Rachel James, Popcult, and a sold out audience all came to help celebrate the release of the "Change” EP, the newest addition to Churchill's discography. After their big win this past December in KTCL’s annual “Hometown for The Holidays” competition, their fan-base and visibility feel as if they’ve exploded. Going from playing shows at smaller venues like The Walnut Room, a parking lot stage at the UMS, and last year’s album release at The Hi-Dive, it was great to see this group of folk-rockers sell out The Bluebird two days before the show. Another welcome sight was the amount of other local artists spotted in the audience that evening: friends from fellow Denver-bands such as Andy Rok from Bop Skizzum, members of Air Dubai, and even two of the now-disbanded Tickle Me Pink were all there showing support.
Rachel James kicked off the night flanked by an array of musicians as they warmed up the crowd for what would be an amazing night. With an infectious smile and lovely voice, it was hard for the audience to focus on anything but the center of the stage. It was clear that everybody in attendance felt the the heart warm lyrics and masterfull array of complementing musicians. For those of you heading to Austin this week for SXSW, keep an eye for Rachel as she will be performing at Touché on March 14th.
Although Friday night was focused around Churchill, it was a big night for main support band Popcult as well. The young band based out of Denver which was founded mid-2010, and played in front of their biggest audience to date. The band has released one self-titled EP thus far, but treated fans to a few new songs during their set. Songs like “Life In The Wind”, “Balance”, and “Already Gone” grabbed fans attention almost immediately with their airy, melodic, textured feel. It seemed like the audience truly enjoyed their set front to back. The band sounded on top of their game, as lead singer Justin Renaud seamlessly switched between a guitar and the keyboard. Although it was very apparent that there’s work to be done on the newest songs, their daring move to try out new material in front of an unfamiliar audience was an impressive gesture, showing their potential to continue and grow.
As the lights dimmed for Churchill near 11pm, the audience cheered with an excitement I hadn’t expected. This band hasn’t played a show in Denver since they won Hometown for the Holidays in December, and after such a huge moment in their career it seemed like everyone was ready to see them celebrate this major victory. Opening the set with “I Still Remember”, a fan favorite and easy sing along, their set progressed through a great mix of new and old tracks, playing songs like “Catalyst”, “I am Yours” (with backing vocals from the 303 Children’s Choir). Their new songs “Ark In A Flood” which was first played in an Ultra5280 session and their radio single “Change” were polished and sounded great. Even though the audience was already having a blast, watching the band onstage was contagious, and the energy in the hall was at it’s peak all evening long. With lead singer Tim bouncing around on stage and mandolin player Mike balancing on monitors out over the crowd, it was obvious they were beyond thrilled to be playing. After the show I caught up with mandolin player Mike Morter, who told me how easy the show had felt. “You know? Some shows just make you feel stressed and you worry about them, but that night everyone just kept asking what they could do to help, and it made the show so easy.”
An easy and carefree night for everyone, the audience left happy and excited, ready to see what comes next for this five-piece band full of promise. Be sure to pick up your copy of Churchill’s new “Change” EP at Twist & Shout in Denver, or online as soon as it becomes available on iTunes. Also, be sure to check out our Session with the band from this past October when they gave us a sneak preview of some of their new songs.
Photo Credit: Robert Castro