The Seventeen Best Concerts in Colorado This Weekend

Fishbone plays in Denver this weekend.
Fishbone plays in Denver this weekend.

The holiday weekend should be a good one for music in Denver. Some of the highlights include Del McCoury, who will play new songs inspired by Woody Guthrie and Fishbone, which inspired D'Angelo to write the song "1000 Deaths." Many more of our picks await you below.

See also: The Six Best Music Venues for Beer Drinkers in Denver

Reel Big Fish & Less Than Jake Ogden Theatre : 7:30 p.m. January 15

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.

Mako 1972 (with the Malah) The 1up Colfax : January 15

Mako 1972 might have taken its name from one of several things: a boat, a shark, maybe even a lost film by director Mako Iwamatsu. It doesn't really matter, though, because a cryptic name suits this band well. Mako's noisy, metallic rock comes out of left field, much like the output of those great Swami Records bands of the early '90s. And that's no surprise, given the band's pedigree: The lineup includes Eric Bliss, of Salt Lake City's visceral Form of Rocket; Rachel Lujan, from the appropriately named Fire Season; veteran drummer and soundman Devon Rogers, from Register; and Luke Fairchild, who's probably best known as the charismatic frontman of Git Some. The group's fluid dynamics and bursts of expressive soundscaping set it outside of any conventional punk or rock boundaries.

12th Planet & Dubloadz Beta : 9:00 p.m. January 16

John Dadzie, the orbital center of Los Angeles' dubstep galaxy known as SMOG, is the mastermind behind 12th Planet. Transitioning from drum and bass to dubstep seems to be a natural course for producers in the past few years, and Dadzie has been at the forefront of that movement's progression.

Aesop Rock & Rob Sonic Gothic Theatre : 9:00 p.m. January 16

With hip-hop perpetually drowning in outsized swag-and-brag imagery, keeping it real doesn't get realer than Homeboy Sandman's "Not Really." The song, from the NYC rapper's 2012 album First of a Living Breed, is Homeboy's casual, self-effacing take on joining notable indie label Stones Throw Records and the ensuing life changes that followed. Since signing, Homeboy (a.k.a. Angel Del Villar II), who's touring with Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic, makes more money, plays bigger shows, flies in better seats, and meets more women, but all that movement hasn't altered his core ("I was chilling in Economy / That didn't bother me") nor is as exciting as it sounds. "Not Really" even confronts head-on the possibilities of failing and/or selling out: "Folks make a lot of fuss / I got a lot of buzz / I still could be a bust / Same as it ever was / Clear Channel FM can kiss my ass cheek / I said that last year / I said that last week." In the time since First, Homeboy has steadily stuck to an off-beat, indie-centric career path. Last September's Hallways is full of soaring, jazzy instrumentals and his slam-poet-style storytelling. He's also just as willing to vouch for an unexpected point of view as he was before: Last April, he wrote "Black People Are Cowards," a much-discussed Gawker essay about the black response to the Donald Sterling/L.A. Clippers brouhaha, and what he saw as weakness.

Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn Strings Music Festival Park : 7:30 p.m. January 16

Banjo virtuoso and multiple-Grammy winner Béla Fleck has a long and storied history as a master bluegrass player, but his musical scope reaches much further than that. Over the past few years, Fleck has performed locally in various settings, including with legendary jazz pianist Chick Corea, with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and with the Flecktones, the jazz-fusion act he formed with Victor Wooten in 1988. Tonight, he'll team up with his wife, Abigail Washburn, who's a heck of a banjo player and singer herself.

In the Company of Serpents (album release) Marquis Theater : January 16

In the Company of Serpents could have been characterized as a pure doom­rock band early in its career. But even early on, there was an elegance to the duo's intensity, a glimmer of nuance in its grinding, crushing rhythms and in Grant Netzorg's harsh, gritty vocals. In his own bizarre way, Netzorg made that singing style melodic. On the act's latest release, Merging in Light, Netzorg and drummer Joseph Myer push even further into psychedelic territory with their disorienting use of tone and texture; the music almost sounds as though it's struggling with itself. See for yourself when ITCOS plays at the Marquis Theater on Friday, January 16. Live, the band has a primordial, elemental power that it seems to seize yet barely control, like the steel that Conan's ancestors found on the battlefield after the gods warred with one another.

