The Eighteen Best Concerts in Denver This Halloween Weekend

GWAR! On Halloween! Come on.
GWAR! On Halloween! Come on.
Ed Steele for the Dallas Observer. Full slideshow here.

Holy moly. We didn't even list all the interesting shows going on tonight, because you have to draw the line somewhere. And Bob Dylan is in town tomorrow! OK, right to it:

See also: The Costume-Based Guide to This Year's Halloween Concerts in Denver

As the Blood Runs Black Marquis Theater : 6:00 p.m. October 31

As the Blood Runs Black is death core band from LA with a name to fit its music. Just like vampires who rely on humans to survive, or zombies who stick together to convert non-zombies, dark doesn't mean alone. Rings of Saturn, Upon This Dawning, Elitist, Those Who Fear are all hardcore bands who are joining the line-up.

Busdriver Lost Lake Lounge : October 31

Regan Farquhar got a bit of a head start being immersed in the world of hip-hop when his father, Ralph Farquhar, wrote the screenplay for Krush Groove. When he was a teenager, Regan became involved in the legendary hip-hop open mike Project Blowed. His labyrinthine, rapid-fire vocal delivery first found its way to a wider audience with the 1999 release of Memoirs of the Elephant Man, his debut as Busdriver. By the mid-2000s, he was signed to Anti-, the Epitaph subsidiary, and his surrealistic and literary raps reached even more people. He's worked with numerous artists over the years, some from the world of underground hip-hop and some not. He'll join the abrasive rap group clipping. in Denver for a show starting at midnight at Lost Lake Lounge.

Coloween City Hall : October 31

Who is Riff Raff? The better question might be "What is Riff Raff?" The Houston-based rapper has cultivated one of the more bizarre and interesting images in modern hip-hop during the last decade, going from Internet celebrity to actual celebrity in a relatively short amount of time. From gigging on the farcical MTV series From G's to Gents to inspiring a nation of Jody Highroller disciples to make Vines set to his "Tip Tow Wing in My Jawwdinz," Riff Raff has kept his unusual yet charismatic demeanor intact, cornrows, grill and all. As an MC, he's fairly unremarkable, but that doesn't seem to matter: The myth of Riff Raff is the allure, fueled by an active Twitter account and a bevy of viral videos. He's collaborated with everyone from Lil Wayne to Lil Debbie and worked on tracks with Diplo and Childish Gambino, never changing up his is-this-a-joke-or-is-it-real-who-gives-a-shit-it's-still-good style. But Riff Raff shines brightest when repping his home town: His "How to Be the Man," with fellow Houstonites Slim Thug and Paul Wall, might be the best introduction to this weird world dripping in Dolce & Gabbana, Neff and neon.

Brazilian Halloween Mercury Cafe : 9:00 p.m. October 31

Upcoming Events

The Mercury Cafe does Halloween right every year -- and for 2014, it's throwing a little bit of samba flavor in with the usual favorites. "On Halloween, we invite our beloved dead to come feast with us and dance," explains owner Marilyn Megenity. "Throughout the entire building, that's what we'll be doing all evening."

The band Ginga will provide musical accompaniment for the Merc's costume ball, which will focus on Brazilian culture. "Samba is a really accessible, fun dance," says Megenity. "[When] we dance the dances of our ancestors, we are automatically making the connection with them stronger."

GWAR Summit Music Hall : October 31

If this is your first GWAR show and you plan to get anywhere within, say, fifty feet of the stage, it's a good idea to bring a poncho or wear something you're not too attached to, because there's a good chance it will end up covered in blood. Well, fake blood, which is sprayed in massive quantities by the outrageously costumed members of this Richmond, Virginia-based metal band. It's been a rough few years for the group, with the death of frontman and founder Dave Brockie (Oderus Urungus) last March and the death of Cory Smoot (who portrayed Flattus Maximus) in 2011. But GWAR, an act rooted in bizarre sci-fi mythology, is soldiering on with two new members: Blóthar, an ancient shape-shifting holy warrior from the planet Scumdoggia, joins Vulvatron on vocals. While GWAR has long been insanely over the top and bawdy, a Halloween show should bring new levels of lunacy to the proceedings.

