Friday continued the emergence of two promising Denver bands at the Larimer Lounge. Although, in one way, it also marked the end of an era for the Centennial and Churchill. No, neither band is going anywhere – except cross-town. This was something of a farewell party, marking the end of these good friends’ days of all living in and around one other in the same City Park neighborhood.
The Centennial, made up of Meese brothers Patrick and Nathan, along with Patrick’s wife, Tiffany, was originally scheduled to headline Friday, until Churchill was added to the bill. As this would be only the Centennial’s third live show since Patrick and Nathan disbanded their popular Denver band Meese, they were happy to defer the final slot of the evening to Churchill, an irresistible five-piece that seems right on the precipice of more widespread recognition.
The Centennial marks a vastly different direction for the Meese brothers, not only by adding a woman, but by truly featuring her. Patrick Meese was, and is, one of the most likeable frontmen in town, but Meese was a clear and present power-pop band with an adoring fan base of mostly screaming young girls. The Centennial is marked by the slower, lilting and more melodic harmonies Patrick and Tiffany make together, with a primary lineup of Tiffany on keys, Patrick on drums Nate on guitar. But, they all rotate.
By taking a more haunting, ruminative approach to its songs, the Centennial instantly seems more substantive, a trio not only to be taken seriously but to be really listened to. There’s a sadness to their songs that flirts with a seductive undertone. The undeniable cuteness of couple groups like the Brunettes is evident here as well, but with a more sober element of, say, Low mixed in.
The built-in Meese fan base won’t hurt these three a bit. Neither will the new name – though these Ohio transplants kind of sheepishly admit they didn’t really name their new band after their adopted home state. Here’s some unsolicited advice: Say that you did.
The plan is to have the Centennial’s first EP available at its next live show, which they hope will be about a month from now.
Churchill — Tim Bruns, Michael Morter, Joe Richmond, Bethany Kelly and Tyler Rima – is an unapologetic Christian rock band with obvious crossover appeal, though I’m sure its band members would probably prefer a tag like “relevant,” which is just as apt a way of describing their music. They sing positive songs accentuated with a driving, danceable beat that, thanks to Morter’s mandolin, has a distinctive Colorado flavor. Like the Centennial, they just look and sound good. They can’t help it. And their breakout song, “Catalyst,” proves Churchill can keep up with anyone.
Isaac Slade, lead singer of the Fray, was in attendance on Friday to support his brother, Caleb, who opened the evening.