TNERTLE has crystallized themselves as a Denver music staple. Not to say they weren’t already — they’ve come a long way having produced music together for over 16 years. But their quirky reptilian-esque title is about to become a popular moniker in the Mile High. On Friday, June 30, the hip-hop and electronica influenced jam band hosted an EP release party at Ophelia’s. The live performance of the unreleased album presented fans with tracks that made evident the band truly isn’t fucking around anymore.
The new EP, Monsters Out West, is TNERTLE’s first official release with trombone player Jon Kenney. It also hosts two new tracks which include their frequent local rap feature, Ray Salazar. You can check out an exclusive stream of new single “Dope” here before the full album release July 11.
The brothel-turned-venue’s stage was decorated with inflatables galore — palm trees, tiki totems, beach balls, donuts, animals and more. It was a beach-themed brothel I guess you could say — talk about originality at its finest. Local DJ and producer Impact (Luke Sims) kicked off the evening with a 9 p.m. opening set. Though early in the night, Impact’s catchy house and techno beats loosened up the early Ophelia’s crowd — TNERTLE themselves included. The dancing only continued into the evening with Jeraff next on the docket. The Denver local brought down the house with dubby techno beats infused with funk and soul classics. The gradually growing crowd made moves to get to the dance floor and then, well, made some moves on it.
TNERTLE took the stage, drinks in hand and excitement taking control of their expressions. They approached the assortment of wind instruments and neon guitars lining the stage with a “here we go, it’s finally happening” kind of attitude. TNERTLE’s attire was the usual beach theme — sunbathing hats, floral button-ups and even a swimsuit reading “Bae Watch.” They kicked things off with older hits like “Dance All Night,” “Hector Schwing” and “Twelve Days to the City” which kept the dance party rolling into the evening. Ray Salazar made his first appearance of the night and TNERTLE did a couple covers including a rendition of Bag Raiders’ “Snake Charmer.” The packed dance floor let loose and absorbed the good vibes radiating from TNERTLE. This wasn’t just a performance, it wasn’t just a dance party — it was a damn celebration.
And then it finally happened — they dropped their new EP. TNERTLE opened with the first track off Monsters Out West — the experimental and intriguing “Clouds.” The translation live felt like a heavy synth-guitar infusion that brought something new to the stage which the crowd hadn’t yet seen. Almost taken aback, some of the relentless dancers found themselves wondering what to do to this one — clap? Headbang? Jump around? In the end, most found themselves swaying and getting lost in the unexpected variation in TNERTLE’s set. Verging psychedelic, it was easy to zone out to in a moment of musical wonder. But as soon as someone from the balcony threw a bag of inflatables on the crowd, the dance party was back.
“Dope” was next — a jammy, funky, bass heavy track filled with engaging hip-hop samples. TNERTLE producer Trent Campbell claims this is his favorite track by the band ever — and we can see why. You know those tracks that make it simply impossible to stand still? Yeah, “Dope” is one of those. Next up, TNERTLE performed the final two tracks from the EP, “New Skool Saloon” and “Wayward Song,” both of which Salazar returned for.
The TNERTLE release party impressed fans and newcomers alike, igniting attendees’ Friday nights with excitement. Concert-goers also had the opportunity to pick up a copy of Monsters Out West before its official release later this month. The new album, accentuated with just a little more horns and some more well coordinate hip-hop samples, is a road we feel TNERTLE was destined to venture down. Something tells us big things are on the horizon for the Denver group.
All photography by Kyle Cooper.