Omaha Diner Oriental Theater : 9:00 p.m. October 31

While guitarist Charlie Hunter, drummer Bobby Previte, saxophonist Sherik and trumpeter Steven Bernstein have roots in jazz and can improvise like madmen, they're well versed in a number of other styles of music. As Omaha Diner, this all-star group only plays songs that went to number on the Billboard charts, like "Single Ladies," "Another One Bites the Dust," "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Wishing Well," and man, do they play the shit out them. As Skerik says, it's Top 40 like you've never heard it before.

MiMOSA Fox Theatre : 8:30 p.m. October 31

Nearly a decade into his career, Armenian-born Tigran Mkhitaryan, aka Mimosa, is settling into his own style, one that pulls elements from multiple genres, from grimy bass lines to smoothed-out hip-hop beats. With his most recent effort, Future Trill, Mimosa is building a brand that defies categorization.

The Werks vs. Zoogma Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom : 9:00 p.m. October 31; 9:00 p.m. November 1

For this two-night Halloween stint Ohio's own trance-infused The Werks is throwing down its twisted, technical guitar-noodling sounds along with Atlanta's sonically diverse Zoogma. While the Werks fuse elements of funk, electronica, Afro-beat and even a little nod to Celtic music within its grooves, Zoogma takes elements from electronica, metal and Michael Jackson and mixing them into a really high octane sets.

Method Man & Redman Gothic Theatre : 9:00 p.m. October 31

Method Man and Redman might as well call Denver a second home (as a matter of fact, we've overheard that every time they play here) since they come here all the time. Who cares? They always bring the house down and they love to pull some massive hits off of blunts. Oh yeah, Cypress Hill's B-Real as well as Berner and Mick Jenkins are on board as well.

 

Hallowfreakenween Fillmore Auditorium : 7:00 p.m. October 31

Never straying from its roots in pure house music, Above & Beyond has grown into one of the most sought-after acts currently touring, thanks to high quality music that evokes emotion and movement and, most important, forges a connection with the audience. The U.K.-based trio (Paavo Siljamäki, Tony McGuinness and Jono Grant) has been coming to America for a decade now, and in those ten years, they've noticed a significant change in the culture of dance music. Above & Beyond headlines this year's Hallowfreakween, which also includes Stafford Brothers, M4sonic, Topher Jones, Illenium and Said the Sky.

Secret Chiefs 3 Larimer Lounge : 9:00 p.m. October 31

Trey Spruance first came to prominence as the guitarist in Mr. Bungle, with Mike Patton and Trevor Dunn. Spruance also did a brief stint in Patton's then-more-famous band Faith No More. After Bungle effectively quit being an active unit in 2000, Spruance took his interest in myriad musical styles, and his seemingly inexhaustible ability to learn instruments and focused on his side project, Secret Chiefs 3. Seven years ago, Spruance revealed that the band had seven separate incarnations to reflect specific musical interests. That could be the fusion of electronica and ambient with Persian and Arabic music; it could be death metal, soundtrack work or whatever combination of sounds seemed coherent for a specific musical identity. Whatever form this band takes, its music is always rich, diverse and experientially arresting.

Widespread Panic 1STBANK Center : 8:00 p.m. October 31; 8:00 p.m. November 1; 8:00 p.m. November 2

Widespread Panic has the uncanny power to pack venues (to the point of bursting) full of faithful, ecstatic fans. How many other bands do you know that can play a four-night run at Red or three nights at the 1STBANK Center. Yeah, not many. With a little darker vibe than its musical forebears, the Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic makes music that leans vaguely toward the brooding good-ol'-boy swagger of Southern rockers like the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet. John Bell's voice has a sinister tone capable of rousing a rabble, and he's clearly not afraid to exploit the wah pedal.

Lee Burridge Beta : November 1

One of the world's most loved and respected DJs, Lee Burridge has stayed credible and relevant, despite the notoriously fickle nature of dance-music trends, over the course of a career that is now entering its fourth decade. From his early days playing in the nightclubs of Hong Kong and at outdoor parties in Thailand, to the legendary Tyrant nights at London club Fabric, performing alongside occasional partner-in-crime Craig Richards, Burridge has remained one of the biggest names in the industry since achieving worldwide recognition in 2000 with the release of the first Tyrant compilation. He enjoys an especially strong fan base in Denver, where he lived briefly in 2006. He remembers the city as having an "amazing club scene" and says he loves "the people and the vibe.

