Photos and review: Paper Bird at the Oriental Theater in Denver - Reverb

Live review: Paper Bird @ the Oriental Theater

Opening act the Devil Whale made a big splash at Paper Bird’s New Year’s Eve extravaganza at Denver’s Oriental Theater. A still raw band out of Salt Lake City, the Devil Whale’s throwback SoCal sound includes a measure of garage honkytonk. The band’s relatively sedate studio recordings belie the energy of its testosterone-charged live performance.

The Devil Whale’s wailing lead singer-songwriter Brinton Jones benefited from impressive back-up vocals nailing tight harmonies. Jones played old school guitars, and with a hank of hair in his face, looked the retro rocker. Jake Fish is one of the most kinetic bassists you’ll see. Keyboardist Wren Kennedy joined drummer Cameron Runyan for a best-of-set sustained drum duet with a decidedly Celtic flair.

In addition to three animated female vocalists reminiscent of the Andrew Sisters, Paper Bird wings it with an unlikely assortment of instruments: stand-up bass, banjo, trombone, trumpet and drums. With stand-up bass and banjo, Paper Bird songs take on tints of bluegrass.

But Paper Bird will not be pigeon-holed. The band’s music also carries jazz and folk influences. The group simply describes their genre as “joyful.” True, that.

Paper Bird led the emotional countdown to midnight, then performed a rousing rendition of an old Bad Company tune — “Feel Like Making Love” — in the brand spanking new year. The song “Colorado” was another Rocky Mountain high point of a toe-tapping set from the band solidified by a bout of Breckenridge cabin fever.

For Paper Bird’s encore, approximately a third of the merry-making crowd joined the eight band members on stage.

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Friday Jones Publishing will release Colleen Smith’s new book “Laid-Back Skier” in September 2011. Her novel “Glass Halo” was a finalist for the 2010 Santa Fe Literary Prize.

Jackie Nuxoll is a Denver photographer and a new contributor to Reverb.

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