The Congress & Eldren 4.30.16

Hodi's Half Note
Fort Collins, CO

Words & Photos By Nicholas Stock (Fat Guerilla Productions)

In an unusual twist of fate, Virginia transplants The Congress moved back home after a number of years in Colorado. In chatting with guitarist Scott Lane, he said not to worry, as this was their third show in the Centennial State in as many months. Most bands relocate here, but as the years grind on and more bands saturate the market it may start trending the other way. There is enough homegrown talent here to satiate the masses, but Colorado, and Denver especially, have always been a musical hub. A transient place of hot nights in packed clubs, The Front range is one more stop before heading to the next burg. For The Congress it just made more sense to move back home. Hodi’s Half Note had a packed lineup with Eldren and the Cycles creating a Congress sandwich.

We arrived just as Eldren was taking the stage. Looking at them, they looked like a conglomerate of Dutch Pimps prepared to melt faces. First impressions aside this band is a progressive shred fest wrapped up with pop sensibilities and solid musicianship. Eldren has an ethereal, spacey sound loosely rooted in the pop sounds of past decades. “Something About You” was an intense love song featuring snappy drum beats and trippy vocals. They have a whimsical style and focus on intricate compositions sometimes dribbling into darker musical spaces. All of this backed up by piercing harmonization and narrative song writing. One such song was the epic pop opus “Sunny Rain DayMoon,” and the video for it is most definitely worth four minutes of your internet time.

Several members are multi-instrumentalists, and at one point during the show keyboardist Jeff McCollister whipped out a trombone. They had played FOCOMX the week prior to a sellout crowd in the same room. Now they were performing for about 35 people and one enthusiastic photographer. To say their style was eclectic would be understating, but Eldren is a jaw dropper. Put these guys in any late night tent in any festival across the country and the next morning they are all anyone will be talking about.

The Congress came home for a two-night run with a stop at The Bluebird before sliding up to Fort Collins for one more evening of fun. After a pretty boisterous audience in Denver, they were greeted with a pretty tame one in the Choice City. The end of the semester combined with bad weather probably kept most people at home. And that is too bad because despite the lack of a crowd, The Congress threw down for 90 minutes of powerfully soulful funky grooves that captivated us all. They are an analog sound at a time currently dominated by synthetic and produced audio.

The members of The Congress are students of Motown and caretakers of a style from a bygone era. The combination of Scott Lane’s incredible guitar work and Jonathan Meadows ridiculous vocals make for a memorable experience. They warmed us up early with the Doris Day classic about contentment, “Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be Will Be).” The Congress treated us to a tongue-in-cheek version of Mariah Carrey’s “Always Be My Baby.” It went surprisingly well. Another highlight was the searing original “Walls” featuring a huge solo from Lane. Meadows pours his heart out on the stage with each performance. His vocals shake the walls. The Congress treated us to the bouncy bluesy “When I’ve Got The Time.” Overall, it was a powerhouse set from The Congress. With their return back East many feared they would play in Colorado less frequently. It’s obvious this band is dedicated to the fans they gained while living out here. They already have two gigs in Denver scheduled. You can go see them at The Big Wonderful or Cervantes on June 4th. Beyond that they will be playing several festivals across the U.S. this summer. As the rain continued to drizzle outside, I made my way to the bar for my tab. The Cycles were setting up, but with a newborn and a wife at home it was time to take my exit. Until next time Hodi’s.

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