ashley dean

A bout a week ago, I watched a young band struggle through a rough set.

Maybe not rough, but you could tell something was off. The guys, who looked like they might not be old enough to get into the show (and some googling confirmed this), had to make a few requests for sound tweaks and spent a lot of time pressing monitors harder into their ears. They also just gave off that new-band vibe -- not scared, but sheepish. It felt like they were just trying to get through the songs as best as possible, while moments that could have been played up for dramatic effect were blown through.

But something kept me and the rest of the crowd watching, listening and applauding happily. You could hear the songwriting talent and instrumental chops underneath the problems. The night reminded me why I always show up for and pay attention to openers. When I looked the band up later, I liked what I heard.

Next week, I'm off to Austin for the South By Southwest Music Festival. About 5,000 bands will pack the city's stages, bars, restaurants and streets, and I haven't heard of most of them. Dave Grohl and his supergroup Sound City Players will also be there, as will Iggy Pop. There's a rumor that Justin Timberlake will show up, joining big names like Vampire Weekend, Black Lips, Ghostface Killah, Thurston Moore, Big K.R.I.T., Iron & Wine ... the list goes on and on.


Man, do I want to see all of those shows. I've never seen some of them even though I count their music among my favorites. But that's not why I'm at Southby. It's not why anyone should be at Southby.

This festival is meant to give the little guy a break. Last year, I watched day shows in half-empty rooms and totally loved it. (I also felt guilty for catching the Alabama Shakes three times because I'll have plenty of other chance to see them. They've already broken out.)

So as I'm wandering around Sixth Street next week, I'm going to remember that band I watched shyly and charmingly fumble through a show in Denver. Sticking out the set was enough to make me look them up later. I don't know if they're going to Austin (I guess I should check), but thousands of bands like them are, and they need my attention more than Iggy Pop.

I'm not deluded enough to think something I write will give a band its big break, but, you know, drops in the bucket and all that. The bulk of my coverage next week, which you'll find in the Colorado Daily and on, will focus on Boulder and Denver bands. But this time next week, I'll have a list of new bands to hear, plus tons of tweets in the meantime. Here's hoping I find something worthwhile.

Now, let's get weird.