By: Ainhoa Palacios
With every new month that approaches in Northern Colorado, exciting events do so as well. August marks one of the best weekends of the year in Fort Collins —Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest—the annual free three day, free to the community music festival. For the first time in its history, the music lineup will feature only Colorado bands, including the three national headliners that all got their start in our region. Headliners DeVotchKa and The Fray launched in Denver, national act and Fort Collins native Tickle Me Pink celebrates their reunion the weekend of the festival, and a surprise Sunday headliner from Colorado roots will grace the Mountain Avenue Stage to close out the festivities.
Here at Scene, we have put together a list of the “ones to watch.” These bands exemplify serious dedication and their passion is paying off, as many are quickly rising to the top of the music pyramid. The following are just some of bands you’ll want to brag about rooting for since their birth and you’ll be able to spin yarns of, “I knew them when…” while watching them continue to soar.
The Yawpers The three-man band released their self-released album, Capon Crusades, in 2015. Since, the band received exciting news when Bloodshot Records signed the act to their label. The Yawpers have since released their album “American Man,” and have enjoyed mention in numerous press outlets, including Rolling Stone, in addition to performing official showcases at SXSW and myriad festivals since their start. Known for putting on one of the grittiest, raw, sweat and chaos-infused live shows around, this trio is the shining example of hard-hitting cocktail of old meets new in the world of rock and roll.
Slow Caves This synth-punk band that was “inspired by late nights in Hollywood, car chases, red eye flights and vintage skateboard videos” developed their sound on the streets of FoCo and started when the band’s four members were in high school here. With their in-your-face sound, and don’t-give-a-damn attitude, Slow Caves has played their way around local venues like the The Aggie, Artery, Hodi’s, festivals, and even made their way to Texas for the Colorado Music Party at SXSW and New York City for CMJ Festival. The band released their newest EP, Desert Minded, this spring, unleashing a new sound and reassuring us once again we can expect a promising future from them. Slow Caves have been frequently dubbed a band to watch by the media, including after their mesmerizing, high energy, and stage-breaking performance at last year’s UMS in Denver.
Brent Cowles The former front man of You Me & Apollo is undoubtedly one to watch as he continues his road to success. Cowles signed on to the Greater Than Collective label out of Denver as he returned to his singer-songwriter roots. At 2016’s FoCoMX, he was backed by a band of seasoned music industry veterans and the show at Illegal Pete’s is one that went in the books for anyone who was there. When Cowles opens his mouth to sing, poetry rolls off his tongue. He attracts those who are looking for an organic, raw, soulful sound that stirs something up and evokes a blend of otherworldly lyricism, organic Americana and blues roots, and a signature rock thread all his own.
Edison This indie folk-rock trio has only been playing together a few years, but has already built a national fan base and signed on with Rhyme & Reason as their label and completed relocation to NYC this spring. Their first full-length album will be released late summer, all while the trio’s passion for music has kept them on the road nonstop—from Nashville, to Illinois, Utah, and Montana. No worries though, we can look forward to bringing them back home to Colorado for NewWestFest and enjoying new material, a fresh look, and an on-point sound that front woman Sarah Slaton has become iconic for in press and fan circles.
SHEL This indie-folk, four sister band from Fort Collins brings together a mandolin, violin, piano, and drum set to tell their story of a FoCo bohemian upbringing. SHEL has been touring non-stop, recording singles, releasing avant garde and truly memorable videos galore, and all while recently releasing their new album Just Crazy Enough—an album that hoped to capture the intensity of their live performance.
In The Whale This alternative rock band with a taste for rebellious lyrics has been playing together for half a decade. What started as a solo project for Nathaniel Valdez, led to a powerful duo that now includes Eric Riley, and leaves no desire for more band members. In the Whale has since released Cake, their first commercial release, a seven-track EP. The band has also performed in festivals all across the nation like Treefort Music Fest, Lollapalooza, and SXSW, in addition to annual performance at Bohemian Nights. In 2015, they were the festival’s darlings when, due to inclement weather, they were forced to not perform on the outdoor stage. Just when NoCo thought it wouldn’t get any In The Whale, the fast-thinking staff of the Downtown Artery flung their music venue doors open and invited the band onstage for what will always be remembered as one of the most special afternoons in our city’s history. A few hundred raving fans, wet from the rain, packed the Artery to thrash around as ITW tore up the stage and reminded everyone why this band is something to revere and to remember.