The Scene: I arrived around twenty minutes after doors to find, much to my surprise, no lines anywhere. The opener wasn’t going on until 8, so I left and grabbed a bite to eat and returned right as Martha Scanlan took the stage. The venue was very lively for a Monday evening as the small talk of groups of friend filled the air around a bar was crowded with guys aged 21-35 buying drinks for their dates. I wanted to hear a little of the show and had no issue getting down to the pit area and bellying-up to the stage where I found the only 15 people who seemed to be listening to the music. Unfortunately, I was lucky enough to find myself standing next to the drunkest woman in Boulder, dorms excluded, who proceeded to ask me 3 times in 15 minutes how I liked Denver/Boulder because she had driven all the way from Washington to see the band. She also asked 3 times to be included in the pictures for the evening, and as I assured her she would be she spilled her 5th Gin and Tonic on her iPhone and someone else’s coat. The couple to my left were likely in their 60’s and cringed with disgust everytime she spoke or screamed at the top of her lungs when a roadie came out to tune a guitar.
By the time the lights dimmed for Blind Pilot, the crowd had filled the pit full and there was no hope of moving away from this beer-drenched beauty until I got the shots I needed. The rest of the crowd was enthusiastic and applauded graciously. After I got my shots, I made my way to the back of the theater where the bar had emptied out and fans were listening attentively. I noticed a local favorite of mine, Gregory Alan Isakov, listening alone with a drink at the back. (Side Note: I asked him after the show if he was working on a new album and he said that they are recording in Nederland right now and the album will be released in late spring).
Opener: Martha Scanlan. The show started off with a sit-down acoustic set from singer/songwriter Martha Scanlan and Jon Neufeld. They played a set of beautifully simple country inflected folk songs for a very loud and fairly inattentive crowd. The two occupied a similar space as county-folk artists Gillian Welch and David Rawlings who were supported by Blind Pilot during this past summer’s tour. While Scanlan and Neufeld’s music was genuine and entertaining for the few of us nuzzled up against the stage, it seemed to bore much of the audience until several members from Blind Pilot joined them on stage for their last couple of songs.
Blind Pilot: About 20 minutes after the opener retreated from the stage the members of Blind Pilot returned to the delight of an anxious audience. As the audience stared with rapt attention, their set moved back and forth between their debut album 3 Rounds and a Sound and their poppy follow-up We Are The Tide. The harmonies the group developed around the voice of the even-keeled Israel Nebeker was fantastic and would serve to impress even the most casual of music listeners. The sound at the Boulder Theater was absolutely perfect from the front row, where I was standing at first, to the back of the balcony where I finished the show. It’s refreshing to have the right volume and balance, something I’ve noticed similar sized venues in the area often fail to provide.
The show shifted back and forth between mellow and upbeat pieces with smooth transitions and the kind of stage banter that made Blind Pilot seem appreciative and extremely at home. Something that may come naturally with playing six times in Colorado within the last year.
As the evening wound down I was satisfied in hearing most of the songs I expected and hoped to hear, but the last song was truly a highlight. Nebeker started of by saying this is a song they love to play unplugged while camping, but rarely have the kind of crowd that is quiet enough to share it with. Whether that was posturing or not, they were correct in their assumption and the crowded house of nearly 1,000 people kept eerily silent as they played a completely unamplified version of “3 Rounds and a Sound.” The group chorus was the perfect send off to a great evening of music.
Stage Presence: B+
Set/Light show: C+