Super Playlist: Seattle vs. Denver
This Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will square off in Super Bowl 48 at MetLife Stadium in what is the final football game until college football mercifully kicks off again in September (try not to cry). Who will win? As someone who has watched countless hours of football this season including an unhealthy amount of these two teams, I still haven't decided. It's a classic case of something's gotta give. Denver comes in with an offense that at times has looked virtually unstoppable, notching 500-yard games with relative ease. Seattle on the other hand will bring the Legion of Boom to New Jersey, a formidable and intimidating defense that draws apt comparisons to the Pittsburgh Steelers' Steel Curtain defense of the '70s--a unit with four Super Bowl rings to their credit. All the chips will fall at 6:25 on Sunday evening in what should be a very entertaining game. Now, onto the point of all of this....
One of the many great things about these two cities is their vibrant music scenes. Denver (and surrounding towns) boasts some of the best in bluegrass, jamgrass, or whatever sort of other grass you're into. Much like their defense on the field, Seattle brings one of the grittiest musical rosters out there, with legacy acts like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains to up and comers The Head and the Heart.
Both cities are great in their own right, but that isn't what this weekend is about. This isn't your youth sports league where everyone gets a trophy. This is a weekend for winners and losers, and it is up to you to decide which city owns the superior music scene. Here are five currently active bands from each city, and a little snippet of their work to aid in your decision. Wilson and Manning. The Showbox and The Fillmore. Vedder and Nershi. Okay, that last one isn't fair. Seattle vs. Denver. Vote or die.
The ultimate Seattle band. Pearl Jam serves as one of three groups to make it out of the local confines of the Emerald City and burst onto the national scene. Still touring strong, the group just released their latest record Lightning Bolt, which served as their fifth album to hit number one on the Billboard 200 charts. The band has even taken a rooting interest in the Seahawks, even offering up some 'Hawkcentric merch for the big game.
Chris Cornell's name is never too far behind Eddie Vedder's when it comes to notable musicians to make it out of Seattle. Granted the two teamed up as Temple of the Dog, but Soundgarden certainly made a name for themselves. The group is back this year (despite the loss of drummer Matt Cameron to Pearl Jam) with what looks to be a full year of touring. "Black Hole Sun," "Spoonman," "The Day I Tried to Live." You know the hits.
Alice in Chains
If there is one band still truly carrying the grunge torch in true Seattle fashion, it's Alice in Chains. After a few years of inactivity due to the death of original vocalist Layne Staley in 2002, the group is back with new music and still rocking after all these years. Sticking mostly to festivals and other gigs nowadays, you would never guess that this band has sold over 25 million records and has two number one albums. Their influence is wider than most would think, making them one of Seattle's landmark groups.
Dave Grohl is the coolest man in music. And maybe the world. Not only was he a part of one of Seattle's most notable bands (ahem, Nirvana), but he found success post-Cobain with a collection of misfits called the Foo Fighters.
The Head and the Heart
If the first four bands in Seattle's selection represent their past and present, this final band represents Seattle's future--and it is bright. The Head and the Heart are some of the best and honest songwriters in the game right now. Their latest Let's Be Still is their strongest work to date and the sky seems to be the limit for this group. Check out the title track.
String Cheese Incident
Shifting the scene east to Denver, there are few bands that represent the Rocky Mountain area quite like String Cheese Incident. The Telluride/Boulder, CO collective has captivated festival crowds with their energetic and creative live performances. Check out a cut from their New Year's Eve show to get a taste for a String Cheese show if you haven't already seen one or eighty.
Yonder Mountain String Band
Jeff Austin and company got their start in Nederland, Colorado, a small town outside of Denver, after moving from various places. Coming up in the Boulder and Denver communities, Yonder's infectious brand of bluegrass captured the spirit of the Rockies. Now, the group is a staple at festivals around the country and continues to be a national touring force.
Apples In Stereo
Denver's indie roots begin and end with Apples in Stereo, the Robert Schneider project that boasts 22 years of music, seven studio albums and numerous other releases. Yes, you may recognize this group because Phish recently covered their song "Energy," but there is an entire deep catalog to be explored and appreciated.
Denver folk rockers The Lumineers have been ho-heying their way to the tune of a debut album that topped out at number two on the charts, a set to about 50,000 at Coachella, countless radio plays and a couple Grammy nominations. Unfortunately, there is no word yet of a follow-up, but the success of their debut effort is good enough to land them on the list.
Not only has Leftover Salmon embraced their Colorado roots from the beginning, they have done great things for the Boulder area and state as a whole after the devastating floods, playing fundraisers and contributing to benefit shows and albums. When you think Colorado music, Leftover Salmon is one of the first three bands that will come to mind. Let's just be thankful they didn't stick with the initial band name--The Salmon Heads.
With that, enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday. If you want a lock, take Denver, give the points, take the over. Thank me on Monday.