The Congress – April 5th – Bluebird Theater

The Congress - TAD 2014-3355Photos by Tim Dwenger

The Scene: There was a buzz outside The Bluebird on Saturday night as I got my ticket checked and made my way inside the mostly full theater.  While the usual suspects from the Denver music scene were out in force, there was also a large contingent of younger fans who were decked out in their favorite Congress apparel.  It was a healthy crowd who hung on to every note that was played and even danced a little as the night went on.

The Congress: Fresh off a string of West Coast dates with the new darlings on the Indie-Folk scene, Lake Street Dive, The Congress brought the heat for an adoring hometown crowd at The Bluebird last Saturday.  It was clear from the get-go that these boys have been playing together a ton recently as they came out of the gate locked together as Scott Lane’s guitar and Chris Speasmaker’s keys danced around the bulletproof rhythms laid down by Jonathan Meadows on the bass and Mark Levy behind the kit.  If you’ve ever seen The Congress you already know that the soulful, tenor vocals that augment the stellar instrumentation seemingly pour from Meadows burly red beard and that juxtaposition makes this band all the more interesting.

While their two hour performance was heavy on material from the group’s 2012 LP Whatever You Want, the set featured material from each of their three releases including the bouncy “Loretta” and the soulful “Back Where You Are” from their debut EP.    Unlike several other recent shows the band has played in Denver, the quartet mainly stayed away from the covers they released on last year’s The Loft Tapes EP with the lone exception of “Que Sera” which turned up during the encore.  Despite the omission of the classic covers featured on that EP, those that turned out to hear the band reinvent other band’s music were surely thrilled with a blistering version of The Grateful Dead’s “Cassidy” that built to a climax I’m not sure The Dead even considered possible for this tune.

Alongside the old favorites and a couple of choice covers, there were four or five songs throughout the night that were unfamiliar to me.  Whether they were new tunes the band is road testing, or old tracks that haven’t seen the light of day on a release I’m not sure, but here’s hoping they were all new tunes that will soon find their way onto a new Congress album.  They’ve been good for years, but on Saturday The Congress proved they are blossoming into a real powerhouse on the Denver scene that has the talent to make it into the national spotlight.

Energy: B+
Musicianship: A
Sound: A-
Stage Presence: B+
Set/Light Show: B+

Overall: B+


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Who Is Timothy Dwenger

Music has always been a part of my life. It probably all started listening to old Grateful Dead, Peter Paul & Mary, and Simon & Garfunkel records that my parents had, but it wasn't long before they were taking me to concerts like Starship, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Huey Lewis & The News. I got the bug to write about music after reviewing an Eric Clapton concert for a creative writing project in high school but didn't really take it up seriously until 2002. Since then I have published countless articles in The Marquee Magazine and done some work for Jambase.com, SPIN Magazine, and various other outlets. I started Listen Up Denver! as a way to share the music information that is constantly spilling out of my head with people who care. Please enjoy!