[Editor’s note: This is the last 2010 piece I’ll be uploading. The rest are fairly bleh, honestly.]
It’s pretty easy to forget what you have. It’s pretty easy to feel as though the shit has hit the fan and the world is crumbling around you. I had one last jag of horrible nightmares that drove me into a new realm of insanity. The final dream was simple, yet the most horrifying of them all: walking along a nondescript hallway, minding my own business, I encounter that woman again. I ignore her as best I can; I’m tired of her and her bullshit. Silently, she approaches me and shoves me to the ground as hard as she can. Flat on my back, I can do nothing but watch her leave, as quietly as she entered. This woman hasn’t shown up in my sleep since then, thankfully. My dreams have been rather hum-drum, but I’ll take that over recurring torture any day.
I’m relived that I’ll never see her again. On the other, strange and masochistic hand, I feel sad that I’ll never see her again. After all, you’re close to someone for so long and then, suddenly, it stops. Almost overnight, somebody I trusted and confided in more than anyone I’ve ever known; someone who considered me to be a “little brother” does a complete 180 and decides that no, James, I don’t like you anymore. In fact, I hate you. I hate her, too. I think. I never thought that being able to finally get a good night’s sleep would be so confusing and bittersweet.
The reason I’ve been writing about my dreams these last few articles is simple: I need to show off my frame of mind when I write these things. The last thing I want is for anyone to think I’m not being one hundred percent genuine; that I’m just playing up the lack of quality of Denver’s local music for laughs or to make my friends seem oh so much better.
As cynical as ever, I returned to the Larimer Lounge, the same place where Mr. Right would beg the audience to read their Twitter page. A Twitter page whose latest update was at least a month before I was asked to follow them, leaving me to wonder just what the fuck was so important about their stupid Twitter if it was completely and utterly lacking in content? Fantastic, you’re getting ready for a show that took place some time in the past. This is the present, followed by the future, try to catch up. A few days ago, I sold my soul and actually got a Twitter account (easy to leave show notes there, as opposed to waiting for Facebook to slowly load up on my phone). Yes, I added Mr. Right to my “Following” list. And yes, I thought it was funny at the time (by the way, don’t forget to follow Mr. Right on Twitter! Unless you don’t support our brothers and sisters serving overseas, Commie!).
Anyways. Back to the Larimer Lounge. I’d been invited to come by Max, as he would be performing that night. I had no hope. I just shrugged my shoulders and assumed that I would be in for a long night of drinking and hating myself. Although there may be no God, there is at least some force of nature at work who only works at the most unusual of times. After the disaster that was Something Something Teflon, Max’s line about only playing alongside good bands would start to regain some of its weight and meaning. A glimmer of hope would enter my embittered heart.
The first man up was Dwight Forcey. Again, another young man I had gone to school with who had musical aspirations (I seem to be the only Smoky Hill High School alumni who has no musical talent). I’d be lying if I said that I knew him really well. I don’t. He’s a nice enough guy to be around, though. Musically speaking, he began his performance with a solo acoustic act, before two more musicians entered the stage. The three of them formed like Voltron and changed the tone from somber acoustics to the kind of pop-punk that’s more reminiscent of the goofier side of The Blue Hearts or The Ramones rather than the manufactured garbage of Green Day or the Sex Pistols. Between songs, the three would crack jokes and reference one another’s Majestic Moustache. Certainly better than Dwight plugging a Twitter account or letting us know that his new single is available for download on iTunes.
Another band would take the stage. Unfortunately, I, uh, left after Dwight finished his set. A small-scale high school reunion was taking place on the Lounge’s front patio. Just about everyone I knew in school had shown up to hear the music. Naturally, this meant sitting outside in the brisk summer air, far away from any sort of music whatsoever. So to you, Band Number Two, I apologize for not giving you a chance. You were probably pretty good.
I returned to the venue, got a drink and waited for the next act to get ready. I didn’t know it then, but soon enough, I would find my mind completely blown by the quality of these guys. They were Theodore Black, a six-piece group from Denver that defied the standards set by the other bands I had spent the last year following. They were not Rock and Roll. At least not in the Billboard Top 20 sense. They were Rock and Roll in the philosophical sense. Rock and Roll in the sense that Buffalo Daughter, Zazen Boys and The Delgados are Rock and Roll. Theodore Black are a group who’s sound is self-described as, taken from their website, “Folk, Gospel, Rhythm and Blues tell a story of Original Birth cradled in a cement bed.” They did a better job of describing themselves than I would have. I was going to describe their sound as, “swinging a sledgehammer at an oncoming Ford F-150” or, “cutting your own hair with a razor sharp samurai sword (Washizaka, Katana or Nodachi, take your pick)” or, “hunting and killing a Kodiak with a Nerf gun.” Their sound is the kind of sound one would expect from an alternate version of the nineteen fifties, effortlessly playing to a rowdy crowd of dirty drunks, shifty-eyed gangsters and mystery women who could easily march a fool off a cliff. The soundtrack to that murder-mystery I’ve had simmering in the back of my mind: the scene where the detective meets his informant, shortly before fighting off an ambush of pimps, hitmen and dope peddlers in an alleyway. A sound that echoes a heated, rapidly emptying Tommy Gun.
They took to the stage with the fury of a force five hurricane. Acoustic guitars and harmonicas and keyboards and drums and bass and…whatever the hell the sixth instrument is struck their individual chords with a shotgun blast of force that rocked me to my core. I realized then and there that if Theodore Black does not make in the music industry, I’m joining a suicide cult, where I’ll ride out the apocalypse with a plastic bag and poisoned fruit juice. It was an enlightening experience. Max Winne, I will never doubt you again!
