Ever since Jaden Carlson picked up guitar, the Colorado Buffaloes football team has been more limping disaster than trampling stampede. But 2016 is the Year of the Buffalo, with the squad having a chance to win the Pac12 Championship and maybe more. Meanwhile Jaden-somehow only sixteen-is headlining The Fox Theater for the second time in her youthful career.
Gone is the acoustic hippie child in a flat-billed hat. Evolved is the electric guitar gunslinger. Now tackling keyboards and a series of modulated synthesizers onstage and at home, it’s uncertain what she’ll do next, but Boulder County embraces their budding teen impresario much like the Black and Gold.
With a backing band featuring Adam Revell on keyboards, Eric Imbrosciano on drums, and Chris Hunnicutt on lead bass, leg pumps, and all around amazing facial expressions, the quartet felt their way through original compositions from 2014’s “Polychromatic” and a few choice covers.
Following sets by local Boulder acts Envy Alo and Amoramora, Jaden paced downstage center amidst snaking cables slithering in and out of her amp, guitar and keyboards. I wouldn’t call her nervous, because this is where she thrives, but her strive for near-perfection radiated tension as the clock ticked down a quarter to eleven.
Hunicutt seemed to get a laugh out of the whole scene, loosening up the room while Jaden focused on changes and making sure the band followed her lead. His dramatically comedic overtures at times came off as mimicry, and other times helped Jaden relax and keep her poise. Their interaction was nothing short of entertaining, and he dug deep in the playbook with “Crazy,” taking on lead vocals for the Gnarls Barkley tune.
With the clock striking midnight, surely past the bedtime of most sixteen year olds, the band wound down from their surreal headlining performance that saw sit-ins from Justin Neely of Eminence Ensemble, Clark Smith of DynoHunter, and Dwayne Jubee Webb lighting up the microphone.
When the Buffs came together under Mike Macintyre in 2013, they were young and talented but it took a few years to develop their winning ways. Jaden’s adolescent career has slowly grown and now more than ever it’s clear she can take any direction she applies her talents. With so much experience behind her at such a developmental age, the rise is real.