Fans of pop punk or indie rock will be pleased to hear that they can add Sad Bug, Gestalt, and It Looks Sad to their repertoire of music. The three bands played on July 31st at the Hi-Dive, in Denver, Colorado and put forth energized performances that can only rise in popularity from here. Gestalt in particular put on a fantastic show, and are the focus of this review, but both Sad Bug and It Looks Sad made impressions on me by their similarly passionate and exciting sets.
Sad Bug opened the night. A two-man band, I was impressed with the passion that lead singer Sebastian Rane Miranda put into his performance. As the set progressed, his long hair stuck to his face, sweat pooled in his collarbone, and his ripped shirt fell off his shoulder: all testaments to the intensity he brought to the stage. The drummer, Logan Pace, was solid, with speedy fast chops. All told, the band played 8 songs, and ended their 50-minute set with exploding finality.
Then came Denver based band, Gestalt. When they played the first chords to their recognizable “do I look lovely”, the energy in the venue sparked. Lead singer Zane Deluccie has an on-stage charisma that is as impressive as it is entertaining. The energy bouncing between him and bassist David Maestas was somehow smooth, and casual and at the same time, intense and vibrant. The guitars played off of each other, and even with fill-in drummer Jack Long, who was covering for regular Xavier Robinson, they communicated with light, casual effort. We even watched as Deluccie heartily stepped across the stage with his foot clad in a boot to treat his broken foot. As the song progressed, the band showed of their ability to build a collective tension in the sound until finally coming to explosive ending.
Next came the band’s “New Song”. It was at this point the peppered regular Gestalt show-goers in the crowd became apparent; they sang the desperate lyrics into the microphone guitarist Cooper Dickerson held over them: “Who you are / What you want / Always mattered to me.” In this moment, you feel a unique sensation: the audience members, Gestalt’s friends and regular fans, share those words, not only in solidarity, but in truth. Together, it seems as though they have lived the very moments they sing about. It is a rare, electrifying feeling, and to be there almost feels straight out of a movie.
Now was “Sad Lil Man”, where you once again could see Deluccie’s effortless ability to manage a crowd. As the song came to an abrupt end, the audience, unsure if the song was over, sat quietly. No problem for Deluccie: he broke out into a grin, whooped and raised his arms; the crowd burst into applause and gracious laughter and the show went on.
“Vape Song” has always been a personal favorite of mine, but I felt somewhat bad at that when Deluccie jokingly berated the crowd for bullying him into vaping, then not vaping, and now: “…I’m smoking cigs again”. But despite this funny side note, the reason for my love for this song is the line, “Remember when every thought was complacent? Remember when, every wrong had its reason?” It’s in this moment, more so than any other, that you see Deluccie’s eyes darken in a serious kind of way, a way that they rarely do throughout the set. He takes the line seriously, and with that, so do you.
The rest of the band’s set included songs like “if you don’t know”, “Parking Lot” and a fun cover of Sum 41’s “Fat Lip”, in which Maestas took the vocal lead, which was unexpected but certainly enjoyed. Throughout, it is hard not to notice how spot on the band’s playing is-It almost sounds straight off the recording, especially Dickerson’s fantastic soloing.
Finally, they ended the set with their most popular song, “Brakelights&w__d”. On this one, Dickerson leads the crowd in clapping before the instruments kick in. As the band’s set came to an end, a heavy mosh pit broke out. A fitting end to an energizing and well-played set, the band left the stage smiling and sweaty.
It looks Sad came next, the touring band of the night coming from Charlotte, North Carolina. They were on their third week of tour when they played at Hi-Dive, but despite the inevitable exhaustion that driving across the continental United States brings, they played with gusto. Lead vocalist Jimmy Turner gets lost when he sings, closing his eyes tightly and delivering lyrics in a powerful way, backed by a solid, powerful drumming by Vince D’Ambrosio and accompanying guitarist and bassist, William Schoonmaker and Ben Bradford respectively.
For unforeseen reasons, we could not stay for the entirety of the final set. However, we were lucky enough to see three songs performed- It Looks Sad played with a passionate and captivating energy, wonderfully in-sync with one another, and I look forward to the next time they come through Denver.
Overall, all three bands brought their best to the show. The energy in the venue was warm and electric all night, with the band members mingling with the audience when they could. It is definitely worth it for listeners to keep their eyes and ears peeled for any upcoming shows or projects from any of these three bands: for despite the frequency of the word “sad” in their band names, their performances are anything but.
Review by Kylie Ketchner
Photos by Jordan Altergott