The Bluebird Theater
Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel
Almost two years ago I arrived in Denver, and immediately heard about Yamn. They seemed to have an intense local following, and I wanted to know what all the hype was about. The first opportunity I had to see them was at Cervantes, and they were doing the Almost Famous soundtrack. I was very impressed. I was excited to have another opportunity to see them, but before long I heard they were taking a break to integrate a new key player. The wait was long, but in November, 2012 the band opened for Moe. at the Ogden. They also performed a New Year's Eve show in Vail, but the Bluebird show was their first headlining gig in Denver for quite some time. The anticipation was high.
Our evening began with a decadent pot luck at a friend's birthday shindig before the party descended on the Bluebird. As we entered the theater, the opening act, Bedrockk were nearing the end of their set. Consisting of a drummer and guitarist/dj/vocalist, they had a unique style... It wasn't my bag, but it still reminded me of a number of musicians I love at various points. I remember thinking they reminded me of Beck at one point, and EOTO at another. There also seemed to be slight nuances of Chromeo and Daft Punk. They had a very supportive following dancing up front, and seemed pleased with the turnout. Playing for a wall to wall Bluebird Theater, is a thrill for any band, and they enjoyed the exposure... Not bad for an up and coming party-rock-tronica band from Denver.
The house music leading up to Yamn's entrance was Thin Lizzy's "The Boys are Back in Town," and Denver's devoted were rapt with anticipation. As the four piece took the stage, their brand new light rig sparked to life. Featuring a large LED "Y," and more fog than a Tim Burton movie, the stage was often awash with color, all but obscuring the band from sight. From inside the neon haze came an excited sound, mixing electronic elements with energetic rock and roll. Like most jam-bands, they touched on everything from jazz to bluegrass, but with a professionalism, aplomb, and fluency that set them apart. Yamn's still developing, but they have transcended the trappings of a strictly local jam band, and had the sound of a national act. As I honed in on what they do, I began to notice that they approached their blend of rock much like dj's originally approached electronica. They established phrases or hooks of extremely danceable melodies and then repeated and embellished them. David Duart's agile bass-lines mingled with Adam Ebensberger's drums to create a smooth groove of boundless energy. Brian Hamilton's guitar added the melodic themes that propelled the dance party like fuel to a fire. Newly added Paul Evans sprinkled in key parts and synthesizer space effects as needed. I was impressed with their comfort playing together as they routinely followed each other's improvisations and created a show that had continuity and depth.
While I felt that their excitement to be back on the stage elevated the energy, I also felt that they were only going to get better from there. The show was a solid performance from a very talented band, but it had a touch of trepidation, pinch of inexperience, and hint of insecurity that comes with a relatively new lineup change. Given a little more time and dedication, Yamn may be better than ever. As the theater emptied, people discussed the cover choices, including "We Didn't Start the Fire," and expressed thanks that Yamn was back. I was one of them.
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