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There are few venues in Denver that a rockabilly/alternative country/blues show would fit better in than the Hi-Dive. On Sunday, amongst sticker-littered walls, bearded hipsters and a merchandise booth made out of a pool table, indie darlings Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside along with A. tom collins brought the sweet, grunge-y poppy-ness that is their music to the ears of Denver fans.
Local band A. tom collins was the perfect opener for Sallie Ford. Because I had never listened to A. tom Collins before the show, I was curious to see how well their sound would match up with The Sound Outside’s bluesy style. 30 seconds into A. tom’s first song, I knew that they were a great match. The hint of rockabilly over some old school blues and rock and roll was spot-on as far as genre similarities go. With the non-traditional instrument line-up of two saxophones, a trumpet, drums, bass and piano, they managed to have their own sound rather than exactly mimicking the style of Sallie Ford.
A. tom was obviously having as good of a time as the audience, if not more. The band members spent most of their set dancing around the stage while playing (and drinking). Lots and lots of drinking.
With all the dancing, drinking and joking around, as well as a hint of Louisiana flare within the music, it was like watching a Mardi Gras party slowly unfold, minus the beads.
Although the audience enjoyed A. tom’s set, it was obvious as soon as Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside started setting up that this was the band that we were all there to see. Sallie was met with cheers from the crowd as she walked up the stage steps for her sound check. Sallie’s small smile showed that she wasn’t entirely comfortable with the attention, but she didn’t hate it either.
They opened with “Shivers,” which coincidentally gave me shivers. Ford’s voice is a lot stronger live than on the albums, and it was obvious within the first verse of the song that it would continue to get better. Now, this isn’t to say that Ford has a bad voice on records — it really is just that much better in person.
Ford played guitar through the first five songs of the set, which included hits like “Write You a Letter” and “Danger.” During the songs that she wasn’t playing guitar, Ford was dancing around the stage, throwing in the twist and a little hip shaking (in the least provocative way possible). The audience danced right along with her.
During “Poison Milk,” guitarist Jeff Munger shredded his slide guitar solo with an empty Tecate can. Yes, you read that correctly. What is more surprising than Munger using the can as a slide is that it actually worked, and it worked well.
The Sound Outside played a lot of new material from a new album that they are working on, which Ford said would most likely be out in January 2013. They also played some covers, including Buddy Holly and Wreckless Eric. These were an enjoyable break from their original material, because they managed to stay true to the original songs but still put their mark on them.
Sallie Ford had an adorable stage presence, and it was hilarious to watch her interact with the rest of the band, especially when she would accidentally step on pedals or make mistakes in her playing. She was so much fun to watch and always managed to make the crowd laugh.
Overall, this was one of the better rock shows that I’ve seen. Both A. tom and Sallie Ford managed to keep the energy level high without it becoming too overwhelming. If you haven’t seen Sallie Ford before, make sure to pay attention so you can catch her next time she is in town.
Contact CU Independent Entertainment Editor Avalon Jacka at Avalon.firstname.lastname@example.org.