The best concerts to see in Denver this weekend
When Big Gigantic played Red Rocks last year, the feeling of hometown pride was unmistakable. As the act went into "Colorado Mountain High," a giant projection of the state flag draped the rocks, and the crowd went absolutely bananas. The duo ended up delivering its best set ever. That said, this year's return of Rowdytown -- which is being preceded by a second show at the Fillmore tonight, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting flood victims -- 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.
Although the Wiredogs have been known as the Hate for the past two years, the members felt that the handle didn't accurately represent them. What's more, they wanted a name that grabbed people's attention by the collar. And so after much debate, they whittled it down from 200 possible names, always going back to the Wiredogs, a nickname for Marines who set up telephone wires. The band's new record (the release of which is being celebrated tonight) is also a better representation of where the band is right now. [read the full The Wiredogs profile in this week's paper]
"So You Go Along," the opening track on Varlet's new album, American Hymns (the release of which is being celebrated tonight), sounds deceptively like something out of a 1970s musical, only the textures are richer and the lyrics darker. And that's a perfect image for this album, a project on which Lilly Scott indulges her inner jazz-and-blues singer, especially on songs like "Liquid Wasteland." Mixing this sound with a more Laurel Canyon-flavored psychedelia on "Meteor" and elsewhere, the band reveals a developed sense of depth, using space as a musical element to great effect. No instrument dominates the mix, and Scott's prominent vocals seem to dance in perfect synch with the music. There's always been a strong jazz vein in Varlet's musical DNA, but this time out, it's fully integrated into the band's pop songcraft, most appreciably on the elegantly crafted title track.
Although the heavy rains that soaked the Front Range have stopped and the floodwaters have begun to recede, as with any natural disaster, there are now a ton of folks who are now in need of help, folks in our community whose lives were not only completely upended, but many of whom had their homes with all of their belongings either damaged or destroyed. Thankfully, we live in the kind of place where nobody needs to be asked twice to help. This Swallow Hill concert features Todd Park Mohr of Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Zach Heckendorf, Patrick Dethlefs, Martin Gilmore of Long Road Home, Mollie O'Brien, Rich Moore and Harry Tuft, among others. Proceeds from this show will benefit Foothills Flood Relief. (See the full list of flood relief benefits.)
Two years ago, former Joy Division bassist Peter Hook played the band's 1979 album Unknown Pleasures in its entirety at the Bluebird Theater. This time around Hook and his group the Light will play 1981's Movement and 1983' Power, Corruption & Lies -- the first two recordings by New Order, which Hook co-founded with fellow Joy Division members Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris after the suicide of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis.
If you often have the urge to watch The Lord of the Rings while blasting death metal like we all do -- I mean, the two go together like mulled wine and salted pork, amirite? -- then A Band of Orcs is a great way to kill two dragons with one stone. Just like orcs running into battle, A Band of Orcs doesn't hold back on unleashing a raging pit of death metal while putting on an elaborate show of battles with props -- often handing out plastic weapons to other war enthusiasts in the crowd.
Otep loves coming to Denver, and Denver opens its arms every time. In a world where women aren't always heard, Otep Shamaya makes sure her voice is heard with deep growling grunts and brash lyrics. Shamaya is known for having lyrics condoning aggression against men, but has also repeatedly spoken out about her avant-garde principles saying, "I am an equal opportunity dispenser of rage." In the late '90s when she was younger, she didn't completely look like an aggressor, but with age came a stronger, tougher look and presence on stage.
Los Angeles post-rock duo El Ten Eleven isn't your run-of-the-mill indie-rock two-piece. For starters, their live sound isn't stripped down like fellow duos Matt & Kim or the White Stripes, and they don't have to rely on drum machines or pre-recorded backing tracks to faithfully reproduce their recordings, like the Kills and Sleigh Bells. Instead, guitarist/bassist Kristian Dunn and drummer Tim Fogarty rely on an array of effects pedals and a looping machine to create intricate atmospheric works that actually do sound as big live as they do on record. What's more, El Ten Eleven's danceable melodies pack enough of a punch so that audiences forget they're watching a dreaded instrumental band.
In addition to performing with singer-songwriters like Ani DiFranco and Natalie Merchant as well as touring with Brandi Carlile for the last few years, the in-demand and innovative drummer Allison Miller, who's been at wielding sticks since she was 10 years old, has also played with jazz heavies such as Marty Ehrlich and Dr. Lonnie Smith. With her group Boom Tic Boom, New York-based Miller is a damn fine improviser and exhibits a range that is far reaching, from light handed cymbal work to deep grooves. For these two shows at Dazzle, she's joined by forward-thinking pianist Myra Melford and bassist Todd Sickafoose (who both appear on new album, No Morphine, No Lilies) as well as local trumpeter extraordinaire Ron Miles.
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