Now in its third year, last Thursday's Indy Music Awards Festival showcased 20 IMA winners performing live on four downtown stages.
While still a fledgling among Colorado Springs area festivals, the event is arguably the most eclectic, showcasing local artists from the worlds of hip-hop, indie-rock, blues, punk, bluegrass, metal, folk, electronic dance music, jazz, and most points between.
From the stage outside Cowboys Night Club on Tejon Street, Inelements frontman Steve "Huck" Huckaby noted one of the more unlikely juxtapositions.
"You have a hip-hop band followed by a grindcore band at a cowboy bar," he said, "which, in any other situation, would never happen."
There was also a sense of discovery, shared by the crowd and the performers, about the quality and diversity of the local scene.
Ryan Spradlin of indie-rock winners El Toro de la Muerte had high praise for blues and album winner Grant Sabin and his band the Full Moon: "They're more noisy and impressive every time I see them," he said after the show. "Watching Alex Koshak go animal on his drum kit was pretty awesome."
Other cross-genre raves came from Jeremy Van Hoy of "haunted folk pop" band Edith Makes a Paper Chain.
"Hip-hop is very strong, which most people don't realize," he said of the local scene. "The ReMINDers are amazing onstage, and deserve all the success in the world for their positive message. Charlie Milo's hip-hop summit was also incredibly enjoyable." (Read more about the latter in this week's Reverb column here.)
Avant-DJ Animus Invidious echoed those sentiments: "My favorite moment was when the ReMINDers called little kids to come up on the stage, and this little boy who went up there was standing all rigid and nervous and walked back down the stage. But then he got back up and started dancing like crazy."
Knight in Colors frontman Ben Scott also applauded the hip-hop duo — "we couldn't believe we hadn't seen them sooner" — as well as the aforementioned El Toro de la Muerte.
"Their shows are always great, but this one felt different," he says. "It was a more electric atmosphere in the audience. El Toro continue to set the bar with their music for little bands like us."