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A Rainbow in the Dark

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Pueblo has a much more storied and vibrant underground and alternative music scene than many even involved with said scenes in other parts of the country could ever know.

Now-popular alternative bands such as AFI and the Aquabats and so many others have come through Pueblo on their way up the ladder to eventual successes.

One of the most appealing parts of the Steel City is while you may not get the biggest acts coming through at their peak, there is a chance the next big thing is a local dive bar.

For decades, small, yet fierce, numbers of dedicated music fans have traipsed to venues all over the city for a fix of music that was, until the advent of Al Gore’s internet, hard to come by and even harder to keep active. With Phil’s Radiator’s dirty, dive-y walls now a distant memory, Pueblo had been struggling, needing a steady alternative-minded venue, one that didn’t shy away from the abrasive and loud — a venue that could serve as a new meeting house and playground for the scene.

The Rainbow Bar, at 309 North Santa Fe Ave, has since become this venue, as the new monarch in a long lineage of now-infamous Indie music spaces. Open for more than 70 years it wasn’t until this past decade, since Phil’s changed owners, has the Rainbow become the go-to for those that want something a little different or aggressive to see play live in a 30-plus mile radius.

That’s thanks to its new manager Justin Taibi.

Justin Taibi has taken over the helm at the Rainbow Bar, and in doing so has helped fill the void left in a growing local music scene. (Photo via author)

“My great uncle bought it in 1944 as the Rainbow,” Taibi says. A native of Pueblo, Taibi is quick to call himself “more of an overseer or operator” of the bar than an owner, adding he has full-time work all throughout Colorado as a CPA, but still comes back nights to manage the family business.

“It’s definitely a labor of love,” he says. “I have a busy schedule, but I always like coming back to Pueblo. I mean, this is my hometown; so I always enjoy coming in and putting smiles on people’s faces and trying to bring some music to them.”

“We’re pretty much open to whatever here. We’re not here just to pack the bar and to have everybody here have a miserable time,” Taibi says of a typical night of music at the Rainbow.

“We’re here for pretty much any band to come in and get some playing time and exposure in; for you and your friends and everybody to just have a good time, drink a few beers on me if you’re playing that night, and to maybe sell a few t-shirts.”

“We’re a good stopping point between Colorado Springs or Denver and Albuquerque for bands,” Taibi says, noting “we’ve seen all kinds come through on tour.”

He says that this newfound swarm of bands and activity is in no small part due to a man named Sword.

Tyler Boyce of BRIDGES taking the high road at a recent show at the Rainbow Bar (Photo via Eyeworm Photography)

For almost a decade, Mike Sword, a Pueblo musician and an engineer of everything audio, had been twisting knobs and championed sound for bands as the resident soundman for Phil’s Radiator; But after its somewhat sudden closing, both Sword and the scene at large were left without a place to go.

“It was kind of nice at first,” he says of his break in-between venues. “I needed a break from the constant shows; my ears hurt, and my liver was shot.”

But that vacation soon wore thin as it became difficult to find places for his bands and projects to play out live. “It was almost like ‘What should we do?’ ‘Should we scrape together some house shows?’ The home team hasn’t seen us for a few months.”

“Justin has been very cool and very gracious about all of this crazy music coming into his bar,” Sword says of the new partnership that has blossomed at the Rainbow. “I’ve actually wanted to make shirts with a picture of his face superimposed over a saint, Because he really has saved the underground scene here. This is probably the only way we would be functioning.”

“A saint may be a bit too far,” Taibi laughs as we talk briefly about Sword’s canonization of him.

“I love people showing their appreciation for the bar, and whatever I can do to help out with the local scene I love to do,” he said. “I’m a music lover and consider myself and the bar a part of it.”

When asked about the recent string of rather successful events at the bar, Sword has an idea of why. Nearly all of the shows at the Rainbow Bar are no cover events, a move that Sword thinks is beneficial for attendance.

“Our economy sucks,” he states plainly. “I think the pressure of not having enough cash to get into a show can turn some people away. But having the shows free makes it so that even if you’re broke, you can still come down and be supportive and have a good time with your friends.”

This sentiment is echoed by local musician Shanon Sinclair, who plays in Might of Henry and the newly founded Last Reel Hero, both punk rock & ska/reggae groups.

“I love and appreciate the fact that the Rainbow never charges for entry to see the bands play,” he says via a quick message to an old bandmate (read: me). ”It makes itself stand out as a place where everyone can come in and enjoy a night of live music even if you can’t afford to.”

“Most of the venues in town are kinda genre specific,” he adds when asked about what makes the Rainbow different from playing at any other bar locally. “But the Rainbow transcends those lines much in the same way the late great Phil’s Radiator did. It’s absolutely integral to our music community.”

“It’s been a great team at the Rainbow, too,” Sword adds. “All of the bartenders are cool and supportive, even if they don’t exactly dig on everything that comes through the doors.”

Not that the Rainbow is all crazy music all the time. Not dead set on only offering up moshable music, the space offers up differing styles and genres when the opportunity presents itself.

Colorado local Black Sabbath tribute act HAND OF DOOM at a recent performance at the Rainbow Bar. (Photo via Eyeworm Photography)

“We have had some stellar outlaw country and western bands come through,” Sword says. And indeed, recent posters for indie-rock acts and singer-songwriters on the walls currently at the Rainbow add to the anything-goes attitude of the space.

Bands from the world over are starting to take notice of said space. With music acts and artists recently gracing the Rainbow’s stage (or floor as it were) from Europe and South America, as well as bands from all over the continental U.S., the Rainbow has put itself on the map for the underground touring circuit.

