The eleven best shows in Denver this weekend
It's that kinda weekend at Red Rocks.
The mighty King Rat turns twenty this weekend and will celebrate with a pair of unusual shows at Three Kings. If you go to nothing else this weekend, we advise you go there.
But we understand if you go to Red Rocks instead for Widespread Panic's annual weekend getaway in Morrison. You could also see A-Trak in the coming days, and Nightmares on Wax and Smokey Robinson and plenty more.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre : 7:00 p.m. June 27; 7:00 p.m. June 28; 7:00 p.m. June 29
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 Rocks? 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.
3 Kings Tavern : June 27; June 28
When Seattle's My Name came to Fort Collins to record in the mid-'90s, Abe Brennan and Trevor Lanigan decided to make Colorado home. The two subsequently formed Wretch Like Me with Roy Anderson, Jason Livermore and Jeff Matz. Although the new band was firmly situated in the pop-punk milieu and possessed of a joyfully irreverent sense of humor, the guys never let it get stuck in a musical rut, and the artistic growth that took place between 1997's New Ways to Fall and 2002's I Am Become Death was remarkable. All of the original members except Anderson will be present for a reunion show at 3 Kings Tavern on Friday, June 27. In the live setting, Brennan was always a commanding and acrobatic frontman; we'll soon know whether age has toned him down at all.
Gothic Theatre : 9:00 p.m. June 27
Montreal-born DJ and producer A-Trak is perhaps most recently known as one half of Duck Sauce, the disco-house production crew he has formed with Armand Van Helden. Clubbers will instantly recognize their smash singles "Barbara Streisand" and "Big Bad Wolf." But A-Trak also boasts a serious background as a turntablist. And in 2003, he served as Kanye West's personal tour DJ, and has contributed scratches to West's albums Late Registration and Graduation. A-Trak is also an established house producer and elite remixer -- check out his club mix of Yeah Yeah Yeah's "Heads Will Roll" -- and owner of the record label Fool's Gold. With a keen interest in both hip hop and electro house he has developed into a prominent figure within the North American dance music scene.
Summit Music Hall : 8:00 p.m. June 27
Within the pre-Internet musical realm of popular culture, the '90s gave way to many trends: Boy bands saw yet another rebirth, the Spice Girls towed a bizarre kind of British nationalism, and a new style of swing -- one that the Cherry Poppin' Daddies are still playing today -- was everywhere. The Daddies' big-band sound existed somewhere between the Dixieland throwback of groups like Squirrel Nut Zippers and the third-wave ska-tinged cult of Let's Go Bowling, filling dance halls and Warped Tour audiences across the country with dudes sporting Vince Vaughn-inspired pompadours. A combination of horns, upright bass and a barreling drum style is what the Daddies are known for, but it's lead singer Steve Perry's campy, commercial voice that has solidified the group's legacy. Though the bicoastal phenomenon of neo-swing has since died down, the Daddies are still courting lindy-hoppers and punks alike. They had no trouble charming both crowds with 1997's Zoot Suit Riot, and they continue to do so today, embracing Dean Martin and friends with their 2014 release, Please Return the Evening: The Cherry Poppin' Daddies Salute the Music of the Rat Pack.
Boulder Theater : 8:30 p.m. June 28
Afrolicious was originally the name of the weekly party at San Francisco's Elbo Room founded by brothers Joe "Pleasuremaker" McGuire and Oz "Señor Oz" McGuire. They made a connection between the old and the new, dropping classic Afrobeat disc to modern house music or funky breaks. While the club night recently ended its run after a seven-year stint, the name lives on through this global funk collective, which just released California Dreaming Remixed.
