Velour’s fourth annual Cowboys and Indies concert event ended in an interesting fashion on Saturday evening, juxtaposing the over-the-top antics of Seve Vs. Evan and ER with the more earnest fare of their cowboy counterparts in Code Hero and Moses. The unique pairings made for a night of somewhat uneven tones at time, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.
Every time I begin to take Provo’s music scene for granted, something happens that just blows my face off and makes me appreciate the wealth of talent we have here. That blessed event (the blowing off of my face, that is) took place again on Saturday, and can be completely credited to local “electricana” act and show openers Code Hero. From the opening keyboard notes pounded out by lead singer Nate Pyfer all the way through to their rousing, set-closing cover of Garth Brooks’ “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places,” the band owned the stage with some of the best, most original music the Provo scene has to offer. Unfortunately, much of the predominantly high school-aged audience missed out on their brilliance by talking and laughing rather rudely throughout the set (much to the obvious — and justified — annoyance of Pyfer), but it was their loss. Code Hero is for real and they showed it in spades at Cowboys and Indies. Keep your eyes peeled for their next local show and do yourself a favor — don’t miss it.
Following Code Hero to the stage were recently renamed rockers ER. Formerly known as the Elizabethan Report, the now-L.A.-based band brought the fans out in droves and got them revved up early and often. Make no mistake — if ER is concerned about nothing else (and they might not be), they certainly put on a hell of a show. While their trash can-banging on-stage antics might occasionally detract from certain aspects of the musical performance, none of their die-hard fans care. They’re just there to jump up and down in a prepubescent mosh pit and have a good time, which is more than okay. If you’re looking for pitch-perfect musicianship, an ER performance may not be for you. But if you’re looking for a zany, rocking good time, complete with grooving bass lines and killer drums fills to boot, eat your heart out.
After the cacophonous climax of ER, it seemed much of the crowd left before the night’s second “cowboy” act, newly formed country-rockers Moses. Led by the howling croon of frontman Drew Capener, the band tore through a tight, workmanlike set of alt-country anthems that shied more on the side of the grittier Uncle Tupelo than, say, Ryan Adams. While much of the energy present during the previous set had certainly left the room during their soundcheck, Moses impressed more with their excellent musicianship and expertly crafted songs than with any extracurricular tomfoolery — and those of us who stuck around were treated to a great set.
Seve Vs. Evan, the night’s much-anticipated headliners, made a triumphant return to the Velour stage after a prolonged absence. About nine months older and (according to frontman Seve Bozung) 40 pounds heavier than when we last saw them, Provo’s favorite synth-poppers spent the majority of their set arguing with fans about removing certain articles of clothing, engaging in quirky between-song banter, and generally making people dance and feel good about life.
To say Seve Vs. Evan are the most musically accomplished band in the world would be a gross overstatement — but any attempt at such a critique would also blatantly discount the band’s fun-loving spirit. In a manner that’s two parts Matt and Kim and one part Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Bozung’s yelpy vocals and infectious synth riffs awaken a part inside each of us — the part that just wants to laugh, dance, and have a good time with some great music. In short, Seve Vs. Evan are ten pounds of fun in a five-pound bag, and we don’t need them to be anything more or less. As long as they can keep playing “Megabomberman” and we can keep dancing, everything will be alright.
All in all, Cowboys and Indies 4 successfully accomplished its mission of bringing Provo’s two dominant scenes under one roof for a weekend. Despite the fact that much of the crowd’s interest seemed specifically devoted to “indies” like Seve Vs. Evan, ER, Imagine Dragons and Shark Speed, the “cowboys” were no slouches. Code Hero, Moses and the Devil Whale all more than held their own, offering some of the weekend’s best performances regardless of the enthusiasm gap.
And that may just illustrated the diversity and depth of the local scene — while some bands might draw bigger crowds or generate more relative interest from the Provo scene, there’s still a whole other group of bands out there making great music that the masses have yet to discover. Then, when you’re least expecting it, they sneak up on you and blow your face off — and that, my friends, is a very, very good thing.
Steve Pierce is editor and co-founder of Rhombus.
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