The best concerts to see in Denver this week
Last year's Big Gigantic date at Red Rocks was the best EDM shows of the year in this state, and that speaks volumes, given how many stellar acts there were to choose from. The feeling of hometown pride, in both the band and the crowd, was simply unmistakable as Big G went into "Colorado Mountain High" and a giant projection of the state flag draped the rocks. The crowd went bananas, and the duo ended up delivering its best set ever. Needless to say, this year's return of Rowdytown (which is being preceded by a show at the Fillmore the night before) is highly anticipated.
In 2011, former Backbeat scribe (and former Foxy Digitalis contributor and current stringer for Decoder) Crawford Philleo founded the Goldrush Music Festival with his friends Jake Martin and Ryan Pjesky, aiming to highlight some of the most interesting underground music of the day. The following year, Philleo more or less booked the festival himself, and it included such noteworthy experimental musicians as Ttotals, Barn Owl and Panabrite. For this year's edition, Goldrush is bringing in an equally impressive selection of artists who are well outside the mainstream but respected by fans of creatively daring music. Noveller, Rene Hell, Scammers, MV&EE and Caddywhompus all bring completely different flavors to the festival (and to Colorado). In terms of local talent, Hideous Men makes a rare return appearance alongside Accordion Crimes, Paw Paw and many others.
Since 2008, Wavves has embodied both the excesses and the virtues of the current wave of garage/surf rock that has been plaguing -- or gracing, depending on your perspective -- stages across America and beyond. You can depend on Wavves, led by Nathan Williams, to either provide a solid performance or deliver something so off the cuff that you'll never fully forget it. The band has also released some surprisingly fine records, including 2011's King of the Beach, which received a great deal of critical acclaim, and its most recent effort, Afraid of Heights. The latter finds the band clearly coming into its own as artists with a batch of well-crafted, expertly nuanced songs that haven't yet lost the frayed edges that have become key to the group's appeal.
Based on its reputation in its home town of L.A., FIDLAR could just as well be named FUBAR -- though that would probably be a more apt description of the carnage left behind in its wake. Apparently these dudes are hell on wheels and just completely get everybody super-riled and then utterly fuck shit up every time they play. But then, would you expect anything less from a pair of brothers whose dad played in T.S.O.L.? As for the music, FIDLAR (which purportedly stands for "Fuck it, dawg. Life's a risk") plays a sloppy yet potent blend of primitive garage punk that you've heard at least a million times before but that rarely gets old when done well. And these cats do it well, which is probably what convinced Mom + Pop Music to pick them up.
Zedd is part of that new wave of producers putting new twists on old genres and making EDM tracks that are radio-ready. "Clarity," for instance, can be heard sandwiched between a Rihanna and Justin Timberlake song, but it still bangs out in the clubs and venues. Zedd's a good DJ, and chances are you'll hear a lot of Dillon Francis-esque tracks and maybe some tasteful remixes thrown in the mix, as well.
Like their contemporaries in U.K. Subs, who lived in the same building, the seasoned pub musicians who formed the Vibrators in 1976 brought a blues tradition to the infantile punk scene. But while the scene was highly politicized and angry, the Vibes got their kicks from sexually charged fun; tunes like "Whips & Furs" and "I Need a Slave" brought the post-disco kids to the dance floor without a single reference to Britain's footballers. The lasting effect is evident, from punk stalwarts Stiff Little Fingers to garage-gothers the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. On last year's Punk: The Early Years, the Vibrators covered songs by both their influences and their followers, including the Ramones' "Beat on the Brat," the Damned's "New Rose," and -- their namesake -- Motörhead's "Vibrator." Live performances are stimulating affairs, with Ian Knox's crisp, snotty vocals and penetrating guitar stirring the pot and the pit. Enigmatic drummer Eddie pounds the glazed-faced crowd until it's satisfied.
In the 1990s, DJ Shadow (aka Josh Davis) revolutionized turntablism and distinguished himself as the illest sample-slinger in the West. His subsequent contributions to film scores and supergroup projects cemented his reputation as the dark lord of ambient breakbeats and trippy electronica.
With every album, Between the Buried and Me continues to find new, unexplored territories of the progressive metal world, stabbing forward with a meticulously polished nimbleness with their instruments and the world-isn't-flat kind of an attitude towards music. The band's multi-layered maze isn't for everyone, but for those seeking a challenge with their ears, Between the Buried and Me could put you in the right place and time.
When virtuosic clarinetist Ben Goldberg, who grew up in Denver and went to East High School, began playing the contra-alto clarinet in Tin Hat, he started thinking about using the instrument as a bass. So last year he recruited some of his favorite players, including guitar wizard Nels Cline, consummate tenor players Ellery Eskelin and Rob Sudduth and brilliant drummer Ches Smith (all of whom will join Goldberg on these two nights) for Goldberg's outstanding album, Unfold Ordinary Mind, released last February as was the equally compelling Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues, which features Ron Miles and Joshua Redman. Except some brainy improvisation all around during these two nights.
Once largely dismissed as simpering riders of a long-since-crashed wave of toothless indie pop, the Kids got older and slipped into a larger mainstream with a studio-polished radio-pop album. For the most part, the act abandoned what little menace it held to begin with, which doesn't sound like much of an endorsement -- but this seems like the place the band belonged all along. Whereas his voice sounded thin and skittish before, Nathan Willett actually sounds at home among the arching melodies and sailing guitars. On the heels of its recent appearance at Cultivate, the Kids return to town in support of its latest effort, Dear Miss Lonelyhearts.
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