The best DIY shows in Denver in December
FRI | ALPHABETS at RHINOCEROPOLIS | 12/13/13 When Colin Ward was thirteen years old, he was already making an impression on older members of the underground music community in Denver with his project Pocket Dove. With Nick Peelor, Ward formed the experimental indie-pop band Tudaloos and made music that seemed larger than life with the raw energy both he and Peelor poured into their performances. But his longest-running concern has been his current solo project, the frenetic experimental electronic band Alphabets. While at one time a veritable volcano of productivity and creativity, in recent years Ward has reined that in a bit and developed his expansive output into a more focused affair.
THURS | PUBLIC DISPLAY OF AGGRESSION at 7TH CIRCLE | 12/6/13 This five-piece technical-metal band from Denver may have been influenced by the better end of "nü metal" and latter-day thrash, but its lyrics are informed by a sharp political and social critique. Adopting stage names like James Aggression, Rage, Dashing, Kenny Daggers and Mattitude, and joking about being influenced by Randy Newman, Public Display of Aggression clearly appreciates that having a sense of humor in music is sometimes essential, lest you come off a bit pretentious, especially when your music is overtly political. Currently in the process of getting its recent recordings mastered, Public Display of Aggression should have its new release available in the new year.
SAT | OLASSA at RHINOCEROPOLIS | 12/7/13 Anyone that has been paying attention for the last several years knows about the burgeoning music scene in Lawrence, Kansas. Olassa comes from that scene, which includes notable acts like Ssion and Scammers. The band sounds like a straightforward alt-country act with some stylistic flourishes borrowed from the Moldy Peaches, led by singer Allison Olassa's evocative quaver. But these are no shrinking violets here, and guitarist Cain Robertson is known to jump around at their shows, swept up in the emotional peaks inherent in the songwriting.
SAT | THE BIPEDAL APPROACH at 7TH CIRCLE | 12/7/13 The joke used to be that it was easy to be in a post-rock band if you had a delay pedal and a slightly twangy guitar like a Telecaster and knew how to play slowly, making subtle builds. The Bipedal Approach doesn't fit that model at all. The outfit's players have chops that are impressive, and the sparkling guitar is augmented in textured, expressive and urgent percussion and piano work. Capable of energetic intensity, the Bipedal Approach is also deft at creating introspective atmospheres with real sonic depth and heft. It would be tempting to compare these guys to another post-rock band, but this group has probably consciously not tried to make music in someone else's mold.
TUES | BLIND MAN DEAF BOY at 7TH CIRCLE | 12/10/13 When the Pitchfork House (later named the Mouth House) was going strong in the first decade of the 2000s, you could go and see so-called folk punk, and it wasn't a punchline initiated by less talented purveyors of that music. This band comes from a mindset similar to that of defunct acts like Fainting Fansies and perhaps even the "acoustic grindcore" band the Drinking Gourd. Wherever these guys are coming from, they somehow make violin, accordion, guitar, drums and vocals seem as raucous and irreverent as any fully electric punk band. For this show, Blind Man Deaf Boy is releasing its debut EP.
THURS | BLIGHTER at 7TH CIRCLE | 12/12/13 If a sludge-metal band got a lot more evil and displayed some roots in death metal or grind or the like, you'd have Blighter. Based in Colorado Springs, this band includes one of the former members of garage-rock phenoms the Nicotine Fits, and has forged a sound that fuses the grimier end of punk with the more sonically unpredictable end of metal.
FRI | RAINBOWDRAGONEYES at 7TH CIRCLE | 12/13/13 RAINBOWDRAGONEYES makes 8-bit songs that are their own version of extreme metal -- "dance metal." The rhythms are more insane than what most death-metal bands try, and the vocals don't stay clean for a whole song but rather go right into a scary, distorted sound -- all while singing lyrics as ridiculous and laden with violent imagery and a narrative of evil deeds. The music may seem like something of a gimmick, but not everyone can make something this weird and make it work so well.
SAT | NIGHT OF NOISE at RHINOCEROPOLIS | 12/14/13 Night of Noise showcases some of the best experimental electronic artists and other noiseniks. This show features Patrick Urn's longstanding breakcore project Syphilis Sauna, dark ambient-industrial legends Blackcell, the IDM-informed Broken Spectre, Icon Slaves and Page 27's John Gross doing a solo set of noise. If you're into modulated or sculpted noise or an experiential atmosphere, Night of Noise is totally worth your time.
WEDS | AMERICAN HAIKU at 7TH CIRCLE | 12/18/13 Named after the Jack Kerouac poem, American Haiku isn't some kind of folk or jazz band -- not in any conventional sense, anyway. The group's sound is one that seems to have some stylistic roots in mid-'90s post-hardcore and late-'90s emo, with crunchy guitars framing bursts of vocals coming out of quiet sections -- that loud-quiet-loud dynamic favored by bands like the Pixies and Mission of Burma. There is a raw charm to American Haiku's music, which sounds like something out of Louisville, Kentucky, in the '90s.
FRI | FALSE COLOURS at 7TH CIRCLE | 12/27/13 Skirting the line between pop punk and just straight melodic punk, False Colours sounds like its members grew up listening to Jawbox, Descendents and stuff like Stiff Little Fingers, as interpreted through California-based punk in the '90s. Having the feel of hardcore but more self-critical than projecting anger outward, these guys have plenty of the snarl of early Green Day, but with guitar work that sounds like it comes more from the same musical sources tapped by Gaslight Anthem. It's more Hot Water Music than Breather Resist, but it songs sound like they could be informed on some level by both. The band's latest release, the excellent 2012 album Excess and Design, has genuinely clever song titles and even better songs.