Even in the (slowly) growing chill of winter, Fort Collins remains a fantastic place to hear great live music. Last night was the 3rd Annual SpokesBUZZ CD Release Party, complete with great local (and not-so-local) beer, a snack bar featuring cookies, brownies, a surprisingly tasty salsa, etc., to keep us all happy between sets as 9 local bands took the stage. (The 9 Bands: Better Than Bacon, Common Anomaly, Constitution, Lindsey O’Brien Band, Post Paradise, The Echo Chamber, Trichome, Turn 4, Musketeer Gripweed) A merchandise table, conveniently placed near the food, had a fun array of t-shirts, stickers and CDs from all the bands, a kaleidoscope of colors and cool cover/t-shirt art.
As I suspect one might find in any local music scene, there is a lot of overlap between the various bands in Fort Collins, and while I had only seen two of the evening’s bands before, I recognized quite a few of the rest of the musicians performing last night. Most of these acts could fit within the scope of a contemporary alternative rock radio station, especially with respect to their live shows. Better Than Bacon opened the show, with their excellent guitarist James decked out in the sort of flamboyant jacket I might expect from bands like Queen or Poison. Better Than Bacon plays blues-tinged rock, with a solid straightforward sound that would appeal to pretty much any era of rock fans.
The most distinctive stage setup of the night was for Post Paradise, which had an elaborate array of stage lights, a decided challenge for anyone trying to take pictures. It took longer than the usual 5 minute turn-around to get this all set up, but the effects were well worth the wait. During set-up we saw a music video the band made using their cool light displays, but the real thing was a lot more fun than the video. This band’s sound often reminds me a lot of the alternative rock stuff from the very early ’90’s, with the close harmonies alternative rock inherited from the hair bands, only I don’t recall those bands featuring cello as a leading instrument.I just hope they still have some of their older t-shirt designs by the time I can afford a few. Besides the Echoe Chamber’s shirts (which have whales on them and come in unusual colors for band t-shirts), Post Paradise had the most covetous t-shirts at the merch stand by far.
One more highlight, before I get back to finishing the weekly songlist- The last band of the night, Musketeer Gripweed, has figured out how to stay visually interesting, primarily through their lead singer’s entertaining use of props/costumes. Just as I used to explain to camp staff training classes, if you go out on stage dressed normally you’ll get less attention from children (or in this case semi-drunken tired adults), compared to doing the exact same presentation while wearing something flashy. I preferred a neon feather boa, but the fur capelet that stole the show for the first few songs of Musketeer Griweed’s set last night would be a fitting substitute for feather boas. Not that this band needs flashy gimicks to get attention, of course- they have a fun heavier rock style mixed liberally with blues, reggae, and other influences, that kept their audience entertained with our without the fur cape. But, if you can emulate that aesthetic that made Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem so popular, why not?
More will of course be forthcoming on the rest of the bands at the party last night. In the meantime check the bands out on spotify for a taste of some of what these musicians are capable of.