Photos by Laurie Scavo
The up-side of having established a musical reputation in town is that you can fill the place up with your new band’s public debut. The down-side, well, hang with me and we’ll get to that.
I was pretty excited about Saturday’s show for a number of reasons. One, there was no shortage of talented people scheduled to take the stage. Two, Denver being the relatively small musical scene that it is, I’ve become friends with many of these people and it’s always nice to see them. Three, two out of the three acts scheduled to perform would mostly be playing stuff I’d not heard before. And four, the thematically unified line-up (in that all three acts have a considerable reputation with their other bands preceding them,) promised to provide an interesting dynamic to the evening.
Walking around outside before the show we caught Ross Etherton in the parking lot behind the Hi-Dive, on the porch of the Theater on Broadway, rehearsing, writing down some last minute lyrics and figuring out his set list. It felt a privilege, getting that exclusive and personal preview, seeing him fuss over what songs he should play. And later, inside, Etherton brought that same inclusiveness and friendliness onto the stage, sharing stories about the songs with all who were listening. Then I felt twice-privileged. Some songs were familiar old favorites to Red Cloud West fans. Other songs, like the endearing lullaby for his new baby girl, are gems that surely will shine all the more with time and the polish of more performances. I’m looking forward to listening.
The Wheel, I’ve probably seen at least half a dozen times by now, either by himself, or with the accompaniment of violin and keyboard. The songs are beautiful in either incarnation and although by now I know to expect it, the first couple songs I’m still blown away by what a great voice and sense of delivery Rateliff brings. The songs feel like they have a strong sense of central character and I find myself listening carefully for the story. Perhaps I should listen more lightly next time though because after about four songs, I’m tired. Like when I pile my plate high with good food, eat too much and feel overstuffed and sleepy.
[audio:http://godonnybrook.com/v3/wp-content/themes/mimbo2.2/images/12-When-We-Were-Towers1.mp3|titles=When We Were Towers|artists=The Wheel]
Moonspeed got all eleven members settled on stage, seated in a kind of orchestral manner. I’m sorry I don’t have everyone’s last names but here’s how it looked: The two drummers, James and Kit were mirrored in the back and flanked on either side by the synthesizers: Darren to the left, Shannon Stein to the right. Stage left featured the three guitarists, I believe it was Ryan, Jim and Matthew on two acoustic and one electric. Stage right sat Adam on bass, and in front of Shannon, Hayley Helmerick on melodica and Doug Spencer on various percussive elements: tambourine, triangles and wind chimes. Center of it all sat Jeff Suthers on vocals and guitar with his signature sounding trade secret pedals. But what did Moonspeed sound like? Not surprisingly, big. And the sound man (I think it might’ve been Xandy) deserves a medal for making everyone clear and audible.
Definitely, Moonspeed wears the influences of bands cited on their Myspace like My Bloody Valentine and Angels of Light. And while Moonspeed is not exactly blazing any new musical trails, they do seem to be having a good time making their own trip down the road, and gauging from the crowd of listeners I witnessed, it would seem they’ve got a good number of fans happy to follow them.
And now we get around to the down-side of the debut: it’s difficult to not bring Bright Channel performance expectations to the show. I tried to keep in mind that this was Moonspeed’s public debut, and though they didn’t quite have the tightly crafted delivery of oft-rehearsed songs, everybody onstage did remarkably very well listening to each other and keeping things woven together pretty well, if a little loosely. Should be a good time keeping up with where it all goes.