Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Denver Day of Rock 2014

Every year for the past five years, Concerts for Kids has put on the Denver Day of Rock on a Saturday in late May. The first year I knew of it was in 2010 when I saw that Fishbone was playing - FOR FREE. That's right, the DDoR is a free show, every year. It had been years since I'd been 'Boned, so I decided to take the family to the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver and see one of my favorite bands.

Note to self: Start taking my real camera to shows
Of course they rocked, they're Fishbone!

I wasn't able to make it to the fest in the ensuing years for various reasons, so I missed out on lots of other bands, including local faves Bop Skizzum, Air Dubai, and The Samples (what? They were great when I was in college).

I always look for the lineup, though, and when I skimmed this year's list of bands it went something like this: "Plain White T's…ok, I think my kids like them…Wallflowers…interesting, a Friday night show…Oh, cool! Calder's Revolvers!…Oh, cool! Rachel and the Kings…The Hold Steady…THE HOLD STEADY?!?" It quickly dawned on me that my first Hold Steady show would be a free show and I was incredibly psyched.

Someone at DDoR must have similar musical taste to Your Older Brother, because when the schedule came out, there were NO conflicts of the bands I wanted to see! That's not an easy task when you've got 5 stages going. I passed on seeing The Wallflowers Friday night because it was pouring rain and I wanted to save my energy for the following day. If I was going to get soaked seeing a band, I'd rather it be a band I really love. Like The Hold Steady.

So, Saturday afternoon we made our way once again to downtown Denver for an afternoon of music. First up: Calder's Revolvers.

Calder's Revolvers
I first saw Calder's a few years ago at a Bop Skizzum show and they blew me away, especially their gritty blues/soul song "Ima Lose My Mind" from their Black Bloc release. They were only a four-piece then, so I was surprised to see seven people on the stage; I almost didn't think it was them. Until I heard Andy Schneider's vocals, that is. Dude can blow. The addition of Alea Kilgore on vocals along with trumpet and sax points the way to a more soulful Calder's Revolvers, and that's exactly what you get - a kind of early Stax feel, or something you'd find on Daptone Records. If I ever have a festival of my own (foreshadowing!), I'd love to have them play.

We made our way over to the Curtis Street stage for Fierce Bad Rabbit. I'd heard of them prior to this and wanted to check them out.

Fierce Bad Rabbit
They didn't really wow me, but I'd imagine that it's tough to play shows in the middle of the day when you're used to playing in underlit clubs at night. I don't know if that's what was going on, but the energy seemed off. I'd give them another shot in the dark, so to speak.

Rachel and the Kings are another band we've seen at a past Bop Skizzum show and I haven't seen them  live since they won the Ford "Gimme The Gig II" competition, so they were high on my list of bands to check out as well.

Rachel and the Kings
We loved their cover of Aerosmith's "Dream On"- huge sounding and fairly epic, as the song should be. The rest of the set was underwhelming, though, which was disappointing considering how much I liked their previous material. Maybe it was another case of "daytime show." Rachel is the kind of performer you want to watch, though. We'll see where they go next.

We made our way over to the main Skyline Park stage to catch The Hold Steady next - starting at 6:10pm? This would be interesting. They have always lived in my mind as a bar band and that's where I always thought I would see them, someplace like the Larimer Lounge or Bottom of the Hill, not outdoors in the daytime.

As we stood in the middle of the park area staking out our place, I heard someone calling my name from towards the front near the stage. It was my friend who owns the Hi*Rise, a local bakery (which is AWESOME, by the way, definitely check it out sometime when you're in downtown Denver). We made our way through the still-thin crowd to say hello and ended up staying there, which was an excellent move on our part.

Craig Finn & Tad Kubler
We were stupid close for the set, and it was great.

Steve Selvidge & Tad
They played a bunch of what I guess I'd call their hits - "Massive Nights," "Sequestered In Memphis," "Constructive Summer," "Magazines," "Southtown Girls," and "Chips Ahoy" along with a bunch of other great songs - but of course they're great, it's The Hold Steady. Setlist.fm shows that they played 15 songs which seems to me to be a lot for a one hour set, but I'm not complaining. They could have played 30 and I would have been there for every hard luck story and singalong chorus.

More Craig & Tad
It was less booze-soaked than I thought my first Hold Steady show would be, but it was tight, they sounded great, the crowd was into it - I was very happy. I think Steve was, too:

Steve's a badass
I could have left right then but there was more free music to see! I strolled to the Welton Street stage and saw a couple of songs by Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, and then came back over to the Champa Street stage to catch Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers. Zydeco always entertains.

Not a great pic, but that bright thing in the middle is a full-chest washboard!
I hung out for a bit and was happy to have heard their excellent cover of "Beast of Burden," one of my favorite Rolling Stones songs.

I made my way back over to the main stage because that's where my kids were, watching the Plain White T's. I heard the T's say that they had to reach into their back catalog for some songs because they usually only played hour sets lately (festival veterans!). The crowd of young girls standing in the rain seemed to be ok with that.

The "Hey There Delilah" moment
The T's finished, we went home, everyone was happy!

I'd like to thank Concerts for Kids for putting on another terrific show in our terrific city. Hopefully the Hold Steady get will help bring more big names to next year's lineup, but it's always a good day out in the sunshine (and sometimes rain) in the city.


2 comments:

  1. Have you checked out the lineage of Steve Selvidge??

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    1. I didn't know about his dad Sid. Searching online, I found this really sweet letter from Bruce VanWyngarden, the editor of Memphis Flyer magazine, about Sid after he died.

      And here's a short interview with Steve from earlier this year about his own history before and with The Hold Steady: http://www.memphisflyer.com/SingAllKinds/archives/2014/01/23/qanda-with-the-hold-steadys-steve-selvidge

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