This week brings an interesting array to Denver: Billy Idol is still kicking, for example, and songwriting genius Todd Snider's around as well. There are a few more (you can see some highlights below), but let's not bury the lede. Sleater-Kinney is back and its tour comes to the Ogden on Thursday.
Billy Idol's early admiration for both the Sex Pistols and guys The Who and The Beatles gave his music an uplifting yet edgy quality that instantly made his songs yearning punk stand-out, first with Generation X and later as a solo artist, with upbeat songs about drugs, lust, and proclamations the previous generation. As one of MTV's first real stars Idol quickly became even more popular with videos for his most famous songs, including "Dancing With Myself," "White Wedding," and the strange "Eyes Without A Face." Idol's persona and stage presence are still as infectious as his music. He is currently touring the world for the first half of 2015, and for his Paramount Theatre show, he will be accompanied by Broncho, an Oklahoma-born alternative rock band who sound like a somewhat updated, more modern take on the very singular sound Idol has crafted.Todd Snider Bluebird Theater : 8:00 p.m. February 9
For more than twenty years, Todd Snider has been writing songs with the wit of Randy Newman and the weariness of Steve Earle. A 2013 benefit for Colorado flood victims in Boulder brought the Austin-bred singer together with an unlikely band of exceptional talent (including Dave Schools from Widespread Panic, Neal Casal of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Chad Staehly of Great American Taxi and Duane Trucks). The show went well enough that they formed a band called Hard Working Americans, which released a debut of wise covers early last year. Snider returns to Colorado with his own material, of which there is plenty worth your time: He's a storyteller of the highest order, between songs and during them.Cursive Bluebird Theater : 8:00 p.m. February 10
Cursive (due this Sunday at Larimer Lounge with Ume) was one of the most popular and influential bands to have come out of the underground scene in Omaha, Nebraska, the same one that spawned Bright Eyes, the Faint, Azure Ray and Tokyo Police Club and Saddle Creek Records. Beginning in 1995, Cursive's brash, angular music coupled with sharp lyrics struck a chord with audiences who had maybe outgrown basic punk rock but not the defiant spirit found there as well as within Cursive's oeuvre. With Beach Slang and Slow Bird.DeVotchKa Belly Up Aspen : 9:00 p.m. February 10
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 filmLittle Miss Sunshine
catapulted the band into the national spotlight, and its members have since embarked on a journey of increasingly ambitious and sophisticated songwriting.Marilyn Manson Fillmore Auditorium : 7:30 p.m. February 11
In the 1990s, no rock star took more flak for eroding the morality of America's youth than Marilyn Manson (aka Brian Warner). He was even blamed for inspiring the shootings at Columbine High School -- a heavy head trip for any artist to bear. To Manson's credit, he displayed uncommon sensitivity and compassion in an interview on the subject in the documentary Bowling for Columbine. Provocative -- infuriating, to some -- Manson pushed a lot of buttons in the '90s, long after it seemed possible to truly make "shock rock." Part glam, part industrial rocker, he seemed perfectly suited to adapt in order to constantly embody the mutated American bogeyman of the era. But on his latest album,The Pale Emperor
, Manson delivers a curious, refreshing, blues-rock-inflected collection of songs.Eric Johnson & Mike Stern Gothic Theatre : 8:00 p.m. February 12
While Austin, Texas-based guitar wiz Eric Johnson has delved into jazz before and paid homage to Wes Montgomery on "East Wes" on his album Ah Via Musicom, he's been steeped more in rock and occasionally blues for more than four decades. Fellow guitarist Mike Stern, on the other hand, is an East Coaster, has been at nearly as long but he's more of a jazz and fusion player. Following his work with Miles Davis in the '80s, Stern started a solo career and has released over a dozen albums since his 1983 debut, Neesh. Although Johnson and Stern, who are just a few years apart in age, might be coming from different worlds musically, their collaboration on last year's Eclectic, works remarkably well as they both have similar sensibilities when it comes to approaching the guitar. While exceptionally fiery guitar work from the both of them on the album, expect the same in the live setting.Sleater-Kinney Ogden Theatre : 8:00 p.m. February 12
We feel for you. Except for some aggrieved MRAs, the culture as a whole has already deemed 2015 the year of Sleater-Kinney. The celebration of the back-from-break riot grrrl rock gods has been so thunderous that we're sure any day Disney is going to announce they're bumping that Star Wars movie until 2016, when the world might have the brainspace to give a damn. This year is all about No Cities to Love, that rare band-reunited record that sounds like its band never stopped: Urgent and ferocious, scraped free of nostalgia, it finds S-K forging ahead with new sounds, new concerns, and no looking back. The only thing old-school about it: its principled, passionate greatness. With Lizzo.Reel Big Fish & Less Than Jake Boulder Theater : 7:30 p.m. February 12
The Reel Big Fish/Less Than Jake/Authority Zero package tour makes a lot of sense in a time when cashing in on nostalgia is big business. But not only did all three of those bands come of age in the '90s; they also survived and prospered through those years. They're workhorses battling time and trends, blossoming out of a glorious era when thirdwave ska and punk aligned in a radiofriendly, Fat Wreck Chords kind of way. Reel Big Fish still rolls out its campy skankin' style with hornheavy songs and a cartoonish appearance. More punk than ska, Less Than Jake has stuck to its philosophical yet catchy party anthems for the Everydude. Authority Zero brings it all together as an act that once encapsulated the Sublime vibe but has grown into a more dynamic rock band. Together the three offer up a perfect plate of punk and ska trends from a very specific era while keeping the current time frame in mind; each has released new material in the last two years, gathering new fans along the way.Wolfgang Gartner Beta : 9:00 p.m. February 12
Wolfgang Gartner's stated intention is to create something entirely new in the world of dance music, and while it's debatable if that's even possible -- we've still got to dance to it, after all -- he's certainly doing a fine job of bringing some innovation to the mix. His chopped, stuttering takes on electro house tend to do something unusual in every aspect: Odd rhythms emerge, warped melodies are the norm, and, while his sounds tend to be typically huge, he embraces some pretty out-there timbres. He's managed to ride that aesthetic to success on tracks such as "Undertaker" and "Firepower," which has led to opportunities to work with mainstream acts such as the Black Eyed Peas and Britney Spears.
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