On Feb. 17, Syntax Physic Opera hosted one of Denver’s best local lineups yet this year. The show, which was a record-release celebration for headliner Shady Elders, had an opening bill consisting of Kyle Emerson, Male Blonding, and Ned Garthe Explosion, all local acts. The venue, with its classy décor, plush walls and great beer, created a fitting atmosphere for the night.
First up, Kyle Emerson shined despite this being his debut show as a solo act. Emerson’s music obviously draws inspiration from rock of the 60s and 70s, but includes a fresh edge that’s as refreshing as a breath of clean air. With a psychedelic edge and a taste of the blues, Emerson has proved that there is more to come.
Next up, Male Blonding, amid jokes of the band’s marriage to Shady Elders (member Michael-Daniel Perkins is literally married to Shady Elder’s Fox Rodemich), spurred the tempo higher with its post-punk vitality and intensity.
Ned Garthe Explosion, despite slightly awkward stage banter, was a fiery ball of energy that woke everybody up from the dim lighting and chill atmosphere of Syntax Physic Opera. The garage rock outfit drew out more energy from the audience by directly speaking to them, cracking jokes and asking questions between songs.
Finally, Shady Elders brought some of its best material yet to this sold-out show. With luxuriant guitar and a bit of dreamy synth, “Inside Voices” is a testament to the true talent of Shady Elders. The band’s music does not seem from this world—rather, it was born out of a murky landscape littered with palm trees, where the wind blows warm at night and precious gems drop from the sky. The new material sounds notably darker than previous works such as “The Night Air,” but Shady Elders handles it with a sense of powerful finesse. Of course, nearly five years together as a band definitely allows a strong support system for experimentation. Rodemich’s velvet vocals matched perfectly with the lush, scarlet walls of Syntax Physic Opera, and glittering LED lights served as the perfect backdrop. Nick Berlin was a site of kinetic prowess on the drums, playing with a sort of effortlessness talent that comes with years of practice. Miles Eichner, guitarist, and Dan Vollmar, bassist, are as equally talented as they are energetic.
While playing mostly new material, Shady Elders also dropped in a few older tunes, satisfying the many attendees that have been supporting the band for its entire career. Shady Elders will certainly gain more fans with “Inside Voices,” as they rightfully should. The dark indie rock of the album is a particularly alluring invitation into the band’s own little world.