I keep thinking I already wrote this post, but I think that’s just because I made the facebook photo album first. Spokesbuzz, a group in Fort Collins which is part of the machinery behind this town’s amazing and constantly improving local music scene, put together a project called BandSWAP, which paired up local bands here with other local bands in other cities. The bands played shows in those other cities, and then played a series of shows here in Fort Collins, and I was able to fit two of the 4 days of this final show series into my schedule. This meant that I saw Whitewater Ramble twice in 2 days, not a bad deal by any reckoning, and I also got to see Fierce Bad Rabbit, one of the bands I heard that first night during New West Fest while I was stuck in a tent selling tickets just around the corner. The band we had visiting from out of town for this particular night of the BandSWAP series was Fights, a band out of Lafayette, Louisiana. All three bands were fantastic, and despite the fact that the friend I was supposed to be meeting at the show never turned up, I had a great night taking pictures and soaking in the music.
Fights is an ‘indie/pop” band according to their facebook page. Yet again, we need to figure out better words than ‘pop’ because these guys have a very different sort of music from many of the ‘pop’ artists I’ve written about. Their music is loud but playful, infused with “infectious, up-beat, dancy grooves,” an aesthetic nicely enhanced by the light patterns bathing the stage throughout their show. With their heavy use of synthesizers and fast bouncy rhythms this group seems to channel some of the 80’s synth-rock style, but in a decidedly modern context. Fights is very percussion-rich, with two drummers, which allows them to keep more complicated rhythms than your average band.
The Aggie filled up nicely for this first show of the night with a healthy mixture of local musicians and a random sampling of the rest of the Fort Collins community. Everyone seemed mesmerized by the music and the lights during each song, and the folks in the band seemed overwhelmed by the enthusiasm with which the audience received them. I’m sure Fort Collins would love to have this group back again whenever they want a change of scenery.
Fierce Bad Rabbit took the stage after Fights. This is one of Fort Collins’ local bands, one that has been playing together since 2009. These guys have a dedicated local following, so the theater filled up a lot more once their show began. I’d stuff this band in the ‘alternative’ or ‘indie’ rock category, but as with many decent bands, this genre label would be missing much of what makes this band’s sound interesting enough to justify the attention given to the album and two EPs these guys have released so far. At times this group seems to be channeling Meat Loaf, or one of the many alternative rock bands of the early 90’s, but this band’s sound would fit nicely with the contemporary pop-rock mixes corporate radio stations play, too. Their songs have more complex, interesting lyrics than contemporary pop songs, and cover more themes than just love and breakup songs. Their musical range is equally broad.
Fierce Bad Rabbit is actually in the midst of a kickstarter at the moment, with 19 days left to go, to help with the costs of releasing their new album, The Maestro and the Elephant. Their pledge gifts start for pledges as low as $5, and if you want this band to play a show for you, it’ll only run you $3,000 so long as the logistics work out. I’m guessing that a lot of folks would go for the $20 level,which is about the cost of a decent multi-band show anyway, and gets you a snazzy Fierce Bad Rabbit t-shirt. Who would not want a t-shirt with this band name on it? Check out the webpage for these guys, stop by their kickstarter if you like their music, and once they get the funding together to finance their album release and tour, be watching for this band’s shows. And, if you are on tumblr, Fierce Bad Rabbit has and actually uses their tumblr account, so ‘follow’ them there and ‘like’ them, of course, on facebook.
Whitewater Ramble is a sort of old-timey, bluegrassy influenced rock band that can play the old-timey stuff, but that also can convincingly morph into a proper rock band. Just as Fierce Bad Rabbit has their viola player, Whitewater Ramble has an upright bass player, and in both cases these strings players have left the realm of orchestral music far behind. Whitewater Ramble’s bassist is a rather photogenic fellow with great taste in hats, whose instrument has a lot more power and edginess to it than I would expect from this instrument. This poor bass happens also to have a peculiar set of scuff marks on its inner flanks, because it has to put up with being stood on, a trick well worth seeing. And, if you live in Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa or Missouri, this band will be coming to a town potentially near you in the next week, as they finish up the last few shows of their fall tour.
I actually had the pleasure of seeing both the bluegrassy side and the rock side of this band, since they played an old-timey set for an even on my college campus the day before the BandSWAP concert, though since the weather turned obnoxiously cold that day (~32 F during this band’s show) they may not have had the nimble fingers necessary for some of the more complicated picking that many bluegrass tunes require. Still they played a great show, and folks getting to see this side of them when they aren’t quite so frozen will be getting a treat, for sure. Whitewater Ramble is not quite as local as Fierce Bad Rabbit, but is still a Colorado band, and the drummer currently playing with them on tour is a CSU soon-to-be alum. This band plays a lot of local shows, so if you ‘like’ them on facebook you may be able to catch them someplace near Boulder or Fort Collins, or in the general Northern/Front Range Colorado area. In the meantime, visit their webpage and check out their first studio album, their live album(both albums available for purchase through CD Baby), and various free live recordings you can download. This band’s music is also available on spotify if you want to check them out there.