The Malah, Technicolor Tone Factory, Greener Grounds 1.15.15

The 1up - Colfax
Denver, CO

Words By J. Picard
Photos By Jim Mimna (J. Mimna Photography)

It was just another Thursday night in Denver. Down at The 1up - Colfax, the musicians and staff got ready for an evening of jamtronica music that would extend into the early hours of the morning. With the venue in tip top shape and a handful of folks playing arcade games, The 1up opened for the evening's action. At 9:30 PM sharp, new-comers Greener Grounds took the stage to kick things off. Within the first five minutes of their set, the room went from being empty, to boasting a solid early crowd of at least seventy five. As Greener Grounds dug into their material, young fans got down to the energetic output. In the couple of months that I have been seeing this band, I have been impressed with the tightness of the music and the execution of their groove. With hints of older Particle and Disco Biscuits sounds, Greener Grounds suck in the casual jamtronica listener and provide them with crunchy instrumentation that ensures a dance party. Thursday was no different. At the conclusion of their hour long set, The 1up was buzzing with people warmed up for the evening ahead.

Technicolor Tone Factory followed with a newer incarnation of the band from their previous play at The 1up. They came out swinging with more of a rock approach to the music. The crowd was into it, as was the band, feeding off of the excitement of those near the front of the stage. The lights were ripping, courtesy of Tiberius Benson, and the sound was near perfect as Eric Guetterman and Taylor Hines had the room dialed in. As TTF ripped away on stage, I felt my phone vibrating in my pocket. I pulled it out and to my surprise the name "Oteil Burbridge" appeared on my screen. I stepped out front of the venue to take the call. On the other end of the line my favorite bass player inquired about my whereabouts and happenings. I informed him that I was at The 1up and a short time later, he was headed in our direction. I stepped back inside to enjoy a little bit more Technicolor, who was nearing the end of their set. I enjoyed what I caught and to me the band seemed more energized than previous plays.

"Man, I love Denver..." -Oteil Burbridge

Upon Oteil's arrival we headed to the greenroom where folks' eyes lit up with excitement as he came through the door. As TTF loaded out, the evening's headliner, The Malah, got situated. Prior to their set guitarist Brandon Maynard came over to show his appreciation for Oteil. It was great to see some of the younger players conversing with Oteil and recognizing that a true legend was unexpectedly in the house. My focus quickly shifted to the Galaga/Galaxian machine backstage, where I immersed myself in a handful of rounds, producing a couple of respectable scores, for a wook. A short time later The Malah took the stage to close out the evening.

The Malah is a band that I have been seeing for some time and a band that I very much enjoy. That night they continued to impress me and kept me dancing, even while I was involved in conversation or handling something that needed to be addressed. The rhythm section of Seth Fankhauser and Elliot Vaughn was extremely tight and paved the way for Brandon's melodic style. The combination of The Malah and the setting that The 1up provided was a near perfect pairing! As the evening grew later, Oteil was no where to be seen, so I assumed he had departed into the night. Carly and I found a great spot near the front of the stage and planted ourselves for several awesome tracks that included a guest saxophonist. Off to my left I noticed a gentleman getting down to the music. Sure enough it was Oteil.

"Isn't life great?" Oteil said to Carly with a smile.

It sure was. There we were at our favorite venue, dancing to some fantastic music with one of our musical idols. As the evening wound towards a close and The Malah's set concluded, they exited the stage. The crowd, including myself and Oteil, yelled for more music and a short time later they reappeared on stage.

"I think I want to play with them," Oteil said to me, turning towards the greenroom. I hustled along to catch up and ran up onto the stage to let the band know that Oteil wanted to join in on the action. They looked stunned. Seth communicated to me that their encore was arranged and you could see the catch 22 manifesting in his expression. I suggested that they perform that song quickly, then call the bass master up for a jam. Seth smiled and said "perfect!" Another tight but brief composition followed and then to the delight of The Malah and the remaining late night crowd, they called Mr. Burbridge to the stage. People went nuts and cell phones came out for a barrage of pictures and video. With smiles all around, they jumped into a solid jam that featured Oteil's heavy bass punches and a funky groove. It was an absolute pleasure to witness such a unique musical collaboration. Upon the show's conclusion the vibe in the greenroom was elevated as folks got pictures with Oteil and partied out the remainder of the night. A short time later we dropped off Oteil at his hotel and drove off into the crisp Denver evening...

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