Downtown Denver got all the positive vibes it could handle on Friday, September 8th, as The Backseat Lovers headlined the Endless Sunshine Festival. Joining the SLC rockers on a toasty day at Civic Center Park was an incredible lineup of feelgood bands.
Against a backdrop of the city skyline, the larger Capitol stage also featured groove rockers Peach Pit and main stage opener Briston Maroney. Meanwhile, the Sunflower Stage brought local talent to the Greek Amphiteatre, set within the park. Opening the festival on that stage was Denver’s own Blankslate, followed by The Mañanas, Co-Stanza, and The Moss. Boulder powerhouse trio The Velveteers closed the Sunflower stage with a voracious set. Seeing any of these groups is a guaranteed great time. Enjoying them gathered together was a dream!
Making the most of the only non-overlapping set of the day, Blankslate opened Endless Sunshine with a blistering set. The trio has amazing chemistry due to being roommates at the University of Denver. The group began rehearsing in a storage closet in the dorm’s basement before working up to coffee shops and clubs, then a recent national tour. Vocalist Em Troughton packs an unsuspecting powerhouse voice into a slight frame. She blows crowds away with her passionate singing.
Yesterday’s Music Today
Reminiscent of the sounds of the ’60s and ’70s, The Mañanas brought their groovy jams to the Sunflower Stage next. Hailing from Denver, the group’s nostalgic sounds from their 2022 album titled 3000 were on display. Mixing cultures as effortlessly as they pull from the past decades of music, the band represents the beautiful diversity of the city’s rock scene.
From Idol to Icon
When he was only 15 years old, singer and guitarist Briston Maroney, who grew up in Knoxville, tried out for American Idol. In a bold choice, he performed the Rolling Stones‘ smash hit “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” at his audition. The risk paid off, as Maroney advanced to the semi-finals.
Maroney used the platform to launch a successful career. At Friday’s show, he led off with an acoustic solo introduction before bringing in the rest of the band. Fans were ecstatic seeing the singer-songwriter play hits from his growing library. Maroney isn’t resting on that success and fanfare, however. With an album titled Ultrapure due September 22nd and a headline tour supporting the release, expect to see more of Maroney in the coming months.
Worlds are Colliding
Uttered by George Costanza in the infamous TV show Seinfeld, that phrase describes Co-Stanza fittingly. Avoiding search engine mishaps with a well-placed hyphen, the band bring their quirky sense of humor to audiences.
The fun-loving group, currently based in Fort Collins, was formed in Chicago by singer, guitarist, and namesake Jack Costanza. In addition to their energetic set at Endless Sunshine, Co-Stanza rocked the unofficial after-party at Lost Lake Lounge. Playing pop-tinged rock with widespread influences, the band is on its way to college radio stardom and beyond!
Life’s a Peach
Hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, Peach Pit represented the music of our northern neighbors. Playing on the Capitol Stage to a growing crowd, the band balanced big guitar sounds with clever, flowing lyrics. Bouncing around the stage, lead singer and rhythm guitarist Neil Smith and bassist Peter Wilton whipped the audience into a frenzy. Between the singalong feels and inviting jams, the good times were rolling as the masses let loose on the capitol lawn.
Where do I go Now?
As the festival continued, decisions became more difficult for fans. While things were getting peachy on the Capitol Stage, a more raucous scene was building on the Sunflower Stage. Formed in Hawaii and currently residing in Salt Lake City, The Moss bring an organic energy to their shows. After wowing the Endless Sunshine crowd with an engaging performance, the band kept the good times rolling at Lost Lake. The crowd shouted at the top of their lungs to the group’s clever lyrics while dancing to hooky riffs during both sets.
Soft as Velvet, Hard as Steel
Boulder’s The Velveteers closed out the Sunflower Stage after sundown. Powering through lighting issues, they delivered an enchanting and enthralling set.
Demi Demitro fronts the band. She plays baritone guitar and alternates between singing sweetly and fiercely. Her roaring riffs and onstage energy pair perfectly with percussive duo Baby Pottersmith and Johnny Fig. They play seamlessly on a conjoined drum kit.
Catch The Velveteers when they’re around as they tour relentlessly. They’ve opened for The Black Keys and Greta Van Fleet and have an upcoming run with The Glorious Sons. The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach produced the Velveteers’ debut LP Nightmare Daydream, helping expand their fan base.
Creating Hope at Endless Sunshine
During the closing set by The Backseat Lovers, singer and guitarist Joshua Harmon mentioned his experience with The Gathering Place. The nonprofit helps community members support basic needs and work towards supporting stability. The Backseat Lovers also demonstrated that actions mean more than words. They donated proceeds of their custom Endless Sunshine poster to the organization.
That feelgood sensation is the same sentiment you got listening to the Backseat Lovers. The crowd consistently sang along as they clearly enjoyed themselves onstage. Harmon also mentioned the honor of playing with the other bands that day. It was genuine admiration as I saw him jamming along to Briston Maroney’s set, as were the members of Blankslate. Meanwhile, Moss singer Tyke James took in the Backseat Lovers performance before heading to Lost Lake. Setting ego aside, these bands demonstrated what genuine caring and community are possible within the festival setting.