The five best shows in Denver from June 2 to June 5
There are bigger concerts, sure, but for our money there is no better way to see Red Rocks than during Film on the Rocks. The series, which features Colorado bands opening for beloved movies, starts Tuesday with Ark Life, Covenhoven and Caddyshack.
You can also see some masterful old-timey updates from the Milk Carton Kids, and the Mountain Goats' John Darnielle will break you with the right words in the right order. More of our picks for the week follow.
When Prizehog was based in San Francisco, the band wrote deep, dark, bludgeoning blasts of atmospheric sludge akin to what the Melvins were putting out at the time. The music's visceral, psychedelic menace, especially in the live setting, didn't fit into any strict genre or lineage, but it touched on plenty, including the frayed edges and colossal riffing of stoner rock, the hypnotic, fuzzy intensity of Bardo Pond, and the darkly roiling and disorienting sound of Neurosis. Since moving to Portland, Prizehog has kept its identity while adding some higher-frequency vibrations to an already gargantuan sound. The band's latest album, Re-Unvent the Whool, is as heavy as anything it's ever recorded, but within the music's seething momentum are sonic sequins that make it shine and float as it crushes.
Film on the Rocks with Ark Life and Covenhoven: Tuesday, June 3
Red Rocks is a hell of a venue on a summer night. It's far enough away from the city to feel like an escape, high enough on the hill to offer a religious experience of a view, and the landscape only seems more impossible with each return visit. Red Rocks is the star of these shows, and Film on the Rocks is great partly because it knows that. This year's season kicks off with Caddyshack and music from Covenhoven and Ark Life, which just debuted its first (excellent) song via Paste.
The Milk Carton Kids' commitment to the roots of folk music goes deeper than stunning harmonies and sterling guitar work. Since 2011, the acoustic duo from Eagle Rock, California, has taken cues from its heroes' ethos as well. Just as folk legends such as Woody Guthrie and Doc Watson offered their music via free sources like old-timey picking parties, Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan have worked to make their music available to as large an audience as possible for free. The Grammy-winning act offers downloads of its impressive albums, including 2011's Retrospect and 2013's The Ash & Clay, at no cost, content to earn profits from live shows and donations. So far, the approach has worked. The Milk Carton Kids have earned high praise from the likes of Sarah Bareilles and Garrison Keillor. Given their harmonies, which recall the best work of Simon and Garfunkel and the Everly Brothers, and a masterful flat-picking style on the best vintage guitars, the acclaim isn't exactly shocking.
Following a much-anticipated 2010 reunion at Matador Records' 21st birthday party in Las Vegas, Ohio lo-fi rockers Guided by Voices buckled up and went on a two-year bender of tour dates and released three discs in 2012, one last year, Motivational Jumpsuit (the band's twentieth disc) in March and just released the 18-track Cool Planet.
The Mountain Goats have never shied away from complicated and esoteric songwriting jam-packed with metaphors and literary references. Maybe that's why The Sunset Tree hit so hard with its relatively simple and straightforward recounting of John Darnielle's relationship with his abusive stepfather and the beatings he received: "And then I'm awake, and I'm guarding my face, hoping you don't break my stereo, because it's the one thing that I couldn't live without. And so I think about that, and then I sorta black out."
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