The ten best concerts in Denver this week
Teaming up with an orchestra can sometimes be a thin attempt to disguise a creative lag, but in this case, the pairing has produced an inspired, brilliantly structured melding of two aesthetics that relies less on contrast than it does on similarities. With DeVotchKa's sentimental landscapes and the Symphony's climactic rises and powerful, sweeping descents, performances make for epic storytelling, supplanted with enough heart to afford the grand housing of so many instruments without sounding bombastic.
When it comes to the history of hip-hop in the Dirty South, it begins with Geto Boys and their self-titled, Rick Rubin-produced debut. The group had existed, though with a different cast, since '86, but it wasn't until the turn of the decade -- when it got major distribution and released We Can't Be Stopped -- that the outfit turned heads on a national level. The Geto Boys' success was the blueprint for virtually any Southern hip-hop success story until the Dungeon Family featuring Goodie Mob and OutKast paved a different path mid-decade.
Superhumanoids makes pristine synth-pop that's utterly irresistible. When Sarah Chernoff takes the lead on tracks like "Black Widow" and "So Strange" from the outfit's new album, Exhibitionists (out this week on the Innovative Leisure imprint), she instantly recalls Lights-era Ellie Goulding and Poliça's Channy Leaneagh at their best. Meanwhile, when Cameron Parkins does the heavy lifting on tunes like "A Ghost," his sturdy vocals make you oblivious to the absence of Chernoff's bewitching voice, which would otherwise be glaring. The biggest selling point of this L.A. group thus far has been that it hails from the same Silver Lake scene that gave us Silversun Pickups and Local Natives. Give it some time: As Superhumanoids makes a name for itself, that information will become trivial.
Michael Fitzpatrick, the "Fitz" in this band's moniker, was a bit of a late bloomer. After graduating from college, Fitz worked as a sound engineer for several years in record producer Mickey Petralia's stable until one day when he randomly acquired a church organ. That led Fitz to write a song on the instrument, "Breakin' the Chains of Love," which revealed a knack for writing energetic, exuberant, soul-inflected pop-rock songs. Fitz then assembled a band, and within a week of its first rehearsal, the outfit played its first live show, and the rest, as they say, is history. The recently released More Than Just a Dream is a welcome reminder that rock, R&B and electronic pop need not be mutually exclusive creative inclinations.
Formed in Navarre, Spain, in 2007, Crystal Fighters took its name from an unfinished opera that singer Laure Stockley's grandfather wrote before going mad. Incorporating traditional Basque instruments into what is otherwise uplifting dance music, the Fighters don't really sound like anything currently out there. A fusion of electronic dance music and various folk traditions, the act's sound recalls '80s world music, complete with expansive and inclusive melodies -- not unlike a fully developed version of the tropical pop that flourished in certain sectors of American underground music in the last half of the aughts. Overall, this group is more ambitious compositionally than most, resulting in richly textured songs built from simple elements and superb musicianship.
Named after the early twentieth-century anti-imperialist insurrection against foreign rule and religion in Qing Dynasty China, Boxer Rebellion got its start in 2001 when U.S. expatriate Nathan Nicholson met Todd Howe through an online ad. The London duo became a quartet with the addition of drummer Piers Hewitt and bassist Adam Harrison, and the group garnered high-profile opening gigs early on with acts like A Perfect Circle and Lenny Kravitz, which led to a slot at Glastonbury. There the group's expansive, sweeping melodies and emotional urgency caught the attention of Mercury Records, which issued Boxer Rebellion's debut, Exits, in 2005. "Watermelon," a hit single from the album, was featured in the yobs-gone-wild film The Football Factory. The band's latest record, Promises, crackles with the palpable enthusiasm of its shows.
Logic is a part of the new generation of rappers quickly gaining traction thanks to masses of young fans across the country finding common ground on the internet. Unlike many other internet sensations, Logic is a legitimate, serious lyricist with more raw rhyming talent than personality, not that he has a lack of that, either. Logic was recently picked by XXL as one of 2013's Freshman class along with other standouts Ab-Soul, Joey Bada$$ and Action Bronson.
Sonic Bloom, the jam-tronic festival that has its roots firmly planted in the Georgetown community at the Shadows Ranch plantation, was once named "ZILLA Fest," due to its founders being in the super-group of the same name. Sonic Bloom has since grown into a premier festival for Colorado electronic music fans. This year's edition of the four-day festival features a slew of acts, including Zilla, Phutureprimitive, Random Rab, Minnesota and the Polish Ambassador.
The Dandy Warhols came out of the underground rock world of the 1990s to enduring popularity and fame. Over the course of the band's career, the Dandys have consistently pushed their sonic boundaries and songwriting. They are one of the handful of pop bands that have shown measurable artistic growth. In taking chances, the group has undoubtedly lost some of its audience, but it has gained just as many by not remaining stagnant. On this date, the band is slated to play Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia, its classic album from 2000, front to back in its entirety.
Pitbull may not be the most beloved performer by hardcore hip-hop fans, as evidenced by his sharing the headline with Ke$ha, but there's no denying his influence in popular music; his single "Give Me Everything" reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 2011. There's also no denying his ability to get bodies moving on the dancefloor.
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