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The ten best concerts in Denver this weekend

Yes, Bootsy freakin' Collins, in Civic Center Park.
Yes, Bootsy freakin' Collins, in Civic Center Park.

It's the most wonderful time of the week. There are some excellent concerts in town on this final weekend of May, including John Prine with Emmylou Harris and Bootsy Collins in Civic Center Park for the The Kinfolks Soul Food Festival.

There are some fresher faces too, like Bassnectar at Red Rocks and Lindsey Stirling at 1STBANK Center. They'll be playing songs that frankly aren't as good as "I'd Rather Be With You." But then, few songs are.

Bassnectar at Red Rocks: Friday, May 30 and Saturday, May 31

When I first got going," recalls Lorin Ashton, "I was into fuckin' brutal, satanic death metal."

Even with all of his hair, it's hard to imagine that Ashton, better known in dance circles as Bassnectar, was once enthralled with extreme metal. After all, dubstep, the subgenre he's essentially helped pioneer, is known more for its resonating bass beats than for shredding guitars, blast beats and guttural vocals. Over the past year, thanks in large part to the rising popularity of fellow low-end-loving acts like Skrillex, dubstep has steadily been making mainstream inroads, which has put Ashton in an enviable position. But to him it's about more than just punishing bass lines.

SXSW Cares Benefit Show at the hi-dive: Friday, May 30

Emerald Siam is the latest project fronted by Kurt Ottaway. From 1987 to 1996, Ottaway was a member of Twice Wilted, a band that was memorable not just for being one of the loudest acts of the time, but also for being inspirational in its innovation. Think Spacemen 3 with a deeper melodic sense, or the Jesus and Mary Chain with even moodier atmospheres than usual. After Twice Wilted called it quits, Ottaway started Tarmints, a group designed to be completely unlike anything he had done previously. Tarmints songs comprised dark garage rock and gritty post-punk sensibilities. Emerald Siam, started in 2012, reflects the best of Ottaway's earlier endeavors, and allows for his vibrant emotionality as a singer to ring through clearer than ever. He's got some new tricks, too: The group's synthesis of haunted garage psychedelia and a multimedia environmental experience is true modern-rock theater. See the spectacle at the hi-dive on Friday, May 30.

Lindsey Stirling at 1STBANK Cenver: Friday, May 30

What Warren Ellis and C. Spencer Yeh represent for experimental rock and Miri Ben-Ari once aspired to be for hip-hop, violinist Lindsay Stirling stands on the precipice of becoming for brostep: a welcome injection of conservatory-chic humanity. Hers is an appeal that extends beyond a series of provocative YouTube videos. As her music proves, manic flurries of scissor-kicking bow slice make for a perfect compliment to sick-ass bass drops. Who knew that America's Got Talent would produce something this good?

Steve Vai and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at Boettcher Concert Hall: Friday, May 30

Anyone who's played with Frank Zappa, or played his music, knows just how technically challenging his music can be. So it says something about Steve Vai's guitar skills to first transcribe a number Zappa's guitar solos for Zappa, as well as overdub guitar parts and then become a touring member of Zappa's band in 1980. While Vai did stints with David Lee Roth and Whitesnake, he's also released a number of albums under his own name, including his most recent effort, 2012's

The Story of Light

. Tonight, the guitarist teams up with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra for an adventurous evening of rock and classical.

Burning Can Beer Fest at Bohn Park: Saturday, May 31

After last September's floods devastated Lyons, the focus was on rebuilding: lives, homes and spirits. At the time, no one was in the mood for fun and games. But they definitely could have used a beer -- and Oskar Blues, which got its start in Lyons, was happy to help. Beer was the least of it, though: Over the past eight months, through its CAN'd Aid Foundation, Oskar Blues has raised more than $600,000 for flood relief. And now that residents are ready to think about fun and games again, today the brewery will host its third annual Burning Can Beer Festival alongside the Lyons Outdoor Games.

Those games include pro kayaking, an Outlaws of Dirt jump series, a rugby tournament, a slackline jam, cornhole, live music, food booths and a family-friendly area, among other events. The free headliner is Anders Osborne, who goes on at 8 p.m.

"The flooding impacted our ability to hold world-class kayak events...but the main portion of the venue is on the south side of the river, and that is mostly intact," says Oskar Blues spokesman Chad Melis. "And we got a lot of additional support this year from athletes and sponsors...who have a soft spot in their heart for Lyons."

John Prine & Emmylou Harris at Red Rocks: Sunday, June 1

John Prine has been hawking his musical hybrid of affable country simplicity and cynical cosmopolitan wit for more than forty years, and he shows no sign of losing his edge, and the country-folk Everyman still manages to consistently pack every venue he plays. Folk fans cherish Prine's dynamic live shows, basking in the glow of an American master with the power to break your heart one moment and bust your gut with laughter the next. It's hard to imagine life without John Prine classics like "Sam Stone" and "Angel From Montgomery," and he still performs them with the same soul, humor and humility made them stand out on his 1971 debut. Tonight Prine teams up with the great Emmylou Harris.

 
Victor Wooten at the Gothic Theatre: Saturday, May 31

With his virtuosic playing and two-handed approach, Victor Wooten has long been a pacesetter on the electric bass. From his longtime work with Béla Fleck & the Flecktones to a vibrant solo career launched with his outstanding 1996 debut, Show of Hands, Wooten has provided plenty of proof as to the potential of the bass guitar. Not only is he a major force on the instrument, but he's one who's been more than willing to share his knowledge with other musicians. Wooten has written books such as The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music and spearheaded a number of music clinics, workshops and camps. During his stop in Colorado this week, Wooten (who will play cello and electric, tenor and upright basses as well as sing) will be joined by a variety of special guests.

The Kinfolks Soul Food Festival at Civic Center Park: Saturday, May 31

If you were to make a short list of the greatest bass players of all time, Bootsy Collins would surely be included. After firing his backing band in the late '60s, James Brown hired Collins and his brother Catfish's band, the Pacemakers, to back him up. Collins later became a member of Parliament-Funkadelic, creating a legacy of unimpeachable musical excellence and setting a high bar for a larger-than-life stage show. Since then, Collins has been involved in countless collaborations and other projects. There's really nothing not to like about this bombastic character, who also does plenty of work for the community. Collins will be at the Kinfolks Soul Food Festival along with Cameo, Morris Day & the Time, SOS Band and Lakeside.

Dirty Dozen Brass Band at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom: Saturday, May 31

As one of the top acts from the bustling New Orleans scene, Dirty Dozen Brass Band throws down hard. The act's Dixieland brass-heavy jazz sound is infectiously joyful, with each horn player getting to shine on his own and as part of the collective.

The Bloody Beetroots at the Gothic Theatre: Sunday, June 1

Like labelmates MSTRKRFT, Bloody Beetroots have a penchant for performing live in costume. Instead of looking like psychotic ax murderers, though, Bloody Beetroots prefer that their "Death Crew 77" looks like Spider-Man villain Venom. Although joined on stage by a variety of musicians, including a live drummer, producer Bob Rifo and DJ Tommy Tea write all the music. Hailing from northern Italy, Bloody Beetroots has become internationally renowned for hectically upbeat electronic music and energetic live shows. In fact, those shows are more like seeing a rock band with a sense of theater than just a DJ nerding out at his console. But the band's songs sound nothing like rock and roll. Mixing the computerized with the acoustic, Bloody Beetroots have taken what is sometimes a stultified art form and injected it with sheer enthusiasm.

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