Stand by Your Band @ the Hi-DiveBy | January 28th, 2009 | 2 comments
Jason Cain of Astrophagus concentrates on his guitar work as part of Stand by Your Band Saturday at the Hi-Dive. Photos by Heather Browne.
Building your own cover band could be considered the newest way to gain community service hours. Last Saturday at the Hi-Dive, the cherished Stand By Your Band event made its fourth appearance since the beginning of 2008. Denver Kickstand, the not-for-profit organization behind this event, is all about encouraging local music, so all proceeds of this show went directly to band programs in Denver schools.
The premise was to combine — and therefore unite — local musicians in supergroups that perform covers from different eras, a sure shot for entertainment and humility from these players. With possibly less than a month to prepare, and an undisclosed number of practices, the show and the musicians behind it did not disappoint.
Picture what you know of a great local band in town and then picture their drummer standing up and singing Lionel Richie’s “Easy like Sunday Morning.” That’s exactly what Rob Burleson (of d. biddle and Lion Sized) did Saturday night and just what you can expect to see at one of these mash-ups. Soon after, drummer Ben Desoto joined Burleson on “96 Tears” by Question Mark and the Mysterians. It seems ironic and a bit audacious, but was without a doubt worth every part of the $6 we paid for such a great cause.
Magic Cyclops kicked off the evening by warming up with the crowd with his infamous karaoke standards and cordless mic jokes from the john. Next came Jason Cain (Astrophagus) and Tom Metz (Iuengliss) demonstrating their ’90s set that featured hits including Radiohead’s “Exit Music,” Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s “Crossroads.” Most of their collaboration was done with Metz’s electro-centric instrumental leanings and the use of “super cheesy” MIDI files he found online, while they both joined forces and voices to create their set.
Denver’s beloved, pant-dropping heartthrob, Aaron Tom Collins (previously of Machine Gun Blues) dug into his softer side for Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” and Frankie Valli’s “I Love You Baby.” Nathaniel Rateliff (the Wheel/Born in the Flood) shook the room with his dirt-grinding vocals to “Little Bit of Soul” while mocking the hip-shaking moves of Music Explosion’s lead singer, Jamie Lyons.
Dustin Lawlor (the GetDown!) fulfilled his calling to sing gritty classic pop-rock by nailing “Gloria,” a tune by Van Morrison’s early ’60s band Them. Big applause went out to Jim McTurnan (formerly of Cat-A-Tac) on his ‘howlin’ job with the seductive lyrics, “Hey there Little Red Ridding Hood… you’re everything a big bad wolf could want.”
Two of the unsung heroes in the bands included S. Rock Levinson (Neuroscientist by day) who set the tone for the ’60s era songs with his rhythm guitar and (ahem) distinguished good looks, as well as Chris Barron (on tour with Devotchka), who delivered solid trumpet solos throughout and achieved the tones needed to make Valli and Richie what they were.
Instruments were constantly changing hands, laughter broke alongside the lyrics and the bands left the crowd petitioning for more. The night proved why Stand By Your Band continues to gain momentum and provoke attention, getting more music patrons and performers eager for the next round of this community-building event.
Lisa Gedgaudas is a Denver-based writer, music community booster and contributor to Reverb.
Heather Browne is the Colorado Springs-based editor of the I Am Fuel, You Are Friends music blog and a regular contributor to Reverb.