Ryan Bingham in Denver, Colorado at the Ogden Theatre on 11-27-15

Photo by The Old Man at the Show

Can the crowd ruin a show?  The people around you can either enhance or diminish your experience.   Unfortunately the inebriated audience at the Ogden Theatre for Ryan Bingham hurt it.

It started before the opening act, Jamestown Revival, even finished.  A scary large Ogre with braids yelled, screamed, and swore at two terrified woman in the balcony for absolute no logical reason.  This of course made the mood uneasy and filled the space with a weird tension for the remainder of the night.   A couple near the front of the stage couldn’t take their hands off each other to the extent they got kicked out of the venue.  A circle of ‘Bros’ near the front of the stage moshed to every fast paced song shoving and elbowing everyone near them.

Consumed by two drunk girls

Two drunk girls beside me were extremely annoying.  They screamed loudly during every pause in the music and asked me if the tiny guitar Ryan Bingham was playing was a banjo.  It was a mandolin by the way.  At the end of the show, I saw the numerous empty cups that fueled their rude behavior.  I have no idea how the drinking machines were still standing.  The majority of the concerts I attend have people enjoying alcohol.  But it usually just makes them (Okay me) dance badly not become annoying and hostile.

Ryan Bingham and his band

Ryan Bingham is a singer-song writer from Texas now living in California.  He won an Academy Award for his song “The Weary Kind” from the film Crazy Heart starring Jeff Bridges.  You have to respect a guy that writes for “The Dude.”   More than half of his band is from Boulder, Colorado. They were very talented.  But when they left Bingham on stage alone, he shinned.  Bingham played some impressive Mariachi Style guitar and sang in Spanish during the song, “Boracho Station.”  Too bad nobody seemed to notice.  Ryan Bingham had to stop during “Broken Heart Tattoos” a song about his new born to plead with the well lubricated crowd to stop talking, yelling, and screaming.  They didn’t.  The band came back to join Bingham for a very lengthy set which included a jam with the James Town Revival an appearance from Country Music Icon Terry Allen, and Bingham’s dog Boo.

Jamming with Jamestown Revival, Terry Lewis, and his dog Boo

Towards the end of the night, one of the ‘Bros’ body slammed the wrong person and ended up getting punched.  A cartoonish fight broke out getting people hurt towards the front of stage. Security broke it up, but Ryan Bingham had to stop the music again.  He wanted to know if everybody was alright stating, “You should feel safe coming to my show.  We can’t have that happen.”  The music continued but so did the drinking.

Jamestown Revival

Openers Jamestown Revival, were a good match to Ryan Bingham with their Austin, Texas sound.   Lead by childhood friends Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance. One of the highlights was their Eddie Rabbit cover “Driving My Life Away.” They tried to slow things down during their song “Medicine” about their troubled friends.  But it was interrupted by the already drunk knuckleheads.

As I was leaving the venue after the long evening with obliterated idiots, I saw a sea of Pabst Blue Ribbon Cans and empty cups.  I asked one of the security guys if he thought the show was out of hand.  He said “tonight was a fun crowd.  Now, the Jam Bands are trouble because they are drunk and on drugs.”

The aftermath

Allen Stone at the Fox Theater in Boulder, Colorado on 11/25/15.

Photo by Old Guy at the Show

Getting people to attend a Soul/R&B/Dance Party is a difficult on Thanksgiving Eve. Entertaining unwanted out of town guests, preparing a turkey carcass, and camping out for discounted big screen televisions seem to be the priority. But an unlikely soul singer from Seattle Washington was determined to get you to his show. Two for one tickets sales, radio performances, and a weird burrito meet up were just some of the tactics used by Allen Stone. He is a cross between Stevie Wonder, Buddy Holly, and an Apple Genius Bar Attendant.

Pre-Show at Illegal Pete’s 

Attending the acoustic performance at Illegal Pete’s two hours before the show was a peculiar experience. Allen Stone and his guitar player walked in from out of the cold in heavy hooded parkas and looked saddened by the tiny crowd. After considering requests from the crowd, he belted out three incredible acoustic songs (none of the ones requested). He ended the short set by pleading for the burrito consumers to come to the show and disappeared back into the cold night.

