On Wednesday we were treated to the magnificent, unique, mystifying sounds of Austin-natives The Bright Light Social Hour. Playing to a packed room at The Bluebird Theater with Denver sons Eldren, this was a night of psychedelic, musical bliss for anyone involved. Check out our amazing photo essay from photographer Andrew Rios below.
You all know that the team at Ultra5280 loves SXSW, so when we were told that SXSW awarded The Bright Light Social Hour six awards at the 2011 SXSW Austin Music Awards, you can bet your bottom dollar that it caught our attention. This band of long-haired, new-age, southern gentlemen have been slowly buzzing their way across the United States since 2010, collecting thoughts and feelings about the modern America they found themselves surrounded by. The band even kept a Tumblr during their tour entitled Future South, and used it to tell the stories of the people they stayed with while on the road. An amazing, deep, powerful collection of stories from 20-somethings smattered across the country, the Tumblr page’s description reads:
“We couldn't afford to stay in hotels most nights so we were staying with a lot of people. We got to see how average young Americans lived. We felt a lot of the struggle...We’re taking a lens to some of these gritty realities and espousing an optimistic, frontier-looking gaze into the future.”
These stirring realizations have been woven together into the band’s newest release, Space Is Still The Place - an eclectic rock/indie/funk/electronic blend of rhythms and sounds that breathe new life into the group’s “Future South” findings. From the biography on the band’s website, vocalist Curtis Roush explains “the South has great food, a relaxed pace, and sweet, well-mannered folk. However, a lot of issues aren’t going away. ‘Future South’ is both an aesthetic and political statement. We’re taking forms and influences from soul, blues, and gritty southern music and ushering them forward. ‘Future South’ evinces the south can be a vibrant egalitarian place. You can love barbecue and not be racist.”
Curious yet? We certainly are, and lucky for all of us, The Bright Light Social Hour arrive in Denver this Wednesday, May 13th, sharing the stage at The Bluebird with Talk In Tounges and local favorites Eldren. Tickets are $12 in advance, but if you’re feeling lucky, Ultra5280 will be giving away a pair on Tuesday via our Facebook and Instagram pages. This show isn’t one to miss friends, so grab tickets now before it’s too late.
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
It was a blizzard out there, but that didn’t stop the geeks from flocking to the Bluebird Theater for Mr. Right, Skyfox and I Fight Dragons. It was definitely a different sort of crowd, but everyone was ready to rock, if not more so than usual. Starting out the night was Mr. Right, a local group from Denver, who set a great tone. Playing a mix of their own music and some covers, they got the crowd moving and warmed up after coming in from the cold and snow. Their Beastie Boys cover definitely brought a smile to my face. Following up Mr. Right was another local Colorado band, Skyfox, who brought their upbeat punky sound to the stage. With a faster tempo than Mr. Right, Skyfox definitely got people jumping, and provided a great lead in for I Fight Dragons.
The crowd was definitely waiting for I Fight Dragons, and those guys definitely didn’t disappoint. If you’re unfamiliar with the band, their music is definitely centered on video games, using Nintendo and other game sound effects as the base of most songs. Bill, the one in charge of the game sounds, uses a Guitar Hero controller and a Power Pad to generate a lot of the effects. Their lyrics, though nerdy, are well written and a lot of fun to listen to. I had to laugh a bit though, since I grew up with my original Nintendo and so on, and I realized that most people in the crowd were by far too young to get most of the references in the songs.
Playing a variety of songs from their popular “The Geeks Will Inherit the Earth” to the Zelda theme, I Fight Dragons made everyone in the crowd happy, from the true nerds to the rock fans. Their visual setup is one of the coolest I’ve seen, and Bill’s contraption of video game awesomeness is pure homemade gold. If anyone hasn’t been to an I Fight Dragons show, you should go, because you’ll smile the whole time, whether you bow to video game gods or not. They were gracious enough to stop by House In Motion Studios for an interview with our own Maddie Casey earlier in the day check it out below.
Starfucker knows how to throw a rock show. They got right to the point by kicking directly into German Love for their first song. Leaping from song to song seemed a lot smoother than previous times I’ve seen these guys. It was almost as if by removing the samples of Alan Watts’ theorizing and philosophizing from the live show, they were able to transition through every track with ringing guitars and keyboards. Starfucker has always played each show like it was the last show they were ever going to do. The Bluebird show was no different. As if to enforce the playful mortality of the show, in one of the very few pauses between songs, Josh Hodges said “Every song is about death”.
Flanked on both sides by laser machines, the whole venue was filled with tiny points of light, most of which fell on the band’s silhouettes making them look cartoonish at times. Throughout the show, the five would switch between playing keys, hand percussion, and guitars. This all kept happening rapidly and quickly making for a varying and dynamic set.I always say that if you put all of the Starfucker records together on shuffle, you would be hard pressed to find fundamental differentiations between certain songs belonging to certain albums. When Starfucker goes live, each song is played like it is the number one track on any album. These guys can fill any stage they land on. This being the fourth time seeing them, they get better and better with every tour. Throwing a killer show requires coming with the hotness, being gracious guests, and not boring the crowd. As per usual, Starfucker hit all those points again.PS: Note to 16-18 year olds: Encores are NOT promised! When the band leaves the stage, you have to cheer if you want them to come back out. Pass this information to your friends.