Live Reviews

Live review: 200 Million Years, Le Divorce @ the Hi-Dive

Zale Hassler, Carl Sorensen and Ellison Park are 200 Million Years.
Zale Hassler, Carl Sorensen and Ellison Park are 200 Million Years.

Local electro-shoegaze trio 200 Million Years have been hard at work in recent months recording their latest 6-song EP, and got a chance to show it off at the Hi-Dive Saturday night in front of a modest crowd.

Behind stacked synths and a laptop, Ellison Park gyrated as he maintained loops, samples and keyboards as well as some of the songs’ vocals. Zale Hassler, meanwhile, filled out the sound with a mixture of vaguely Sonic-Youth-sounding guitars and Carl Sorenson matched the band’s cacophony damned near perfectly. If there was any shortcoming in their performance, it was the fact that it was brief — they left the stage after only about 45 minutes. For a band that seems to specialize in psychedelic jamming at times for upwards of 15 minutes, three-quarters of an hour just seemed abbreviated.

Short as it was, their set successfully transformed the Hi-Dive into something other than a bar, as well. The lighting was limited only to reds, which gave the room a feeling of warmth, and strings of lights covered in fabric covered the floor of the stage. The visuals seemed to add to their heady, atmospheric sound and created a feeling of burial beneath pillows for much of the set, while at other times they created a jazzy, more easy listening sound. The title song from the new EP added a funk sense that highlighted the set, and was bookended by nearly all of the new record.

Le Divorce, a Denver “supergroup” that’s rising quickly in popularity (they opened for Liz Phair earlier in the week before Saturday’s show), played a strong set focused on their unabashedly ‘90s sound before 200 Million Years, and nearly took the night away from the headliners. Anchored by Kitty Vincent’s powerful, throaty vocals and accomplished guitar, the foursome had no trouble endearing a large crowd with their 50 minute set. Vincent, who sings with Johnette Napolitano’s depth and PJ Harvey’s intensity, filled up most of the stage with her personality, and was well met in banter by bassist Ryan Stubbs and guitarist Joe Grobelny between songs, and in noisy, passionate sonics during them, while drummer Chris Durant maintained the rock beat from behind the three.

With characteristically easy comfort, the quartet played songs about heartbreak and made them sound almost happy, funny. Coupled with the laughter between songs, they completely belied the implication of their moniker while they slayed the crowd.

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Billy Thieme is a Denver-based writer, an old-school punk and a huge follower of Denver’s vibrant local music scene. Follow Billy’s explorations at DenverThread.com, and his giglist at Gigbot.