Friday, May 22, 2009

DU May Days Music Fest 2009

It’s late May, and the powers that be at the University of Denver have insisted on holding its students through the beginning of next month. This seems like torture when the rest of the Colorado schools let out 2-4 weeks before and when you are walking between classes in 80-degree weather and immaculate sunshine.
Every year, then, as a token of good will to its students, DU arranges a week-long May Days event, culminating in the May Days Music Fest, seven hours of local music on the campus-central Driscoll Green.
This year’s event doesn’t boast the warm weather and summery sunshine invoked by the event’s colorful posters; instead, it’s about 50 degrees and cloudy. However, that hasn’t stopped about 200 DU students from congregating on the lawn for free food and tunes.
Heading to a free music festival on my campus, I must say I didn’t have the highest expectations for the actual quality of the music. Turns out, though, the lineup chosen for the festival featured some pretty promising acts, especially as the afternoon progressed.
Student band Bokonon pulled off a 45-minute set of ambitious instrumental experimental rock, instrumentation including an extra percussionist, sax and trumpet in addition to the typical guitar/bass/drums setup. Bokonon’s set was convincing, professing a level of skill and credibility that is epidemically lacking in the amateur prog-rock genre. They announced an upcoming show at the Mercury Café June 4th with fellow openers Petals of Spain.
The Foot is the most active, or at least most promoted band on campus. Sounding something like Lenny Kravitz, on the first song of their set their sound isn’t terribly original, but it is an accessible and crowd-pleasing one. A cover of Muse’s (I’m breaking down) Supermassive Black Hole draws more to the crowd, at this point numbering around two hundred people. Once the crowd was sufficiently bolstered, The Foot brought out new track “Whiskey and Water,” definitely the favorite of the crowd. The three are graduating DU in June, and plan to release an album in fall and start touring plenty of local venues.
The Epilogues followed up The Foot, with a sound that would be popular with fans of either hardcore or electronic rock a la Shiny Toy Guns. Their set worked well with the rain that was unfortunately starting to thin the crowd, playing an alternating set between slower, more introspective tracks like “Caroline” and their more sinister, mysterious material, like “Adieu.” Their set ended somewhat abruptly, but not without impressing the crowd with an extended guitar jam at the end of their last song.
The Photo Atlas probably suffered the most from the sketchy quality of sound that is achieved on outdoor stages; the vocals too faint, the guitars overpowering. However, their set had the highest energy that had yet performed, and they drew eyes as well as ears from the surrounding festival. The last of the rock acts for the night, The Photo Atlas did the finishing work of gathering the crowd for the dance party that supposedly followed.
I say ‘supposedly’ because, much to my current dismay, I didn’t stick around to see Savoy or Clipse. Hey, it was raining and I was freezing in my sodden sundress! I’m sure that a great time was had by all, but sadly I had to venture away from the festival to return feeling to my outer limbs

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