Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
No matter how mainstream and mall-ready punk rock gets, there's always a new batch of bands lurking in dirty bars and warehouses tearing out the type of hot-wired, four-chord rock that launched the genre almost thirty years ago. On Undead in Denver, compiler Timmy Gibb and producer Bart McCrorey have assembled a cast of sixteen local bands contributing two songs each, most of which heavily reference the sound of punk legends such as Social Distortion, Channel 3, the Avengers and the Ramones. Standout tracks include Reno Divorce's "Getting Used to You," The Hacks' "Vodka," Teenage Bottlerocket's "Mini Skirt" and the Swanks' "Big Man Mouth" -- but the whole disc rumbles with the subterranean shock of raw, honest and uncorrupted punk rock.
God-Shaped Hole, Tiffanie Debartolo's tale of star-crossed love - born in the classified ads, played out beneath the artificial glow of Los Angeles life -- has all of the elements of pure romantic noir: The lead character, Trixie, has a love affair with the dreamy and intense Jacob, a writer for an alternative weekly newspaper, that is burning, tumultuous and, ultimately, tragic. (Let's just say someone drowns in the Pacific, leaving the other for the great wave in the sky.) But the debut novel from DeBartolo, who also penned the screenplay for the Jennifer Aniston/Ione Sky vehicle Dreams of an Insomniac, is funny, bold, quasi-philosophical and a hell of a lot smarter than your standard grocery-store paperback fare. Currently splitting time between Boulder and the Big Apple, DeBartolo is reportedly at work on her second book; we can only hope it's as divine as her first.
Yeah, we know Vinyl is no more: The great blizzard of 2003 tore the roof off the place, literally, while completely demolishing Floyd's Barbershop next door. But owner Regas Christou has vowed to rebuild, and we hope he hops to. Although Vinyl lacked the flash of the high-profile Church right around the corner, among music aficionados and the die-hard dance set, it ranked a notch higher on the cool scale. The ambience was fresher, the DJs were hipper, and the crowd was usually down for something more adventurous than the latest J.Lo remix. Internationally known spinners as well as local residents took to the tables in the multi-room space. And if you were looking to update your encyclopedia of dance moves, Vinyl's patrons had your booty covered. A word to the reconstructionists: We think the place would look great with, say, a pitched ceiling.
When The Simpsons come on at William's Tavern, all activity stops. The eclectic jukebox (it's got everything from The Cramps to Hank Williams to Motown) clicks off and patrons hunkered at the bar and sitting in the church pews pay their respects in the House of Simpson. Regulars know to arrive early on Sundays, not for sassy bar mistress Anne May's tasty cocktails but for her (free) sloppy joes and other home-cooked treats.
The Starline Lounge has been dealing with the best kind of identity crises in the past year. While owner Curt Simms has slowly sallied forth with plans to open the former Denver Buffalo Company space as an upscale Mexican food restaurant called Cielo, the club portion has been cookin' for months. A few nights a week, the minimalist back bar fills with ever-evolving crowds who turn up for theme nights on a rotating calendar. Most of the time, "Brown Sugar" hip-hop events rule on Saturdays, while Friday was recently handed over to "Delicious," a woman-centric showcase for songwriters, bands and DJs. The place has an unsettled feel, like a shoe that needs some breaking in, but the dance floor is ample, the drinks are strong and the fan base is amorphous enough to stay interesting. The Starline may not be as polished as its Golden Triangle dance-club competitors, but it does the job just fine.
Don't wear a short skirt to Club Purple unless you're feeling flashy. The floor that separates the first and second levels is all glass, which means that ground-dwellers can get a good look at the stylish throngs dancing and drinking above. But even at right-side-up angles, the crowd is an eyeful: A be-seen spot among LoDo-ites, Club Purple attracts the beautiful people, who turn up for live DJs and that special feeling that comes with ordering bottle service. Enjoy the view.
If you're enough of a hep cat to gain entrance into the Alley Cat Night Club - finding its darkened doorway in a Glenarm Street alley is a feat in itself -- you'll be within purring distance of some of the city's most purebred socialites. The VIP room is an A-list extravaganza, where singles swill and swoon in plush, let's-get-cozy nooks; a revolving cast of dancers prance on a center platform, suggesting all the fun things newly paired patrons might do after finishing off a little Stoli or Cristal. There's nothing like a little bottle service and some beautiful, gyrating bodies to set the mood, after all. Go get 'em, tiger.
A strip club seems ridiculous until you figure the guy/girl ratio, which is strikingly similar to that of Breckenridge. Most gents come to the Diamond Cabaret with a pimp roll to spend -- but they're grateful to see women they can touch or talk to without management stepping in and without it costing a buck a minute. So go ahead and revel in all the attention. And just for kicks, have one of the boys buy you a lap dance. It drives 'em nuts.
Art rules Tuesday nights at the Funky Buddha. Each week the popular lounge features works by a different local artist, making these opening-night parties a great foray into Denver's creative class. And if you've had your eye on someone, trust in one of the town's most gracious hostesses, organizer Michelle Barnes: She knows how to work the crowd and make all the right introductions.
We like the clubs, the clubs that go "boom." Which is to say we respect power in a sound system. But we respect precision even more. We want to hear the highs just as clearly as we feel the ribcage-massaging bass. Which is why we recognize the Church's new 100-grand main sound system as world-class, not to mention the best in Denver. The new speakers and amplifiers, which were installed in stages beginning last November, all come from the JBL Application Engineered line. In the past, a lot of the Church's sound went to the ceiling, where no one could hear it. But with twenty new computer-controlled speakers, not one of those 70,000 watts is wasted.
Josh Ivy has been typecast as a trip-hop DJ, better known for laying out cerebral, chilled-out grooves than sweaty, banging dance sets. But while Ivy is arguably the best down-tempo DJ in the city, the kid can also rock a party at 140 beats per minute. Peering out over the decks from behind his Buddy Holly glasses, Ivy smartly reads his crowds and adjusts his sets, skillfully alloying breakbeats and high-energy techno. If you're looking to just kick it for a bit and contemplate the universe, catch Ivy's Wednesday set at Harry's in the Magnolia Hotel, or Thursday gig at Hapa Sushi in Cherry Creek. But if you're in the mood to shake your booty from left to right (repeat as necessary), we suggest you hit up Ivy's lesser-known, full-bore after-hours sets at Enigma, where he reaches deep into his crates to unleash the beast.
Under the guidance of Buffalo Exchange co-owner Todd Colletti, DJ Quid has returned to the Snake Pit alongside DJ Wyatt Earp, bringing a trunkload of the electro sounds of artists such as Miss Kitten, Peaches and Fischerspooner. Who knows how long the sound will last? Who cares? For now, the fashion/music craze has beautiful gay boys, model wannabes and local rock stars all working the dance floor like a runway in Berlin.