“I wasn’t aware of the number of good pop bands in Denver. It’s going to be an eye-opening experience.”
David Bash, the founder and unstoppable, passionate force behind the International Pop Overthrow music festival, doesn’t know much about Denver. In fact, by his own admission, he’s never gotten much closer than the airport. But next weekend, he’s bringing his 12-year-old celebration of catchy melodies, gripping hooks and upbeat rhythms to the Mile High City. In three nights at City Hall, the festival will spotlight 20 acts — most from Denver — who are keeping pop alive.
International Pop Overthrow began in 1998 as a Los Angeles phenomenon. In 2001, it branched out to New York, then to Chicago in 2002. Since then, Bash — emboldened by the success of these efforts — has spread his pop gospel until it has truly become an international event. IPO’s 2010 cities include San Diego, Phoenix, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Liverpool (at the world famous Cavern Club, where the kind of pop that Bash reveres got its start), Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Boston, New York and Toronto. The last International Pop Overthrow of 2010 is right here in Denver. But that almost wasn’t the case.
“Denver had never been on my short list,” admits Bash, who had only heard a handful of bands from our city that seemed right for his event. But meeting Doug Bohm changed all that.
Bohm is the talent buyer for South of Colfax Nightlife District, which owns and operates City Hall, as well as 2am, Bar Standard, the Church, Funky Buddha, the Living Room, Milk, Mo’s and Vinyl. He stumbled across an article about International Pop Overthrow on the internet, immediately caught the reference to ’90s power pop band Material Issue (“International Pop Overthrow” was the band’s debut album) and upon reading more, became convinced that Denver was the right place for an IPO.
“When I approached David Bash, his first question was, ‘Are there pop bands there?'” recalls Bohm. “I immediately sent over a 100-band list of local acts I felt fit the moniker of pop.” As Bash continued to speak with Bohm and listened to the acts he recommended, he slowly became convinced that it worth a try.
“Most of the time, talent buyers don’t have an opinion,” says Bash with a chuckle. “But Doug is just absolutely 100% confident that this is going to be a big success.”
And there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be. Even with every band fitting under the broad pop umbrella, the lineup is remarkably diverse, and includes acts like b. sous,
While that might seem like a diverse lineup, Bash sees more similarities than differences.
“The commonality is that sense of melodicism,” he asserts. “To me, ‘pop’ means melodic rock and roll.”
Doug Bohm shares Bash’s interest in promoting pop music here in Denver.
“A lot of local establishments seem to focus on indie or rock or punk and variations,” he says, “and people seem to trash the pop acts that get signed out of here like they somehow didn’t pay their dues because they weren’t sanctioned by the scenesters or something. I thought that pop is a marginalized term.”
When Bash began the International Pop Overthrow, he wanted to end that marginalization, overthrow rock-oriented mainstream radio and bring back melody. Today, with mainstream radio practically obsolete, his mission has slightly changed, but he’s no less passionate about it.
“The mission is to get this music into the hearts and minds of the mainstream,” he says.
Whether that will happen in Denver or not remains to be seen, but Dough Bohm sees plenty of reasons why the festival will be a great success — and a great time for music fans.
“The ticket prices are extremely low for a festival, and lower than in any other city,” he notes. “I felt for this year, it’s important to just get a strong showing to show the level support for local pop acts, and burn Denver in as a source for great talent that has broad appeal. And for the music lover who hasn’t been exposed these acts, it’s a great way to find your new favorite band.”
Denver’s International Pop Overthrow takes place Thursday, Dec 2 through Saturday, Dec 4, at City Hall. Tickets are available for each night individually, for just $5 each. You can also purchase a 3-day “pop pass” for just $10. For more information, visit the City Hall website.
Eryc Eyl is a veteran music journalist, critic and Colorado native who has been neck-deep in local music for many years. Check out Steal This Track every Monday for local music you can HEAR, and the Mile High Makeout every Friday. Against his mother’s advice, Eryc has also been known to tweet. You can also follow Steal This Track on Twitter. Sorry, Mom.