OK, so this show wasn’t actually last night. It’s hard to write about a show the next day! I usually need some time to recover, and this time was no different.
Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom is the quintessential jam-band venue in Denver proper. Located in the Five Points neighborhood, the venue generally hosts various hippie/jam/bluegrass shows until 2am on weekend nights, with a few smaller hip-hop or DJ shows sprinkled through their calendar. Saturday night was a treat, with two concept cover bands on the bill – Jazz is PHSH and Talking Dreads.
The opener, Talking Dreads, was a reggae-themed Talking Heads cover band with ties to the Heads’ new wave side project, Tom Tom Club. Their set was filled with energy, as the singers hyped the crowd and encouraged them to sing along. The setlist was primarily Talking Heads hits, but also included some deeper tracks (“Heaven”, “Houses in Motion”) and covers from other artists (Bob Marley, Grateful Dead), and the crowd was receptive to the reggae/dance twist on classic and familiar tunes.
Headliner Jazz is PHSH included members of Snarky Puppy, Kung Fu, and local Denver cover band Strange Design, and they did not disappoint. The delivery was on point, as their guitarist ripped through Trey’s leads with deft skill while the horn section handled the vocal melodies. The catalog of songs was versatile and varied, with crowd-pleasers like “Maze” and “Bathtub Gin” riling up the dancing hippies in the crowd. The lack of actual vocals made it difficult to connect on some levels – while Phish has never really been known for meaningful lyrics, the words often temper the complexity of the musical compositions and brings focus to some of the exploratory jamming.
In the end it was an enjoyable event, with a great crew in tow, as well as old and new friends in attendance. The event ended a little early for Cervantes (1:40am) but there’s always room for an after party 😉