The fifteen best concerts in Denver this weekend
Big weekend for big shows here in Colorado. A few festivals, including Telluride Jazz, bring deep lineups to the mountains. And the alleged last ride of hair metal legend Motley Crue comes to Denver tomorrow. We have plenty more -- see the full list of our picks below.
Crestone Music Festival
Challenger Golf Club : August 1; August 2; August 3
Challenger Golf Club : August 1; August 2; August 3
The 16th Annual Crestone Music Festival is Friday, August 1 through August, 3 in Crestone Colorado. The festival is a two-stage, multi-genre, multi-cultural event with camping, kids zone, all-age contests, arts & crafts, international acts, international cuisine and Colorado libations. Acts include Ruthie Foster, Charles Neville, Youssoupha Sidibe, Paper Bird, Blue Canyon Boys, SHEL, Conjunto Colores, The Young Ancients, Intuit, Taarka, Chaco Royal International, Tribal Belly Dance, Rachael and the Ruckus, Beth Quist and more.
Telluride Town Park : August 1; August 2; August 3
Now in its 38th year, the Telluride Jazz Festival has established itself as one of the state's premier jazz fests. Still, the lineup includes a number of acts that dabble in jazz but also have roots planted in other genres. Among the internationally known jazz legends such as guest of honor percussionist Poncho Sanchez and pianist Monty Alexander, there are a fair amount of acts that dip into funk, as well, including the Brooklyn-based sextet Lettuce; Dragon (featuring Ivan Neville and Galactic drummer Stanton Moore); Grammy-winning jazz/funk band Snarky Puppy; and New Orleans trio DVS, with percussionist Mike Dillon, drummer Johnny Vidacovich and bassist James Singleton. Brazilian singer Claudia Villela and Austin-based Latin funk outfit Grupo Fantasma are also on board for this three-day festival.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre : 8:00 p.m. August 1
Ninety percent silk and ten percent grit, Philadelphia blue-eyed-soul man Amos Lee's pipes are steeped in both the smooth R&B stylings of Billy Paul and Smokey Robinson and the Seventies singer-songwriter tradition of James Taylor and Harry Chapin. After performing at 9,500-person Red Rocks the night before, Lee plays the much more intimate Fox Theatre tonight in Boulder.
Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield : 6:30 p.m. August 1
Barenaked Ladies fans -- don't lie, you know you're out there -- had quite the scare when co-vocalist Steven Page (a.k.a. the one who doesn't rap) announced he was leaving the band in early 2009. His departure did little to slow down the Canadian pop-rock institution, however. But 2010's Page-less album, All in Good Time, was the group's highest-charting release in the United States in nearly a decade, and the group even had a Ben & Jerry's ice-cream flavor ("If I Had 1,000,000 Flavours") named after one of its classic songs. It's the perfect thing to eat when you're lying in bed (just like Brian Wilson did) or as a dessert after a big plate of chicken (might we recommend Chickity China -- it is the Chinese chicken, after all).
Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom : 9:00 p.m. August 1
A founding member of the Glitch Mob, producer/DJ Kraddy is no stranger to the electronic-music scene. He's the mind behind "Android Porn," a track sometimes cited as the glitch-hop anthem, and although he began his career with breakbeats back in 2003, Kraddy's been mixing it up ever since, blending heavy hip-hop influences with dubstep and dancehall, splicing the genres in ways that make it difficult to pinpoint exactly what his sound is -- and that's a good thing, especially with so many dubstep artists dropping near-identical sets. Kraddy definitely stands out from the crowd.
Casselman's Bar & Venue : August 1
Quite possibly the quintessential Christian metal/glam rock band, Stryper was formed in Orange County in 1983. With a traditional hard rock, classic metal sound, the band has toured the globe, and sold over ten million albums worldwide. In the mid '80s, when the act was at the height of its popularity, Stryper became a staple on MTV, and the infamous Sunset Strip glam metal scene. The outfit's seminal 1986 album, To Hell With the Devil, is considered to be a classic '80s metal album. The band's name is said to stand for the acronym: Salvation Through Redemption, Yielding Peace, Encouragement and Righteousness. Yet, despite the overt Christian message and themes in the band's music, members have been insistent throughout the years, that although their music is faith based, they do not try to forcefully convert people into Christianity.
Summit Music Hall : 7:00 p.m. August 1
Rx Bandits brings its multi-layered rhythms to Summit Music Hall with the Deer Hunter and From Indian Lakes. Popping up on the musical radar almost two decades ago years ago as a ska outfit, the California band has fully evolved into an uncategorizable, progressive-rock band -- but still manages to pay rhythmic homage to its rocksteady roots.
Gothic Theatre : 2:30 p.m. August 2; 2:30 p.m. August 3
Last year, Sherwood Webber of Skinless put together a festival with a meticulous curatorial eye for aggressive music and no patience for gimmickry of any kind. The result was Denver Black Sky, which we named the best metal fest last month. The Fest returns this August with two days of bands likely to match the fury of last year's lineup. But don't take my word for it -- I just showed the list of bands to the biggest thrash metal/hardcore expert I know and his instantaneous reaction was, "Huge." It includes grindcore legend Brutal Truth, Virginia thrash band Municipal Waste and affiliated band Cannabis Corpse (feels inevitable, doesn't it?).
