MusicMarauders Presents: Ultraviolet Hippopotamus 11.10.12

Quixote's True Blue
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel

Like much of Denver, I was anxious to see the new location of Quixote's True Blue. I had my first opportunity when I went to see Ultraviolet Hippopotamus. Upon entering, I was greeted by a fresh incarnation of a Denver staple. The place displayed the same framed posters, courtyard art, and general psychedelia of the old stomping grounds, but with a new layout and some new features. The bar looked cleaner, easier to service, more open than Lawrence Street and the bartenders had smiling faces and good service. I was impressed. While the outside courtyard of Lawrence Street's location is likely un-matchable, this new venue will certainly be a viable alternative. It was actually really cool to see how the new Quixote's spin is being integrated into a long established bar. The bar stools were worn, torn, burnt and battered, but it made me feel like the place was already broken in. The front room had several TVs mounted over the bar and while the fact that they were built into the wall seems upscale and trendy, a closer look reveals they are all Sanyo TVs from the early '90s. Tacky, charming and a little bit like watching "Back to the Future" now.

Jet Edison was in the middle of their first set when I walked in and I was impressed with the Boulder based band's chops. I actually did not give these guys the attention they deserved because I was too excited to explore the new playground. I know they played "Fame" by David Bowie and it sounded pretty much on point to me.

After discovering the patio out back, I ventured to the back room where Ultraviolet Hippopotamus was getting started. The fog machine they had was working overtime, but they used the fog with black lights to create a radioactive glow that bled from the stage through the crowd and created an Ultraviolet dance party. I was trying to get photos and the wall of neon fog made for a challenging atmosphere, but the band was incredibly tight, extremely versatile and had an energy and dynamic that had the room rocking all night. They easily shifted from progressive rock to livetronica and beyond with seamless transitions and inspiring improvisation. Throughout the night I tried to place the similarities to other acts I have seen, and they defied comparison. When I did get a hint of something I could place, it passed quickly and continued to evolve in different ways. From southern rock to jazz funk, classical to electronica, disco to metal, prog to reggae... Their astounding talent not only comes from moving across the genre lines, but at times fusing, blending, and creating new genre's with nuances of several influences at once. And then there was the compositional aspect. Tight, purpose driven, intricate melodies wove throughout passages of improvisation that sounded like a jam until you realized the entire band was playing the same melodic line that stops on a dime, changes course and leaves the audience guessing at every turn. Some of their songs were epic with shades of metal, glam and classic rock, but even these songs were chocked full of danceable rhythms and invited a kinetic crowd response. With first set coming to a close, I could already tell that I'd be downloading some UV Hippo as soon as I got home.

Jet Edison's second set was timed to go in the front room during the Hippo's setbreak. The music had been phenomenal all night, so I decided I should go give them a listen. This set included more funk covers intermixed with their original tunes. Notable PFunk and MJ grooves seemed to peak around corners from inside their originals and the keyboard player busted out a trumpet for multiple songs... A talented multi instrumentalist. The guitar and bass had a nice balance and the drummer laid in the pocket like a wallet... Money. The bass player seemed to drive the groove forward and everyone else moved skillfully around him. The band was tight. The occasional progressive breaks reminded me of Zappa and I realized how much of an impact Frank has had on the improv and jam world. Passages that mimic Frank's eccentric, sporadic and intricate style of playing have come to denote players of skill, precision, and compositional excellence. While I can say this group of young guys is proficient, enjoyable and talented... They aren't something that is unique. The grooves they played were fun, energetic and well executed, but the innovation was limited and overall they were a funk leaning jam band with a talent that exceeds their current level of creativity. They were entertaining and I would go see them as a supporting act, but with something like UV Hippo in the same bar, the jams seemed typical of a generic jam funk band.

While the vibe at the new Quixote's was starting to appear in terms of quality music, the crowd had a timid trepidation about the rules. As we experienced a virtual partying free-for-all on Lawrence St... 13th Ave is still untested. UV Hippo returned to the stage and slowly the smell of familiarity began to emerge. It seemed it will be a gradual ascension to see what limits on partying may exist, if any.

The Hippo came out swinging for set two... their first song was an explosive instrumental about a baseball player who pitched back to back shutouts. The next song opened with a thick clavinova sound that reminded me of Page McConnell in Vida Blue. The funky ass bass-lines propelled the band into an aggressive groove that conjured nuances of Umphrey's McGee, Lettuce and instrumental Beastie Boys. The organ provided a complimentary and contrasting tone to the clavi and added a soul to the funk that smoothed out the chorus. I was once again contemplating this band and their many talents. Were they a heavy rock band, or electro-funk space disco? Their flawless incorporation was staggering. A space jam took a lap around the moons of Jupiter and returned to a crisp xylophone theme which added a grandeur and validity to a rather lengthy progressive composition. Several influences flirted with my mind as the Hippo triggered thoughts of STS9, Greyboy Allstars, Beck, Cream, Silverchair, Black Sabbath, Tool, Beethoven, The Allman Brothers, Scofield with MMW and a band from the Philadelphia area called, Psychedelphia. All of these thoughts came in the span of ten minutes. The drummer was immaculate, the guitar soared, the percussion served the music better than most, the bass was consistent, thick and accomplished, and the keys were a great balance of supporting rhythm and scorching leads. I was beyond impressed. The encore had to be squeezed into a short two minute time period, so the band played a frenzied circus theme and left us wanting more.

I went to Quixote's to find out if the move had bruised the baby and it looks like the new crib is gonna work out. There will always be a piece of me that will miss Lawrence Street, but UV Hippo was a great way to start the next chapter for me. With the grand opening rapidly approaching, and only a few days under the new roof, I feel the future of Quixote's will live up to our expectations... We're just easing into

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