Local jam band fans welcome the new normal this weekend with one of the first in-person concerts to return to Colorado in so many months. Miles up the Poudre Canyon, far from cell phone service and even farther from normal civilization, 26 tables worth of music-lovers got their lives returned slightly back to normal with a co-headlining show from Tenth Mountain Division and The Drunken Hearts at the riverside’s Mishawaka Amphitheatre. Staggered entrance times and rules against co-mingling were just some of the stranger factors of the evening, but it was all worth it to get to stand in front of two beloved local bands and enjoy some very alive music.
26 tables, each with somewhere between two to eight guests, were spread out across the venue, leaving plenty of room to groove in your own safe space. Too often in the past shows are packed in real tight, so there was something to be said on Friday for having six-plus feet of dancing room to yourself. With 90 degree heat until the sun went down and the Poudre River raging in the background, not much under the circumstances could have made the evening more enjoyable. Both bands cooly asked fans to remained distanced from one another, and by the end, the show felt like it had gone off without a hitch.
Andrew McConathy and The Drunken Hearts made their way to the Mishawaka after headlining Beaver Creek’s Vilar Center the night before, warmed up and ready to get the crowd settled in for a beautiful evening. McConathy and the Hearts’ set of mountain-style country-rock music did not skip a beat, moving from originals to covers flawlessly, and slipped in was a congratulatory moment for the frontman McConathy and his newly engaged status to his lovely fiancé. As the sun set in the canyon, McConathy led the band through original tunes like “Greyhound” and “Black Snake,” and a very timely and haunting rendition of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth.”
Tenth Mountain Division took the stage after dark and hosted a good, old-fashioned dance party, fitting an impressive number of songs into their hour and a half set. Sharing the responsibility of vocals is something this band does extremely well, with bassist Andrew Cooney grooving on his own during “Good Gravy,” keyboardist Campbell Thomas taking over for a raucous “Arkansas” and guitarist MJ Ouimette leading the band through a nostalgic moment during the late Jeff Austin’s “Rag Doll.” All the while, Winston Heuga jammed out front-and-center on his mandolin, with Tyler Gywnn blasting on the drums.
The music turned rowdier with a slew of impressive covers from Tenth Mountain Division, comprising a vast array of genres and musical styles that proved just how diverse the band can get, and how tight they’re playing and working together. From The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” to the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer,” and from Eric Clapton’s “Lay Down Sally” to Widespread Panic’s “Surprise Valley,” Tenth Mountain Division hit every chord and did the music true justice. The end of the show came much too soon, with every guest up from their seat and raging to a double-encore of Leftover Salmon’s “River’s Rising” and The Doors’ “Break On Through.”
Both bands managed to give us a peek at what keeping the live music scene alive can look like by throwing a hometown show with safety and style. Memories were made and the sound of sweet, sweet music ringing through the canyon after months of silence was a moment special enough to last a lifetime.
With an evening as successful as Friday’s, more summer fun is sure to be had with the overwhelming amount of local bands that have been cooped up for far too long and are anxious to play. If table service and limited capacity is the way to scratch that itch, then TMD and The Drunken Hearts showed us the way to keep on goin’.