For one night in 2012, the ’60s came back to Denver with the simple dream pop sounds of New York band Cults. Openers Mrs. Magician and Spectrals led up to the formerly-California, currently-East Village duo with a similar vibe at the Bluebird Theater on Thursday night.
The theater was more than half-empty during Mrs. Magician’s set, but this wasn’t necessarily a horrible thing. Although the band’s surfer rock hooks didn’t fully inspire the audience to break out in dance, most in the crowd were grooving to the music at least a little bit. They were definitely the more entertaining of the two openers.
Shortly after Spectrals came onstage, I was so bored that I decided to go buy a beer. I’ve never been bored enough during a set to think, “I’d rather be waiting to buy a drink than watching this.” This doesn’t mean that they were horrible; Spectrals’ jam-band, surfer-rock style just isn’t my thing.
They sounded like Hot Hot Heat, if you were to slow down, syncopate and take out all the fun of Hot Hot Heat. This association might not have been helped by the fact that the lead singer’s hair was reminiscent of HHH’s Steve Bays’ tight, curly fro. Even though the crowd was significantly bigger than when Mrs. Magician was onstage, it was obvious that the audience was less enthused about Spectrals’ Kinks-like sound than Mrs. Magician’s songs.
When Cults finally came out at 10 p.m., I was afraid that the band had been shortchanged for playing time; this thought was certainly reinforced when they performed only about three-fourths of each song except for their single, “Go Outside” and a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows.” Why you would play a full cover and not your own full songs, I don’t know. Considering their longest song, which wasn’t even in the set, is three minutes and 40 seconds, it seemed silly to me to skimp out on the last minute of each song.
Despite this small setback, Cults’ set overall was fun and light-hearted. Lead singer Madeline Follin did a cutesy curtsy-like dance throughout the set, which is more than can be said about the Denver hipsters in the crowd who barely moved. Follin’s vocals were clear and strong until about halfway through the set; even at this point, she was strong until the higher notes in “Rave On.”
Guitarist and vocalist Brian Oblivion’s vocals took a backseat to Follin and the back-up band through the set. This was unfortunate, because his vocals were consistently stronger than Follin’s. Even with this imbalance, the duo did a good job of including the back-up instrumentalists in the band. The light show was vintage footage shown across the stage and over the performers, which unified the entire group from the audience’s standpoint.
Cults wrapped up their set at 11 p.m. on the dot with crowd favorite “Oh My God.” The hipsters who refused to dance earlier were finally feeling it and decided to join the rest of us in one final dance for the evening. As Follin wrapped up the song with a scream of “Thank you!”, she was barely audible over the audience’s applause.
Even after a shortened set and no encore, the crowd, including myself, left the Bluebird satisfied.
Contact CU Independent Entertainment Editor Avalon Jacka at firstname.lastname@example.org.