Two-time Summer Camp alumni Zeta June came to Avogadro’s Number in Fort Collins for a night of resolute dance music. They brought along recent Colorado transplants by way of Iowa City, Tallgrass along for the ride.
Avo’s is a less known but highly regarded oasis for live music. Unfortunately each time I’ve went to shoot a band there the turnout has been sparse. This night was no different. I arrived and found a seat up front. Tallgrass came on promptly at 9:30 PM.
As they played, the room was almost uncomfortably silent. From time to time I tried to break the palpable calm with limited success. Tallgrass calls themselves, ‘Dirt Stomping Soul;’ I would add that they are an utterly rare intermingling of folk, gospel, indie, bluegrass, and more. To say that they are an original musical undertaking would be quite the understatement. Tallgrass is eloquent almost poetically jazzy in their delivery of said ‘dirt.’
Adam Morford blends elements of African and World percussion with more traditional rock and folk beats. They went into their captivating original “Never Try.” Adam’s drums were a distinctive juxtaposition to Matt Skinner’s raspy but clean vocals here and throughout their hour long set. Adam’s brother Austin Morford rounds out the band, he is a tight pocket bassist and holds it all together. They gave the crowd chills with an acapella version of the African traditional spiritual “Down To River To Pray” as the noiseless crowd stepped out the beat on the hardwood floors. They immediately went into the title track off their new album Better Than Medicine. They seem to be pushing into a slightly heavier sound utilizing all the rhythmic focus that this power trio has to offer. There set was a great way to spend a Thursday night and we still had the headliner.
Zeta June is a much different beast than Tallgrass. In fact the only real connection musically is their roots in Iowa City. I went to school at the University of Iowa and I can tell you the area is a bastion of music in a relative desert for good live shows. So it makes sense that both of these original acts would come from there, even though they sounds may not really mesh well.
By this time there were about 20 people in the room many of them there for Zeta June. A large led light background had been constructed, which gave off a very different vibe than Tallgrass’s acoustic set. Zeta June is a dance focused jam band that dabbles in electronic and funk with a solid rock foundation. Their set at Avogadro’s did a lot to show the variety of music that they can perform live. Originals like the boisterous “No Tell Motel” and a rocking “Resume To Consume.” We were treated to a spot on rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” At one point they ripped into a huge EDM inspired song utilizing some snap beats and spacey jams.
“That’s our version of the dubsteps.” – Zeta June
Overall it was a great night of Iowa music in the heart of Fort Collins. I look forward to Tallgrass working their way deeper into the local scene. Since their arrival late last summer they’ve only have the opportunity to play a handful of shows here. My hope is that people will begin to realize how original and fun this band is. Zeta June continues to be a young and dynamic group that fuses diverse genres of music together incredibly well. Both of these bands are definitely worth your time and consideration.