Chautauqua Auditorium : June 28
Hailing from the West African nation of Benin, genre-bending vocalist Angélique Kidjo has spent the better part of the past 20 years away from her home continent yet maintains her status as one of Africa's most visible luminaries. It's quite telling that even though Kidjo's 2010 album, Õÿö, consists largely of cover tunes by Western artists such as Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, and Otis Redding, she still transports listeners back to Benin -- albeit Benin as seen through a young Kidjo falling in love with R&B. A tribute to the music that inspired her early on, the new album also touches on the work of legendary South African singer Miriam Makeba, traditional Beninese music, and songs from Bollywood and Hollywood. Even with other people's material, Kidjo demonstrates her usual expertise in weaving styles into a heavily jazz-inflected sound that is unmistakably her own. Her latest effort, Eve, is an homage to African women and features traditional women's choirs from Kenya and cities and villages in Benin.
Gothic Theatre : 9:00 p.m. June 28, Fox Theatre : 8:30 p.m. June 27
Before he got involved in the U.K.'s acid-house scene during the late '80s and early '90s, George Evelyn was a hard-core hip-hop fan. He joined a breakdancing group in 1988 with Kevin Harper, and the two formed Nightmares on Wax. Mixing beat-making with turntablism and live music with electronic production, their 1991 debut, A Word of Science: The First and Final Chapter, was a pioneering example of what would come to be called trip-hop. But in his DJ sets under the Nightmares moniker, Evelyn has been exploring a lifelong interest in soul and R&B music. The resulting shows are a modern-day exploration of the jazz-inflected funk that was the soundtrack to his childhood.
Beta : June 28
If you need to get a party started, you could do a lot worse than DJ Dan. Since the early years of the L.A. rave scene, almost two decades ago, Dan has been a force behind the decks and in the studio. He's remixed everyone from crossover acts like Depeche Mode to dance-music royalty such as Carl Cox while producing hits of his own, including "Needle Damage." His DJ sets start on a foundation of funky, ass-shaking house, but he's not afraid to spice things up with some breakbeats, a splash of techno or a monster electro banger. His sound is upbeat, fun and accessible, just right for letting go and forgetting your troubles on a sweaty, packed dance floor. Over his career, Dan has picked up a slew of awards that include a top-ten nod in the house DJ category from BPM magazine and breaking the top 25 of DJ magazine's top DJs in the world.
Bluebird Theater : 9:00 p.m. June 28
It's been more than two decades since Rhett Miller and company fired up the Old 97's in Dallas and helped pioneer the alt-country movement alongside Uncle Tupelo and the Jayhawks. Since then, the quartet, which is known for its vigorous live sets, has gone on to release a string of solid records, including two volumes of The Grand Theatre and the brand-new Most Messed Up, released in April on the ATO imprint. There's a familiar twang on the latter in songs like "Longer Than You've Been Alive," but Miller and crew also dig in and churn out high-octane rockers like "Give It Time" and "Let's Get Drunk and Get It On." If anything, Most Messed Up is proof that even after being together for twenty years, the Old 97's are still as strong as ever.
Cervantes' Other Side : 9:00 p.m. June 28
Drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare are not only reggae's definitive rhythm section and production team, but they've worked with every major artist in Jamaica, from Jimmy Cliff, Culture and Peter Tosh to U-Roy, Grace Jones and Beenie Man. Internationally, the pair has provided the crucial bottom end for Serge Gainsbourg, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. And if you think that's a lot of name-dropping, it's barely scratching the surface. Brought together in 1975 as teenage session men by producer JoJo Hoo Kim (Dunbar kept time for Lee Perry's studio outfit, the Upsetters, while Shakespeare cut his teeth with Bunny Lee's house band, the Aggrevators), the Kingston-bred Riddim Twins can boast close to 200,000 tracks -- not counting remixes, versions or dubs. It's a Jah-dropping achievement -- especially considering that a pop song in Jamaica often takes as long to cut as it does to play. Still prolific in 2004 (the pair has already shared sacramental reunion spliffs with Black Uhuru and the Mad Professor), Sly & Robbie seem unstoppable on their continuing quest to rid the world of bald heads and Babylon.
Hudson Gardens : 6:30 p.m. June 29
Smokey" Robinson Jr. had many hits from the '50s through the '80s as the singer of the Miracles and as a solo artist, serving as vice president of Motown records during that time as well. A living legend.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.