The best concerts in Denver this weekend
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.
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.
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.
A Memphis-marinated trio featuring Luther and Cody Dickinson and bassist Chris Chew, the North Mississippi All-Stars hold a deep allegiance to their Delta blues forefathers while remaining open to experimentation. Inspired by the time-honored, hill-country standards of R.L. Burnside and Mississippi Fred McDowell (whose steak-bone slide playing was preserved for the Smithsonian in the late '50s by folklorist Alan Lomax), the All-Stars bring looped bottleneck beats, dub-reggae and electric washboard into the mix for a decidedly post-punk brand of thrash-blues-boogie. Hip-hooray, as the hippies all say. And while they indeed run the risk of offending purists and snobs alike, there are enough juke-joint flavorings, call-and-response vocals and gospel overtones on hand to delight the lion's share of folks who appreciate a little funk in their gutbucket. Only a musical segregationist could argue otherwise.
James Dewees is one of the weirder inhabitants of the mid-2000s emo/pop-punk bubble. Around the late 1990s, he was playing keyboards for The Get Up Kids when he decided to record a few solo tracks on a whim. They were louder, campier and synthier than what the band was doing, so Dewees gave the EP away on cassettes at shows as a goof. The project evolved into Reggie and the Full Effect, and the oddball shenanigans continued. Other Dewees alter egos began to pop up on Reggie and The Full Effect albums, like the German doom metal band Common Denominator and British electropop lethario Fluxuation. Under The Tray, Reggie and the Full Effect's third album on Vagrant Records, perplexed fans when they opened the CD packaging to find no disc on the spool -- it was literally under the tray. After a long-shelved fifth album and a 2008 farewell tour, the outfit took a long hiatus while Dewees focused on addiction recovery. Last year, a sudden resurgence and subsequent Kickstarter campaign led to studio album number six, No Country For Old Musicians.
Kinetix, a high energy, local party band, is celebrating the release of One Life, its latest disc, with a show at 1 UP Colfax. Blending a variety of genres like rock, pop and electronic together, Kinetix is a stand out act in the scene that has spent a fair amount of time touring around the country.
With a brand new album that drops this week, Cold River City will have an exciting night showing off material from the new record, Let Me Shine. The seductive vocals of Emma Fields give an extra oomph to this spirited funk rock band's sound, bringing a smoothness that works well with the dirty funk. West Water Outlaws and James and the Devil are slated to share this terrific triple-bill.
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.
With an ever-present smile and unbridled energy, Habib Koité carries the torch as a young disciple of Malian griot storytelling and musical tradition, yet adds a Western pop sensibility (like occasional Jimi Hendrix-esque guitar riffs) that give his work a greater world reach. Whether his songs are about cows or the destructiveness of cigarettes, Koite's material speaks to everyone. Also on the bill are South African guitarist/singer-songwriter Vusi Mahlasela and Dobet Gnahore, whose music is steeped in the traditions of the Bete people in her native Ivory Coast. Koite's new album, Soô, is slated for release on February 26.
Over the last three decades, Tim Berne has proven to be one of the more adventurous saxophonists and composers in avant garde jazz. While he's performed with a number of different groups over the years, he's also released two brilliant discs on ECM with his Snakeoil group, which includes clarinetist Oscar Noriega, pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer Ches Smith (Dan Weiss is filling in for Smith on this date). On last year's Shadow Man, the group delved into cerebral and angular material, on tracks like "Static" and "OC/DC," most notably, while "Psalm" is quite serene.
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