June is proving to be a musical month, and the Westword Music Showcase, Saturday, June 24, is obviously the crown jewel of it all. If you've been procrastinating, you can still get tickets here.
But the music doesn't have to begin and end with Showcase. Consider going to these three must-attend concerts as well.
Friday, June 23, 9 p.m.
Positive-rock guru Andrew W.K. returns to Denver to celebrate another year of partying with a DJ set at Lipgloss's sixteenth-anniversary event. The last time W.K. came to town, it was part of his Power of Partying speaking tour, during which he played no music, but urged his audience to tap into the "physical, emotional, mental, entire human sensation" however they could, to further the reach of "human destiny." While W.K.'s philosophy can sound like bong theory, he's an earnest, charismatic performer who's sure to make the crowd feel good. The party also includes performances from Boyhollow and DJ Tower. – Katie Moulton
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Sunday, June 25
Last year, Japanese Breakfast – that’s the moniker former Little Big League frontwoman Michelle Zauner now writes and performs under – dropped her debut album, Psychopomp, through tiny Maryland indie label Yellow K Records. Written in the weeks following her mother’s death, the album made her a rising star within indie rock; she has been widely lauded by critics for her delicate songwriting, shimmering guitar work and heart-wrenching introspective lyrics. These days, Zauner is gearing up for the release of her sophomore album, Soft Sounds From Another Planet, which abandons the dream-pop style that defined Psychopomp in favor of stranger, moodier dreamscapes set against the backdrop of space exploration. On “Machinist,” the first single from Soft Sounds, Zauner lets the synths take the lead, breaks out a saxophone, and tries her hand at auto-tune – all while spinning a tale of love and devotion between woman and machine. With her newfound retro-futurist sensibilities, Zauner has essentially staged a total reinvention – a move that’s become something of a rarity within indie rock. We recommend following her wherever she may lead. – Elle Carroll
Sunday, June 25
The Vans Warped Tour might have begun as a punk-rock gig back in the day, but the institution stretches a little further afield nowadays. Every year, the lineup seems a bit more eclectic, taking in electro-pop, the various strains of metal, and, of course, every sub-sub-genre of punk rock. This year, the inevitable elder statesmen include L.A. vets the Dickies, reformed O.C. ska heroes Save Ferris, and the New York hardcore band Sick of It All. Gwar, Alestorm and Municipal Waste will weigh in with some entertainingly brutal metal, and the Ataris and CKY will drag in the pop-punk kids. For a dark-horse highlight, check out the Lemmy-approved Barb Wire Dolls — an L.A.-based sleazy rock-and-roll troupe fronted by the gloriously named Isis Queen, an impossibly charismatic and captivating singer. As is always the case, there’s enough to satisfy everyone with an open mind who likes punk music and all of the surrounding genres. — Brett Callwood