Top Shows of 2016

Keeping the yearly tradition alive, I picked my tops shows of 2016. I was extremely lucky and got to see big acts in small venues such as Mudcrutch (Tom Petty’s pre Heartbreaker band) at the Ogden Theatre and Chris Stapleton at the Fillmore Auditorium (feeling like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory getting not only one, but two golden tickets).  I witnessed the punk duo PWR BTTM go from an opening band to headlining within a year. Father John Misty made me a believer … in his cynical dark lyrics and rock and roll delivery.  Lucius mesmerized me with their magical voices and futuristic caped outfits. Despite attending incredible shows throughout the year, my favorites were all strangely in April and May.  So here is the official 2016 Old Guy at the Show Best Concert List.  Drum role please…

5) PWR BTTM at the Bluebird Theatre on 4/4/16

Smeared glitter makeup, hilarious lyrics, shredding guitar, and comic banter 
are bringing the punk spirit to a new generation.
4) Chris Stapleton at the Fillmore Auditorium on 5/6/16

The hairy teddy bear of a man sang his heart out renewing my faith in 
country music.

3) Lucius at the Gothic Theatre on 5/14/16

Possible aliens with angelic voices singing in beautiful harmony.  

2) Father John Misty at the Ellie Caulkins Theatre on 4/9/16

Singing sarcastic poignant lyrics while channeling the Gods of Rock 

with a majestic performance.

1) Mudcrutch at the Ogden Theatre on 5/26/16  

Tom Petty getting back to his southern roots with his teenage band 
while sounding better and looking happier than he has in years. 

Honorable mentions: Courtney Barnett at the Ogden Theatre on 11/8/16 – a divisive American election night seen through the eyes of an Australian Indie Rocker, Blues Traveler at Red Rocks Amphitheater on 7/4/16 – John Popper threw me his trademark hat making it the best Independence Day ever.  Margo Price at the Bluebird Theater on 10/24/16 – Proving why Jack White (my Lord and Savior) signed the Midwest Farmer’s Daughter to his record label, and Against Me! at the Marquis Theater on 9/2/16 – Pre-Riot Festival Transgender Dysphoria Blues.

Everybody here at Old Guy at the Show H.Q. wishes you happiness, peace, and music in 2017.

See you at the next show.  I’ll be the one talking about the time I met PWR BTTM.

PWR BTTM and Old Guy at the Show

Brian Setzer Orchestra and Beat Root Revival at the Paramount Theatre in Denver, CO on 12/13/16

In 1986, I went to Denver, Colorado’s Rainbow Music Hall (now a Walgreens) to see Brian Setzer’s The Knife Feels Like Justice tour (that’s right. I’m that old).  He revitalized Rockabilly with his band The Stray Cats when a song called Pac-Man Fever dominated the radio. Setzer inspired me to learn guitar (I can still play a bad version of The Stay Cat Strut).  Twenty-five years ago, he rejuvenated another genre when he formed the Brian Setzer Orchestra. It was a welcome change from the early 1990’s Grunge music. Instead of listening to a moody guy in flannel, Setzer brought back upbeat Swing music inspiring people to dance.  It also made Zoot Suits fashionable again, but I guess that can be forgiven.

The Brian Setzer Orchestra

The Brian Setzer Orchestra has been performing a Christmas show for the past thirteen years. The Christmas Rocks tour stopped in Denver for the first time since 2007 (I was at that show as well). The nineteen-piece band played a combination of holiday standards, Stray Cat hits, cleverly reworked covers songs, and their own catalog.

The Paramount Theatre removed the seats toward the front on the stage for the fans to get closer and dance. The big band came out dressed in black suits with bright green shirts complete with matching scarfs. Setzer still rocking his blonde pompadour was center stage wearing a leopard skin printed shirt matching his backing singers’ short skirts.

Brain Setzer

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree started the night off making the slightly older than me crowd get into the holiday spirit.  The BSO followed that up with Hoodo Voodoo Doll letting the audience know that they were there to rock … and spread Christmas cheer. The combination of Setzer’s guitar playing and powerful horns were amazing. The background singers’ choreographed moves and retro-voices fit the music perfectly.

The Stray Cat Strut, Rock This Town, and Fishnet Stocking were all transformed into Big Band numbers satisfying the Stray Cats fans. One of the most mind blowing numbers of the night was AC/DC‘s Let There Be Rock. Hearing a trumpet player doing Angus Young guitar riffs was awe-inspiring.