Most of these bands are usually only looking for a place to play and hopefully some gas money. “They never expect it when they walk in,” Sword says. “As far as venues go, the Rainbow is almost a closet. But plenty of bands walk out letting me know that we give some of the best sound and best shows they’ve had on tour. Because Pueblo has always been just ready for a good time. We try and take care to get the best sound we can out of it. I mean, my soundboard is probably as old as I am, but it still sounds great.”

“It’s not Madison Square Basement,” he adds, noting he borrowed the phrase from a friend, “but it is what it is, and we’re making it happen.”

The Rainbow is new a home for new and old bands alike in the local underground to hone a sound and build connections with touring bands in a way that is as unique as the Pueblo scene.

The bar itself has always been best at doing a lot with a little, doing its own thing while letting musicians do their thing, but first and foremost doing it for the love of music paired with the finest can of cheap beer.


More about the Rainbow Bar and their schedule of events can be found at facebook.com/rainbowbarpueblo.

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Boulder indie-rocker Eric Dorr’s debut EP shines bright from the get-go

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The indie music camp has sure seen quite the split over the years, with the early college-rock station inspired purists of yesteryear often scoffing at the larger influences that pop and electronic music have had on the genre within recent years, going so far as to call the genres original intentions “dead.” Which, my friends, is dumb as hell. Sure, we all love our Superchunks and our Dinosaur’s Jr, but to call an entire genre dead is to negate the existence and unyieldingly diverse essence of a new batch of DIY artists.

 

 

To do so would also discount Boulder songwriter Eric Dorr, which is something I will not stand for. On his sublime Dream Routine EP, Eric has managed to exude a work that combines the recognizable mishmashes of so-called “original” indie tenets of singer-songwriter espousal and heart and weave them delicately with an undeniable feel-good brash-pop fabric and subtle electronic flourish, with songs like album midpoint track Leaves veering into electronic territory (albeit with heart and songwriting chops firmly intact) and album closer Next to Me echoing the undeniable good vibes of Jimmy Buffettalbeit updated for the youngins but still taking listeners to Margaritaville regardless. The resulting album is full of sweetly tangible indie rock that goes down smooth.

 

 


 

Eric Dorr’s Dream Routine is available for digital and physical purchase now via Bandcamp. For show dates and more, head to Dorr’s Facebook page.

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The Country-Punk fury of COS Tejon Street Corner Thieves is a sound to behold

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COS: Rip-Roarin’ Countrypunx | Tejon Street Corner Thieves

The hard tourin’, hard livin’ trashgrass heroes the Tejon Street Corner Thieves are back and better than ever with their new album Goers. While their 150 proof still of americana, bluegrass, and country-fried punk have been a fan favorite for a while now, they’ve somehow managed to outdo themselves on Goers, fuel-injecting this into a new batch of tunes that take said formula and rev it up even further with a newfound sweetness and storytelling ability.

 

DEN: Garage Rock Reverberation | Henry & the Kissengers

Bombsaway, the new six song sonic offering from Denver’s perfectly named Henry and the Kissengers, is hi-watt garage-rock hip shake and retro-fed psychedelic squelch personified, a perfect marriage of the Kinks grit and the Byrds sheen. Unsurprisingly, the entirety of the album sounds and more importantly feels like an unearthed relic straight from your grandparents attic via the free-love 1960’s. Don’t take the brown acid!

 

DEN: Double Indie-Pop trouble | Kissing Party / Bleak Plaza

At 3 songs each, this split album between Denver’s Kissing Party and Bleak Plaza masterfully showcases both groups in sharp, succinct bursts; tracks 1-3 showcase the largely uptempo and raucously jangle-pop of Kissing Party, with the last 3 delving into the swirling, hazy psych-pop of Bleak Plaza; offering listeners two great tastes that perfectly complement one another.

 

DEN: Ska-Jazz Mastery | Dendrites

Fun Fact! Not only is the term “Rude Boy” a dank Rhianna song, but a classic term for followers and fans of Jamaican ska and reggae music. And my newest fave batch of Rude Boys are Denver’s Dendrites, who make the kind of tightly coiled and energetic jump-up instrumental ska tunes that will no doubt have you dancing the dang night away. Pick it up. Pick. It. Up.

 


 

All releases available for purchase now thru Bandcamp. Go Local!

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Like an 8-bit joyride, catch Denver’s glitch-pop Goremall

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If You Like: Com Truise • Nintendo • Chromatics • Sega Genesis

Nostalgia season is upon us, and I’m not immune to it. This time of year I often think of the best Christmas I’ve ever had. At the tender age of 8, in 1993, my parents, being of sound mind and parenting, gifted my then and somehow still younger brother and I the Sega Genesis Entertainment System. It was our Christmas Story Red Ryder moment. We did it! For years to come, that game and many others were how we spent probably too much of our free time.

The older I get and the further away from those days, the more something peculiar happens; I find myself humming the songs from those old games. The literal in game old synth-heavy diddies have wormed their way into my brain, to the point where I can tell you which level corresponds with which song. I’m not the only one; not by a long shot. There are now entire genres of nostalgia-based and era-heavy musicians and artists out there.

Synthwave is one of them. Initially an offshoot of the 1980’s New Wave, today’s version is largely an online dispersed and traded music style heavily mirrors the electronica-induced movie soundtracks and video games of the 80’s and 90’s and funnels them through our internet-obsessed culture to create a retro-futuristic sound that can really take you back into time.

 

The music of Denver’s Goremall is one of these time machines. Far from being just retro synth tones with overlaid beats, Arcadeland from Goremall takes it to 88, really capturing the fun and analog-tech musicality of 90’s video games and movies, and in the process transports you headfirst into a simpler and more care-free era.

 


 

Pick up Arcadeland from Goremall right now from Bandcamp

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