The National Showcase New Music During Back To Back Nights At Mission Ballroom

Matt Berninger of The National. (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

The National has long been a band that has gotten better with time. Much of it doing with the amazing and talented band’s dedication to the art. With back to back nights at Denver’s newest venue Mission Ballroom, Denver had a chance to witness the bands glory. We got a chance to attend the second night and were welcomed with a warm and happy set from ALVVAYS (one of our favorites), Molly Rankin and company ripped through their set playing fan friendly hits such as “Dreams Tonite” and “In Undertow”.

We have had a chance to cover The National on many occasions and they have always delivered with an amazing production in the past. On this tour the stage was flanked by three large LED boards displaying various imagery including shots of the band backstage getting ready to take the stage.

The band played all new material with a few classics towards the end. Their latest album I Am Easy To Find has been getting rave reviews and fans got a chance to listen to those songs live for the first time. The reception was welcomed with cheers and applause as songs such as “Quiet Light”, “Oblivions” and “Hey Rosey” rang through the venue as the lighting gave life to each song.

Words and images: Robert Castro

Phantogram Gives Us A Glimpse Of New Material

What better way to kick off opening month of the Mission Ballroom than new music from one of our favorite bands Phantogram. The duo of Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter have been busy in the studio making new music including a few singles which are out now including Mister Impossible and Into Happiness. Relying on a surplus of heavy synths and jangling guitar play the duo has kept to the formula with making only a few minor tweaks to the sound we have all come to love. Their Mission Ballroom performance was one of three stops in our fair state as they also played The Stanley Hotel and Mishawaka Amphitheatre. They also managed to fit in a DJ set after their performance at Mission at Larimer Lounge. The band production has grown as well as a drop down curtain similar to one they had a few years ago on another tour flanked the stage. The New York duo had always had a penchant for making us dance and Sunday night was no different as they ripped through their set and complimented Colorado on the new venue as Barthel mentioned the shiny new digs.

Words and Image-Robert Castro

The Kali and Jorja Tour Arrives In Denver

Jorja Smith and Kali Uchis perform in Denver on Saturday night. (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

As the weather starts to heat up in Denver, the temperature inside the Fillmore Auditorium was already Summer-like this past Saturday night. The co-headlining tour of Kali Uchis and Jorja Smith made a stop to a packed house. The Kali and Jorja Tour kicked off with Kali Uchis going first. The Colombian-American sultry singer has made a name for herself the last few years with her work as a solo artist and frequent collaborations with the likes of Tyler the Creator, Gorillaz, Daniel Caesar and more. Last year she released her full length debut album Isolation to much acclaim. She played a few songs off Isolation as well as a couple note-worthy covers of Beautiful by Pharrell Williams and Creep by Radiohead. Kali was born to be an entertainer and she showcased that as she won over the crowd with her sultry dance moves as she owned every inch of the stage.

Kali Uchis gave the crowd what they deserved. (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

After a quick change over Jorja Smith came out to a raucous ovation as she got right into her opening song Teenage Fantasy. The English R&B singer who cites Amy Winehouse as one of her biggest influences ripped through her set with an almost hypnotic appeal that resonated with her jazz laced production and heartfelt lyrics. Smith dazzled with Lost and Found setting the whole venue into a trance like vibe as she showed her vulnerability in capturing the essence and feel of the emotional song. As an encore Smith brought out Uchis as they performed a few medleys including their song Tyrant. They playfully fed off each others energy to end the night in grand fashion as they both exited hand in hand to a loud applause.

Jorja Smith captivated during her set. (Photo credit: Robert Castro)

Words and images: Robert Castro

Artist to Follow: Bishop Briggs

The first time we saw Sarah McLaughlin -known by stage name Bishop Briggs- perform was at the RiNo festival last summer. ‘River’ was all over KTCL’s 93.3 and we were all left wondering who this gospel trap goddess was. Watching her live in the hot Colorado sun our jaws hit the dusty gravel. This chick is explosive on stage and her steamrolling career has followed suit. The Los Angeles native has been steadily touring for the last year making appearances at internationally dominating festivals like SXSW and most recently, Coachella. She's got big plans for the summer including US festivals Firefly, Lollapalooza, Montreal's Osheaga and England's Reading and Leeds Festivals. It’s clicked in our heads that this pigtail whipping badass is the next pop sensation.

Last night Bishop Briggs threw down in our city at a sold out Bluebird show. Rocking a retro, oversized Tasmanian Devil tee and her classic, unforgettable double-braided hairstyle. We love her self-titled EP but it doesn't touch the experience of her live performance and presence. She bounces across the stage like a bunny rabbit yet her pitch fails to quiver (dat endurance doe). Her dynamic vocals consistently sound fresh and full-forced live. She couldn't help but adorably smirk when during a quiet pause some tipsy bro yelled, "WE LOVE YOU BISHOP." She's not willing to put up a front and it's crazy charming.

This chick also appreciates her fans like no other. You can see the glimmer of appreciation in her genuine smile as she greets fans out in the unwelcoming Denver rain yesterday. An aura of humbleness constantly surrounds her. After she liked our Instagram photos and tweets from the show we’ve also unwillingly morphed into choker wearing 17-year-old girls fanning our faces in disbelief.

It feels like we’re preaching to the choir here. If you've missed one of her live shows it's because you're not paying attention. We look forward in the continuation of following her career and hope that next time she's in town we won't sleep on the possible opportunity of asking for an interview. Stay tuned! 

The mile high city is crushing’ hard on you, Bishop Briggs.

Words: Kelly O'Keefe / Photos: Robert Castro

Pandora Music At SXSW: March 13-16

One of our favorite events every year at SXSW is the Pandora at SXSW event. With a slew of guest artist performing all week they manage to capture the essence of every tastemakers dream, from hip to country chances are you will find it at the four day and four night event. This year some of our favorites included sets from Jimmy Eat World, Lewis Del Mar, T.I, PVRIS, Rob $tone, Powers, and more check out our photos from the event below.

Photo Credit: Aly Mcclaran and and Robert Castro. DO NOT USE WITHOUT PERMISSION. All Rights Reserved.