The ten best concerts in Denver this week
In addition to being a Denver institution at this point, Keggs & Eggs has become a signifier of spring and annual monument to daytime drinking. No matter who's playing KTCL's free St. Patrick's Day shindig, the lines start forming in LoDo just after midnight. In past years, Kegg's & Eggs has featured New Found Glory, Saosin and innerpartysystem, among others. This year's lineup includes Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls, ZZ Ward and the Nuns of Brixton.
Straight outta Belton, Texas, Flyleaf is a teen-angst quintet that aims to inspire through depression. Lead singer Lacey Mosley's lyrics are rooted in her hardscrabble upbringing and early addiction issues, but rather than simply recap her personal tragedies, she infuses them with upbeat messages. "Fully Alive," for instance, from the band's 2005 self-titled full-length, is typical: Against a big-riff backdrop, Mosley alternately croons and wails about a girl who's overcome broken bones and bad times to stand tall "in her brilliant, shiny way." This brand of Hallmark metal has a pronounced Christian subtext, yet it's also got enough hooks and heaviness to attract the less cynical members of the black-lipstick set.
Frontman Aaron Nordstrom was a touring guitarist for Otep from 2007-2008, although that sound isn't necessarily found in this band. The influence of '90s progressive metal is heard in the flange-laden melodic breaks and Nordstrom's vocal split between the drifty and introspective and a distorted urgency. Nordstrom told No Cover that the name of the band reflects the duality of man and the ensuing struggle, much like what Matthew Modine's character in Full Metal Jacket told the general regarding wearing a peace sign and writing "Born to Kill" on his helmet. And for a band that some people might think they have figured out on first listen, Gemini Syndrome's lyrics delve more deeply than heartfelt outrage at wrongs done in a relationship turned sour. Affectionately referring to its fan as "Synners," the band recently issued its debut full-length Pleasure and Pain.
Formed in 2008, Allegaeon and its tuneful, technical death metal quickly caught the attention of Metal Blade. The Fort Collins band signed with the respected and influential heavy metal imprint in 2009, and released its full-length debut, Fragments of Form and Function the following year and immediately became popular with fans of death metal. For the 2012 follow-up, Formshifter, the band challenged itself and produced an album that not only contained much more sophisticated music but the lyrics hint at Edgar Cayce's mystical dream visions of Atlantis and abstract if pointed social critiques. Maybe Allegaeon has smoothed out some of its rough edges, but the result is a more focused approach in both the songwriting and live performance. This bill also features fellow local heavyweights Vale Of Pnath, Dissonance In Design, Suns Of Sorath and Artemesis.
Fronted by Otep Shamaya, who, in so many ways, is a heavy metal cognate of Wendy O. Williams, this band has been lumped in with nü metal. But Shamaya is a poet, as well as a singer, and this is evident in her lyrics; there's a lot more than usual creativity involved in what she has to say. That and her wicked sense of humor and social critique -- the poetic sense of which was lost on Fathers & Families, who accused her song "Menocide" of being hateful toward men -- which has become well developed and obvious over the course of several albums. The band's latest record, Hydra, is purported to be the band's last, so this may be your last chance to catch the band in action in person.
Back in the summer of 1994, college radio stations every so often played a song that sounded old yet kind of new. It started with a drumbeat, followed by a guitar and bass riff. Then came a voice, a lazy drawl somewhere between rap and song. This was the era before Shazam and even Internet music downloads. But it didn't take detective skills to figure out the song was called "Blues Music," because those were the two words uttered most often. Nearly two decades later, G. Love & Special Sauce continue to kick out their hip-hop, rock 'n' roll, funk and blues.
Anyone who saw Dances With Wolves probably recognizes that tatanka is the Lakota word for "bison." The like-named Denver-based band adopted that imagery for the cover of its latest release, Cloudless Thunder. You might expect a band that named itself after the largest animal to roam the plains since the Pleistocene era to play doom rock, but instead, Tatanka has created an alloy of dub, hip-hop, EDM and improvisational rock. The act's 2010 EP, Sounds in Technicolor, lived up to its name with languid drifts of imaginatively crafted melodies nudged along by pulses of drum and bass. The mixture of the purely electronic and the organic is seamless, comparable to the work of the similarly minded STS9.
With the groundwork for Allen's feel-good, lighthearted brand of hip-hop firmly established by Mac Miller before him, this could very well be the next generation of mainstream hip-hop. It cannot be overstated to what extent the crowd loved his last show in Denver. There was one breathing point during the show, an acoustic rendition of "Lucky Man" about halfway through the show, but that was it. It was energy on top of energy on top of energy and, amazingly, it was never too much!
While not a full blown Red Cloud reunion, this is about as close as you're going to get to one -- with former Backbeat scribe Jason Heller sitting in with Ross Etherton & the Chariots of Judah and playing some Red Cloud songs --- until the dudes actually decide to put the band back together for one more go. One of the most affecting live rock bands to ever take the stage in this town, Red Cloud played with reckless abandon and has been sorely missed since the members parted ways.
Thao Nguyen started writing songs with her acoustic guitar in middle school in Falls Church, Virginia. While attending William & Mary, she met her current bandmate, Adam Thompson, at a coffee-shop show in Richmond. And while that may be a bit of a cliche, Nguyen's songs are not the tentative musical sketches of a mere hobbyist; in fact, she's a lively and charismatic performer. Yes, there's an acoustic-pop element to the music, but there's also an appealingly brash energy to the songwriting that is very punk. The duo's latest effort, 2013's We the Common, is a bit of a departure, with songs that weave in touches of bluegrass. Featuring a collaboration with Joanna Newsom, the album isn't so much an indication of toning things down as it is of the group expanding its musical palette.
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