Day 4 was a short night, late start – because, well, because kids and because best intentions go to the wayside. Music festivals are not a sprint, but a marathon where you stand a lot and gather over 21 wristbands like badges. Have fun, do what you can. Sunday night included two stops in venues I hadn’t hit yet, Hi-Dive and Illegal Pete’s.
To be completely honest, I stopped at the main stage just in time for Blonde Redhead to say “thank you, good night!” I felt a little bit like Communion Kid.
So off to the Hi-Dive I went, to catch GEMS, the electropop duo out of Washington, DC. The two consisted of Clifford John Usher on guitar/vocals and Lindsay Pitts on synthesizer/vocals. The old man in me said “no drums? Your band needs drums!” and then spent the next thirty minutes battling my perceptions.
GEMS featured some incredibly powerful beats layered with fuzzy/dreamy guitar progressions and spectral vocals that reach well past your heart and into the nerve endings of your spine. The programmed tracks on synthesizer were seductive, sad, and a gut-punch to the soul and everyone danced. It was hard not to; the performance was so captivating it was hard to put into words, but the drunk guy behind me did so quite elegantly: “I love these guys, fuck.” I wanted to be cynical and say the sound has been done before, and that you could just go listen to the Xx if you wanted to, but I loved these guys, fuck…
We are now in a time where every beat and note and harmony has been played. There are only so many combinations to go around. There are a lot of electropop synth bands out there. Instead of bemoaning that one outlet short would kill their entire show, I listen to GEMS and celebrate that there are showpeople out there – not just glorified DJs, but musicians that know a good beat and are so committed to their song that you just feel it in your core. And people love to dance, why not give them what they want?
Speaking of dancing, I learned people love to dance while ordering burritos. I caught the Ever at Illegal Pete’s and they jammed to some great indie soul rock while a line for food orders formed in front of them. The songs were addictive and hooky, and the band had some true rock chops in them. They definitely had that “local band that loves music and would tear it up at your party” feel to them, and then informed us that vocalist/keyboardist Carl Carrell would be leaving the band to pursue his solo project CRL CRRLL.
It was at that moment that I wished I experienced music festivals like Benjamin Button ages and that I could see CRL CRRLL’s show from Thursday night. Are the (now) two acts going on different trajectories? What is their fate? For the one guy in line skanking to the music while wearing a Karate Kid-style headband, it was all about tonight, and all about the music. Live in the present and enjoy what you have when you have it. I’ll worry about the future later, and enjoy the honesty of drunk audience members.
Note: after checking out CRL CRRLL’s soundcloud, it’s a little more ambient than this rocking Denver quartet and closer to the electropop I experienced earlier. I wish both artists bountiful voyages.
Clay is a regular contributor and co-founder at Nanobot. He lives in Denver, CO, is a husband, father, and learned that living in the moment is great until you have to get up for work the next morning