Juno What, Soulive & The Royal Family Ball in Denver

Words & Video By J-man
Photos By J-man & Carly Marthis

There's no question that Denver is a mecca for live music. The combination of Friday and Saturday, May 21st and 22nd, was prime evidence of the strength and popularity of the mountain scene. One of Colorado's premier venues, Cervantes, played host to these two evenings of rage. Further proof of Denver's thriving scene was evident in the fact that both sides of the venue held live recordings both nights. Many folks took comfort in knowing that these evenings' music would be recorded, for they were two incredible nights of music.

First things first, MusicMarauders had a contest to tend to. With the help of Juno What, the winners of our Desert Rocks ticket giveaway were selected...

Outside of Cervantes Friday night, the line stretched into the street. Most of these folks knew what good music sounded like, and if they didn't, they were about to find out. Entering the Other Side, the turnout seemed dismal for the New York band Sophistafunk. The crowds would turn out later for the Juno What, and as we entered the Masterpiece Ballroom, it was clear where the party was. It's not easy to go up against the Royal Family.

Mid-set, Soulive could be heard absolutely destroying. The music was on-par with what Soulive does as one of the most consistently raging bands on the scene. Their musical hodgepodge of jazz, funk and straight-ahead nastiness creates a vibe unlike any other. One thing that stood out was the noticeably elevated level of energy within the audience. As the crowd received Soulive with genuine acceptance and cried for more filthy funk, it was obvious that something special was happening this evening.

Backstage on the Other Side, Juno What and guests were getting ready for the show. The gentleman who was recording and tracking Juno What's sets was sitting behind his gear and laptop, fine-tuning the levels and listening-in with headphones. The mood was light as the perfect setting emerged for those in attendance.

Juno What then hit the stage, and like clockwork, the Other Side filled in. It was impossible not to dance. Their music has the comfort appeal of 80s music that carries a funk sound made famous by the Wizard of Woo himself, Mr. Bernie Worrell. They shred and bend, and just when you think it can't get any more danceable, it does. The music creates a scene in itself, an environment that turns into a dance party where almost everyone in sight is getting down for the cause.

Joey Porter and Steve Swatkins are one of the most groovin' front lines I have ever heard. Alone, they are well versed musicians, but together, an exponential amount of ground is covered. Every note radiates of groove and every tone makes your face form to the music. Destruction was inevitable. With Dave Watts quarterbacking the operation, it was overwhelmingly danceable. Dave's playing was solid, and as he always does, he seemed so comfortable in his element. Throughout the performance he utilized electronic beats then played drums over them, creating a layered sound that kept the crowd on its toes.

In the Ballroom, Lettuce had taken the energy to a nearly impossible level. Cervantes was packed! It was a different dance party than what Juno What was throwing down as Lettuce played more straight ahead and horn-oriented music. With the staple horn section hitting the chops, the stage was set for Eric Krasno on guitar to impress, and that he did. With Adam Deitch on the drums, Neal Evans on the Organ, E.D. Coomes on the bass and Adam Smirnoff on guitar, Lettuce is widely considered as a funk super group.

Back at Juno What, the guests were hitting the stage. Ryan Jalbert of the Motet came out for some enjoyable guitar work. Ryan is a great guitar player and added a perfect mix to the band. Pete Wall followed with some soprano sax that had people in the crowd yelling with delight. Pete's fingers soared across the sax with precision and force. The crowd was impressed but it was clear they wanted more. Following a short set break, they did indeed get more of both guests.

The night continued on both sides with incredibly funky dance parties that went into the early hours of the morning. Break Science closed the evening in the Ballroom with a set slated from 2:00 - 3:00am. Passing through the room on the way out of the venue, there were a limited amount of fans that stayed to listen to the dubstep. In the end, the evening was a riot. The following evening would play out similarly.

Returning to Cervantes on Saturday, the ticket lines were even longer. Again, the Other Side was near empty for Sophistafunk as almost everyone was enjoying the music of Soulive in the Ballroom.

Like the night prior, Soulive dipped into some Beatles tunes which brought down the energy from the levels present during their original music. The Beatles thing was fun at first, but it seemed the band was beating a dead horse. The music never fails to impress, but in regards to creative output, Soulive seems to have hit a roadblock.

Back with Sophistafunk on the Other Side, listeners were treated to some average funk/hip-hop. Towards the end of their set, the keyboardist got into some dirty tones but beyond that brief moment, nothing about Sophistafunk was all that impressive.

Juno What brought a much needed boost in musical creativity and technical ability not to mention an outrageous throw down. It seemed as if a direct continuation of the previous night's happening, except during Saturday evening, there was an even larger turn out and even more dancing!

Guests included Ryan on the guitar and Garrett Sayers of The Motet. At first, many thought it was the second coming of Jesus Christ for the rapture, but no... It was Garrett Sayers on bass. On the side of the stage Michael Kang of The String Cheese Incident could be seen enjoying Juno What. Just behind Michael was Jason Hann of EOTO and The String Cheese Incident. Not only did fans turn out to enjoy the Juno What, but so did a handful of musicians who didn't want to miss out on the fun.

The two nights were a huge success! The music was great, the vibes were amazing and the turn out fantastic. Now we wait for the live albums to be released. We wait to re-live those incredible memories from that weekend. But most of all, we wait to share that music with those who couldn't be there, for those who love Juno What and Soulive and also those who have yet to be introduced to their music. Lastly, we wait for Desert Rocks and The Motet>Juno What's 1:30am-4:30am sets! We can't seem to get enough!



Photo Gallery From The Shows


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