Article By: Madi Heath
Radical Face gave Denver a fantastic performance at the Bluebird Theater. Being their first show in the mile-high city, the venue was packed full and anticipating the folk tunes played by main member, Ben Cooper and his band. Cooper was incredibly friendly, and talked to the audience as if everyone was hanging out in his living room. He explained all of his songs tell a story, whether it be about a fictional family or personal situations he has lived. Before every two or three songs, he briefly summarized the story behind them and what they might mean to him.
While most of Radical Face’s songs have a dreary, disheartening tale to tell, his witty remarks and jokes about being sad made the audience laugh again and again, continuously bringing the soulful and moony feelings of the room to a brighter place. At one point, he told the audience, “if I have to think about this shit, you all do too,” in regards to his morbid tale of a little boy who likes to collect dead animals from the forest. He had another crack at a fan who once asked him if these stories were true, which the audience laughed at considering the very obvious answer.
Near the start of the show, Cooper addressed what many in the audience were whispering about; what was the cello-like instrument being played next to Ben? This instrument is in fact not a cello, but rather a viola da gamba, with seven strings. Many people had never seen something so interesting, as most cellos have four strings and occasionally five. The instrument sounds as unique as it looks. It suddenly made sense as to how some of Radical Face’s songs had such a distinct sound—by carrying out the most interesting of string sections. One song in particular called “The Road to Nowhere,” features this instrument in the bands very individualistic sound, and adds a layer that many of their songs are unable to capture. It’s such an uncommon piece, significantly adding to their music, achieving recognition in a unique and fun way.
Before the encore, Radical Face ended with a very predictable “Welcome Home, Son,” as this is their most well-known song. The audience was incredibly excited and chanted for more, which they happily gave. The band came back out onto the stage with a sarcastic comment from Cooper saying, “I guess since you’re all still here we’ll play some more music.” They played a few more songs, including a more difficult track they don’t always play or sometimes “fuck up.” Everyone in the Bluebird loved it, as it was a beautifully layered melody, with the shimmering vocals by Ben Cooper. After mentions of new music, the whole audience left the show happy and eager for more.