I managed to run into a couple of the band members outside, smoking cigarettes. A combination of liquor and pure excitement overcame any anti-social nervousness I would have normally had in this type of situation. I made sure to let them know that, of every act I had seen in the area, they were without a doubt one of the absolute best. Certainly better than [INSERT ROGUES GALLERY OF MUSCIANS INCLUDING WHITE LEATHER AND A COUPLE OTHER GROUPS THAT SUCK HERE], at least. They seemed to be very appreciative of and genuinely touched by this statement. Either that, or they were doing a really good job of humoring a rambling drunk. The main lead vocalist was sure to recommended a couple of similar acts for me to check out: Paper Bird and Tom Collins. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask which Tom Collins to check out. The Tom Collins, the indie band from Georgia? The Danish Tom Collins, whose MySpace page is a glaringly yellow, musicless husk? Or was it the other Tom Collins Google pulled up, whose web designing skills take me back to the nostalgic time of Geocities and xXxGOKUVEGETAJUGGALO666xXx’s HENTAI EMPORIUM? Regardless, I’m thankful for the time that they gave me. Please, I implore you to check out their website and take a moment to hear their music. You’ll thank me for it later.
In the downtime, I somehow found myself in a drunken debate with an old high-school friend about Sega games. Mostly over whether or not Shenmue is the greatest video game in existence. Shenmue is not the greatest video game in existence. Anybody with a working brain knows that Shigesato Itoi’s Mother series is the best thing to ever happen to video gaming since Nolan Bushnell did a whole lotta Coke and came up with the Atari 2600. Shenmue is a shining masterpiece of bad decision after bad decision. Stiffly wandering around a meticulously detailed Yokosuka asking faceless nobodies with annoying voices if they had seen any men in black suits around here lately. Or dealing with the frequent quick-time events (the worst thing to happen to video gaming since Nolan Bushnell did a whole lotta Coke and sold Atari to Warner Brothers) while looking for Chinese people. Any Chinese people will do, I guess. Long, slow, backwards investigations that involve you falling for just about every red herring that is humanly imaginable and your reward for finishing this exercise in tedium? You get on a boat SEE YOU NEXT GAME. MADE BY WONKY H, ISLE OF SAMA, HAPPY CHUCK AND YOU! THE END. No thanks. Ryu Ga Gotoku and Deadly Premonition have since done the whole, “investigating and fighting things” genre much, much better than the otherwise creative and hitmaking Yu Suzuki. Also, the only good thing about this game is Space Harrier. But then I could just load up my recent version of MAME and play Space Harrier there, without the load times and Ryo Hazuki’s vacant stare. Basically what I’m saying here is the game sucks what the hell, guys?
Max (The Maykit) seemed to overcome his issue with insecurity and nervousness that night. I’d never seen the man so confident before. He crooned and strung his chords as though he were a decade long institution in his class. His lightly smoky and ravaged vocals added to his meticulous guitar work put away any doubts I had about Max finding himself outshone and irrelevant in comparison to some no-nothing, sub-protozoan asshole like Nick O’Connor. Max had it. Max got it. I was as happy and proud of and for him as I had ever been. Listening to O’Connor is like masturbating to a photospread of Megan Fox’s barely concealed breasts. Listening to The Maykit is like having rough sex with God. Careful though, boys: the Lord is a clingy, psycho bitch; better to just put your pants back on and quietly slip out into the night.
The headliners were a post-rock dynamo that went by the name It’s True. Like Max Winne, the members of It’s True were large, heavily bearded melancholy minstrels. I love depressing, moody, slow paced music. Surprising, isn’t it? I fell in love with post rock when I discovered Don’t Mess With Texas, the best thing to come from Zagreb, Croatia since Serious Sam and Mirko Cro Cop. If Theodore Black could be described as, “swimming the 100 meter meet through a body of cotton candy,” then It’s True could be described as, “space walking through a saline solution and at the end, you meet all of your dead pets and find that they’re happy and healthy in this new existence.” Theodore Black had a sound that hit you physically and broke your body. It’s True has a sound that hits you mentally and breaks your spirit. The friction of Theodore Black’s dirty off-shoot of blues contrasted with It’s True’s silky smooth, seamless melody of experimental sound. My body was unknowingly moving in time with the sound and the beat. I wasn’t alone. A small group of my intellectual cohorts Andy Ace, a quick-witted Asian who often made self-flagellating jokes about his race, Cam, the tall, relatively silent (at least in comparison to mine and Andy’s motor mouths eternally set to a salesman’s pitch) young man with an excellent taste in music and Stephanie, the gorgeous young lady who seemed to be the only person around here who has their shit together. The four of us were put into a trance by this sound. A sound so heavy and yet so weightless, we could have been knocked unconscious with an errant whisper. It’s True obviously learned how to play music from the finest Cosmonauts to ever emerge from the Motherland. So fine-tuned; so perfect. It was a high that you never want to come down from. Tell Ground Control to give me five more minutes!
My time at the Larimer Lounge was time well spent. An eye-opening, paradigm shifting night that will only help bury the tragic mistakes of the past and to let outsiders know that the Colorado Music Buzz does not speak for the common man. A person who hears Dwight Forcey is a person who will never willingly put Take the Track onto their iPod. A person who hears Theodore Black is a person who will make a delicious batch of Udon noodles in lieu of McDonald’s drive-thru. A person who hears The Maykit will have seen the end of the Universe and will realize that life is too precious and too important to ever give White Leather the time of day. A person who hears It’s True will crash land back on Earth, a better person than when they had left. If it’s worth anything, my recurring nightmares seem to be gone, so maybe I’m right on this?