Describing the Springs' live music scene is like describing tapioca pudding: You want to say it's good, sure, but pretty much everyone knows that it isn't.
A terrible analogy? Probably. But the point is important: The scene could stand to improve a bit.
Not that it's our local musicians' fault. They're doing pretty well, thank you very much, in spite of the lacking infrastructure. The buck here stops instead with our downtown music venues, which, for the most part, refuse to book live bands unless they play covers.
But before we cry mayday, let's also be honest here: All is not lost.
We've still got the World Arena (3185 Venetucci Blvd.) and the Pikes Peak Center (190 S. Cascade Ave.) bringing in prominent (or, at least, once-prominent) national touring acts to arena and concert-hall settings, respectively. Then there's the The Black Sheep (2106 E. Platte Ave.), Union Station (2419 N. Union Blvd.) and a small handful of others that really serve as this town's saving grace, bringing to their small stages relevant (and, again, once-relevant) national acts across all genres.
More importantly, these smaller venues are kind enough to offer local original bands a place to play when nothing bigger is going on. And the locals who play these stages might surprise you as in, "Wait, these guys are from where?"
So check 'em out. Support their efforts. More importantly, support the scene.
P.S.: Check the Independent's weekly Playing Around listings for dates, times and locations. Because as much as we'd love these bands to play every night at the same location, they just don't.
The Nicotine Fits
Genre: Garage rock meets punk rock
Sounds like: The Stooges
Why go: Because the songs are tight especially "Shake Me Some Action," with its guitar-heavy intro. And they flop around the stage like they all think they're Iggy Pop.
Where: The Black Sheep, mostly
Black Pegasus (Black P)
Sounds like: Juelz Santana, maybe?
Why go: The CEO of Brass Knuckle Entertainment, P has the networking half of the gig down. Rarely does a hip-hop act pass through the region without P warming up the crowds with his punch-line-filled rhymes.
Where: The Black Sheep, throughout Colorado
Genre: Rock 'n soul
Sounds like: Ben Folds
Why go: Abandanato's tunes are a breath of fresh air, what with sweeping lyrical harmonies and well-tuned piano-guitar pop. We dare you to listen to "Usual Day" without smiling and bopping along with the keys.
Where: Union Station, mostly
Wrestle With Jimmy
Genre: Power pop
Sounds like: Whoever they're covering. But hyped.
Why go: Yes, they're a cover band. But, hey, Wrestle With Jimmy draws a crowd. You won't see them perform without throngs of people jumping, singing and grinding along to their chart-topping covers.
Where: Ritz Grill, The Thirsty Parrot, Southside Johnny's, Jack Quinn's
Rent to Own
Sounds like: Simple Plan
Why go: With fun, feel-good party anthems dominating their sound, Rent to Own is so damn catchy, you'll almost hate them for it. Listen to "Foxy" just once and you won't stop repeating its opening lines: "Let's rock, everybody / get up and get down."
Where: The Thirsty Parrot, The Black Sheep
The Jake Loggins Band
Sounds like: Jonny Lang
Why go: Loggins is a fun-loving guy, and it shows on his face when he plays. With a band of blues vets backing him, the young Loggins pleases with a down-home voice and his screeching guitar playing. You won't believe your eyes when you lose track of his fingers on the strings.
Where: Dublin House, Navajo Hogan, Oscar's Tejon Street and roadhouse blues bars around the city
Sounds like: Early Goo Goo Dolls
Why go: That Goo Goo Dolls comparison isn't wholly accurate. But it's not a knock on this band, either. Sedalia's got swooping vocals and guitar hooks that create an all-around impressive sound. And the writing's there, too. Check out "Worst Winter Ever."
Where: The Black Sheep, mostly
Genre: Experimental alternative rock
Sounds like: Rasputina
Why go: "AbStab" might be the most eclectic of the bands on his list; these musicians (two girls, two guys) have no issue in sounding like scary circus fare. It makes for a good time especially with song names like "Street Cred Named Desire" and "My Face Hurts From Being So Awesome."
Where: The Black Sheep, Denver venues
Sounds like: MuteMath
Why go: If the local scene kids could create a band from scratch, it would probably look like HolidayRun. They're talented enough, put on a good enough show, and are just emo enough to make the too-tight-jeans set swoon. And they generate a dance-pop sound.
Where: The Black Sheep, the hi-dive in Denver
The Right Aways
Sound like: Reel Big Fish
Why go: Everyone needs a blaring horn section from time to time. And catchy lyrics don't hurt, especially when you're too dizzy from dancing around to remember them. Because dancing's all you'll be able to do when they play "Hold on to Summer."
Where: The Black Sheep, other venues around Colorado