Johnny “Spazz” Hatton and Brian Setzer
All photos taken by the Rock and Roll Princess

In the middle of the set, most of the members of the orchestra left the stage to let Setzer play a rockabilly set. It wasn’t the expected Stray Cats catalog. They performed Elvis Presley covers.  Mystery Train highlighted Brian Setzer’s swagger.  At one point, Setzer stood on top of the drums and instructed bass player Johnny “Spazz” Hatton to climb on his instrument (get your minds out of the gutter).

Displaying a big piece of sheet music to introduce Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, Setzer thanked composer Patrick Williams who was in the audience. Williams and Setzer have been arranging the music for BSO since the beginning.

The night ended with Santa Claus tossing candy canes into the audience to Jingle Bells.  The lyrics were changed from a “sled” into a “57 Chevrolet.”  Brian Setzer stated,  “There are good nights and great nights on this tour. I think this is a great one.” Everyone smiling as they left the Christmas Rocks show agrees.

Beat Root Revival

Beat Root Revival opened the show.  The blues folk duo mainly played crowd pleasing covers of Fleetwood Mac’s Thunder Only Happens When It’s Raining, Chuck Berry’s Roll Over Beethoven, and KT Turnstall’s Black House and the a Cherry Tree. Andrea Magee who is from Ireland meet London singer Ben Jones after appearing on X-Factor.  Their original song Forever was inspired about a missing block of cheese from a sandwich made by her aging father (sadly, no dairy products were mentioned in the song’s lyrics).  They finished with the Beatles‘ Come Together having the crowd singing along to a song about Toe Jam Football (I still don’t know what that John Lennon lyric means).

See you at the next show.  I will be the one dreaming of dashing through the snow in a 57 Chevrolet.

Diane Coffee, Ned Garthe Explosion, and Shady Elders at the Marquis Theatre in Denver, CO on 12/8/16

On an extremely cold Thursday night, people left the comfort of their warm homes to enter the non-heated Marquis TheatreRed Bull was the sponsor for the evening of music.  They provided three dollar tickets if you went through their website.  The first one hundred to arrive received free hot chocolate.  Complimentary cocktails (Red Bull and fruit juice) were given to the legal consumers (one per customer), and a Glam Bar provided free makeovers by Alison Renee Smith for anyone that wanted to emulate the feature attraction’s glittery persona.  The headliner saw Headwig and the Angry Inch at the Denver Theater for Performing Arts Complex the night before compliments of Red Bull.  A perfect musical for a band named Diane Coffee fronted by a guy named Shaun Fleming.

Diane Coffee

After the band played a brief introduction, Shaun Fleming entered in a purple pantsuit channeling Prince and possibly Hillary Clinton with sparkling glitter providing a mask around his eyes.  A large number of the audience had matching glitter thanks to the Glam Bar.  The psychedelic Motown group had the crowd (still in their coats, hats, and gloves) grooving along to every song.  Fleming engaged his fans with a smile and gleeful (but hyper) between-song-banter. When he sang Green, so much energy was pouring through his grape color outfit expressing, “Now that I can’t have you leaving again/My heart bleeds and I need a friend/Now that I can’t have you leave anymore/No, no I won’t ever walk out the door.” Fleming fell to the floor James Brown style.  I was waiting for someone to put a cape around him like the Godfather of Soul.  But he got up and disappeared backstage while the band all dressed in conservative black continued to play their soulful hearts out.

Diane Coffee All photos by the
Rock and Roll Princess

When Shaun Fleming returned, he was wearing paisley pants and a sparking tuxedo jacket without a shirt.  Free from the constraints of the pantsuit, the pace picked up. Singing I Dig You, Fleming went all over the stage and even on top of some unstable amplifiers.  That alone would be a difficult task, but it was revealed that Fleming was doing it with vintage buckled shoes held together with duct tape.  The footwear started to fall apart near the end of the show.  Fleming’s energy must have been too much for the leather to hold together. This is the third time I have seen Diane Coffee. The first time Fleming had a broken foot, the second time their instruments started to crumble, and now Fleming’s shoes were the latest victims of their powerful music. Not That Easy could be the perfect song describing the hardship of being Fleming’s foot, instruments, or shoes.  But the closing song appeared to be about coming home to a love.  The band left with the crowd full of free drinks, wearing sparkles, and wanting more.

Ned Garthe Explosion
Denver’s own Ned Garthe Explosion was the second band on the bill.  When lead singer Ned Garthe appeared, he started shouting, “Boring.  Get off the stage” to himself.  This set the tone for a fun spirited set of music. Their humor filled lyrics had the audience chanting “Dumb Friends League” (a reference to a local animal shelter).  When they performed I like You, the crowd broke out into a PBR soaked mosh pit.  Shady Elder’s own Fox Rodemich was near the front of the stage singing along and tossing her gloves at the band.  Bass player and Joe Walsh doppelgänger Tyler Breuer kept the band grounded despite Garthe’s microphone stand falling down throughout the night.  Keeping the free stuff coming, lighted mini flashlights were handed out to the crowd to promote their new album Flashlight Tan.  It provided a cheap special effect and made me wonder how long I needed to keep dancing with a flashlight.  

