We've said it many times here at Ultra5280 over the years, but it is our team's firm belief that In The Whale SUCKS...well, at least that's what they want us to tell you. In all reality, I haven't been this continually excited to watch a Denver band's live shows since the early years of Air Dubai. Every show brings more and more energy, and more and more fans. Long gone are the days of me watching them lose their minds in the musky basement of an office building surrounded by 50 people (Ultra5280's first birthday party, anyone?), and although I'll miss seeing them in those outrageous settings, I couldn't be happier for this band to finally be receiving the attention they deserve. Nate Valdez and Eric Riley, Denver's dynamic duo, were back at it again this weekend rallying the rowdiest of Coloradans to celebrate the release of their new "Nate" EP. The band's back-to-back sold out shows at the Hi-Dive this past weekend are sure to go down as some of the best shows of 2014, and we were lucky enough to be there for both of them.
The weekend's performances were a mix of local and national talent, a welcomed surprise for a EP release. Friday night was opened by The Wiredogs, Saturday by The Photo Atlas, but on both nights Denver was treated to Austin-based Residual Kid as the main support. All 3 members may be between the ages 13-16, but don't let their youth fool you, these boys know how to throw down. Making waves last year at UMS 2013, and playing a slew of shows at SXSW 2014, it's only a matter of time before this band takes over the rock scene. Full of angst and talent beyond their years, Residual Kid's music is eerily reminiscent of early Nirvana, pertinent especially during this weekend, which marks the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death. It feels as though this trio has found a second home here in Denver, and we're pleased to have them. A perfect sonic paring for this weekend, fans were blown away and singing along to songs like "Friend" and "Faces" by the end of the set.
Denver was ready when In The Whale hit the stage. It's been nearly six months since we last saw this band play Denver, and boy were we ready to have them back. Throughout the evening I spotted familiar faces from nearly every local band, radio station, and media outlet in the crowd: A huge show of support from the scene proving that Denver's got their backs. Playing new songs off both the "Nate" and "Eric" EPs, as well as fan favorites like "Heels" "Girlfriend", "34-28-32" and more, the Hi-Dive was buzzing with energy and full of mosh pits. To help celebrate the memory of the legendary Kurt Cobain, the band treated fans on night two (4/5) to a few Nirvana covers. Calling Residual Kid's bassist Max Redman up to join them on stage for the encore, the band played well done covers of "In Bloom" and "On A Plain", both off the cult-classic album "Nevermind". Nate Valdez's voice lent itself well to Cobain's style, and the addition of a bassist with the band was something I'd never seen before, but certainly did not mind.
If you weren't at one of these shows, saying you missed out would be the understatement of the year. This weekend felt like the start of a new chapter for In The Whale. Denver is full of acts who know how to promote and work hard to succeed; it's embedded into the DNA of our local scene, and is something which I'm incredibly proud of. Let it be known though that this band is composed of two of the hardest working musicians I've ever met. Dedicating themselves to promotion and performance, and surviving the struggles of touring as a two-man act, this band deserves every ounce of attention they get.
Just like everything else in this world, music is cyclical. We've seen disco, folk, soul and country all rear their heads as the supreme "comeback" genre over the past few years, and the only thing left to return is good ol' fashioned rock and roll. It's coming back with a vengeance, and I would not be the least bit surprised to see In The Whale help usher in this new era. I can't wait.
-Maddie Casey (Photos: Matt Smith)