Words by Nathan Rodriguez
dios malos :: 10.21.05 :: The Larimer Lounge :: Denver, CO
Most people I've spoken with at some point or another lament the fact they "need to find some new music." Enter dios malos, an improbable quartet from Hawthorne, California that has inhabited a comfortable middle ground between Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys and the layer-laden, modern sound of Radiohead. Coming across a band that is both easy on the ears and interesting at the same time is a rare find, and judging by the meager crowd in attendance, many have yet to make the discovery.
A quick rundown then: They became famous in the UK before they could land shows in their own neighborhood, they cut their self-titled debut album in their spare time in each other's basements, and *ahem* have had a song of theirs grace TV sets across the nation on The O.C.
The Larimer Lounge is nestled snugly in a relatively dilapidated part of downtown Denver. The venue itself seemed half abandoned warehouse, half Moe's Tavern. A mind-blowing light display wasn't in the cards, as the stage was illuminated by a total of two pre-mounted light bulbs. The sound system and acoustics left quite a bit to be desired, but that doesn't prevent the lounge from being considered "the spot" for indie music in Denver.
After the first three bands of the evening had finished their off-key caterwauling and fumbling, dios assembled on the stage as scheduled at 11:30. Then came soundcheck. There was the usual smattering of guitar riffs, exploratory musings on the keys, and... the unmistakable clank of the cowbell. The band was loose, nursing pints and joking around with the audience when the inevitable request came for "more cowbell!" The band dedicated the next several minutes to exploring the finer points of the cowbell solo, a true sonic treat for those in attendance, sweeter than the finest nectar from Nantucket.
Twenty minutes roll by, and the band leaves the stage. They had to navigate their way through the crowd to get backstage when I commented, "Killer show, Man," though I doubt he heard me. Five minutes later, they reappeared with a full head of steam.
When the band finally assumed the stage, they kicked things off with an unmistakable tease on the keys of Zeppelin's "All of My Love" - the crowd naturally erupts. Then, with a sly grin, they pull off a seamless transition to an original, "You Got Me All Wrong." Clever, but its still wrong to act like you're getting the Led out to open a show - you're toyin' with my emotions now, Son.
I hadn't seen dios live before but had given their debut album a couple dozen listens over the past year or so. There weren't any other-worldly jams during the show, so get over it. The one thing that struck me most was how different their songs were from the studio cuts. We're talkin' completely different moods and tempos. When I interviewed the guys last year, they mentioned changing up songs a bit during shows, but it wasn't merely some cosmetic fine-tuning, it was a complete overhaul. It's that sort of adventurous, yet understated brilliance that defines dios.
If you have a musical itch that needs scratching, it's worth looking up dios malos. Solid lyrics accent good songwriting that is tweaked just enough to make things interesting. They flat-out "get it." They are aware without being self-conscious. The softer parts are spacious and free-flowing, but at all times there remains a core of tasteful musicianship with notes that are played, not wasted. Above all else, they are obscenely melodic by nature. Wait for a rainy day, toss the disc in and kick back.
JamBase | Denver
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