Milo Greene and Wardell’s warm melodies and laid-back tunes were more than enough to warm fans up on a frigid February night in Denver. When I arrived at The Bluebird Theater about twenty minutes before Wardell’s set to a less than half-filled venue, I was almost worried that more people weren’t going to turn out to the show because of the cold. About five minutes before the LA duo took the stage, however, the venue quickly began to fill out with fans looking for some good music and drinks to warm them up.
Halfway through their first song of the night, Wardell had the undivided attention of many fans and first time listeners in the crowd. While it was apparent that much of the crowd was hearing the band for the first time as they played, they easily captivated the audience with mellow jams and Sasha Spielberg's hypnotizing and sometimes mind-blowing vocal runs. In between songs, Sasha and her brother Theo exchanged banter about playing a new song, commenting, “Well, I guess all of these songs are new to you guys,” which earned some laughs from the crowd.
It did seem that the first couple of songs of Wardell’s set were a little shaky, though. Sasha struggled to hit a couple of high notes here and there, and they were a little (but not noticeably so) stiff on stage, but by their third track (and a great crowd response) they seemed to loosen up a bit and really come alive. It’s also not uncommon for some vocalists to take a couple of songs to get used to the altitude in Colorado - all of us native concert-goers are all used to the witty banter from bands about how hard it is to breathe here. But a few songs in, it was impossible to take your eyes off of Wardell. Musically, they were on point, especially with (my personal favorite) tracks “Dancing On The Freeway” and “Funny Thing.” Sasha’s stage-presence and album-quality vocals (especially the ridiculous high notes that she managed to hit later in the set) were mind-blowing.
If I had to choose one word to describe Wardell’s set, it would be charming. On top of their undeniable album quality sound, it was obvious that each member of the band was just having a good time on stage. From the siblings’ obvious chemistry to the way that the keyboardist just couldn’t seem to sit still or wipe the smile off of his face, it was hard not to fall in love with Wardell by the time they left the stage.
The wait for Milo Greene to take the stage following Wardell’s performance was almost painful - and I mean that in the best way possible. Wardell left the crowd excited for the headliners to take the stage, but it was still another thirty minutes before they did. And despite a minor technical difficulty in the beginning of their set (it seemed that the stage lost power for a short period of time) the room seemed to come alive when Milo Greene took the stage.
Right off the bat, Milo Greene’s set seemed well-polished and totally flawless. From the haunting guitar work to gorgeous vocals, they had fans captivated from the first note of their first song, and didn’t let go until the end. Unlike punk shows, which leave the venue in shambles with a constantly moving crowd and an emotionally charged set, Milo Greene’s performance was incredible to watch, but for other reasons. Marlana Sheetz’ hypnotic and pristine vocals kept the crowd’s attention as they swayed back and forth to the music, and the simple yet beautiful light show was enough to keep you from looking away. Where Wardell lacked in finesse, Milo Greene made up for in a flawless, album quality sound and a gorgeous, aesthetically pleasing stage presence.
Thanks to Milo Greene and Wardell, it was easy for fans to forget the cold for a few hours and warm up with some mellow jams. It’s not very often that I walk away from such a small lineup of just two bands feeling touched by the music or blown away by the performances, but it was apparent why Milo Greene and Wardell didn’t need any other openers to help warm the fans up to them - both of their stellar and nearly hypnotizing live performances speak for themselves and were strong in their own aspects. While both bands definitely had a similar laid-back sound, it didn’t get boring watching them both back-to-back because live, they’re on different ends of the spectrum, and that’s what made the show so special.