Last night, an average Tuesday in Denver, I got to see a dazzlingly terrific show from Nada Surf at the Bluebird Theater, followed by a surprise open mic with Leon Bridges at the Goosetown Tavern across the street on Colfax.
Not my least favorite Tuesday.
Nada Surf is a power pop band that a lot of people squint a little when you mention the name, cock their heads and then sing a line of the song “Popular,” which folks remember from the summer of 1996. People should definitely know that Nada Surf has continued to write and create deeply wonderful music in the years since, getting a hundred times better than that (kitsch, fun) song.
[Lucky was a favorite of 2008 and still remains super high on my list of tremendous albums]
Their strengths lie in gorgeous harmonies and really intelligent songwriting, much of which plumbs the complicated depths of grown-up life, but through a power pop filter that I find super satisfying. (read my old interview with Matthew Caws here)
After a set that ran the gamut of old songs and new (we got “Blonde on Blonde” in honor of Dylan’s birthday, did a sweet two-step sway to “Inside of Love,” and man oh man that closing rendition of “See These Bones,” which just builds and builds to perfect glory) — here’s how we ended the show, all singing along together blissfully, before my phone ran out of memory (shakes fist):
Blizzard of ’77 final encore
Sweaty and fully sated from the glow of Nada Surf, my friend and I meandered across the street for some last drinks. As we nursed our glasses, a friend at the end of the bar stood up and said he was heading to Goosetown Tavern next door: “Leon Bridges is playing open mic.”
I nodded–and then did a double-take: “wait, what did you say?!”
Leon is in town to play the gorgeous historic Paramount Theater tomorrow night (it appears to be sold out), but last night as we walked in to a not-crowded bar, he was just sitting at the bar with his band waiting for their chance to go on for the regular Tuesday night open mic.
After his (on fire!) opener Solo Woods played a three-song set, Leon took the tiny stage with his saxophonist and drummer. He played one song solo acoustic, two songs with the band (“Better Man” and “Lisa Sawyer,” which he said was about his mama), and then, following the enthusiastic cheers that filled our small back room (duh), he came back up for a solo encore of a new song.
I chatted with Leon for a while, he is very affable and kind; the whole thing was low key and awesome. The musicians seemed to be enjoying it as much as we all did, just playing songs for the fun of it for the fifty or so people who happened to be in the bar.
Better Man 1
Better Man 2
Lisa Sawyer (about his mama, which I never knew)
All in all: an A+ five star Tuesday, would do again.