Music » Interviews

Variety show

Stone Lions, Jeremy Facknitz, Mike Villalva, Punk Rock Gods


On Nov. 14, after national touring Americana act Ryan Bingham cancelled his appearance for family reasons, The Black Sheep didn't shut its doors. Instead, it allowed the originally booked local opening acts Stone Lions, Jeremy Facknitz, Mike Villalva and Punk Rock Gods to take over the evening.

Stone Lions took to the stage with one guitarist flanked by two female vocalists. There was no drummer. It was different. Upbeat guitar paired with somber and somewhat morose lyrics set the mood for their set. I liked that I really couldn't corner them into a genre; all I could come up with was what they were comparable to, which is an edgy kind of folk rock. Their sound was foreign, but left me anxious to see if the next act, Jeremy Facknitz, would bring the same edge to the table.

A fairly new resident to the Colorado Springs scene, Jeremy Facknitz is a one-man acoustic act with the panache needed to become a star. Just don't call him the next John Mayer; he makes fun of "John Mayer wannabes" in his song, "Bye, Bye Boston."

Armed with a melodic voice and a truckload of charisma, Facknitz almost soothed quite a change of pace from The Stone Lions, but the edge was still there. So were plenty of tapping toes.

Following the trend of the night surprises the next band brought the crowd back in time for some good ol' rock 'n roll reminiscent of the days of Elvis. Mike Villalva, formerly of local band The Summerlife, along with bassist Todd Pennington and drummer Bill Douglass, got the crowd dancing with "Good Things" and the Johnny Cash-esque "Lonesome Train."

Facknitz seemed to enjoy it, too; he was moving in the crowd with the rest of the fans. And there was a decent-sized following for Villalva and his professional-sounding act.

Then came the Gods. With a simple stage setup, the Punk Rock Gods put the figurative spotlight on a diverse use of instruments. One man skillfully played the acoustic guitar and bass drum, as the other busted out an electric bass and a snare each with one hand. And there was more to surprise the crowd: they played the cornet on one song, an accordion on the next, and, later, a keyboard.

(And I thought John Popper of Blues Traveler had skill because he could play the harmonica and sing on the same song.)

One melody that particularly stood out was "The Ant that Sleeps on My Kneecap," which created a delicate, daydream-like state through down-tempo stylings. It was heavenly.

Considering the circumstances, the show went just fine without Bingham. In fact, it excelled in putting the focus on a diverse lineup of local talent, proving the fact that you don't have to be a national act to be good or great, for that matter.

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