The best concerts in Denver this week
FRI & SAT | LOTUS at FILLMORE AUDITORIUM | 2/7-2/8 The jazzy electronic quintet Lotus, known for its precisely timed improvisations during live shows, is celebrating its thirteenth year together. This weekend, fresh off the release of its most recent effort, Lotus, the band, which is signed to Boulder's SCI Fidelity records, is kicking off a tour that will culminate with a group of shows in Japan. From incorporating video-game music to performing David Bowie tribute shows and playing Black Sabbath covers, Lotus has figured out how to evolve its music and have a lot of fun doing it. The act is sure to please the Fillmore crowd with extensive, complex jam sessions and, if we're lucky, a few covers.
MON | KID CONGO POWERS & PINK MONKEY BIRDS at HI-DIVE | 2/3/14 Kid Congo Powers (aka Brian Tristan) is perhaps best known for his stints with the Cramps in the early '80s, with the Gun Club on and off from its inception, and with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds during a few of that band's Berlin years. His finely textured and expressive guitar playing, at once powerful and subtle, brought a soulful liveliness to every one of those projects. Powers and his latest band, the Pink Monkey Birds, are playing the first date of their new tour in the Mile High City.
WEDS | TOXIC HOLOCAUST at SUMMIT MUSIC HALL | 2/5/14 The members of Portland's Toxic Holocaust can send a bit of a mixed message when they first come out on stage, because frontman Joel Grind looks like he walked right out of Los Angeles circa 1985. As soon as he and the rest of the band start playing, though, it's pretty obvious that they haven't exactly been influenced by guys who spent too much time putting on makeup before hitting the stage. Grind started Toxic Holocaust as a solo project about ten years ago, eventually turning it into a full-fledged band. A mixture of Celtic Frost's and Venom's darkly aggressive sound with a backbone of hardcore's furious energy, this trio has a refreshingly palpable presence. Last year's Conjure and Command, the band's first fully collaborative effort, comes off like Slayer. If names are a promise, this is one that delivers.
FRI | BREATHE CAROLINA at SUMMIT MUSIC HALL | 2/7/14 Breathe Carolina plays a particular brand of synth pop that has worn so thin, it's practically transparent. Yet in the hands of the group's leader, David Schmitt, the songs, which are tinted with a swirl of screamo, work in curiously refreshing ways. Recalling Jeff Lynne's joyful abuse of pop on the Xanadu soundtrack, the act has crafted a sound that conjures Air after one too many repeated viewings of Napoleon Dynamite. It speaks to the unevolved adolescent heart in everyone, much like the gloriously ridiculous Gil Mantera's Party Dream; as such, you can't take the members of Breathe Carolina or their music too seriously. Some wear irony and kitsch like a badge; these guys twirl it around like glow sticks at a rave, thumbing their noses at anyone who isn't having fun.
MON | STONE SOUR at OGDEN THEATRE | 2/3/14 Some people have to have it all. Take singer Corey Taylor and guitarist Jim Root. As members of Slipknot, the two enjoyed worldwide success when their Des Moines, Iowa, bar band was transformed into a tour headliner seemingly overnight. But before they became masked metal mavens, they played together in another Iowa outfit called Stone Sour. A little over a decade ago, Taylor used a break from Slipknot to write songs with guitarist Josh Rand; the melodic but hard material they came up with inspired a resurrection of Stone Sour. The group released an eponymous debut on Roadrunner Records in 2002 and since then has released three more albums, including 2012's House of Gold & Bones -- Part 1 and last year's follow-up, House of Gold & Bones -- Part 2.
FRI | YOUNGSTA & TRUTH at BETA | 2/7 Hailing from the Deep Medi label, Truth will be playing alongside fellow dubstep pioneer Youngsta. Both acts take things into a region of sound not often heard on sound systems. This isn't just standard, run-of-the-mill dubstep that you think you heard on a movie teaser; this is dubstep as it's heard in sweaty rooms around the world that know the Truth.
While plenty of acts get filed under EDM, the music Bluetech creates is more ADM -- Atmospheric Dance Music. His sets are always on point; they would provide the perfect soundtrack for those dreams where you are flying. The music is deep, never delving too far into the high BPMs, and always filled with delightful sounds and blips. It's different, that's for sure, but certainly something that you have you feverishly searching for more of his studio cuts when you leave the show.
FRI & SAT | THE FUNKY METERS at CERVANTES' | 2/7-2/8 Bassist George Porter Jr. and keyboardist Art Neville were part of legendary New Orleans funk group the Meters, who know pretty much everything there is to know about locking in a groove. The group pioneered the New Orleans funk sound in late '60s into the '70s. Since the original Meters broke up in 1977, the members went their separate ways and Neville joined the Neville Brothers and Porter later formed the Funky Meters with guitarist Brian Stoltz and drummer Russell Batiste. Expect some funky good times for the group's two-night stand at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom this weekend.
THURS | TOMMY EMMANUEL at NEWMAN CENTER | 2/6/14 There are guitarists, and then there are certified guitar players. Tommy Emmanuel fits that description. Emmanuel has recorded with Rolling Stone Bill Wyman and toured with Shania Twain. Emmanuel has been making a name for himself since he began playing with the circus in his native Australia. Emmanuel's songs take flight with roots-based classic pickers Chet Atkins and Mel Travis before detouring through the worlds of B.B. King, Larry Carlton, Stevie Wonder and, oddly, Billy Joel. Complex rhythms merge with five-finger picking and lightning-fast fills, resulting in the sound of several guitars playing at once.
THURS & FRI | CONVERGENCE & PETER BERNSTEIN at DAZZLE | 2/6-2/7 Made up of some the state's best jazz players, Convergence plays Dazzle on a monthly basis while also occasionally performing with nationally known talents like Bobby Watson, Larry Goldings, Jimmy Heath and Roberta Gambarini. For this two-night stint at Dazzle, Convergence teams up with the brilliant New York City-based guitarist Peter Bernstein, who studied with one of his mentors, the late Jim Hall. Over the last two decades, Bernstein has performed with jazz heavies like Lee Konitz, Tom Harrell, Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman and more recently he's a member of Sonny Rollins' new quintet.