Photos by Jim Mimna
The Scene: Last weekend, South Broadway saw the one-day SummerGrind festival. With 25 acts, the event split between three main stages. The Gothic Theatre featured many of the larger bands on the lineup, including Truckasaurus, The Atom Age, Potato Pirates, Lower Class Brats, Morning Glory, and The Suicide Machines. The Outdoor Stage hosted a list as well, including The Repercussions, The Dendrites, and Suburban Legends. Moe’s S. Broadway BBQ welcomed Spatgasm, The Rockin’ Rascals, MF Ruckus, and Reno Divorce, just to name a few.
Although the stages were fairly close together, it was difficult getting from one to the next quickly. The re-admittance policy to all three venues was unusual but appreciated, allowing access to stores, food, and vehicles. The headliners were mostly at the Gothic Theatre, making things simple, however it would have been nice if there were more time in between bands. On the Facebook event page only the Gothic Theatre and Moe’s were listed as venues, so for a first-time attendee, it was unclear that some of the shows would be outside; many kids wore jeans and the sun was bright that day, making for some very sweaty Punk Rockers. Fortunately, the AC in the Gothic offered a retreat for cooling off. Spirits were high. At some point, both the Potato Pirates and the Rockin Rascals wished Seventh Circle Music Collective owner Aaron Saye a happy birthday. These wishes epitomized what the event stood for, a gathering of Denver locals who appreciate Denver music and the joy it brings on a continual basis.
At Moe’s: Denver local band Spatgasm completely filled up the BBQ joint’s dance floor. Everyone wore spikes on their jackets; the crowd was mainly younger, flashy punks. The band was great; the gang vocals came in loud and clear. The drummer wailed, and fans screamed in approval during his mini-solos. The speakers sounded much better than usual. The band had a good rapport with the audience, and handed out free merchandise throughout the show. The kids in the mosh pit were running rampant and it was refreshing to see a six-year-old getting tossed around inside of it, having the time of his life. Spatgasm finished their set with a fantastic cover of The Vandals “Oi to the World.”
Later, another local group, The Rockin’ Rascals introduced a new song about hipsters and announced they would be playing the track “Stoner Fuck” for the last time live. They are one of the best bands in town in this authors’ humble opinion; they play with an old-school sound that is impressive for their young ages. This was one of the instances where one would like to have seen more than just a few songs by the band, but because of time constraints and scheduling, the set was short, leaving attendees wanting more.
MF Ruckus started out fast, telling the crowd to have a good time and that they would squeeze as many songs into their short set as possible. The band was a mix of 70’s style Punk Rock and Rockabilly mixed with a splash of Rock and Roll. They had a fully captive audience, with great interaction with the fans; they even threw out confetti, making the event slightly more festive. MF Ruckus definitely had their act together, throwing together Country slides and Metal riffs with no hesitation, and blended the whole sound together effortlessly.
Headliner Reno Divorce (another great Denver band) played at the same time as Morning Glory, forcing fans to choose their favorite. The band packed the small venue; it was impossible to get up close—but they sounded great even from the back, though it would have been nice to catch more than two songs before heading back to the Gothic to catch The Suicide Machines.
At the Outside Stage: Opening act Suburban Legends from Orange County, CA was a delight to watch. All of the members of the nine-piece band had tons of energy; they danced around smiling and had a good amount of people “skanking” to their beats. The band played several original tracks as well as covers of “Kiss the Girl” from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, and “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” from Disney’s The Lion King. The sun was setting as Suburban Legends played, making it hard to see the band very well, not the bands fault, of course, but the stage placed at a different angle would have made watching the band more enjoyable. The band played well, and the choreographed dance moves were a plus, but for such a short set more original tunes and less covers would have been appreciated.
On the way to watch Truckasaurus at the Gothic Theatre, a quick stop at the Morning Glory merch booth found Ezra Kire (singer) and “Metal” Chris Theodorou (bass and vocals) from the New York band Morning Glory quietly hanging out. The two stepped outside to do radio drops and to take photos with a few lucky fans, when Listen Up Denver! caught up with them. Ezra spoke honestly, disheartened by the lack of response from fans the night before at a secret show at Seventh Circle Music Collective. Ezra said it was the first time their band had cleared a room.
Ezra Kire seems increasingly depressed over the harsh words people have said in regard to his last two albums; one person even went as far as to say that he should give up his four-year sobriety from heroin so he could write better music again. Regardless of skeptics, many of his longtime fans know that his albums have kept the same message and instrumentally, have become exponentially better, each becoming symphonies in their own right.
At the Gothic: Six-piece Oakland band The Atom Age is a solid mix of old-fashioned Rock and Roll and Garage Punk. The band consists of two guitars, a bass, a saxophone, keyboard, and drums. The Atom Age played an unusual mix of ‘50s Rock intertwined with Surf Punk riffs and topped off with plain Punk Rock. The band gave off good vibes, dancing around the stage wearing loafers, tight jeans and button-up shirts. The drummer had relentlessly fast hooks, the group vocals were on-point and the instrumentals were fantastic.
