The nine best concerts in Denver this weekend
The Westword Music Showcase is tomorrow in the Golden Triangle.
The Westword Music Showcase is finally here. Tomorrow right here in the Golden Triangle neighborhood, we'll host over 150 of Denver's best bands on 16 stages. And headliners Diplo and 2 Chainz will take to an outdoor set-up right in the heart of the festivities.
There are other worthwhile shows in the next few days, as well, including the return of Make Music Denver under the stewardship of Swallow Hill, Andrew Bird in the beautiful confines of Chataqua in Boulder and more. All our picks follow. See you tomorrow!
Red Rocks Amphitheatre : 7:30 p.m. June 20; 7:30 p.m. June 21
Sonny Moore started out as lead vocalist in the California-based hardcore band From First to Last in 2004. But you probably know him better as Skrillex (a handle he adopted a few years back), the masses' highest-profile ambassador of EDM and essentially the mainstream pioneer of American dubstep. Prior to garnering five Grammy nominations and taking home three statues, Skrillex gained a following by hitting the road and making his way to every off-the-grid college town in the country. Those early grassroots efforts paid off: Now he sells out shows all over the world, including the Canadian one he traveled to by train on the Full Flex Express tour with Pretty Lights and Diplo. Whether or not you're a true dubstep aficionado, you'll find Skrillex's hooks catchy, his tracks flawless, and his performance on par with any rock show, right down to the head-banging.
hi-dive: 9:00 p.m. June 20
Last weekend at Great Divide's 20th anniversary party, we saw bafflingly great '90s cover act Gin Doctors, a Denver band comprising several well-known purveyors of original music. By the time they got to their first of a couple Weezer covers, the crowd was ready to just act like it really was 1994. Tonight, the group will pay tribute to Pearl Jam's Ten at the hi-dive with some impressive guests.
Chautauqua Auditorium : 8:00 p.m. June 20
Andrew Bird was one of the earlier pioneers of modern chamber pop. Growing up in Chicago, Bird -- a classical violinist in training at age four -- worked with alterna-swing band Squirrel Nut Zippers before firmly establishing a name for himself as a songwriter far beyond the Windy City with the release of his 1997 album Thrills. Since then, Bird has slowly but steadily explored various musical styles and eras, adopting ideas and creating a body of work that's had a clear impact on anyone who makes pop music that fuses classical instruments and older musical styles with a modern sensibility.
Gothic Theatre : 9:00 p.m. June 20
You can't throw a vintage Western shirt these days without hitting another Americana revivalist -- and few are worth the faded plaid they're dressed up in. Then there's Jackie Greene. Nimbly sidestepping the inherent corniness of too many contemporary twang-mongers, Greene has used his association with the jam scene -- he's played with various Grateful Dead survivors and toured with Gov't Mule -- to spread his bone-deep and abiding love of rootsy American songcraft. Rather than being a study in formalism, though, his music has a knack for bending tradition to suit his own fluid and soulful melodic sense.
Bluebird Theater : 9:00 p.m. June 20
In the early '90s, when he began his pop-culture career, Dirt Nasty was better known as Simon Rex -- a super-tan MTV VJ and the occasional star of screwball comedies and prime-time teen shows. Around 2007, Rex went in a new direction: He adopted the Dirt Nasty moniker and became a purveyor of cocaine-laced sex raps. Alongside Mickey Avalon, Beardo and Andre Legacy, his white-boy rhyme act was legitimized, and Rex found a niche market audience for his over-the-top fucked-upedness. With three albums and several tours on his resumé, Rex continues to ride the Dirt Nasty train, but, smartly, into more radio-friendly territories. Last year he collaborated with party monsters LMFAO for "I Can't Dance," a self-deprecating look into his Jewish heritage. The actor-turned-rapper is also a former porn star -- but through the glazed-over eyes of Dirt Nasty, Rex has cleverly transformed the skeletons in his closet into an appealing form of wasted entertainment. Catch Lungs and Aceoutrageous are also on the bill of tonight's Westword Showcase Official Kick-Off Party.
17 stages in the Golden Triangle: 12 p.m. June 21
Your new favorite band is from Denver -- you just have to find it! No small task in a city with thousands of artists and hundreds of venues, we know -- but you can start this weekend at the Westword Music Showcase. More than 140 of our favorite local artists will play sixteen stages around the Golden Triangle neighborhood, and we'll tie the whole thing together with an outdoor main stage featuring a few party-starting out-of-towners, including Diplo and 2 Chainz.
This is our twentieth year putting on the Showcase, and it's a great place to find those new favorites. But the lineup can be daunting. We're not even sure how we plan to navigate the day's plethora of choices. So we asked some local experts what they're going to see and talked to the bands about what they're going to do. We made some charts and maps and organized a few lists. You'll find several of those things in the pages that follow, and even more on the Backbeat blog.
No matter what kind of music you like, there are bands and artists making it right here in Denver. They've got that guitar tone that just sounds right to you, and harmonies that fill your head so perfectly, they must have been built specifically for you. Those musicians will be playing that music on Saturday, building a personal connection that you're unlikely to find in the fading faces of your record collection. In short, there's no substitute for being there. See you at the Showcase!
Denver Performing Arts Complex: 11:00 a.m. June 21
An all-day music celebration featuring a giant open stage, workshops, sing-a-longs, concerts, a live podcast, Swallow Hill Music's Instrument Petting Zoo™, and our Little Swallows and Little Mozarts classes.
Beta : June 21
Discovering the music of Booka Shade is a little like that phenomenon of meeting someone new that feels so right it seems you've known them for years. Before they came into your life, you never knew anything was missing, but now that they've arrived, you can barely imagine life without them. Metaphors aside, this German duo -- Arno Kammermeier and Walter Merziger -- builds future-sounding dance tracks with underground sensibilities and an ineffable something that's helped to make two of its tracks ("Mandarine Girl" and "Body Language") moderate crossover hits. The album that housed those hits, Movement, is an accessible fusion of electro, house and techno influences that received praise not only within dance-music circles, but also from Pitchfork.
Bluebird Theater : 9:00 p.m. June 22
Say what you want about Asher Roth, the one thing you can't call him is insincere. After bonding with bros across the country in their love of beer pong, keg stands and Miller Lite with his smash hit single, "I Love College," Asher Roth seemed to enter a state of hibernation following the inauspicious release of his debut studio album, Asleep in the Bread Aisle. Since then, Roth has been trying to distance himself from his frat boy image. Though he has not fully regained the trust of the hip-hop community, he has reestablished his status as perhaps rap's best Birkenstock-wearing MC with help of one of 2011's best mixtapes, the super-relaxed Pabst & Jazz, placing him in the lofty company of up-and-comers A$AP Rocky, Big K.R.I.T., Danny Brown and Frank Ocean.
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