- Jeff Austin at The Big Wonderful, 5/6/17
The Big Wonderful happened to host a festival on my birthday this year, and the weather outside was perfect as Deadphish Orchestra opened with an acoustic set before Jeff Austin & Co took the stage for some high energy bluegrass. The full moon rose behind the big yellow ‘Wonderful’ sign as Austin shredded the mandolin for a solid 2-hour set, as we danced in a ring of food trucks somewhere in a field in Globeville neighborhood.
- Kevin Griffin at the Soiled Dove Underground, 5/5/17
You likely know him as the lead singer of Better Than Ezra, who arrived on the scene in the early 90’s amongst a plethora of grunge-lite imitators. Griffin has endured, however, and his songwriting chops have kept him relevant in contemporary pop music for over two decades. His annual ‘solo’ show (he includes BTE drummer Michael Jerome for about half the set) never disappoints as he runs through Ezra classics, songs he helped write for other artists (i.e. Howie Day’s “Collide”) and other silly covers and imitations (from Blue Oyster Cult to a medley of 80’s goth that included The Cure and The Smiths.) His presence is inviting, which is perfect for the small, intimate (and seated) crowd.
- Deadphish Orchestra at the Boulder Creek Festival, 5/27/17
Boulder Creek Festival is an annual Memorial Day event, with dozens of stands with local goods, food and beverage, and multiple stages for music. We arrived for the final act, Deadphish Orchestra, one of the better local jam-cover-bands, and also in time to grab beer from the Fate tent (my favorite brewery!) Deadphish was on point tonight in their hometown of Boulder, and ran through two roaring sets of GD and Phish favorites, with highlights including a tribute to the recently passed Greg Allman with “One Way Out” and a killer encore of “Rift” into the appropriate “One More Saturday Night”. The rain held off and it was another gorgeous night in Boulder! Illegal Pete’s late night was the cherry on top.
- Project Pabst, 27th & Larimer St, 5/20/17
I probably saw 12 bands at this festival, so I’ll pick 3 to write about:
The Nuns of Brixton
This was easily the best set of the day, which also included Phantogram, Danny Brown, and STRFKR. It took place in the Larimer Lounge, long after headliner Ice Cube had finished, and this all-nun Clash cover band came out guns blazing for a wildly raucous set of quick punk tunes. The crowd fed off the energy and a mosh pit formed up front for a few songs, before the lead singer crowd-surfed over to the bar for a shot, and back. This was my last of maybe 10 bands and my phone got down to like 5% battery, so I got a Lyft and went home satisfied.
Some really young punk-pop rockers from Chicago, their hipster irreverence betrayed by their technical prowess on stage. The first set of the day was a head-bopping good time.
Always one of my favorites, Kurt Vile lived up to his billing once more with some beautiful acoustic picking and drawled out crooning. Can’t wait for his upcoming collaboration with Courtney Barnett.
Trey Anastasio Band, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 5/31/17
A perfect weather night at Red Rocks is rare, but this fine evening was it. 70 and a little overcast, with enough clouds for a sunset, but warm enough to get away with shorts and flip-flops. Trey and his Band gave us two giant sets full of Trey originals, Phish tunes, and classic rock or even contemporary (Gorillaz/Portugal, The Man) covers, plus a fantastic encore of First Tube followed by a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused” which could have stolen the breath from any flatlanders who attempt the climb up to the Rocks. Other great covers included Leon Russell’s “Delta Lady” and The Band’s “It Makes No Difference” which both carried some emotional ‘weight’ in the hallowed venue. The horn section was strong all night, with both Natalie Cressman and Jennifer Hartswick taking over lead vocals at points. It had been 12 years since I last saw TAB at Red Rocks, and it was worth the wait!