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Thursday, March 17

It was going to be hard following up yesterday's adventures… Duran Duran and Brent Amaker really standing out in my mind as I headed off for my day. After a few day shows I headed over to catch My Jerusalem absolutely rock the roof off at Esther's Follies. Literally. The band was so loud that pieces of the ceiling were falling throughout their set. Jeff Klein's travels and homes are clearly shown in this new set of music, a distinctive New Orleans flavor making it's way into the set of ultra-dynamic songs. The set list was beautiful, filled with songs that have as giant a personality as Klein himself, at times filled with a weird sort of edgy disco feel and at other times falling soundly into more traditional rock territory. The band, with guests from Edwarde Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeroes, played an amazingly tight set, turning in a performance worthy of a much larger venue and more attentive crowd. The songs are epic and are filled with timeless melodies as Klein moves through the vocals with a primitive rawness in his voices that is enthralling.

There is little that can be said about a performer of the caliber of Dave Alvin that hasn't been said probably 50 times before. Seeing the man play live, in a small venue, with a great little backing band, is an epic experience. Alvin has traded in the moniker for his backing band The Guilty Men for The Guilty Ones, as the drummer for the band is now a woman with the drumming chops of a seasoned pro. Chris Miller is still backing Alvin on guitar, laying in the perfect accompaniment to Alvin's own trademark guitar slinging style. The new songs, from his forthcoming album, have a very Southern California feel, much like his last couple of records, but also stray to more of a Texas feel at times. The lyrical references are plenty and Alvin's voice sounds phenomenal; as earthy and as great as it ever has, and the old Stratocaster through a Concert sounds as perfect today as it did 20+ years ago. The set was filled with a ton of new songs and clever stories about the songs and the people around him. The band closed out the set with an absolutely ripping version of the Blasters' classic "Marie, Marie". Simply. Amazing.

Although she mines much of her material from the same weird, cutesy, breathy, weird-breathing places as so many of the current crop of female singers, Ellie Goulding has a definite style of her own. She writes great songs, songs that contain some small bits of gritty power that many of her peers seem to miss. She was backed by two musicians, mostly playing acoustic guitars with her, but switching to piano when necessary. She played her version of Elton John's "Your Song" and also covered a Midlake song, which was fairly astonishing to hear. This girl has deeper musical underpinnings than one might have originally imagined. Her fans are as cultish - and irritating - as Tori Amos' and it seems everyone in the room is just in love with her, shouting as much in between songs. She closed her set with "Starry Eyed", and sounded mostly like Dolores O'Riordan playing acoustic more than any nice English girl.

Denver's own Slim Cessna's Auto Club rocks. It's been that way for nearly two decades. They were preceded on stage by weird alt. country kinfolk O'Death. O'Death sounded riotously great, bringing the crowd into just the right weird space for a Slim show. Step right up to this fantastic, whimsical dark revival! The Auto Club is full of power and spirit tonight, Munly alternately glowering from every corner of the stage and wrestling with Slim as the songs move through their evening's course. The band was on fire and tight, tighter than I've seen them in some time, and the performance had a ferocity that transcends the normal Auto Club show. Slim flailing around, falling into the crowd, testifying and being followed by Munly as he goes, the joy and inspiration taking hold of them both as they struggle among the crowd. The band ripped through some older tunes and a good five numbers from their amazing new record, empowering the songs with a fierce, indelicate, dark beauty that is unmatched in the current music scene.

My night ended quietly, as I snuck away to experience James Walsh from Starsailor play an intimate acoustic set. These songs that were delicate and nearly naked with a full band playing them become somehow primal and fearless when played acoustic… so bare and raw that the beauty almost hurts. Walsh's voice is strong and clear, trading a few soft stories between songs and taking audience requests for a few Starsailor songs here and there. Walsh even played a brand new song that had allegedly been written just days before, once more showing just how fearless and powerful he can be.

-David DeVoe


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