Featuring razor-sharp chompers, crimson shark lips and life-like grey skin, the shark stage proved the perfect complement to FaceMan's brand of ambitious rock and roll. Here's hoping FaceMan and his crew of creative geniuses find a way to top themselves this year. Maybe there's a way to build an accurate re-creation of the polar vortex...
"We're doing something pretty weird and something that hopefully is going to get emotional reactions out of people," Steve says. "If we don't have an 80 percent chance of failure on a show, I don't want in. It inspires us to do fun stuff."
The shark, which is set to take up the brunt of Lost Lake's back room, was brought to life by Justin Hicks, Katie Webster and Keli Sequoia of Incite Productions, who also work as carpenters and set designers for Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
The Third Annual FaceMan’s Waltz has become a staple at the Bluebird since it began three years ago. Joining FaceMan in the festivities will be a plethora of local musicians and bands including members of Lee Avenue, The Dendrites, The Knew, Mike Marchant, A. Tom Collins, Strange Americans, Wheelchair Sports Camp, Achille Lauro, Martin Gilmore, The Outfit, Hindershot, PANAL, Shady Elders, Indigenous Robot, Jesse Manley, Chris McGarry and the Insomniacs, The Raven and the Writing Desk, Safeboating is No Accident, Sawmill Joe, Vitamins, Scatter Gather, Go Star, Vox De Ville, Cop Circles, Boba Fett and the Americans, Bonnie and the Beard, Bonnie and the Clydes, Skeleton Show, Jacob Herold, Varlet and Space In Time. Just to name a few.
His music has an element of whimsical carelessness that I've always loved in musicians like Deer Tick, and the late Lou Reed. Combined with a sense of altered rock n' roll, Faceman produces some of the newest sounds I've heard in a long time. For the album art, I really wanted to show some of the struggle that Steve (Faceman) goes through when writing songs and performing.
Denver rock-trio FaceMan is just plain strange, and we love 'em for it. They are bringing their antics to LFK's Barnyard Beer this Thursday, Nov. 8, alongside locals Til Willis and Erratic Cowboy (re-read our recent political chat with Til over here prior to the election tomorrow!).
Enjoy this chat with the FaceMan himself (with brief interjections from bandmates Dean and David) in which we discuss the band's evolution from masked oddballs to general oddballs, recording with music legends, dead dogs, and the difficulty of building a sweet bike jump.
The earnestness of the vocals, even though there are only a few lines of lyrics used in this song, are a clear indication towards the self-reflective substance of FaceMan's music; even with the sparse words of this track in particular, thoughtfulness is still represented. When a feeling and a reality can be conveyed in less words, I think that shows a mastery of the songwriting form, similarly to poetry or short fiction. Keep your eyes out for more new material from this band
After playing with FaceMan on the Museum’s forecourt on July 6, David Thomas Bailey proposed a locus composition and impromptu performance session inspired by the Museum’s architecture. Related to his work with The Locus Music Project, an initiative of the Colorado Composer Collective, the performance at the Museum included representatives from the bands invited to play at our two summer lawn concerts. (A performance of that composition can be seen in the video below.)
The Locus Music Project is an initiative of the Colorado Composer Collective. Members of the Collective write and perform new music inspired by iconic spaces in Denver. The project is intended to bring new art music to the community of Denver and present performances in unexpected places. Past performances have taken place at the Denver MCA, Confluence Park, and a moving piece across the Highlands Pedestrian Bridge. The most recent commission is for a short piece composed for the Brass Tree House performance space in the Baker neighborhood.
The song is dedicated to the memory of Phillip Bailey — the father of FaceMan guitarist David Bailey. Bailey wrote The Marquee explaining how the song came about and the obvious parallels that the song drew to his own life, and his father’s final struggles against cancer.
My dad was a drummer that played loud, powerful music. If the music ever had a sensitive moment, my dad would figure some way to put some double bass hammers in there, or a super loud press roll. Funny to write about, but the music always felt visceral, which was a great and lively force in his music.
FaceMan has always been a prolific group. You’d have to be to release an album every year. But so far, the songs haven’t suffered as a result of this exhaustive calendar. “TackleMeDown” is no exception.
As we dig deeper into Clyfford Still’s work and learn more about the man himself, we see an independent spirit who pushed the boundaries of his medium to make new work. This spirit is not unlike those artists and independent musicians working in Denver today. We invited the band FaceMan, headlining our first lawn concert this Friday, to contribute to STILL LIFE. Faceman (Steve) and I sat down for an initial conversation, the excerpts of which can be found below. We will continue this conversation and share more thoughts from the band in future posts.
Behind all of that theatricality and grandeur, however, are FaceMan’s songs. Subtle, often simple and pathologically sincere, Steve’s tunes — not unlike those of the Band — resound in stark contrast to the group’s ostentatious performances.