 
Fishbone Cervantes' Other Side : 9:00 p.m. January 16

With its horn-filled ska and good-time beats, Fishbone may not be swimming in the mainstream -- but it's the mainstream that's missing out. Since the then-junior-high-schoolers formed this band in 1979, its musical underbelly has always been rocking rhythms layered with alternative-tilted tracks. A saxophonist-singer further defined the group's funky direction, eventually hooking Fishbone to a Capitol Records contract and an eponymous EP in 1985. While subsequent albums have displayed even more stylish production and savvy songwriting, Fishbone's uninhibited, enthusiastic live performances keep fans floating in.

Miguel Migs Bar Standard : January 16

Miguel Migs knows his history. His soulful, song-oriented deep house draws heavily on the style's disco roots, tinting it with soul, funk, hip-hop and reggae influences. In the studio, Migs employs live musicians and soulful vocalists, skillfully blending organic elements with electronic textures and programmed beats to create ultra-slick yet organic-sounding productions. The results are like the missing link between lush, classic disco and the stark electronic pulse of house and techno. At its worst moments, it's shallow, and the lyrics and vocals grate painfully. When it all clicks, though, it becomes something special, a heartfelt, emotionally engaging slice of dance-floor heaven.

Aesop Rock & Rob Sonic Aggie Theatre : January 17

With hip-hop perpetually drowning in outsized swag-and-brag imagery, keeping it real doesn't get realer than Homeboy Sandman's "Not Really." The song, from the NYC rapper's 2012 album First of a Living Breed, is Homeboy's casual, self-effacing take on joining notable indie label Stones Throw Records and the ensuing life changes that followed. Since signing, Homeboy (a.k.a. Angel Del Villar II), who's touring with Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic, makes more money, plays bigger shows, flies in better seats, and meets more women, but all that movement hasn't altered his core ("I was chilling in Economy / That didn't bother me") nor is as exciting as it sounds. "Not Really" even confronts head-on the possibilities of failing and/or selling out: "Folks make a lot of fuss / I got a lot of buzz / I still could be a bust / Same as it ever was / Clear Channel FM can kiss my ass cheek / I said that last year / I said that last week." In the time since First, Homeboy has steadily stuck to an off-beat, indie-centric career path. Last September's Hallways is full of soaring, jazzy instrumentals and his slam-poet-style storytelling. He's also just as willing to vouch for an unexpected point of view as he was before: Last April, he wrote "Black People Are Cowards," a much-discussed Gawker essay about the black response to the Donald Sterling/L.A. Clippers brouhaha, and what he saw as weakness.

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony Fillmore Auditorium : 9:00 p.m. January 17

Grammy Award-winning rap posse Bone Thugs-N-Harmony were a mainstay on urban music charts throughout the 1990s. Their melodic, G-funk-inspired sound, characterized by Bizzy's unorthodox speed-rapping can be heard on such hits as "Thuggish Ruggish Bone," "1st of tha Month" and "Tha Crossroads." But after more than twenty years in the game, one of hip-hop's biggest-selling groups is calling it quits. Their forthcoming double album, E. 1999 Legends (which they plan to auction off as a single copy to the highest bidder), will be their last. Tonight Bone Thugs perform their 1995 sophomore effort, E. 1999 Eternal, in its entirety.

