The first stop on my tour south to Austin, Texas, for SXSW with Boise's Finn Riggins was at the infamous Denver rock club The Hi-Dive.
With low ceilings, lower lights and an almost awkwardly high stage, the club is perfectly named. Posters for five bands on the Treefort Music Fest lineup were on the walls. One of them, EMA, had been there the night before.
The headlining band Wednesday night, Reptar, played Reef in Boise a few nights earlier. I wasn't able to make the show in Boise, but had I been able to, theÂ large group of kids clad in neon workout clothes who crowded in as soon as the doors opened might have made more sense. Reptar brought beats far funkier than would be expected from the anemic-looking group of young oddballs on stage. Sadly, Reptar is not one of the bands that will be returning for Treefort.
Neither will the opener, Quiet Hooves, a gloriously strange band with two trumpets, three synths, a guitar, a bass, a violin and drums that barely fit on the small stage.
"Honestly and sincerely, guys, this is our next song," the singer announced before launching into a blast of synth-pop garnished with chaos. When it was over, he announced, "I just got word from the back, and we're doing awesome." Then, "I don't want to spoil the illusion for you, but we're all wearing wigs right now." Then he started his own chant of "prove it."
It was almost as if the band had listened to an episode of the Dr. Demento radio show and then decided to craft it into a serious pop act. They are my kind of weirdos, those Quiet Hooves.
Both the bands and the audience seemed to buzz with the feeling of moving toward something big. That something might just be the lineup of March festivals—SXSW, Treefort—that bands are on their way to or from this month, events that provide a much-needed stir of the artistic pot after a long winter hibernation.