It’s such a shame when a show that has great potential, a fantastic line-up and a decent crowd can’t rise above poor sound levels. And that was unfortunately the case Thursday night at the Bluebird, where despite solid energy and, of course, a preponderance of talent, Chain Gang of 1974 and Tapes ’n Tapes did their very best and still sounded a little lost.
Chain Gang of 1974 was onstage when we made it to the venue, and while the band’s characteristic thump was definitely there, synth and vocals blurred into the background. Even Kamtin Mohager’s expansive voice (a blend of Brandon Flowers and Rick Astley, but in a good way) couldn’t cut through the bass-heavy haze.
As Tapes ’n Tapes started their proceedings with “Freak Out,” Josh Grier’s machine-gun lyrical delivery was crowded out by guitars and bass to the point where he appeared to be shouting into the wind. Less raucous tunes like “Badaboom” and “The Dirty Dirty” were slightly better, at least in quieter moments where one could actually discern the vocals.
For all the issues with the sound, however, Tapes ’n Tapes didn’t seem to notice or care. They were obviously having a great time playing to a familiar Denver crowd (making several shout-outs about their many Denver tour stops and their love for the city). Though they swung wildly and deftly from surfy, Vampire Weekend-y sounds to full-on, roaring indie rock, they are, at heart, a garage band, and sound is almost secondary to having an awesome night among friends. Though I think the sound techs at the Bluebird are to blame for making the show less than spectacular, it was, and had no other choice but to be, a really fun one.
Cassandra Schoon is a Denver freelance writer and regular Reverb contributor.