Revenge of The 90's & See of Sounds 3.30.13

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel

I was born in 1980, thus the 90's were my "glory days" to quote The Boss. From slap bracelets to pogs, flannels to neon windbreakers, and grunge to gangsta rap... the best and worst of the 90's seemed to be represented at Cervantes' Revenge of the 90's III. The evening featured a rotating cast of Denver's local musicians (much like Polytoxic's annual "Last Waltz" show) and an impressive range of songs. As I entered the Ballroom, November Rain was on the video screens. Curious, I wandered over to The Other Side where The Whales confirmed I was in the right place by playing "Runaway Train" by Soul Asylum. As they ran through songs by Stone Temple Pilots, Oasis, REM, Blind Melon and Radiohead, singer Jonah Wisneski was a vocal chameleon. He sounded remarkably close to the original work of several notable singers. The band had the tones dialed in, and set the bar for an evening of impressive replication.

As I returned to the Ballroom, DJ Mikey Thunder sent us on a journey that morphed from Janes Addiction into Sublime. "This is How We Do it," lead into Suzanne Vega's "Uncle Tom's Diner", which may have been the most bizarre yet interesting twist of his set. I was impressed with his equipment which allowed him to "dj" with music videos, like Kurt Loder dropping jams. He rounded out his set with "The Choice is Yours"> "What's the Scenario" > "Give it Away" > "90210" theme. The tv theme was timed perfectly to bring the band on stage.

The first of many lineups took the stage and launched into Metallica's "Enter Sandman." The crowd roared and the party was under way. Members of Yamn, the Motet, The Whales, Kyle Hollingsworth Band, and MANY more touched on Better than Ezra, Tom Petty, Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Mariah Carey, Spice Girls, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Tracey Chapman before the highlight of the show... Beck's "Two Turntables and a Microphone." The band did an amazingly accurate version that was the most impressive song of the night to me. The next song, "Possom Kingdom" was one of my forgotten favorites from the 90's, and though there were certainly songs I didn't care for, I realized that the overall production was really good. From grunge, things got heavier, and Kid Rock, Danzig, Offspring, and White Zombie brought the rock to the party and put the finishing touches on first set.

I scampered over to the Other Side for my first glimpse of Andreux and See of Sounds. As a fan of Frog's Gone Fishing, it was cool to see Andrew Portwood's side project. What I didn't expect was that his band is largely made up of Frogs Gone Fishing's members. Even Frogs' other guitarist, Trevor Jones, was in the band, though rocked the keys rather than guitar. The sounds differed from the Frogs Gone Fishing style, sharing some space, but with a different perspective. They operated proficiently as they supported a shadowy, exploratory fusion. The progressive improvisation was a welcome diversion from the cover extravaganza, and they had me so mesmerized that I missed the second set opener in the Ballroom... one of my favorites, Notorious BIG's "Juicy."

When I made my way back, Snow's "Informer" reminded me that no amount of comedy can compete with a white guy trying to rap like a Jamaican. Then Coolio, Ice Cube, Digital Underground, TLC, Will Smith, Madonna, The Prodigy, and Daft Punk each played their role in the creation of an atmosphere where flip up sunglasses, acid-washed jeans, and flannels emerged uninhibited. The encore, Pearl Jam's "Evenflow" had a coupe of missteps in what was an otherwise flawless performance. Having watched many of these musicians in other bands, I was a little disappointed that they didn't jam much. These musicians all had decent improv skills, and I felt the show was a bit too much like watching a local cover band... An incredibly talented one, but a cover band, nonetheless. I prefer to watch a band explore and create, to let the music lead them and to follow the musical winds as they blow minds with unexpected synchronicities, glorious peaks, and raw emotion... but I still like to party, and it was fun having a few beers and listening to the soundtrack of my "glory days."

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