The Bakerton Group
Live at the Marquis Theatre
Date: October 13, 2008
For the unfortunate, who could have, should have, or just plain couldn't make it. An Account of The Bakerton Group at the Marquis Theatre in Denver, Colorado:
Downtown Denver still has its limited appeal on a brisk October evening, 2 blocks away from the darkened Coors Field now that the Rockies have thankfully put their MLB championship hopes to rest. Streetwalkers and peddlers still abound, though, persistent in their requests for spare change or smokes. Some questionable burritos (consumed by Todd C. and Myself) and some weak-ass Coors beers off the tap from the very same establishment of El Chapultepec beforehand (joined now by Matt P. in a decent late-notice show) made for a questionable beginning to the evening. But that's alright. A previous drive by the venue on Larimer turned up the band's tour bus parked out front, so the show was definitely a go. OR WAS IT?
I'm just fuckin' with you, creating a false sense of doubt like that. It's hard not to come by these days, it kinda saturates the media-laden air lately. But back to the evening. A stellar crowd of about 10 had gathered at the doors before opening. It was around 7:25, so 5 Minutes of torturous, unbearable waiting ensued, mostly because I kinda had to piss and hadn't done so a block back at the 'restaurant'. Some more panhandlers. Doors opened, some better beer and quality shots consumed, back out front for some 'fresh air' and a lapse in fresh-air breathing.
Another panhandler, but at least this guy had an acoustic guitar and a better attitude. I gave him a couple of smokes, and his semi-toothless smile was genuine as he lit one and quickly stowed the rest inside the sound box. He was slightly offended when all I could offer for a pick was a quarter (I being a target for a musician, and therefor MUST be carrying a pick), but despite the wear on the strings, he strummed out a decent little blues tune that I can pretty accurately think was titled "What I Miss". We could only guess, but again, pretty accurately. He got the last of my change, and some more from Matt. He was alright. We went in, he moved on.
The Marquis Theatre, for those who have not had the benefit, is a fairly unique little establishment. Half the front is a pizza joint. The rest is a doublewidth-shotgun establishment with a bar tucked on the right side, wall down most of the middle, and a relatively small floor and somewhat platformed platforms going back, splattered with sporadic bar tables and chairs. The stage is, for lack of a better term, meager. Overall, I'd be surprised if the capacity is over 300 (including the pizza counter up front). In other words, perfect to see a band.
Pre-show began with some questionably titled "Happy Meals" which, the bar special, consisted of a Miller High Life (in a bottle, not a can, cuz they're classy like that) and a shot of the well whiskey. The High Life never tasted better chasing whatever that was which was called whiskey down. We consumed a couple of these. In that time we talked with some fellow Clutch fans who turned out to be some of the guys from the opening band 'Platte River Killers,' a local band whose name has a dubious recognition with the local scene, at least in name, from a news story that hit the town awhile back. They were good guys, and totally thankful they got opening slot on the show. Why? The promoter sent them a blind invite because they were a local band and had Clutch in their top 10 on their Myspace page. No Shit? Talk about local band promotion, eh?
They went on to play. They were alright. Very heavy sound, with death-metal vocals, which kinda ruined it. Too bad, they had some good musical change-ups and decent guitar/bass/drumwork. Good match for Clutch circa 1992. Now, opening for The Bakerton Group? No so much.
The next band, The Omen, was done about 30 seconds into their set. They were like the bad punk version of the White Stripes, and way too old to be putting on the emo vibe they were going for. Best left forgotten. Nay, erased. Again, another totally different genre/vibe than the expectations of the headliners.
Then The Bakerton Group hit, and confirmed what the Platte River Killers had said, that Neil (the singer from Clutch, for those unawares) was with them and was going to play. WTF? Why the hell would a vocalist be involved in an instrumental band? I know Todd and I thought the same thing, but how much cowbell does the Bakerton Group really need?
So, here is a bit of precursor, going back to last Monday when Todd, his wife Alice and myself caught Clutch down in Colorado Springs (about an hour south of Denver), at what could in all rights be considered a dive metal bar called The Black Sheep. It was all good. The surprising thing at the time, though, was the fact Clutch played sans regular Keyboardist Mick Schauer. This was offset a bit by Neil playing a couple of tunes more than he usually does on guitar. That accompanied by a couple instrumental tunes, one which Neil prefaced by saying the title was "You're a Dick." Quite crass, really, by Clutch standards, and Neil even apologized afterward for said vulgarity. Whatever. Still a good tune. They rocked on.
But here, now, this evening, even after scoping out the band equipment beforehand (like I said, small place), and not seeing a Hammond amongst the gear, I'm like, well, it's gotta be somewhere, you know? It's the Bakerton Group, right?
Yeah, well, about that. Apparently Clutch has gone back to its original original line-up. No keyboard/organ. No guest harmonica-ist or whatever the hell you call it. And you know what? It sounded really fuckin' good. Straight-up, without a doubt, they were Tight Like That. Sure, you miss a bit of the rounded sound the Hammond added to their sound, but I gotta say I'm pretty impressed with Neil's ability to fill in the guitar work that goes beyond simple rhythm stuff. He and guitarist Sult had some genuine harmony going on, which is no mean feat if you've listened to the EP and self-titled debut. Fucking Fantastic, really. Gaster was great, as usual, and appreciated the lack of that 'rock show' obligatory drum solo that separates one musician from the rest. Maines on bass, again, superb without over-definement. Four guys, who've been at this for awhile now, once again redefining their palette and doing a great job of it. And I'm starting to think I know who the song "You're A Dick" might be aimed at. Needles to say, 'Keyboards and Planets' did not make the set.
What did they play? I can't say for sure (Damn you, Happy Meals! And 24oz PBRs!), but I can show you. The set list is included. Thanks to Gaster, I now have a complete set of sticks from a killer drummer. And recollections from a great show that was truly for the fans of good music that rarely sees the light of day lately. And despite the hardcore fans, nobody came within 5 feet of the barely-raised stage during the show. No adrenaline-filled roided-out bouncers were standing front and center to throw over-enthusiastic moshers out of the bar. There were no moshers*. Just a bunch of people diggin' on some great music. And I am most glad that I was there.
So there's that.
*This despite my attempt to rile the crowd by requesting some 3 Doors Down (much to Todd's dismay). Fortunately, people recognized the sarcasm and I was not hit in the back of the head with a beer bottle. Thank you.