Tag Archives: Colorado

Workin’ As Hard As The Day Is Long

Days 29-33: Lost Lake Lounge
Denver, CO

The road to Denver from Indianapolis was long and fairly uneventful. I’ve already blogged in the past about my ‘love’ for the states of Nebraska and Kansas, so I’m not even going to get into that. Stevie G had flown home the previous day, so the running joke of the 12 hour run was whether or not we forgot him at a rest stop, or if he was sleeping in, or the fact that he had nothing to say during our conversations…

We arrived in Denver on Sunday evening. Nate had tons of work to do, so he got a hotel room for the few days that we were going to be in town. The hotel was about a mile from where I stay when I live in Denver, so shortly after we got into town my friend Nate (not Steven Nathan! Don’t get confused!) picked me up. The rest of the guys stayed around the hotel area for the night, and took advantage of some much needed downtime after the long drive from Indy.

I headed toward the downtown area because my friend told me that our Kempo (a martial art) instructor was in the hospital. Apparently, he had a blood clot close to his heart, but the doctors found it in time and he is expected to make a full recovery. After visiting him, we headed back to the apartment that I call home when I’m out there working.

For the last few years we have been on the road so much that I haven’t really been able to settle down and have a place of my own, but it’s worked out that I have been able to stay with friends and family in the interims. While Western Massachusetts is my hometown, I have a strong feeling that Denver is where I’ll wind up. That being said, it always feels like coming home whenever I get back in the 303.

The next day, which was a Monday, the guys set up shop and did some office work while I headed to work a bathroom remodel with Nate (again, not Steve Nathan!). That evening Nate (yes, Steve Nathan!) had to run to Colorado Springs to meet with one of the bands that is signed to the label that he works for. Root played Zohan and spent the evening styling and dying Mochello’s mohawk. After I was done work for the day I went back home and Nate (not Steve Nathan!) and I finally watched the second Hobbit movie that the two of us had been trying to see since it came out last December.

The next day, I got up early (well, early considering I was still on rock-n-roll time, which is being up until the middle of the night, then wake up at about 10am to drive to the next city…). I headed back to the bathroom remodel while the band continued their office work.

Because it was the week after Coachella, there was a lot going on in the Denver music scene this week, as many bands are stopping in Denver as they make their way back east from the California festival. One of those bands happened to be Arcade Fire. One of my friends is their drum tech, so Tuesday night I met some of the Arcade Fire peeps downtown to have some drinks and watch an NHL playoff game (they are all Canadian, after all). Once a last minute goal sealed the win for Montreal, everyone had to go back to their hotel, as they had a huge show at the Pepsi Center the next day and they were all exhausted from Coachella. I told them they better be prepared, because we had a show a mile away at the same time they did, and we were going to steal their whole crowd.

After everyone left I headed down to the Gothic theater, where Nate (yes, Steve Nathan), Root, and Mochello were at Sevendust’s show. (Stevie G had flown in that afternoon, but he was spending time with some of his Denver friends up to the northwest of town.)

Sevendust is in the middle of an acoustic tour, which in all honesty, made it so that I had no idea what to expect from the show. Their typical sound is fairly aggressive, the thunder of hard rock permeating every note that the band creates, from drums, to vocals, to guitars. Their acoustic show, however, is a whole different animal. The acoustic show is really a semi-acoustic show, with the two guitarists playing acoustic guitars and the bass player plugged directly in to the sound board, but the drummer had a full drum kit and there was a keyboard player as well. I was honestly blown away by how good the band sounded, of how well the singer’s voice fit in the stripped down sound, and also by the overall performance of the band. They kept things fun, in almost a vh1 storytellers fashion.

Nate (yes, Steve Nathan!) works with Sevendust’s drummer, Morgan, so we had some of the best seats in the house, right up on a balcony side stage. I couldn’t help but feel like we were Statler and Waldorf, just non heckling Statler and Waldorf’s. After the show we met up with Morgan backstage and he told us their classic rock-n-roll stories, which involved everything from the extravagancies to the harsh realities of the business side of the music industry. We also met the rest of the band backstage, and they all seemed like genuinely nice people (and they liked my stache, so maybe I’m a little biased… Maybe). After leaving the show, the guys went back to their hotel and I went back to Nate’s (not Steve Nathan’s).

The next morning I went to work again while the guys did some more office work. They picked me up in the late afternoon and we headed uptown to get Stevie from his friend’s place. Denver rush hour traffic is some of the worst in the country, so we ended up jumping off the ‘expressway’ and taking side roads most of the way.

After picking up Stevie, we headed down to the club. Open Air Stereo had a video shoot that night and they had the sound engineer with them, so we had to take some extra time to get the sound right in the room.

In Denver there’s a burrito shop, Illegal Pete’s, that has an amazing love for traveling musicians. If you’re playing a show in Denver while you’re on tour you can register for your band and crew to each receive free burrito in exchange for promoting their business to your fans. Traffic prevented us from having time to stop there, so we set off to find some dinner. Root and I found a pizza joint down the street from the club and decided to get a full pie because we didn’t think that two slices each would be enough. When it arrived, we looked at each other quizzically. Apparently we had ordered a 26″ pizza. (For those versed in the Queens math, that’s over two feet in diameter!) As hungry as we were, we still had plenty of leftovers (half a pie, to be exact!)

