Bryon Parker is best known as Courtney Parker’s husband and contributing member of Denver-based noise rock group, Accordion Crimes. He will be a Contributing Music Blogger for Goldyn, reviewing concerts and bands, both locally and nationally. For his first review, Bryon shares his Top 4 Picks from the 2014 Underground Music Showcase: Hollow Talk, Tjutjuna, South of France and Scatter Gather.
HOLLOW TALK (July 24th, Hi-Dive) One of the first acts slated to perform on night one of the
Underground Music Showcase were one of the most anticipated. It seems like every musician friend of mine had Hollow Talk‘s number that night. Being dissembled for nearly a year and a half, this reunion performance was as focused and melancholy as a poem by the great Walt Whitman. A sound that could be best defined as dark folk-rock with hints of post-punk abandon.
Hollow Talk’s sound was a combination of previous projects that trace back to the member’s dissolved acts (D. Biddle, Lion Sized, Ideal Fathers, Machine Gun Blues). Their leader, Duncan Barlow, maintained a degree of confidence that fit the discretion of a performer with nothing left to prove. At times, he channeled a desperate vocal delivery comparable to the late Mark Linkous. Howling choruses proceeded whispered verses. Droned out keyboard lines worked seamlessly around well-crafted shoegaze guitars. The drum and bass combinations were thunderous and pounding. Their quiet-LOUD-quiet dynamic was in full force and each player fully serviced the set of well-constructed numbers. This band set the bar very high. No other act performing on Thursday measured up to the dynamics of Hollow Talk and compositions like ‘Jacksonville’ never sounded so hopeful.
TJUTJUNA (July 25th, Hi-Dive) I was driving an off-white van with the other members of Accordion Crimes sitting shotgun. It was an overcast afternoon at nearly 6 o’clock. The radio was gently humming a local AM station as the street sounds from South Broadway were leaking in with the occasional raindrops. Finding parking in Baker with a thirty foot Econo-line is easier said than done. At last! My luck was restored near a bus stop on Lincoln Avenue. While the other members of my noise rock trio were cool as a fucking cucumber, I was not. I communicated my desire to not miss Tjutjuna‘s set to my mates as we brushed past other UMS patrons at the street level. A break in traffic found us jay walking our way over to the Hi-Dive. The time was nearing 6:30 and the venue was packed. After maneuvering around the doorman, I found my best viewpoint from the side stage.
I sipped water from a styrofoam cup and watched as this three-piece of bearded thirty-something’s demonstrated an impressive take on aggressive instrumental soundscapes. I was immediately occupied by what I heard. Their last two songs left a strange impression on me. It was as if this trio were from the future and all of the waves of music they drew influence from were from the year 2020. I felt like a tourist. It was refreshing and I was awe struck. Gentle psychedelia rose above primal drumming. Keyboards delivered color and timbre. Beautiful hues of dissonance and angular crescendos. The guitar sounds were distorted and melodic. All three members appeared to be in some kind of trance. I did not see them ever communicate with each other. They were calculated and as tight as a jazz trio.
After only witnessing a mere fifteen minutes at the tail end of their set, I was left wanting more. I will make it an effort to see this band again. I wish I had more to say but traffic cut my time at this show short.
SOUTH OF FRANCE (July 26th, Main Stage) Having already a developed, preconceived notion about South of France based on a memorable in-store performance within the confines of Goldyn, I was intrigued about how this band would play out on the main stage. To my discovery, they had since added a fourth member on bass as well as a new drummer.
Colorado Public Radio’s own Alicia Sweeney took to the stage to introduce them with courteous enthusiasm as a, “breezy surf pop band!” Under any other circumstance, this description would have sent me headed in the other direction. My second impression of South of France relays the stance that they are a cut above the rest. Once again, they came across as pioneers of sincerity. The music fit their own compartmental style. The vocal interplay between Jeff Cormack and Kelly Lueke fulfilled continuous hooks above the jangle of retro guitar pop. Listening closely and scratching the surface, I heard traces of The Zombies and The Velvet Underground.
If you’re as cynical about music that fits commercial placement as I am, I’d argue that it would do you good to give this band a chance. It may just renew your love of concurrent indie rock.
SCATTER GATHER (July 27th, The Hornet) The first show on my Sunday schedule aligned with a band called, Scatter Gather. Having never heard of this act before, I thought I would look them up briefly. Their contributed UMS bio read, “Just a couple of dudes who like lightening and the smell of rain”…Really? Nothing more than that? OK, fair enough. I didn’t hold it against them too much. I remember thinking, “I hate writing about my band too. It sucks.” At the end of the day, I think most people were turned off by “just a couple of dudes who like lightening and the smell of rain.” At UMS, people want the two-piece band with the memorable name followed by career ambitions and plans to take over the music world. Most people want the two-piece band that have good PR and the opening slot for The Black Keys. I suppose I’m not like most people. This is why I consider myself one of the thirty privileged people to have seen Scatter Gather.
Before their set and while tuning his guitar, the singer/guitarist took off his shoes and shirt and set them neatly in the corner. I was a little uneasy about this and what would follow left me completely caught off guard. It was as if the drummer only listened to DNA and the guitar player only listened to Fugazi. And it was magical. They often sang together, completely incoherent to everyone else and completely in their element. No one was bothered by this because it came together in such a way that was their own. They’d scream, sing and thrash about… and it was a rather joyous event. This is the band that sounded like drums falling down a staircase in 3/4 time. They could harness dynamics and win you over with their complete control only to take their own train off the track. It was as equally challenging as it was accessible.
I don’t mean to create hyperbole, but Scatter Gather was the best band of the Underground Music Showcase. This band represents the very spirit of what the UMS is about: local, underground, independent and pushing musical boundaries.