Allen Stone and band

The tactics must of worked and a respectable size crowd showed up. Allen Stone and his band took the stage with their infectious funky soul review. The band consisted of a stern looking drummer, look alike bearded organ and keyboard players, a Napoleon Dynamite Uncle Rico like bass player, hyper energetic trumpet and trombone players, and a normal looking guitar player ( I don’t know how he got in the band). The trombone player had more fun than anyone on the planet dancing in his sweat soaked wife beater. Someone said that his moves were a reminder of why she is gay. One of the highlights is when Stone went through the crowd complimenting individuals on their shirts, retro Bronco Hats, sweaters, and shinny hair expressing his message of love and kindness.  Yes.  He is a hippie.

Bernhoft

The opening act Bernhoft is similarly goofy.  Instead of the Pacific North West, Bernhoft helds from the Netherlands.  He was a one man band with the pre-recorded tracks combined with live looping.   Bernhoft has an amazing soulful voice.  He shared a hilarious story about being pulled over for speeding in America and not getting a ticket due to the amount of paper work it would take.  His love for music really was apparent due to the fact he appeared in the crowd to watch Stone’s band perform. He later joined Stone and their voices sounded amazing together.  Bernhoft climbed back into the crowd and started hugging everyone further demonstrating Allen Stone’s positive message.  It was a very Boulder Moment.

Brothers from different Mothers

Glen Hansard at the Paramount Theatre on 11-16-15

Photo by Old Cold Guy at the Show

It was a stormy night and getting to the venue through the weather was a grueling task.   After entering the historic Paramount Theatre, those troubles were quickly squandered.  The bundled up crowd seemed relieved to be out of the elements and ready to see Glen Hansard.    He is an Irish folk singer best known for the 2008 Academy Award winning song “Falling Slowly” from the movie Once.  It was later adapted to to a Tony Award winning musical.

Aoife O’Donovan

Aoife O’Donovan appeared on stage
in a simple black dress and an acoustic guitar.   She grew up in Massachusetts, but spent her summers in Ireland making her a worthy opening act for the Irishman about to perform.   O’Donovan has toured with everyone from The Lone Below to Garrison Keillor.  Her songs didn’t really connect until Glen Hansard’s keyboardist, Thomas Barlett, accompanied her for the second half of her performance. That’s when the songs seemed to flow along with stories about Japan and Denver Sushi.

Glen Hansard and band

Glen Hansard started his set by slowly walking to the front of the stage without a microphone and sang an a-cappella version of “Grace Beneath the Pines” the opening track to his new album Didn’t He Ramble.  This sent chills over the audience.  His band included a string section (viola and cello) and a horn section.  They played almost the entire new album with a few songs sprinkled in from the Once Soundtrack.   Hansard also covered Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks” breaking two sets of guitar strings within minutes producing a thunderous sound.

Folk with Brass

Hansard is an amazing story teller which adds to the narrative of his music.  My favorite tale was about the inspiration to the song “McCormack’s Wall.” A drunken adventure  about breaking into a landmark to drink wine with a female companion.

He walked through the crowd and up the balcony to perform a few more songs to the delight of the middle age women in the cheap seats.  His guitar player appeared out of no where to accompanied him on the edge of the mezzanine for the song “Gold.”

The Auld Triangle

That’s when the entire band along with the touring crew lined up to perform the folk standard “The Auld Triangle” where everyone sang a verse.  Since some of them weren’t exactly vocalists, it was interesting to hear the guitar tech out sing the horn section.

Photo by The Rock and Roll Princess

The night ended with “Her Mercy” giving Hansard the opportunity to show off his Elvis moves during the chorus.  The band left the building and sent the crowd back to face the snowstorm humming.

Super Diamond, Under a Blood Red Sky at The Gothic Theater on 11-13-15

Photo by Old Guy at the Show
The audience is the show

A Super Diamond Show is more of an event than a concert.   It’s a retro parties where the crowd might be more interesting than the band.  The audience were adorned in large afro wigs, bushy Tom Selleck like Mustaches, polyester pant suits,  Member’s Only Jackets, Flash Dance off the Shoulder Tops, and white patent leather loafers. During an exclusive Old Man at the Show interview …. OK …. Doing shots with him after the show…. the lead singer of Super Diamond, Randy Cordeiro, told me that “usually ten percent of the audience dresses up for their show.  But in Denver ninety percent of the audience dresses up for their show.  Denver definitely brings it.”