Once we were done eating we walked back to the club. Lost Lake Lounge is a smallish club, with the bar in a separate area from the main stage area. I don’t really like when venues are set up that way, because it causes people to hang out at the bar as opposed to paying attention to the music that’s going on in the other room.

It was cool that my friend Nate (not Steve Nathan!) finally was able to make it to a show. The last time we were in Denver he couldn’t make it because a nail gun malfunction on the job site gave him a slight concussion. It was one of those things that finally connects the dots in life. When I’m on the road, I’ll refer to working with, or things that happened with my friend Nate (not Steve Nathan!), and vice versa. Having those two divergencies intersect is a pretty cool thing.

After the show we decided to head out toward Salt Lake City without delay. The drive was going to be a long one, so we wanted to knock a few hours off the top. The previous few days were exhausting, so I climbed in my bunk to try and sleep. The bumpy roads prevented it though, and I wasn’t able to fall asleep until a few hours later when we stopped for the night. It seemed as if once the engine was switched off, so was I. I passed out almost immediately.

The new punk rock revolution: Weekend with the Wiredogs

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Punk rock is far from dead. Denver, Colorado’s Wiredogs are doing their part to keep punk’s fire burning with their infectious sound that can best be described as what would be the precocious love child of Rancid and Against Me!.

I first met the guys from Wiredogs in the summer of 2012 when Dan Aid (lead vocals, guitar), Austin Searcy (lead guitar, background vocals) and Mark Hibl (bass, background vocals) were still in their previous band The Hate. I had just moved to Denver full time and had begun working on becoming familiar with the local music scene. So, when friend of mine who had been working promotion for The Hate told me that she and her sister had agreed to run the bands merch table at one of their shows, I decided to go hang and help out a bit. The Hate was opening for Authority Zero, so they had a full house to entertain. When they took the stage I was instantly hooked on the bands dynamic presence, cutting lyrics, and driven message.

As the band matured, drummer Stefan Runstrom (formerly of Tickle Me Pink) came on board as a full time member. With a consistent lineup came a new name. After much deliberation, the band settled on the name Wiredogs, which is military slang for line electricians.

I recently had the chance to work a few shows with them as stage hand, and as lighting director. I found it to be quite the learning experience.

I’ve spent plenty of time working with altrock, folk rock, hip hop, and metal bands before, but never a punk rock band. I found there to be quite a number of marked differences between working a punk rock show as opposed to the other genres that I’ve worked with. One of the most noticeable was how the energy of the crowd dictated the show. While that is true with most live music, I found it to be much more of a pronounced thing at the Wiredogs shows. For example, at one point late in one of their sets, Dan knocked over his microphone and stand. Plenty of times while working stagehand, I’ve gone on stage to fix fallen or broken equipment, but something in the way the crowd reacted to the situation stopped me. Seamlessly, Dan made use of Mark’s mic for his vocal parts, and you could almost see the collective middle finger of the crowd defying the fallen microphone, the show surging on without ever missing a beat.

In that moment it was blazingly obvious that that’s exactly what punk is, and what it stands for. It isn’t an antiauthoritarian movement, as many people see it to be.
I’d say the spirit of punk rock’s message is to press on, overcome any and all adversity, and do it with your head held high.

As a lighting director, punk rock offered me a whole set of new challenges. I haven’t had a chance yet to take courses for concert lighting, so everything I’ve learned has been on the fly, total hands on experience. The thing with punk music is, much of it is a steady fast tempo from start to finish. This forced me to tune in a finer focus on the music, so as to prevent the urge to just turn on a strobe effect that matched the tempo. By delving deeper, I began to see the songs as stories and the lights as the accompanying illustrations, a new way for me to view the light show that I was orchestrating. I began picking colors and patterns that reflected the emotions that I felt best fit the song, as opposed to just doing something that I felt looked good. I see this new understanding of what a lighting director is greatly helping with the development of the light shows for the other artists in the other genres that I work for.

I capped off the weekend by sitting in on a Wiredogs writing session in Stefan’s home studio. We all crashed at his place after the previous night’s show, so first order of business in the morning was a band breakfast. A quick run to the store later, and everyone was pitching in, taking a part in prepping, cooking, and setting up.

When you share a meal with a group, you discover a lot about them. I saw that beyond the band, these guys were also genuinely friends. They weren’t just hanging out to play music together, they truly enjoy each other’s company. This sense carried on throughout the rest of the day, as they worked on arranging then recording a new demo. It was amazing to sit and watch the evolution of a song, especially one tempered by mutual respect among the musicians. There was no suggestion that wasn’t taken seriously, no one was domineering or belittling. By the time they had a demo-ready song it was easy to forget that they had started with a half worked out idea just a few hours before.

As I headed back home involuntarily humming the Wiredogs new tune I reflected on the things that I had taken from my weekend. You never know where an opportunity for personal growth lies. Take every chance you can to step outside your norm. You never know what you might learn.

You can find Wiredogs at:
www.facebook.com/wiredogs

Catch them live at Denver’s Summit Music Hall on March 15th w/The Ataris
Event Page