Thinking Plague, 8 p.m. Wednesday, September 1, at the Mercury Cafe, released In Extremis last fall -- and collected the kind of global critical praise that forces the skeptics among us to reread it as a reality check. Much like its three predecessors, the release led admirers to speak of Thinking Plague as one of the most accomplished progressive-rock groups on earth while exclaiming that it's not really a prog-rock group. It may sound like the usual hyperbole, but when it comes to the avant rock-jazz-folk-classical goulash of this seventeen-year-old ensemble led by guitarist Mike Johnson, believe the hype. If you haven't heard the act's highly complex compositions and unusual instrumentation, it may be that you follow the beaten musical path. Then again, it may have something to do with the fact that this will be the first Thinking Plague performance in Colorado since before George Bush moved back to Texas and Bill Clinton moved to D.C. Opening is Hamster Theatre, another singular Denver-area band with a genius moniker that shares Thinking Plague's Johnson, reedist Mark Harris and bassist/accordionist/guitarist/keyboardist David Willey. -- Thomas Peake
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