The first time Churchill played at the Ogden Theatre, opening for DeVotchKa’s annual Halloween show a year and a half ago, the band seemed a bit swallowed up by the size of the venue and the crowd—but they held their own.
Friday night, it was Churchill’s night to headline the Ogden—and this time, they owned the stage, playing for a near capacity crowd in an evening of great music that could best be described as a triumph.
It was one of those nights when every act on the bill offered something of substance. Local band The Autumn Film kicked off the evening, winning over the gathering crowd with their own blend of melancholy tinged piano-driven indie-pop. Soon to follow were Missouri-based Americana rockers Ha Ha Tonka, whose high-energy set kept the momentum going and delighted the crowd.
Churchill took the stage around 11:00, opening their set with fan favorite “Ark In a Flood,” and continuing through a song list that blended older favorites with new tunes off their upcoming album, which is expected to be released late spring or early summer. Fresh off the road from recording and touring, the band seemed genuinely pleased to be playing for a hometown crowd and were perfectly at home on the stage. While many in the audience had seen them perform before, there was still room for a few surprises, not the least of which was the appearance of Joe King and Ben Wysocki from The Fray onstage at the close of the show, with King adding visual effects by means of a fire extinguisher.
Churchill seems to have stumbled upon a formula for growth, which goes something like this: 1) Get into a situation that is too big for you; 2) Hold your own in that situation; and 3) Come back and own it for yourself. Their first time at the Ogden, they held their own; this time, they owned it. This has become a habit for them.
This has been a whirlwind year for a band that people outside of Denver scarcely knew a year ago. The months ahead will be fraught with opportunities to get in out of their depth—including an upcoming tour with American Idol winner Phillip Phillips, and a European arena tour this summer with Pink. “No way do we belong on those tours,” quips drummer Joe Richmond, “but we’ll take it.”
If history is any indication, Churchill will hold their own on those tours. And the next time…well, you know.