I have said this repeatedly, but here it is again: We are very lucky to live in a city with such a great music scene, and so many people that support it. This was demonstrated once again on Saturday, as the Gothic Theatre filled up with a crowd eager to see not only the headliners Lola Black, who are quickly ascending into the national spotlight with their E.P. Plastic Dashboard Jesus, but also an opening lineup consisting of three of Denver’s best up and coming acts.
The Namesakes began the night, coming onstage to a great early evening crowd that was not at all shy about crowding the dance floor. They reminded me right away of an old California punk band called Bracket, add a solid two piece horn section. The style and swagger of front man Chris Grasselo and the stage presence of the entire outfit put me straight into a Reel Big Fish show from the 90’s; the presence of a solid horn section completes their sound and the corny banter between songs makes it impossible not to have a smile on your face while watching these guys play.
Veering away from the traditional scratchy upstroke guitar lines that so many ska bands rely on, The Namesakes instead throw down simple but always catchy pop-punk guitar riffs and melodic vocals to compliment the saxophone and trumpet. The crowd was into them right away, bassist Nick Taylor’s early request for more dancing was well received and answered by a crowd that clearly did not want to wait until late in the evening to get their dance on.
The Namesakes put on a good, energetic show that will have any lively crowd dancing their heart out, make sure you check them out. They have a lot of shows coming up. You can find them online at www.facebook.com/thenamesakesdenver.
Following an awesome performance by The Namesakes, the evening quickly moved from melodic ska to absolutely crazy as Dave Mansfield and The L.A.M.F.s took the stage. If you have never seen Dave Mansfield before, he owns the stage with the insanity of the most junked out rock star and his previous band The Mansfields established a cult following that never got enough and continues to show Mansfield support with his new act.
Mansfield is undoubtedly the most flexible singer in Denver, throughout their show he twisted himself in every possible way. Lying on his back with legs tucked underneath him, crawling around the stage, standing on the monitors and jumping into the crowd, all while displaying a voice comparable to Joey Ramone meets Josh Todd of Buckcherry.
The L.A.M.F.s (standing for Like A Mother Fucker) provided solid music for what often seemed to be a one man show. OlieShox played bass lines that lye perfectly underneath Mansfield’s vocals, and the heavily distorted guitar riffs of Creeper Von Los had the crowd banging their heads even though they could not hide their ear to ear smiles while watching the spectacle being performed before them.
As they closed out their set, I immediately found myself wondering when and where their next show is. These guys alone are worth a trip across town to see. Search them on Facebook and make sure you check them out at least once in the near future.
Up next was a band that is quickly rising to the top of Denver’s punk scene, No Bueno!. Constantly gigging around town and opening up for national acts, No Bueno! has been playing been playing their cards right and if they continue to do so, should be gaining national exposure in the near future.
They began this particular show with front man Matt Whitesides taking the stage alone, warming up the crowd as the rest of the band followed him out to their places on stage a moment later. By this point, the Gothic Theatre was packed and was ready to go into full force, happy to see a familiar band with whom they could sing along. Standing about five rows back on stage right, I was immediately knocked around when they crashed into their second song, forced into the circling mass that penetrated nearly all standing within a close proximity of the dance floor.
The rest of their set flew by with all of the punk rock melodies I fell in love with as a kid. These guys keep it punk but make it so easy to sing along that it is no wonder the place was packed during their set. Whitesides’ voice is very unique, not overly high pitched like so many of today’s punk bands, but still very melodic and easy to listen too. They are opening up for Guttermouth at the Marquis Theater Saturday February 19, go check them out. In the meantime, hit up www.nobuenoband.com or www.facebook.com/nobuenoband.
Then the curtain closed, attention was temporarily diverted from the stage, but the place was abuzz ready to watch what Lola Black had in store for them. Maybe it was just the anticipation, but the set change seemed abnormally long between No Bueno! and Lola Black. But oh, was it worth it.
They had two large pillars set up on the rear of stage left and right topped with two of the band members, the rest of the band stood up front in all white pants, shirts and hats, with Lola herself donning a knee high boots , fishnets and black dress covered in white skulls. Lola Black has become known for combining metal, punk rock and synchronized but always seemingly appropriate outfits into what could easily be called Denver’s most stellar live performance.
Lola was full of energy from the first song, covering the entire stage with the microphone held high in the air, leading a crowd that had her E.P. memorized through song after song of high energy rock n roll that left no one standing at the bar gaping for drinks.
About two thirds of the way through the set, the faces of the hardcore fans in the middle of pit were looking undeniably exhausted, but they kept on raging as Lola Black kept on throwing fast-paced riffs in their face. The crowd especially enjoyed the song “Stalker,” a punch in the gut would have been an easy shot to anyone in the crowd as every person on the dance floor had their fists in the air.
They left the stage to deafening cheers and a wide open shot at the exit, as the crowd stayed glued to the stage begging for more. Make sure you check them out at www.lolablackmusic.com or www.facebook.com/lolablackmusic.
The ambience of the entire show from The Namesakes first power chord all the way through Lola Black’s last “goodnight” was incredible, shows like this could go up against equal shows in any city across the country and come out on top. The pit never stood still, the drinks were flowing, and except for my roommate who was kicked out about halfway through, January 22 will be remembered for good times, a great show, and another epic night in Denver music.