The best concerts to see in Denver this week
THURS | DEVOTCHKA at GOTHIC THEATRE | 10/31/13 It just wouldn't be October without DeVotchKa's annual Halloween extravaganza. This year, the beloved Denver act is holding court at the Gothic Theatre on Thursday, October 31, and the Boulder Theater on the following night, Friday, November 1. Shady Elders is slated to open the first night. You, Me & Apollo and Kitty Crimes open the second night.
WEDS & THURS | DEER TICK at BLUEBIRD THEATER | 10/30-10/31 What began as John McCauley's alt-country solo project emerged as the folk-meets-blues five piece, Deer Tick, in 2004. With two guitars, bass, keys, sax and drums, the band puffs up their Americana sound, even sharing vocal responsibilities on many tracks. Known for their eclectic set lists containing both original songs and covers (they have even performed entire shows under the name of their Nirvana tribute album, Deervana), they are sure to be way more interesting than the phrase "just another indie folk band" would imply.
THURS | RIFF RAFF at VINYL | 10/31/13 If Riff Raff were an artistic movement, he'd be Dadaism. As controversial a rapper as Riff Raff is now, Dada was even more so in the early twentieth century, when practitioners were viewed as the enfant terribles of the art world. Dadaists were distrustful and unsatisfied with reason and logic. As such, their artistic methods included whatever practices had been considered inartistic previously, such as assembling random words or pulling images out of context to form a nonsensical collage, similar to what Riff Raff does in his rapping. Unlike Dadaists, Riff Raff is not acting in protest of conventional rap, though his work is being received in much the same way. Riff is probably not conscious of his Dadaist tendencies, and he thus avoids the great Dada downfall, something for which the Dadaists would certainly love him.
FRI | JOEY BADA$$ at CERVANTES' MASTERPIECE BALLROOM | 11/1/13 Beginning with the powerful single "Survival Tactics," which uses a beat from Styles of Beyond's song of the same name, Joey Bada$$ has carved out a place for himself as the preeminent throwback artist. He's captured the beloved boom-bap sound in a way that few artists have since its mid-'90s heyday. That, combined with a flow that sounds like an updated Jay-Z, or U-God from the Wu-Tang Clan, casts him in a role as one of the last saving graces for rap fans who feel like the genre's best years are far behind it. Since his sophomore mixtape 1999 blew up, the rapper has taken his crew Pro Era with him into the spotlight, which includes talented rappers CJ Fly and the late Capital STEEZ (who died at his own hands late last year) and producers like Kirk Knight and Chuck Strangers. Joey's latest mixtape, Summer Knights, was arguably better than 1999, and it seems likely that his studio debut, B4.Da.$$, will be one of the most anticipated releases of 2014.
MON | SPINDRIFT at WALNUT ROOM | 10/28/13 After a handful of years spent experimenting with a broad spectrum of psychedelic music while based in Newark, Delaware, two of this band's founding members relocated to Los Angeles. There they found like-minded musicians, and for a while, Spindrift included members of Psychic TV, the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Warlocks. The sound the group created at the time has since evolved into a mixture of melancholy and burnished passion as heard in the soundtracks of spaghetti Westerns and '70s exploitation movies, and the brooding, fiery moods that course through Spindrift's music have been utilized to great effect in various TV shows and movies.
MON | HOODIE ALLEN at OGDEN THEATRE | 10/28/13 Hoodie Allen raps with a certain perpetual coming-of-age naivete that has solidified him a niche in the pop-rap market. Last time Allen came to Denver, he was energy on top of energy, which made for an outstanding live show. Since then, he's been working on his acoustic game, releasing Americoustic, which works surprisingly well for him. He's got the soft voice and boyish charm to win the hearts and/or admiration of the teenage audience as a singer and a rapper. It will be interesting to see if Allen can mature as a songwriter beyond worn-out hashtags and boasts into something more raw and unique.
TUES | MIKE DOUGHTY at BOULDER THEATER | 10/29/13 After years of refusing to play Soul Coughing songs, former frontman Mike Doughty is not only performing entire sets of the band's material, he's also released an album of re-invented Soul Coughing tunes that was released last month on his own Snack Bar imprint. He says he decided to go back to his old songs to recapture his original intent as a 22-year-old immersed in the house, hip-hop and anti-folk music of early '90s Manhattan. (Doughty is also due at an in-store at Twist & Shout on Tuesday.)
TUES | EMPIRE OF THE SUN at OGDEN THEATER | 10/29/13 Empire of the Sun -- named after J.G. Ballard's novel about coming of age in China during the Japanese occupation -- formed in Sydney, Australia, five years ago, when Sleepy Jackson vocalist Luke Steele and Pnau singer/producer Nick Littlemore met through an A&R rep. The songwriting partners found more commercial success with this project than they had with their former bands, creating a sound that was exemplified by bright, expansive melodies and brought to life with imaginative, theatrical videos. The outfit's debut, 2008's Walking on a Dream, did well on the charts and was followed up admirably this past summer with Ice on the Dune, an album that furthered the whimsical fantasy-fiction aesthetic, thanks to the L. Frank Baum-esque video for "Alive."
THURS | GRIZMATIK at 1STBANK CENTER | 10/31/13 Grizmatik is the name given to the blessed union of GRiZ and Gramatik. GRiZ is Grant Kwiecinski, who grew up in Detroit, Michigan, the American breeding ground for so much great electronic music. Mentored through classes with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Kwiecinski found his sound in the alto saxophone and has managed to hybridize it with hip-hop samples and danceable electronic beats. His affinity for music evolved into an obsession, and before he knew it, he was supporting a Gramatik national tour and promoting his own music under the name GRiZ. Gramatik, meanwhile, used to be an MC who rapped with his buddies over his beats. He grew up in Slovenia listening to DJ Premier, Guru, Rza, Dre and an arsenal of hip-hop and break beats fills his catalogue of sample options. Sharing this bill with Grizmatik is A-Trak, Two Fresh and Exmag.
THURS | SHAKEY GRAVES at FOX THEATRE | 10/31/13 Shakey Graves (Alejandro Rose-Garcia) is a one man force to be reckoned with. Armed with a vintage guitar, attention grabbing musical stylistics and a drum made out of a suitcase, this one man band grabs audiences like no other; you can hear a pin drop at his shows. In addition to Shakey's gig at the Fox on Thursday night, you can also catch him at the Ogden Theatre on Friday night.