Shady Elders

The band Shady Elders started the showcase.  Denver native, Fox Rodemich, lead the four-piece through a genre of music known as Cold Summer (think Goth beach music).  In an effort to warm up the crowd, Rodemich told the audience to move around and dance while they played Summer Song.  She slowly strummed her guitar and sang like she was the only one in the room.  Rodemich’s haunting voice and Miles Eichner’s surf guitar licks had the crowd swaying back in forth.  Keeping with the night of give aways, the band gifted vinyl albums of their music to the first few fans at the merch both that saw their message on social media.

See you at the next show.  I will be the one dancing with my free mini flashlight not dressed in a pantsuit.

The Strumbellas and Dave Simonett and Dave Carroll of Trampled By Turtles at eTown Hall in Boulder, CO on 12/3/16.

Three guys all named Dave walk into a solar-powered converted church as a prize for a radio station contest.  It’s no joke. It’s the award for the KBCO’s Select A Set Weekend contest.  Listeners sent in songs with a common theme.  The participants whose sets were played over the airwaves in October won tickets to an intimate performance by The Strumbellas and Dave Simonett and Dave Carroll (from Trampled by Turtles).  It was a generous prize because The Strumbellas just played the 7,500 capacity 1st Bank Center the night before and Trampled by Turtles recently sold out the 10,000 capacity Red Rocks Amphitheatre.  The show took place at eTown Hall the solar-powered 200 seat refurbished former church (home of the eTown syndicated radio show).  I don’t want to brag, but KBCO chose my set.

The Strumbellas

The Strumbellas (inspired from the word umbrella) are a Toronto, Ontario band that formed in 2008 from a Craig’s List posting.  Their hit song Spirits has brought them mainstream success.  Singer Simon Ward led the joyful six piece band through sing-along songs with positive messages (their newest album is entitled Hope after all).  After performing the song Young and Wild about the feeling of youth, Ward joked that it was easy for them to play because they were all just nineteen-years-old after all.  After performing their latest single We Don’t Know, Ward surveyed the crowd for approval. An older gentleman in the front row named Gregory indicated it wasn’t his favorite.  Which is hard to believe because of the song’s infectious lyrics, “We don’t know if we’re lost, that we’ll find a way/We Don’t know if we leave, will we make it home/We don’t know, there’s hope, then we’ll be okay. ”  The man’s disapproval was mentioned throughout the rest of the evening as a reminder that someone in the adoring crowd wasn’t that impressed.  Ward thanked the gentleman for being the center of his self-deprecating humor at the end of the night.  Proving the stereotype true. Canadians are exceedingly nice.

Simon Ward and David Ritter

One of the most memorable moments was when the entire band walked away from their microphones and sat on the edge of the stage to sing Wild Sun.  Everyone in the band had a remarkable voice.  It wasn’t difficult to convince the audience to sing, clap, and stomp along.

David Ritter, a doppelgänger for Judah Friedlander (the guy from the 30 Rock television show with the baseball hat and big glasses), played keyboards, sang backing vocals, and performed interpretive dance moves.  There was a reason he was positioned front and center of the band.   Ritter stated that The Strumbellas were accustomed to playing bars and music festivals.  They were not used to the polite Boulder crowd.  Ritter pleaded with the audience to start talking on their cell phones and tossing beer bottles for a sense of normalcy.  Pointing to the DAVE printed on the front of his hat, Ritter expressed his outrage of not only having one Dave, but two Daves that are more talented and handsome than him open the show.

Dave Carroll and Dave Simonett

Those two Daves are from the alternative bluegrass band Trampled by Turtles from Duluth, Minnesota.  The band’s name derived from a brain storming session making sure they didn’t sound anything like bluegrass (mission accomplished). Lead singer and guitarist Dave Simonett told the crowd they were dressed in suits because thought it was a formal affair. Banjo player and backing vocalist Dave Carroll only spoke to the audience once during the set.  He thanked someone in the crowd that expressed his love for Carroll’s exceptional banjo playing.  One of the highlights was a song from Simonett’s new solo project Deadman Winter.  The singer told the crowd he would give it a B+ or maybe a C-.  Judging by the loud applause the crowd disagreed.

See you at the next show.  I’ll be the one not named Dave.