“The Gospel” — our exclusive premiere from FaceMan’s as-yet-untitled third album, slated for release in 2013 — is a shimmering example. Recorded with Bryan Feuchtinger at Uneven Studios, the track includes contributions fromJulia Libassi (the Raven and the Writing Desk), Eric Johnston (the Outfit) and Neyla Pekarek (the Lumineers), but all of those cooks in the kitchen lead to a surprisingly subdued, sparse and moody tune. The centerpieces for this aural feast are Steve’s supplicating lyrics and his earnest vocal delivery. The effect — as the title suggests — is somber, soulful and hymn-like.
The sound became expansive and the stage felt crowded fairly early in FaceMan's set at theBluebird Theater on a snowy Friday night. After a brief introduction from the Flobots' Stephen "Brer Rabbit" Brackett and Wheelchair Sports Camp's Kalyn Heffernan, FaceMan's eponymous frontman (known by some as Steve) took the stage. After a couple of tunes with the band's core members -- guitarist David Thomas Bailey and drummer Dean Hirschfield -- the chaos begin.
“Bill” of the great film(s) Kill Bill said the reason Superman was his favorite superhero was because Superman wore the costume of Clark Kent to blend in with the human race.
In the climactic scene of the movie, as a truth serum dart shot from Bill’s gun pulses through “Beatrix Kiddo’s” veins, Bill waxes poetic on the subject, saying: “Superman didn’t become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red ‘S,’ that’s the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears — the glasses, the business suit — that’s the costume. That’s the costume Superman wears to blend in with us.”
While, in fact, nearly the opposite is true in reality for Faceman, I suspect that somewhere when “Steve” — the lead singer/songwriter and creative force behind the group — was born, that a part of Faceman already existed. His name, Steve, and the business suit he wears by day, is, like Kent, some sort of shield, in an attempt to blend in.
"As compared to our first release, the second album is much more of 'FaceMan on the attack,'" he offers. "We dig some trenches, but we're sprinting every chance we get. The first record, for the most part, was a folk album and was an accurate documentation of the beginning of the project. This record is folk musicians running on a hamster wheel. Ha! It feels like pent-up energy in a box. We can have a big sound and wanted to prove it. It's also meant to be collaborative, and we wanted to feature other musicians we believe in and are humbled by. Whatever it is, it was fun as hell to pull together."
Of all the Area Codes we’ve done so far, Denver is the biggest city, so it’s probably not a surprise that it has one of the richer histories of anything in the series. Before the jam band craze of the early-to-mid ’90s, Denver was long established as a friendly, scenic city conducive to folk acts (Judy Collins and John Denver) as well as jazz (Bill Frisell grew up there and Ron Miles is a mainstay). Now, the scene is kaleidoscopic and prolific, its components ranging from forward-thinking house music to exploratory psych-rock to jam to extremely left-field acts to straight-up garage and hardcore.
“More Pabst, less red wine,” is Bailey’s motto for the project. “Let’s treat this like it is, music made by creative people, same as any band, no better no worse, ethically. The Colorado Symphony shouldn’t get to own it in their tuxedos and financial corruption,” Bailey said in a recent interview withThe Marquee.
The album that made FaceMan take off his mask is a self-deprecating, introspective analysis of the man behind the mask. With so much personal material on the table from the songs, hiding behind a mask seemed to be a futile attempt at anonymity.
“I’ve played gigs in places that were really crappy, where the spirit isn’t good and I just didn’t feel any inspiration,” Bailey — who holds a Master’s Degree in jazz guitar from the University of Northern Colorado — explains of the impetus for the Locus Music Project. “And then I’d play the silliest gigs in the silliest places, and they were inspiring. I wanted to explore the way that certain places impact the music.”
Inspired by minimalist composers like Steve Reich and Phillip Glass, as well as adventurous rockers like Tortoise, Bailey has taken his inspiration from these unusual venues and let them direct the music. The piece he’s written for the Confluence Park performance (tentatively scheduled for July 17) is written for a ukelele and a clarinet trio. The piece to be performed on Highland Bridge will incorporate the noise of the traffic passing below. In many ways, the Locus Music Project builds on a uniquely American approach to composition.
I've really been wearing out the play button on this track lately. The way it just starts off so easygoing and chill then builds to an explosive chorus only to smooth it back out once again gets this song stuck in my head for days at a time. "Darkest Day" is my first exposure to Faceman, and while the similarities to Franz Ferdinand are apparent, this unsigned act out of Denver has no problem adding their own unique vision to their music. Word on the street is these guys put on one hell of a live show and are quickly making a name for themselves at each and every venue they play. "Darkest Day" is off Faceman's self-titled debut album Faceman, and has been out for a few months now. Check it out below and let me know what you think.
Indeed, the evening had the feel of a rare showcase, an ambitious collaboration that eloquently highlighted the depth and breadth Denver's homegrown musical talent. While FaceMan used the forum to debut tunes from its ten-song album, the setlist was dizzying in its diversity. Guest players shuffled back and forth on stage, offering expansive, energetic versions of tunes from their respective repertoires.