Yellow Feather Coffee, one of the Santa Fe art district’s newest caffeine pushers, hosted a slew of DIY performers for an all ages Tuesday night. Riding in from Portland, Oregon on scrounged gas money and slurping up freshly cooked cup noodles, Insomniac Folklore, Destroy Nate Allen, and Seth Martin each put on memorable performances before the young Denver string band, Fiction is Fun! filled the Feather’s tiny back room with their indoor street performance.
Pushing aside toys and old, Tyler Hentschel turned out the lights and dragged a blood-stained lamp to the center of the floor for an Insomniac Folklore solo performance. Singing in a deep baritone and strumming an extensively sharpied guitar, Hentschel spooked the audience, made up of mostly Fiction is Fun! fans and family members, with steampunk musings about man hands and legos. “Would you like to hear something depressing, or something melancholic?” Hentschel asked the room.
Destroy Nate Allen brought the lights back on and herded the crowd into a circle as Nate Allen, the male counterpart in the husband and wife duo, explained that he prefers to look people directly in the eye when he performs. The Portland couple yelled out a set of confessionary acoustic punk rock songs about touring in a van with your significant other, and refusing defeat by community college math classes. Waving tambourines and shaking her pink dreadlocks, Tessa, Nate’s wife, prowled around the circle breathing and singing directly into the face of each and every crowd member. Allen spun and karate kicked in a one-man mosh pit, and was completely drenched in sweat by the end of the set.
The music was put on pause for the length of exactly one Parliament Light before Seth Martin, of Portland’s purist folk outfit Seth Martin and the Menders, turned every last light off and began strumming in complete darkness. The northwest native handed out packets of wildflower seeds and encouraged the crowd to not only plant the seeds, but to use them to play along on percussion with him. Martin picked and stomped through a set of originals, adapted field hollers, and a Korean folk song as the crowd hummed Martin’s simple melodies and shook the seeds.
Fiction is Fun!, the youngest performers of the evening, erected a stripped-down drum kit, and began singing an old-timey original about horseshoes and hand grenades. The Denver folk-punk five piece’s sound is a nod towards bands like Against Me! and The Devil Makes Three, and their set of tunes about deep sea divers and faking sick for the rest of life’s work days seemed more suited for a sidewalk in New Orleans. Fiction finished their set with a screaming cover of The Beatles’ “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” and for a brief moment it seemed as if the band and crowd might take the show out into the middle of Santa Fe Drive.
All in all, it was a brilliantly quirky night of DIY musical offerings from Portland and Denver.
Nick Chambers is a Denver-based writer and a new contributor to Reverb.