Mumiy Troll/ Future of the Left / ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead

Something strange happened last night. And it wasn't the drunk girl from Albuquerque who asked if she knew me, fondled my jacket lapel and called me a "jerk" for not staying to watch the headlining Trail of Dead. Concerts generally don't fill up for the opening act. Especially on a three band bill. Especially when the headliner is a widely known and loved group (despite recent craft shortcomings... argued recently by many, trust me). Especially, when the opening band is an 80s rock-indie band reminiscent of Blue Oyster Cult... and Russian.

But last night, the Bluebird filled nearly half way for the openers Mumiy Troll, a 4-piece formed in 1983 in Vladiovstock, Russia. A sizable Russian community exists in Denver that myself and my friends did not anticipate, and they came out in force to support one of the largest rock bands from their home country. Between frenetic, loud, grinding guitar rock anthems (sung entirely in Russian) audience members spoke directly with the band, joking and requesting songs (entirely in Russian). This unique experience was capped by the pure energy from the crowd. Dancing abounded, and the excitement was infectious. Luckily, lead singer Ilia Lagutenko possesses a stage presence capable of driving an entire audience to his cause. His dancing, bugging eyes and un-ironic hard rock vocals all added up to feeling like loving the band. And to his credit, I bought their most recent release Comrade Ambassador.

As a brief digression, the album is fun, rocking, and loaded with well-constructed pop-rock tunes that feel like the work of the late '70s-early '80s Journey/Kansas/Toto/Boston ilk. All vocals are in Russian, including a bonus cover of the Mamas and the Papas classic "California Dreaming" (recorded pre-Mackenzie Phillips rape-lationship announcement to be sure). It is not a great album, but it is pretty fucking impressive and fun to listen to front to back. The memory of seeing this band live, so excited that there was a "hometown audience" out in the auditorium, certainly effects my impression of the album, but sometimes it is fun to love music for what it reminds you of, even if you don't love it otherwise. Specifically it reminds me of a man, Russian (ofc) in his mid-forties, who was tearing up the dance floor, slam dance thrashing with his wife. It was a beautiful scene.

After the surprisingly awesome opener, came our goal for the evening Future of the Left. They have produced arguably the best album of the year. This part the show was incredible. It is always impressive to find out that those voices and instruments played on great albums come from real people, often people who suddenly seem normal-size instead of larger-than-life when you see them on stage. This was the experience when Andy "Falco" Falkous and band mates Kelson Mathias and Jack Egglestone brought the second set to the Bluebird. Falco is an intense, but polite man, who checked his own levels on his guitar, mic, and piano, politely using "please" and "thank you" with the sound staff. But, once they tore into the first lines of "Arming Eritrea" all the gentle talk subsided and the band exuded hard-living, hard-rocking excellence. This was a deafening show, both figuratively and literally. I could barely hear this morning... But it was a pummeling, satisfying rock show. And there was quality banter from guys that clearly love performing live and truly appreciate the audience.

Then, we left, as did what seemed like half of the original near-capacity crowd, before Trail of Dead came out to play their headlining set. Maybe I was a "jerk" to leave early, but we got all the rock we needed from two great opening bands, and as my friend Sean said, "It would be shitty to stay and be disappointed when we can leave now and be so blown away."

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