Other than a last-minute cancellation or an onstage overdose, few things can mess up a live show more than unresolved technical problems. That fact was made clear Saturday night when A Black Day's four emcees hit the Triple Nickel stage in front of a full house, only to find their vocals nearly inaudible in the mix.
The event was planned as a celebration of Undercast, the local group's long-awaited debut CD. Instead, the evening found the four rappers — who were featured in last issue's cover story — facing the prospect of a set-long soundcheck, with no more than three mics functioning properly for most of the night.
Afterward, venue booker Bryan Ostrow described what sounds like a perfect storm of technical difficulties: "The board pretty much just messed up; we could only run out of the Peavey PA speakers, not the Mackies; and one of the monitors was at the drums so it was hard for the rappers to hear themselves. Also, I guess one of the amps overheated and shorted out."
Despite the unfortunate circumstances, A Black Day managed to rise above the situation. With DJ Gravity at the turntables, the group delivered on incendiary songs like "Free at Last" and "Letter to the Non-Believer." Mics were traded back and forth, emcees took turns doing freestyle solo improvisations, and the crowd responded with enthusiasm throughout.
Speaking on behalf of the venue, Ostrow offered an apology to "the great audience and performers," along with assurances that the sound problems have been fixed. "This isn't a typical thing that happens, [but] sometimes when you have a lot of shows this stuff happens," he explained. "It just happened to be on a great night with a packed house."
Hip-hop fans who find themselves up in Denver this Saturday will have another chance to catch A Black Day as they reprise their CD release show at Summit Music Hall.
Closer to home, this week marks the release of the Jason Miller Band's new album, One More High, One More Low. This time out, Miller's singing and songwriting have taken a quantum leap, as have Jason Gilmore's guitar and mandolin solos. "Get Back to Graceland" is arguably one of the best ballads George Jones never wrote, while tracks like "They Took all the Guns" and "Outward She Shines" could give Son Volt or the Jayhawks a run for their money. All of which should translate well to the stage Saturday when Stargazers hosts the band's CD release show.
Saturday night revelers in search of higher decibels, meanwhile, can catch local black metal band Among the Land of the Blind alongside kindred spirits Saus at, um, Urban Steam Coffee Bar. A weird combination, you might think, but what goes better with a fair-trade-half-caff-pour-over than an onslaught of droning guitars and guttural crooning?
On Sunday, look for a homecoming gig at Ivywild by Big Jim Adam, who won the Telluride Acoustic Blues Solo Competition before emigrating to Florida last year. This will be the burly bluesman's first show back in town since his Cajun Moon CD was released on Circle 504, a label started seven years ago by George Whitesell (who just might be one of the evening's guest artists).
The collection runs the gamut, from the Delta blues of Robert Johnson's "Come on to My Kitchen" to bayou-spiced originals like "Gumbo Yaya" and the title track. Adam's longtime musical partner John Stilwagen tells us the duo may also be playing some low-key reunion gigs this summer, but this weekend's show is definitely the main event.
Last but not entirely least, Sumerian Records — the L.A./D.C. label whose roster includes Dillinger Escape Plan and Ice T's Body Count — will be hosting a "Headbang for the Highway" battle of the bands next week. The winner will get to play the label's Summer Slaughter festival stop in Denver, and all entrants are promised "brutally honest but constructive" criticism from the judges. You can email email@example.com for submissions info, or just head to the Black Sheep this coming Monday to watch others live the dream.