Walking into the Toad Tavern in Littleton, CO, was like going back to your hometown and hanging out at the bar you swore you’d never set foot in. Even when you were too young to even get two feet passed the threshold you knew, you never wanted to be a regular there, ever.
With that being said, from an outsider’s perspective, this place was a bit of a treat. The atmosphere and the comradery of the audience was refreshing to be apart of, compared to being corralled into a small bar, shoulder to shoulder with hipsters and faux-punks waiting to get overcharged for a crappy beer.
The stage was humongous and the bar, relatively uncrowded. It was a Thursday night after a snow storm so I don’t want to say that the crowd was small; I’d rather say they were core, SUV/truck driving warriors of Denver and its far-reaching suburbs. The venue was comfortably outfitted with the close-knit crowd.
The night started with Lee & Co followed by Ouzo Project, two bands paying homage to the classic rock and blues-rock hits of yesteryear. The audience got into it for a few songs, typically started by young-hearted women hopping on the dance floor then coaxing a girlfriend or stubborn husband to join in.
Which Spice Girl is most inspirational to you and why?
Scary Spice, she had style.
Ideal mode of transportation?
You encounter a jukebox with one leftover credit. You got your choice of the whole litter, only issue is, this jukebox plays exclusively Elton John songs. What song do you pick?
What song, continuously, when you play it, reminds you most of home?
Any Floyd album with Gilmour
Alcoholic or non, what is your go to drink?
Whisky neat when at the bar, sweet iced tea when I’m around kids.
What record, or entire artists catalogue, would you most like to destroy in an open field (office space style)?
I cannot think of an artist I dislike that much, but I was never a big fan of any “Honky Tonk” radio stations.
What mythical creature most influences you on a daily basis?
When I turned seven and blew out the candles, I wished to be Godzilla…. 2nd grade was tough
Annnnnnnnd, fuck, favorite curse word??
The phrase “That Sucks Ass” has always been a favorite.
Now you get to ask us, at Bearcules.com, one question, shoot!
What up and coming artists have you been digging?
Well Nick, Bearcules has really been enjoying Nick Llobet, Tomahawk Fox, Billy Goats, Bad Weather California and the Dirty Few. All sweet tunes.
((Disclaimer: I’m not sure if it’s because Valentine’s Day was just a few days back or if it’s just something in the Denver air recently, but Bearcules is currently smitten on retro rocker, Nick Llobet. Seriously, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but this pocket-sized Led Zeppelin (circa late 60s) is an under-appreciated assassin on the stage. Denver, consider yourself warned.))
"It’s just too bad that he was born in the wrong generation…" or something like that. Those were my first notes of the night, overheard from a person at the bar, a few songs into Nick Llobet’s set. The ongoing curse of being the understated, under-appreciated first act of the night playing for a crowd of people that are there for someone else.
With that being said, Llobet’s music is better than a time machine. Llobet on guitar and his thumb playing backup bass, his strong songwriting and finely tuned musical ability gives off the presence of an entire band (something which he is still in the market for).
Having attended the Berklee College of Music, Llobet has used that training and poured it into his passion, classic rock. I’m not lying about the Led Zeppelin statement either. He’s an acoustic version “Going to California” that also likes to mix in some more ballad-esque songs. You really just have to check him out.
Up next were the clear local favorites, Tomahawk Fox. This band, I don’t know who they are, where they come from or how long they’ve been here, but they took the Lion’s Lair over during there set. Their bluegrass-folk fusion gave them a very sincere, what you would expect of a band from Colorado, sound. One that is extremely comparable to the pinnacle hometown band, Paper Bird.
Tomahawk Fox’s lead singer, Brianna Straut, completely took charge of the packed house. Her voice, deeply rooted with the twang of June Carter, and the quirky innocence of Zee Avi, takes you by storm song after song. Word on the street is that Tomahawk Fox should be coming out with an EP in the near future. Needless to say, my palms are already sweaty in anticipation.
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Much like any normal single persons Valentine’s Day night, ours also started and ended in a bar. Cream-filled mystery pastries made for a festive spread among the assortment of instruments strewn about the back of the venue. Debate of whose, why and why not made for an eventful 30 minutes while the first band set up.
This night’s venue was the Meadowlark, a subterranean speakeasy sort of bar/venue that has been flying below my radar for the last two years. Pretty Mouth was set to headline, with Oliver Bravado preceded by Goldie set to kick off the night.
Now I’m not going to blame Goldie entirely, but her whole set gave off a very strong open mic night feel. Presumably, with Goldie on vocals, guitar was taken over by her boyfriend, not presumably.
Now at first, I’m going to say it and I’m not going to take it back, it was generic angsty chick-rock reminiscent of the 90’s. At which point I can usually proceed with multiple options including trying to streamline Bearcules’ various social networks on my phone (harder than one would think), stuffing my face with mystery pastries, or dancing obnoxiously.
All great options, but I chose to continue listening to the miniature Meg Ryan because, well, I don’t feel like I have to explain myself.
The turn of the set was the first F-bomb dropped by the tormented lead singer, and in that moment she was Alanis Morissette. I know, I know, not really a selling point, but if there’s not a small part of your musically inclined soul that doesn’t have appreciation for Morissette and those chick rockers that came before her, well then, that’s a whole other article.