Bob Dylan & His Band Bellco Theatre : 8:00 p.m. November 1

Seeing Bob Dylan in 2014, you get the sense that you're witnessing a man who has reconciled with his mortality. In the '60s, when Dylan was more relevant to his own time than anybody, all he cared about was the past. Now, more relevant to the past than anything, he seems concerned only with his future. Yet instead of hiding this fact -- say, airbrushing his flaws with pitch correction and plastic surgery -- Dylan has, as always, embraced that which displaces him from the present. His voice sounds like an alligator gargling whiskey and gravel, his music like it's emanating from a riverboat casino in 1920s Mississippi. He's always been a man of masks, and for the last two decades, his mask has been that of a walking corpse, a ghost, a lost spirit that doesn't belong in its own time and is trying to find its way home.

The Motet: Mixtape 1975 Ogden Theatre : 9:00 p.m. November 1

The Motet, a funk/jam outfit founded more than fifteen years ago in Boulder as the Dave Watts Motet, is well known around the country for its celebrated Halloween shows, when the band puts on a "musical costume" and plays songs from a classic artist, ranging from Prince to Michael Jackson. This year the theme is "Mixtape 1975," with the group playing songs from 1975 all Halloween weekend, headlining Thursday and Friday night at the Boulder Theater and Saturday at the Ogden before embarking on an extended fall/winter tour that will focus more on original material. Outside of the somewhat insular jam-band scene, the Motet is still a relative unknown, but that's changing as the band refines its vision. In recent years, the Motet has honed its initial sound -- a somewhat spacey, jammy take on Afrobeat -- into a tight, slick version of what drummer and bandleader Watts calls "classic funk."

DeVotchKa Boulder Theater : 8:00 p.m. November 1

DeVotchKa is known worldwide at this point. But when Nick Urata, formerly of Chicago's Reejers, moved to Denver in the '90s, his new band, which combined elements of punk, gypsy folk, cabaret torch songs and various threads of Americana, wasn't exactly packing the house. In the early 2000s, DeVotchKa could be seen opening for such bands as Bedraggled at the 15th Street Tavern to pretty much no one. But just a short time later, the group's style of music began to resonate with the chamber pop that was coming into vogue, and suddenly, DeVotchKa seemed slightly ahead of its time. Soundtrack work for the 2006 film Little Miss Sunshine catapulted the band into the national spotlight, and its members have since embarked on a journey of increasingly ambitious and sophisticated songwriting. DeVotchKa's theatrical and emotionally stirring Halloween show -- this year's edition takes place on Saturday, November 1, at the Boulder Theater -- is the perfect time to catch the band in high form.

Lucinda Williams Ogden Theatre : 8:00 p.m. November 2

For the better part of four decades, Lucinda Williams has been one of Texas' best and most dependable songwriters and performers. Over the course of a dozen albums, Williams has moved from earthy blues and folk to jangly country/pop and has even dabbled in more contemporary sounds. What has remained consistent is her breathtaking vocal delivery and unflinching honesty. Lucinda will give an in-store performance with a meet and greet for fans who purchase hew new album, Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone, from Twist & Shout.

The Rural Alberta Advantage Hi-dive : 9:00 p.m. November 2

The Rural Alberta Advantage is a band based on unease. Backed by frantic acoustic strumming and urgent drumbeats, singer Nils Edenloff sings about moments that could be life-changing, relationships that are just words away from falling apart, and the constant anxiety that comes with navigating the endless maze of life. While the focus may be on unease, there are enough well-crafted melodies and refrains to make for a lovely listening experience. The band blends classic folk and modern-day indie rock for an intimate hybrid that simultaneously creates a sense of peace and restlessness in the listener. When the Advantage comes to the hi-dive, the group will no doubt bring those feelings along, as well as a brand-new album's worth of what is arguably its best material. Bring patient ears, some pent-up anxiety, and maybe even your dancing shoes.

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