The best concerts in Denver this weekend
Sesame Street couldn't handle mixing kids' programming with Katy Perry cleavage, but Yo Gabba Gabba! gets it right every time. Perhaps it's because one of the show's creators, Christian Jacobs, is MC Bat Commander of the Aquabats. After becoming a father, he and a friend created Gabba, which began to go viral even as TV execs rejected it. The producer of Napoleon Dynamite spotted it and showed it to a Nickelodeon bigwig, and the rest is pop-culture/kid-show history. Host DJ Lance Rock and characters Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Toodee and Plex are irresistible in their own right. But add guest stars like Of Montreal, the Ting Tings and Weezer, and the show becomes eye and ear candy for everyone ages one to 37.
Karl Denson is hard to pin down. The saxophonist and bandleader may have strong roots in the traditional jazz of giants like John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter, but that hasn't stopped him from exploring funk, R&B, hip-hop and myriad other genres in his two-decade-plus career. Starting as a member of Lenny Kravitz's original ensemble in the late '80s, Denson went on to push the creative envelope, exploring different textures and styles with the Greyboy Allstars and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe.
"They say you can't please everyone," Talib Kweli declares at the outset of his 2007 album, Eardrum, and his career stands as proof of that maxim. Since the days of Black Star, a 1998 disc that teamed him with Mos Def, critics have championed Kweli as a rhymer whose interests extend well beyond stereotypical narratives about women with too much booty for one man to handle...If the masses remain beyond Kweli's reach, his refusal to compromise keeps his cult following well-pleased.
Teeming with crystallized voices, fractured guitar breaks and falsetto funk, the German avant-electronic duo known as Mouse on Mars first began navigating the frontiers of glitch and post-rock nearly two decades ago. Like Andrew Weatherall conducting Malcolm McLaren through a recital of TV on the Radio's Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, the outfit's catchy hybridization of tweaked-techno theorizes beats and melodies to their coldest intellectual extremes, coaxing hidden hooks and subsurface rhythms out of the most icy digital ambience. Like all works of abstraction, this act's music may take some thawing to fully fathom -- but its aesthetic thrills are warm and immediate.
Aside from touring as a solo act under the VibeSquaD moniker, Aaron Holstein has found the perfect balance between filling his duties as a highly sought-after EDM producer and those of being a father. Following a successful stint on Bassnectar's Vava Voom tour, Holstein has settled in for 2013 by touring with electro-jam rockers Lotus. Based here in Denver, out of one America's EDM hotbeds, Holstein creates music that straddles several genres, blurring the lines between breakbeats and bass without straying far from his hip-hop roots. Live, a VibeSquaD show can quickly go from Holstein setting the groove with a nice house tempo to an insane, raging, full-blown dance party.
Break out the tie-dye hoodie and slip a pair of socks on with those Birkenstocks: Furthur is coming back to town. Like bottles of wine, guitarist Bob Weir and bass master Phil Lesh seem to get better and better with age. Since the end of the Grateful Dead proper in 1995, the two have kept the band's music going strong through various musical projects, and Furthur is the best of the bunch.
Just in case anyone forgot how long the Reverend Horton Heat has been around, he reminded everyone during the first 45 minutes of his last show the Ogden Theatre a year ago by playing a song from each of his albums in chronological order, from 1991's Sub Pop debut, Smoke 'em if You Got 'em, to his most recent effort, 2009's Laughin' and Cryin' With the Reverend Horton Heat. After each of the first ten songs, Heat would call out what number album the band was about to play a song from, and just before they kicked into a raucous take of "Jimbo Song," from their fifth release, 1998's Space Heater, Heat said the album was widely recognized as the worst album the trio ever did. "The experts, they all agree," Heat said.
The thing the Drive-By Truckers is probably best known for -- aside from its spirited live sets -- is the sheer quality of its material and the overall excellence of its songcraft, from the compelling narratives to the colorful characters that populate the stories. While most bands are fortunate to have one tunesmith among its ranks, the Truckers have had three solid songwriters: Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley and Jason Isbell. Isbell left the band, while Hood tried his hand solo and now it's Cooley's turn with A Fool on Every Corner, his solo debut, a live recording that features bare versions of some Truckers tunes along with a new cut and a cover.
With the recent release of the latest Toro Y Moi album, Anything in Return, Chaz Bundick should be able to transcend the chillwave label that's been assigned to him by countless critics. Like his friend and mutual mentor Ernest Green of Washed Out, Bundick started his project as an entirely solo endeavor undertaken by someone who had learned to make electronic music but was also no stranger to conventional instrumentation. By the time of 2011's Underneath the Pine, Toro Y Moi had grown into a full live band, even though Bundick continued to write all the songs. In a group context, there's a noticeable depth of compositional development present that's only hinted at in solo performances. But from the beginning, Toro Y Moi's music has been a soulful, funk-inflected dream pop that soothes as much as it sparks the imagination.
Are you ready to party? What are we saying? Of course you are. You were born to rage! Good thing: Artopia, one of our most eagerly anticipated parties of the year next to the Westword Music Showcase, is once again upon us. This year's edition of Artopia has a lineup that is absolutely stacked with acts like Wheelchair Sports Camp, Hearts In Space, Kitty Crimes and In the Whale, among others, slated to perform across five Golden Triangle venues alongside a serious and heady batch of artists, poets, dancers, videographers and comedians. Don't miss one of the biggest and best bashes of the year.
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