Local Listen — i.O. Underground Made Sounds For Bigger Stages

Boulder-based alt-rock trio i.O. Underground are making waves this summer across the Front Range with the July release of their EP The Underside. The second of two albums released in the last two years, i.O. Underground got the ball rolling in 2020 and have kept that momentum going with this summer’s sophomore album. The six-song EP is nothing short of impressive — catchy yet inspired, poppy yet serious — and is an elevated piece of music that is atypical from much of the usual, down-home rock music coming out of our local music scene.

The Underside boasts the oozing potential of a trio whose sound could quickly and easily outgrow the Front Range. With a soft launch of singles that spanned over the course of the late spring and early summer, the EP has got the variety to project it to mainstream masterpiece status. The epic combination of pop-rock musicality and stripped-down string melodies from guitarists Grayson and Casey Kannenberg is something that might seem counterintuitive until heard together. Meanwhile, the crooning vocals of Grayson, Kannenberg and drummer Beau Harding have star-like qualities that the listener pictures on the largest of stages.

Playing out-of-the-box and experimenting with their sound is something i.O. Underground strives to do. “Our goal is always to make any kind of music we’d like to make without constraints,” said Grayson. “We’ll add in sounds from anywhere and everywhere.” Kannenberg added to that sentiment when describing the creation process, sharing that they take what they like and “dump it into the pot.” It’s never one-dimensional with i.O. Underground, who constantly push boundaries and explore new places in order to achieve their unique sound.


Photo courtesy of i.O. Underground on Facebook.

No strangers to talent or achievement, Grayson, Kannenberg and Harding come from different musical backgrounds, having worked with a vast array of fellow musicians and musical groupings. With so much musical diversity in their separate pasts, it’s no wonder the three became tougher serendipitously to form a trifecta of rock-fusion and sound-investigation that establishes them as modestly bigger than their britches. The Underside reflects the trajectory of their lives that led up to their coming together and the result is something independent and staggering.

Using their first EP in 2020 as their jumping-off point, i.O. Underground feels they’ve hit their creative stride with their second album. “The vibe is classic, but current,” Harding said. “It’s traditional rock wrapped in really modern production,” with Kannenberg adding that “we like to explore beauty, wonder and a bit of the edgier side of life.” All in all, the i.O Underground are people just like us, and the songwriting in The Underside depicts that. They sing about trials and tribulations, taking risks and everything else that makes us simply human, connecting to their listeners on a fundamental level before taking them on one hell of a journey.