Like the last few shows that the Fluid has graced Denver with over the last few years, Friday’s Bluebird appearance was ripe with the feel of a family reunion. But this particular show held an atmosphere closer to a wake — a graceful, happy celebration of a fallen comrade, and rightfully so. The show, which included a headlining slot by godfathers of grunge Mudhoney, was also a fundraiser for Rick Kulwicki’s twins. Kulwicki, one of the guitar anchors of the Fluid’s seminal grunge sound, died unexpectedly in 2011, and was survived by twin boys.
Reunion or wake, the reason for the gathering fell away minutes after the Bluebird staff officially opened the doors. This show, it became increasingly obvious, was unofficially deemed a rite of passage. There were more parents sporting early-to-mid teens as their entourage than in past shows, and the youngsters seemed to be agog with their parents’ rock pedigree as the venue filled.
Once the first openers took the stage the generations seemed quickly gelled. Purple Fluid, the Kulwicki twins’ vehicle, played an impressive 40-minute set highlighted by a brutally honest cover of the Ramones’ “Commando.”
The Fluid took the stage shortly after, and splayed its Stooges-meets-grunge sound over the bouncing audience for just under an hour. The band members showed their age, to be sure — with the possible exception of John Robinson (who sported an Iggy Pop/Mick Jagger mix of body moves) — by seeming, at times, to be just going through the motions. They satisfied the full house pretty easily, nonetheless.
When Mark Arm and Mudhoney started their set, they had an audience that had already been awash with a strong idea, and then Mudhoney quickly and powerfully confirmed it. Their set was strong from beginning to end, and Arm and company came ready to create a retro-feel, seemingly with the intent to negate the “Melodic Punk” most of the new kids have been awash in with a dose of gritty passion.
My 13-year-old pointed out that he enjoyed it immensely — and that he was equally amazed at the near majority of his generation present at the venue. He banged his head non-stop through the Fluid set, and then twisted, pogoed and tore through as much Mudhoney as he could stand.