Denver local favorite Potato Pirates started the set with “Work Horse.” The mosh pit was as full as the dance floor; the entire theater including the balcony filled up for the band. Keg drummer and vocalist Scott Risch’s microphone could’ve been louder, but fans didn’t seem to mind, they clapped and chanted in all the appropriate places. The Pirates played their newest track “Thinking about Drinking” and announced their long-awaited new album would be released in the beginning of October. The Pirates also played “Gullible” and “A Lesser Man,” but the set seemed short for one of the major bands; fans agreed, chanting, “Five More Songs,” as the band left the stage.
From Austin, TX, Lower Class Brats started their show with a whirlwind mosh pit; the sound was great, but the crowd was much smaller than the Potato Pirates. The band gave a shout out to a member of Bad Engrish for giving them a ride to the event and for the anal sex. Lower Class Brats have been together since 1995, and they obviously have their sound down. The fog machine blasted as crowd wavered during though the set, at times completely listless until a favorite came on, then they would liven up. All reactions aside, Lower Class Brats finished their set with a tremendous cover of the Misfit’s song “Bullet.”
When Morning Glory took the stage, the Gothic was filled up with all the band’s biggest fans, and Kire seemed to be in much better spirits. The mosh pit was terrifying, with the return of the Neanderthal bully last seen at 7 Seconds. Ezra asked the crowd who had been there for their last show in 2013. When a majority of people raised their hands, Ezra called them all liars; the last time the band was in town was at Moe’s in December 2012. It was nice to see a much larger this time around. The crowd was going off for Morning Glory, no area of the front stage was safe, the whole area turned into a mosh pit. Ezra’s voice sounded great in the gigantic venue (even though his microphone could have been a touch louder), but there was no discernible difference between his recorded wails and his live ones.
Ezra bounced around the stage with tremendous energy, jumping off the stage into the sea of fans, even handing the microphone around so fans could shout out their favorite lyrics. He and “Metal” Chris tossed beers into the crowd and even passed out shots to some lucky fans. After a while Ezra threw a towel over his head, dancing around, and hitting the front of the drums with large covered mallets. He even climbed onto one of the large speakers hanging off the balcony and jumped into a sea of fans, which caught him naturally. The fans were just as into the music as Morning Glory was; the floors thumped from people knocking each other around.
Morning Glory played both old tracks and new. “The Whole World is Watching,” “Gang Control,” “Summerburst,” and “So You Wanna Be a Cop,” were on the list. From Poet’s Were My Heros, they played “Everything’s a Song to Me,” “Life’s a Long Revenge.” They also several songs from their latest release War Psalms, including “Calm and Alarm,” “Machine Gun,” “Punx Not Dead, I Am,” and “Nationality Anthem.”
Detroit headliner Suicide Machines drew a large crowd for their set, putting each attendee right in the palm of their hand. Singer Jason Navarro said Denver was leading the fourth wave of Ska revolution. The band is considered “Ska-core” a unique mixture of Ska and Hardcore, which is incredibly impressive considering the band had no brass section, which typically makes a band “Ska.”
Navarro had the crowd chuckling when he said, “I don’t like the Misfits, that shit’s overrated.” He spent more time jumping off the stage onto the dividing fence than he did onstage. The Suicide Machines dedicated a song to Pinhead Circus and their recent reunion, and also mentioned local venue Seventh Circle, both statements benefiting the Denver Punk Rock scene. Navarro joked that he would love to live in Denver and play Death Metal. Bassist Rich Tschirhart gave a shout out to the influential band the Descendents, saying he learned to play to their music. On a sadder note, Navarro mentioned the recent death of skateboarding legend Jay Adams, saying he almost cried when he heard the news.
The drummer, Ryan Vandeberghe seemed especially glad to be a part of the night, spending most of it grinning from ear to ear. The band did an unexpected cover of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers’ “Islands in the Stream,” as well as Minor Threat’s “I Don’t Want to Hear It,” the Beastie Boys’ “Time for Livin,” and Black Flag’s “Fix Me.” In addition to the covers, the band played many classics, including “S.O.S.,” “Numbers,” “Too Much,” “Black and White World,” “The Real You,” “Break the Glass,” “So Long,” and “New Girl.” The crowd went nuts for the fast-tempo songs, fists shaking in the air, and danced around for the slower songs, thoroughly enjoying both. At the end of the set Ezra from Morning Glory came on stage, smoking cigarettes and leading the crowd in a chant for one more song. Instead of obliging fans, Navarro threw the microphone down and left the stage, in true Punk Rock fashion.
Stage Presence: A+
Stage/Light Show: A+