Ogden Theatre : 8:00 p.m. August 2
More a pop-music genre-bender than a full-on country crossover, Kacey Musgraves stands out in the sea of her overly patriotic, good-ol'-party-boy contemporaries. The plucking banjo accompaniment that wanders through 2013's Same Trailer Different Park signaled that she was very much a Nashville star, but one of the Dolly Parton variety: When it comes to lyrical content, Musgraves prefers to shine a light on reality. Her realistic depictions of sex, sexuality and social double standards have made her a favorite among young feminists and more progressive country-music listeners. But Musgraves's real talk is partnered with sass and sarcasm (see singles "Follow Your Arrow" and "Keep It to Yourself" for reference), and her shiny but humble vocal style assures her a place in the world of Top 40 radio. Though the Texas native has been writing and recording for many years, it wasn't until Musgraves was swooped up for a 2012 tour with Lady Antebellum that the world took notice. Coming through Denver on her own headlining tour, Musgraves will go on to join Katy Perry's Prismatic World Tour at the end of the month.
Pepsi Center : 7:00 p.m. August 2
Alice Cooper is a shock rock pioneer that's influenced countless artists with his on stage horror movie imagery and antics, which included hangings and beheadings by guillotine. Theatrics aside, Cooper (aka Vincent Furnier) is also a talented songwriter. Hits like "I'm Eighteen," "School's Out" and "Welcome To My Nightmare" combined elements of hard rock, psychedelia, glam and power pop, and made the band internationally famous.At the heart of it all was a spirit of defiance, playfulness, Miltonian wickedness and a creative sense of humor that never undermined the music. His appearance on The Muppet Show in the late '70s boosted his popularity even more. Having struggled with substance abuse and the rise and fall of fortunes, Cooper remains an upbeat presence and one of the most gifted tellers of amusing stories from his life that you'll ever read or hear.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre : 6:30 p.m. August 2
The music of Railroad Earth isn't easy to classify, although most people are happy to label it "jam band" and move on. Still reading? Good, because while there's definitely some "jamming" going on in the live show, this is not some guitar-noodling Phish knock-off. Bluegrass lies at the heart of Railroad Earth, but it's a wide-ranging, omnivorous strain that isn't afraid to ditch tradition and have some fun. As a result, you get all the banjo, fiddle and mandolin you'd expect, but it's fused with electric guitars and drums, and prone to weird tangents that might touch on anything from Celtic to jazz. It's a frequently surprising and relentlessly upbeat sound that's at its very best live, regardless of what you call it.
Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield : 6:30 p.m. August 2
After opening for James Blunt, Counting Crows, Aqualung, Marc Broussard, Guster, and Maroon 5, Sara Bareilles' 2007 chart success of her single "Love Song" helped put her name atop the marquee. With four albums, several high-profile TV appearances, and a slew of Grammy nominations, she's earned respectability and reaped its rewards. No wonder -- her multi-octave vocals and edgy jazz-pop piano style have summoned comparisons to Norah Jones and Fiona Apple, while her effusive performances assure her a stardom all her own.
Sports Authority Field at Mile High : 11:00 a.m. August 3
Warped Tour has evolved plenty over the years. The onetime strictly skate-punk festival now features handy color-coded dots below each artist listed on its website indicating genre. The dots range from maroon for metal to light blue for folk. Yet even with its newfound broad spectrum, Warped Tour has retained a coherent identity as a populist festival for a young and enthusiastic fan base. Old favorites of the Tour like Less Than Jake and Teenage Bottlerocket anchor a Denver lineup that features some ninety bands, ranging from up-and-coming hip-hop acts to grizzled metalheads.
Hudson Gardens : 6:30 p.m. August 3
Because Chris Isaak's pompadoured mug might as well be the picture of eternal California youth, it's a little discomfiting to realize that the Golden State singer-songwriter is now five years past his fiftieth birthday -- and that it's been almost twenty years since his black-and-white beach romp with Helena Christensen powered his sultry "Wicked Game" all the way to the top of the charts. Isaak may have never duplicated the success of that iconic single, but he's hardly a one-hit wonder. Since 1990's Heart Shaped World, Isaak has released a steady string of albums that never fail to intersperse lonesome ballads lush with his female-enrapturing croon -- often compared, with good reason, to Roy Orbison -- with livelier rockabilly and show-band numbers that allow his longtime band to flex its chops.
Ogden Theatre : 9:00 p.m. August 3
This instrumental fusion collective, which was started out of the spirited musical enclave of Denton, Texas, takes jazz and adds world music instruments and sounds to create an experience that is refreshing and lifts the weight off your shoulders. With nearly forty musicians at its service, the band has developed a sound that reaches orchestral heights.
• BACKBEAT'S GREATEST HITS •
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.