Denver’s Dressy Bessy is looking forward to a string of road dates following Monolith this weekend. Photo from MySpace.
Denver’s own Dressy Bessy has been lying low of late, but returns in a big way at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, when it officially launches the mainstage antics at the Monolith Festival at Red Rocks. Their return coincides with the Sept. 16 release of the band’s fifth record (“Holler and Stomp,” on Transdreamer Records), followed by a three-month national tour.
Some things have changed — Pacific Pride’s Paul Garcia has joined on guitar, keys, cowbell and backup vocals; along with new touring drummer James Barone, also of Pacific Pride. Most everything else has not: Ealom’s fashionable vintage ’60s glam look is fully intact, as is husband John Hill’s everpresent, joyful grin, Rob Greene’s bass and, oh those infectious melodies.
The new collective played a secret show Sept. 3 at the Hi-Dive that served as dress rehearsal for Monolith and life on the road. Ealom took the stage sporting longer jet-black hair than usual, checkered hot-pants, a furry white vest and her trademark, butt-kicking high-heeled boots.
There’s no one like Ealom in the Denver music scene, or maybe anywhere: The words coming out of her mouth are always smart, warm, inviting — countered by a ferocious onstage persona. Seriously, she has eyes of a viper. She seduces and threatens at once. You want her to see you, just not make eye contact with you. Because this girl will hurt you. With that killer smile, she’s a freakin’ 1960s Cleopatra.
The delightful anachronism is reflected all the more in the new songs from “Holler and Stomp.” The timeless, peppy beats are still present, as are the front-row bouncing girls and geek boys in cardigans. But Denver’s most stylish band has never sounded more substantive. There’s also a greater intensity and urgency to the songs, a fuller sound, especially when four guitars are firing and driving at once.
Dressy Bessy launched into 17 three-minute bursts of power pop, with little time for chat, “Because we wanna drink,” Ealom said.
There were expected, infectious hits like “Just Once More,” “The Things That You Say That You Do” and “Electrified.” But newcomers who get their first look at Dressy Bessy and note Ealom’s clothes and Hill’s loveable grin wrongly assume they are in for nothing but cute. A few songs in, and they’ll soon be noting comparisons to everything from Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” to Judas Priest’s ”Living After Midnight” (seriously).
If you miss Monolith — and even if you don’t — the band will celebrate the official CD release with an Oct. 18 show at the Bluebird Theater.
“Once more, make room for, just one more …”
John Moore is the theater critic for The Denver Post.