Del McCoury Plays Woody Guthrie Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts : 7:30 p.m. January 17

Wilco and Billy Bragg's 1998 album Mermaid Avenue (as well as two subsequent Mermaid Avenue volumes) was one of many projects organized by Woody Guthrie's daughter, Nora, using new music with unpublished Guthrie lyrics. In a similar vein, Nora Guthrie gave International Bluegrass Hall of Fame singer and guitarist Del McCoury access to her father's unpublished work, and McCoury wrote new music set to Woody's lyrics. For tonight's performance, the Del McCoury Band, which includes sons Ronnie and Rob McCoury, will play that unheard and unsung Guthrie material. The evening will also include a multimedia presentation featuring Guthrie's original words, drawings and other material from the archives that inspired the project.

Denver Broncos UK Syntax Physic Opera : 9:00 p.m. January 17

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About as far away from jock rock as you're ever going to get, the Denver Broncos UK, which counts Slim Cessna and his Auto Club mates Munly and Dwight Pentecost, as well as Rebecca Vera, among its members, is, as expected, a bit dark, but not quite as country as the Auto Club. The band says its music is unclassifiable, and "the songs are best described as dynamic, suspenseful, painful and beautiful." Superb singer and cellist Ian Cooke is also on the bill.

 

Guster Ogden Theatre : 9:00 p.m. January 17

Yes, it's a tired cliché, but the guys of Guster really do march to the beat of a different drummer . . . and that drummer plays the bongos. In a markedly successful "college try," the band released its first two albums independently, the first while all three members were juniors at Boston's Tufts University. (The second, 1996's Goldfly, was re-released by Sire two years later). Sticking with ultra-spare instrumentation -- Ryan Miller and Adam Gardner sharing acoustic guitar and vocal duties, Brian Rosenworcel behind the bongos -- for more than a decade Guster built a small but faithful following before Joe Pispaspia joined the band in 2003 and stayed until 2010, when multi-instrumentalist Luke Reynolds took his place. Guster's Evermotion, its seventh album and first in four years, was just released jointly on the band's Ocho Mule imprint and Nettwerk Records.

Goldroom Club Vinyl : January 17

Pretend that you have a floor­to­ceiling gold room in your home. What will you do with that space? If your response is "Create a kick­ass, dance­friendly lounging environment," then the perfect music to pipe into your gold room would be by Goldroom, the producer behind such dance­floor hits as "Fifteen" and "Sweetness Alive." Vocalists feature heavily in the down­tempo, chilled­out house music, and Goldroom weaves simple, powerful melodies in with their gorgeous voices, creating a sound that's much cleaner and smoother than that of most electronic music -- but also as captivating and transportive as a jacked­up techno track. It's music that makes you feel like you're standing outside in a beam of sunlight, basking in warmth and euphoria...or sprawled out on the carpet in your gold room, absorbing all that bright, bright light. Feel the vibes for yourself when Goldroom visits Vinyl on Saturday, January 17.

Pete Tong Beta : January 17

As the longtime host of the BBC Radio 1 shows Essential Selection and Essential Mix, Pete Tong is arguably one of the most influential DJs in the world. Beamed across the U.K. and the world, those shows have introduced millions of listeners to the latest and greatest sounds in dance music for years. Aside from that, Tong is also a globetrotting DJ/producer who knows a thing or two about keeping a dance floor moving.

Tony Furtado Swallow Hill Music Hall : 8:00 p.m. January 17

A musician who has continually reinvented himself and yet has remained below the commercial radar, Tony Furtado has proved to be a tremendously versatile and vital artist. While a music student at Cal State Hayward, Furtado entered the Grand National Banjo Championship in Kansas on a whim, and won. He soon emerged as an accomplished bluegrass musician playing with the likes of Bla Fleck, Earl Scruggs and Alison Krauss. Furtado, who lived in Boulder for six years before moving to Portland, an eclectic player who's always integrated elements of jazz and swing in his folk and country playing.

Manic Focus Fox Theatre : 9:00 p.m. January 18

John "JmaC" McCarten, the man behind the bass-heavy Manic Focus, was a classically trained on piano at an early age and later delved heavily into electronic music and hip-hop beats. On his second Manic Focus disc, Expanding Mind, McCarten also tapped into house and drum and bass.

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