Under a Blood Red Sky

Under a Blood Red Sky, the U2 Tribute Band, started the festivities with Billy ‘Bono’ Bunting
swaying to the the music in a very Bonoish Motion.  He dressed in a multiple number of iconic Bono outfits during their performance including a Black Sunday Bloody Sunday Sleeveless T-Shirt.  He even had a white flag on display to scream “This song is not a rebel song.  This song is Sunday Bloody Sunday.”  Guitarist Ted ‘The Tedge’ Gravlin wore a knit hat to appear The Edge like, but bass player Jerry ‘Larry’ Bousquet and drummer J. ‘Adam’ Gomes didn’t get the outfit memo.  A backing screen displayed shadows of U2 like figures, Mood Lighting, and U2 Album Covers throughout the performance.  My friend stated that the lead singer has “a lot of energy.  Maybe too much energy.”  But I think someone with a lot of passion is never a bad thing.

Super Diamond

My late father was a fan of Neil Diamond and his songs are the sound track to my childhood.  My sister and I were awaken many nights to Neil Diamond’s 1973 Live Double Album ‘Hot August Nights’ spinning on the wood stereo credenza.  Super Dimond – The Ultimate Neil Diamond Tribute Band came out to shake those memories back to life.  Surreal Neal, Randy Cordeiro, wore a chest barring silver fringe shirt that matched the crowds attire perfectly.  His voice is very Neil like and the band are very Neil worthy.  Diamond Standards such as “Cracklin’ Rose,” “Forever in Blue Jeans”, and of course “Sweet Caroline” were played to the inebriated crowd’s delight.   One of the surprises of the night was a very

Super Diamond

dark version of “Love on the Rocks.” A reminder of how talented Neil Diamond is as a song writer and how diverse Super Diamond are to capture the somber song.  Matt ‘Dimond’ Tidmarsh on bass with his Elvis Taking Care of Business Side Burns sang an impressive version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” Keyboardist Rama ‘Diamond’ Kolesnikow, keyboardist James ‘Diamond’ Terris, guitarist Chris ‘Diamond’ Collins, and drummer Vince ‘Diamond’ Litteton were very impressive mashing up everything from Rush, Guns and Roses, Van Halen, and The Beastie Boys into Diamond’s Repertoire.

Photo by Lisa Boulay

A few members in my group were reluctant to come to the Gothic that night.  However, by the end of the show, the power of Super Diamond and maybe a few alcoholic beverages had them singing loud and proud to the songs.   Like it or not everyone knows these songs. If you grew up in America in the 70’s or 80’s, Neil Diamond music was playing and it’s part of your musical DNA.

Surreal Neal and his Eight Track Tape

Surreal Neil revealed an eight track tape that made him a Diamond Fan when he was young. He pleaded with the crowd to never except “someone saying that Neil Diamond doesn’t Rock. Neil Diamond Rocks. ”  He ended the night thanking the band, the crowd, and Neil Diamond for being Neil Diamond.  

Peaches, Summit Music Hall, Denver, CO on 11/9/15

Peaches at Summit Music Hall, Denver, CO on 11/9/15.

The last two shows I went to had theatrical element to them that I really liked.  So when I heard Peaches was performing, I was excited to see another ‘theatrical’ performance.

I have witnessed really horrible opening acts including a Ranchero Political Rap Band opening for The Reverend Horton Heat and a punk trio that appear to never

played a musical instrument opening for The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Christeen
Tonight I saw Christeen, a drag queen from Texas, the worst performance I have ever seen. It performed a hip hop set backed by a bearded DJ in drag and a supper skinny bearded back up dancer in a trucker hat.  Rap screams about gag worthy subjects along with obscene choreography ensued.  I guess weed is really strong in Colorado because people were dancing to it.  

Needing something to erase my mind from the horror, Nina Simone’s “Four Women” played from the sound system.  This was fitting since Peaches took her name from the song’s lyrics.   After the final note, Peaches arose to start her bizarre performance. 

