest. Then, perhaps, sleep? We shall see...

Woo, that is a lot of DAMN GOOD music for just three nights—the best thing is, as we mentioned in our earlier post, this is a boutique, intimate, colorful, art-infused fest in a very beautiful, natural Texas setting along the river. Art installations, drum circles, yoga workshops, pecan trees, swing bridges, and a stellar (pardon my French) f'ing lineup await you. What are you waiting for? 

Get your tickets here, kitties. We'll see you dancin' under those Texas stars, backdropped by the best of the best in the electro-jam world. 

By Ashley M. Halligan