Opener: The Chain Gang of 1974. On their first night opening for Tapes ‘n Tapes the oddly named Denver natives, The Chain Gang of 1974, kicked the night into gear at The Bluebird with their synth-heavy music that is hard not to compare to other bands. Front man, Kamtin Mohager, admitted to me his love for British synth-pop after the show, citing Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears as major influences. Don’t let these comparisons deter you from giving this band a chance if you don’t have an ear for eighties retro pop, they could also be described as a less brutal The Faint with spurts of indie darlings Passion Pit’s shiny giddiness.
The balancing act of heavy bass intertwined with synth beats and guitar riffs was something to marvel at as the music never sounded too dark or cheerful. Mohager came off too strong at first with the opener “Devil is a Lady,” as he rocked back and forth while constantly flipping his hair, showing only his profile, with eager flamboyancy; but in the midst of the set his demeanor fused in perfectly with the music. Mohager showed off his talents by playing both the synthesizer and guitar throughout the show, and he even laid down a driving bass line on “Matter of Time.”
Other highlights were the great drum beat on “Stop!” and the soothing synth and deep singing voice on “Don’t Walk Away.” During the last song, “Hold On,” the band noticed the crowd was filling in and that they were really digging the music, so they jammed it out a bit adding layer upon layer of music to the already dense track.
Tapes ‘N Tapes: Hailing from Minneapolis, MN, indie rock classicists Tapes ‘n Tapes came out strong with their rollicking new single, “Freak Out,” off of Outside to a packed house. Sound issues were present throughout the show, but the band didn’t seem to mind so I didn’t either. While their raw sound reminded me of a dirty garage band with muffled vocals I would have liked to enjoy more of the hip and sometimes amusing lyrics rather than the heavy bass and guitar.
They incorporated an even amount of songs from all three of their albums. “In Houston” sounded like three different songs all wrapped in one with its strange mash up of tempos that ended in a fun conglomeration of frenzy. The fractured beginning of “10 Gallon Ascots” turned into a simple but effective bass line led by Josh Grier’s meandering, Isaac Brock-ish, voice.
Half way through their performance, Grier stopped to mention his love for Denver and started talking football. He asked the crowd if new quarterback, Tim Tebow, is the answer. There wasn’t much of a response as the crowd seemed more into music than sports so he got back to the tunes with “On and On.” Grier’s voice became soothing over the steady drum beat that led all the other instruments into a fusion of tight playfulness on “Badaboom.” The instrumental “Crazy Eights” started off sounding like a Rob Zombie song with it’s heavy guitar riffs, and brass was introduced during “One in the World” that flowed smoothly with the percussion and brought another level of musicianship to the stage.
The energy never ceased to grow and near the end of the show the band belted out “Insistor” with extreme enthusiasm. Tapes ‘n Tapes come off as a humble everyman band that just want to rock out and have fun. Even through the sound issues, no looks of frustration or disappointment ever crossed their faces. They were genuinely happy to be in Denver and playing their raw and raucous music.
Stage Presence: B
Set/Light Show: B