Peaches



I was happy to see no DJ. Supporting my theory that most DJs just fist pump and bounce their head up and down in front of a lap top.  Pre-recorded backing tracks only requires someone to hit play.  Peaches has an impressive voice that was highlighted on her song ‘Talk to Me’ sounding like Blonde’s Debbie Harry.  She gave an energetic performing including walking on top of the audience while interacting with her back up dancers.

Peaches

 
The show mainly featured raps songs about sexual empowerment.  In case someone missed the message, dancers dressed as vaginas came out to make sure you knew the subject matter.  

Dancing Body Parts

phallic shaped tube was blown up over the audience.  At that moment, Peaches danced her way through it.

Peaches Walking in and over

Peaches closed with ‘Light in Places’ featuring spot lights held by her barely dressed dancers. Of course, those spot lights were in strange places.  It would be a great show if I was 30 years younger, a lesbian, and liked provocative rap songs about sexuality.  But I am the old guy at the show.  

DeVotchKa, Boulder Theater, 10-31-15

DeVotchKa, SHEL, and Gipsy Moon at the Boulder Theater on 10/31/15

DeVotchKa performing on Halloween has become an annual event.  The show on Saturday proved why the Holiday and the band are a perfect combination.

The majority of the crowd were in costumes to celebrate the night.  The best ones were Joy from Inside Out, Khaleesi from Game of Thrones, and multiple Dudes from The Big Lebowski (on second thought it was Boulder so maybe they were just dressed as themselves).

 

Gipsy Moon

Gipsy Moon, a band from Nederland, Colorado started their set with the opening chords of The Addams Family Theme Song. They were dressed as the characters from the creepy and kooky television show.  The lead singer, Mackenzie Page dressed as Morticia Addams, vocals went from a whisper to a howl as she strummed on the guitar and the Banjo.  The lead guitarist, Silas Herman dressed as Gomez Addams, showed off his Mandolin chops that filled in the roller coaster Bluegrass rhythm driven by the Cellist, Andrew Conley, dressed as Wednesday Addams complete with pig tails.  The Bassist, Matt Cantor dressed as… possibly Cousin Itt due to his beard, rounded out the gypsy folk sound nicely.

 

SHEL

The next band up was SHEL composed of the four Holbrook sisters from Fort Collins, Colorado.  The name is a acronym for Sarah, Hannah, Eva, and Liza. Their sound is a little more on the pop side, but since Hannah plays the violin and Eva plays the mandolin they were a good fit for the line up.  Their best known song, “Your Could Be My Baby” featured a top hat wearing Eva on vocals with a haunting melody.  A gold jump suited Hannah introduced a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “The Battle of Evermore” with a funny story about a chance encounter with Robert Plant at an Airport Bookstore.   An unexpected beatbox solo from drummer Liza dressed a a pirate or Han Solo (Is there a difference?) was a fun surprise.  They are currently recording an album with Dave Stewart from The Eurythmics in Nashville. 

Slavic Sister

The main event started with ghoulish burlesque dancers known as the Slavic Sisters performing on aerial rings as DeVotchKa’s European Punk Polka Music started to build.  The band had the same make up as the dancers, but instead of lingerie they had on top hats and tails. Corpse Brides assisted the dancers as they spun around on rings above the band’s accordion and surf rock guitar solos.

 

DeVotchKa

Tom Hagerman is the back bone of the band playing violin, accordion, and piano.  His style of playing along with Nick Urata’s romantic worldly vocals can be described as Dracula in a band in 2015.  Jeanie Schroder on sousaphone and Shawn King on drums complete DeVotchKa’s unique sound.  I almost forgot the band were from Denver until Urata spoke in an American Accent between songs.  More unique textures were made by Nick Urata playing the theremin which is that weird instrument used in The Beach Boys – “Good Vibrations.” 

 

All You Need Is Love and Balloons

Their best known song “How It Ends” broke the crowd into a sing along.  At that moment, the Slavic Sisters were brought back for The Beatles cover of “All You Need Is Love” complete with large crowd surfing balloons.

The night ended with a polka that had the audience stomping their feet.  Some masked wearing spectators participated in Greek Style Dance circles while others were just bobing up and down to the music.  Okay the crowd was drunk.  Nick Urata stated it best during the performance, “We love playing on Halloween because DeVotchKa is Halloween.”

Final Bow