The eleven best shows in Denver this weekend
Stephen Stills plays the Boulder Theater on Saturday
Red Rocks' season is in full swing, with Global Dub Festival tonight and country star Brantley Gilbert on Sunday. In between, you can catch Will Hoge at Grizzly Rose, Chris Robinson Brotherhood at Cervantes' and, of course, the dude who wrote "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes." He's playing the Boulder Theater on Saturday.
Global Dub Festival at Red Rocks: Friday, May 16 The merging of hardcore hip-hop with heavy bass lines and melodic keyboards was an inevitable one, but you would never have guessed that its birthplace would be Canada. Datsik, known in his home town of British Columbia as Troy Beetles, fuses the heaviest elements of rap and dubstep to create a unique sound that translates into the equivalent of standing in the middle of an epic man-versus-machine battlefield. With heavy distortion and intergalactic samples, Datsik delivers a show similar to that of Excision, a fellow Canadian who helped boost his status by collaborating on various tracks. Datsik joins Crizzly, Pegboard Nerds and Dotexe, Basscrooks for this year's Global Dance Festival.
The Chris Robinson Brotherhood at Cervantes': Friday, May 16 While the Black Crowes could lay down some mean Stones-inspired southern rock, the band could also delve into extended psyched out jams. It didn't take frontman Chris Robinson long to form his own group after the Crowes announced they were going on "indefinite hiatus" in 2010 after two decades together. The Chris Robinson Brotherhood opts for more of the jam route, which is quite evident on the band's 2012 release, Big Moon Ritual. Crowes fans and Deadheads alike will most likely dig the CRB.
Official Movement Festival pre-party at NORAD: Friday, May 16 Denver is close enough to legendary electronic-music city Detroit that it makes sense to throw a party to celebrate the onset of Movement, the Motor City's own cream-of-the-crop springtime electronic-music festival. This year's headliner for the official Movement pre-party is Todd Edwards, the frisky, feisty house-music impresario known for his collaborations and innovative remixes. He's the only artist to guest-star on two Daft Punk albums, and his unusual remix style takes tracks from some of the leading artists in the electronica scene and makes them his own. Edwards is a true jack-of-all-trades whose ability to spin a set matches his proficiency in the studio. Denver is in for a night of soulful, energetic house music at NORAD this Friday, May 16.
Will Hoge at Grizzly Rose: Friday, May 16 In a time when singer-songwriters are as plentiful -- and nearly as indistinguishable -- as the corporate coffee shops lining the streets of tony shopping districts, Will Hoge stands out like a homegrown roaster serving his hand-picked beans in a secondhand mug in some bohemian boutique. Hoge's raspy, soulful voice is as expressive as it is authentic: Every word he sings sounds genuinely heartfelt, like he's lived it, whether he's indulging his Southern-rock roots on cuts such as "Pocketful of Change," doing his best Otis Redding on "When I Get My Wings," or singing with a pained resignation on ballads like "Goodnight/Goodbye." And Hoge's songs are affecting even when he's not doing the singing: Just ask the Eli Young Band, which has made "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," a song Hoge co-wrote, a country staple.
Junior Brown at the Walnut Room: Friday, May 16 With his handmade "guit-steel" guitar and deep, country drawl, Junior Brown makes a hell of an impression. Over the course of four decades, Brown has taken his blues-inspired honky tonk across the nation and around the world, thrilling fans of honest and well crafted roots music. In truth, Brown is one of a very select group of artists who has as great instrumental skills as he does songwriting chops.
Twenty One Pilots at the Ogden Theatre: Friday, May 16 Don't let their name fool you. The Ohio band Twenty One Pilots is really only just two guys, Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun. The two performers are doing things and making music that nobody is really doing right now; they combine genres of music -- dubstep, hip-hop, indie-folk, rock, reggae -- that may look like they don't belong together on paper, but sonically and visually come together to make one hell of a show.
Stephen Stills at Boulder Theatre: Saturday, May 17 Legendary singer-songwriter Stephen Stills's career stretches across more than fifty years of American pop and rock. He worked with Buffalo Springfield, released a handful of solo records and, of course, was a core member of supergroup Crosby, Stills and Nash. The occasionally tumultuous trio has been in harmony lately, playing a handful of shows this spring and kicking off a national tour in July (they perform at Red Rocks in September). Stills is sneaking in this solo run beforehand. Delivering classic and newer material, he'll serve up an intimate solo acoustic set and a plugged-in, full-band chaser. Although Stills has been in the biz for a good long while, no one's dusting him off for these gigs: He's got a blues-rock trio with Kenny Wayne Shepherd that toured last year, and he just wrapped up a successful benefit concert for autism called Light Up the Blues .
Gramatik at Red Rocks: Saturday, May 17 Gramatik used to be an MC who rapped with his buddies over his beats. He grew up in Slovenia listening to DJ Premier, Guru, Rza, Dre, and an arsenal of hip-hop and break beats fills his catalog of sample options. After dropping an album that topped the charts shortly after it's release on Beatport and joining forces with Derek Vincent Smith on his Pretty Lights Music label.
Ben Goldberg / Ron Miles Quintet at Dazzle: Saturday, May 17 Ben Goldberg is a virtuosic Bay Area clarinetist who grew up in Denver and went to East High School. He later went on to form the New Klezmer Trio, perform with heavies like John Zorn, Bill Frisell, Nels Cline and Don Byron, as well as release some stellar discs under his own name, including last year's Unfold Ordinary Mind. Since Goldberg has Worry Later, an album of Thelonious Monk tunes, coming out later this month expect to hear a few Monk tunes as well as cuts by Goldberg and local trumpeter extraordinaire Ron Miles.
Morrissey at Ellie Caulkins Opera House: Saturday, May 17 Even if you've never heard one of Morrissey's songs, chances are you've formed an opinion about the man. Since his days fronting the Smiths, the outspoken singer has made headlines for his abrasive, often controversial opinions on everything from animal rights to the British monarchy as often as he has for his music. That's no knock on the music, though: During that same time, Morrissey has made four albums with the Smiths, nine solo albums (a tenth is due this year) and a handful of compilations; his catalogue is full of classic songs about misery, unrequited love and other dour topics, shot through with subtle but lacerating wit and delivered in his unmistakable baritone. Love him or hate him -- and he'll give you plenty of reason to do both -- there's no denying that Morrissey is one of the great artists of this age or any other.
Brantley Gilbert at Red Rocks: Sunday, May 18 Tune the radio today to any Top 20 Country station in America and the majority of the hits are coming straight out of Georgia. A shift in the mainstream country scene is building, and sitting atop the wave is singer-songwriter Brantley Gilbert, who leads the charge with a musical style that blurs the lines between country and rock 'n' roll.
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