Ten best concerts to see in Denver this weekend
NATHANIEL RATELIFF & NIGHT SWEATS @ BOULDER THEATER | 5/17 At this stage of his career, particularly in Denver, Nathaniel Rateliff is a man who requires absolutely no preamble. Nonetheless, the limited-edition two-song seven-inch he produced for Record Store Day feels like a fresh and glorious reintroduction to a songwriter. Although Rateliff has one of the most silken voices around, on these vintage-flavored, horn-bolstered soul songs, he sings with a fervent abandon that adds an unexpected but completely gratifying layer of depth and expressiveness. Catch Rateliff tonight when he warms up for the glorious James Hunter Six.
THREE LOCO @ CERVANTES' | FRI, 5/17/13 If you take your rap seriously, don't go to this show. Nothing about this group, which is made up of Internet phenomenon RiFF RaFF, ex-porn star Dirt Nasty and manchild Andy Milonakis, resembles the pure art of emceeing developed in New York in the late '70s. That's not to say that the group isn't talented, and certainly not to say that the show won't be entertaining. It will -- as long as you appreciate sophomoric humor, dick jokes, non sequiturs and absurdity.
BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW @ BLUEBIRD THEATER | FRI, 5/17/13 The music of Black Moth Super Rainbow seems custom-fitted for a Sofia Coppola film. It has that daydreamy, otherworldly sound favored by acts like Air and Broadcast, with low-end buoyancy propelling sparkly, soaring waves of sound -- sort of like Stereolab without the political agenda and driving, droney guitars. And live, the act employs whimsical video projections to augment its consciousness-bending music. If the Residents' evocation of Theater of the Obscure was mated with an electric Kool-Aid dance party, it might look a lot like this.
MIRANDA LAMBERT @ FIDDLER'S GREEN | SAT, 5/18/13 Miranda Lambert has struck a delicate balance: Together with kindred artists like Jamey Johnson, she's made country music palatable once again to the sanctimonious scads of big-city, Tea Party-loathing dissenters, infusing the genre with a newfound sense of authenticity missing since the days of her legendary outlaw forefathers. At the same time, she's managed to sing earnest, heartfelt, everyman ballads like "The House That Built Me," as well as gritty, angst-filled anthems of empowerment like "Gunpowder and Lead" and "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" that resonate with rank-and-file fans of modern country, affording her truckloads of crossover appeal and street cred -- not to mention a serious leg up on her contemporaries.
DRAGONETTE @ OGDEN THEATRE | SAT, 5/18/13 Dragonette has been hot on the underground pop scene for years, but it wasn't until 2011 that the band came charging onto the radio with global party-starter "Hello," a collaboration with Martin Solveig. Almost overnight, the outfit -- lead singer Martina Sorbara; her husband, multi-instrumentalist Dan Kurtz; and drummer Joel Stouffer -- went from being pop's best-kept secret to playing sets at Coachella.
TECH N9NE @ SUMMIT MUSIC HALL | SAT, 5/18/13 Tech N9Ne is here so often you'd be excused for thinking he lives here. He's doesn't of course. His mail is delivered to Kansas. But that's just where the rapper hails from, really. He lives on the road. And that's precisely how he's risen up through the independent ranks to command the same level of attention and acclaim as his much higher profile counterparts. You can be sure that anything he's gained along the way, he's earned the old fashion way. With his Strange Music empire, Tech has paved his own road and amassed a legion of fans whose devotion is second only to perhaps ICP. All of that would mean nothing, however, if Tech couldn't bring it. Needless to say, he can spit with the best of them.
KNOWN PLEASURES @ HI-DIVE | SAT, 5/18/13 On May 18, 1980, Joy Division's enigmatic lead singer, Ian Curtis, committed suicide by hanging. Before his death, he had reportedly been listening to Iggy Pop's quasi-nihilistic, dark-glam masterpiece The Idiot and had just watched Werner Herzog's surrealistic sub-cinema verité comedy Stroszek. This show is not a reminder of Curtis's death, but rather a reminder of the fragility and significance of life: In addition to serving as a tribute to the genius of Curtis and company, Known Pleasures -- as this show at the hi-dive has been dubbed -- is a benefit for Mike Marchant, a songwriter whose music and presence has enriched Denver and who's currently battling Hodgkin's lymphoma. Emerald Siam, Hindershot, Flash/Cub, The Royal and Violent Summer will all perform Joy Division songs, turning what could essentially be a grim reminder of death into an affirmation of life.
MUSIC MATTERS @ SANTE FE ARTS DISTRICT | SAT & SUN, 5/18-5/19 Flobots.Org, a local nonprofit organization responsible for granting several mediums of art to the public, presents Music Matters May. This festival spread out over three weekends and nine venues, including Sync Art Gallery, Colorado Arts Center, Center for Visual Arts, CHAC Gallery and Space Gallery, and will deliver eighteen acts, including Melissa Ivey, Molina, Suzi Q. Smith, Varlet and more, and present local artists' work for viewing and sale. This weekend's lineup features Sarah Slaton, Bianca Mikahn, Grayson Erhard and John Runnels, Drew Schofield, Mike Wird and Josh Lee and Friends.
HOT TUNA @ BOULDER THEATER | SAT, 5/18/13 Guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady go back. Way back. Before the two joined San Franciscan psychedelic outfit Jefferson Airplane, they played together in a group called the Triumphs. After (while Airplane morphed into the subsequently cheesier and cheesier Starship), the two formed Hot Tuna, and expanded on the soulful blues and folk roots of Jefferson Airplane with a couple of canonical boogie rock records.
FIVE POINTS JAZZ FEST @ FIVE POINTS | SAT, 5/18/13 Since starting a decade ago, the Five Points Jazz Festival has been celebrating the music, culture and history of Denver's historic Five Points neighborhood by highlighting local jazz acts. Acts on the main stage of this year's festival include the Hazel Miller Band, Conjunto Colores, Park Hill Brass, Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra and Southern Journey, while some acts on other stages include Buckner Funkenjazz, Willie Houston, Deep Chocolate and Adam Bodine Trio. The free event also includes food and art vendors.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.