A handful of people were at Denver’s Hi-Dive on Wednesday night to see the Netherlands’ indie pop band the Black Atlantic. While the band’s wispy, melodic songs entertained, they didn’t have any big stand-out moments. But for fans of poignant lyrics and dramatic vocal melodies, there was plenty to go around. The band, fronted by singer Geert van der Velde, played a set list drawn mostly from their debut album, “Reverence for Fallen Trees.” The album was released last year as a free digital download.
With two openers, the Black Atlantic didn’t start their set until10:30 p.m. and played their first song to a smattering of people, most of them members of the first two bands. Once they began their second song, “Madagascar,” folks drifted in from the bar, no doubt curious about the melancholy harmonies and poetic lyrics — “Oh great and wondrous world, how the dice of evolution came up with a surprise to make these tiny particles come alive.”
Followed by “Heirloom,” “Reverence for Fallen Trees” and “An Ocean and Peril,” the nature references and repetitive choruses became predictable and few surprises ensued. The band did little to engage the small crowd, but van der Velde did reach out to successfully entice the group to provide some rhythmic clapping for the beautiful “Dandelion,” a song that paid homage to his beloved grandmother. Van der Velde and guitarist Kim Janssen bantered a little about van der Velde’s Midwestern-sounding accent, and van der Velde threw in a little Dutch for a few laughs.
An exceptionally talented band, members of the Black Atlantic played various instruments, including guitars, keys, ukulele and the concertina. However, much of their musicianship was lost in minimalist arrangements and heavy-handed vocals that simply sounded too much alike. It would serve them well to come out from the weight of their vocals and let shine their under-served instrumentation.
Two Colorado bands opened the show. Sunshine House, a six-piece band from Fort Collins was musically very good but could have potentially been much better with a little more effort from the lead singer to connect with the audience — and his bandmates. Stand-offish and reserved, his abrupt “thank yous” eventually left me disinterested and disappointed.
On the other hand, Denver’s Glowing House was a surprise trio with plenty of energy, depth and a variety of arrangements. Again, they’re a vocals-driven band, but one that appeared more confident and well-rounded musically and with each other. From where I sat, it looked like they were having fun and, of the three bands, weren’t afraid to show it.
Jackie Lomibao is a Lakewood-based writer and regular contributor to Reverb.