The ten best concerts in Denver this weekend
Prince became a household name after the release of his third album, 1982's 1999. Over the years, his perfectly realized blend of rock, pop, funk and jazz has proved equally popular with audiences and critics. Throughout the '80s, Prince released hit records that broke genre barriers, not just in terms of radio programming, but within the music itself. His versatility and breadth of musical vision have influenced a broad spectrum of popular music ever since. Prince is playing four-shows at the Ogden this weekend with his new band 3rd Eye Girl.
Compared to airbrushed, frosted-bang pretty boys like the ones in Rascal Flatts, Atlanta's Zac Brown Band looks like it came straight to Nashville from a bare-knuckled dustup with the Kentucky Headhunters. However, the strand of Southern rock that Brown and company are most steeped in is the free-form Widespread Panic variety; their high harmonies and pickin' skills also make them one of the most bluegrass-sounding acts to make serious Music City inroads since either Alison Krauss or Ricky Skaggs. This is a group of good ol' boys, albeit modern ones.
In recent years, the Black Angels have deservedly been a prominent band in the psychedelic rock world. Though the act had the rare distinction of being the backing band for one of the pioneers of psychedelic rock, Roky Erickson of the 13th Floor Elevators, the music created by the Austin-based act is also rooted in hip-hop rhythms and the shimmering flow of shoegaze bands of the '90s. This, in combination with its own distinct, dark flavor, makes for a thrilling sense of menace hovering in the background.
"Second verse, same as the first!" When Joey Ramone, innocently enough, heisted this line from Herman's Hermits, little did he know that it would one day become a battle cry. Since then, untold scores of punk and indie acts have clung fanatically to a simple, profoundly imbecilic idea: making every one of their songs sound exactly the same. Portland's the Thermals, however, know full well the power of sounding like a broken record. At first glance, it might seem like a wad of geeky, repetitive pop punk in sore need of some antihistamine. Lean closer, though, and you'll notice a chaotic splay of soul, thought and emotion wherein Minor Threat drops acid with Robert Pollard and armed revolution swaps spit with drunken heartache.
So-called alternative bands can't remain outsiders over the long haul: Either they collapse under the weight of unmet expectations, or they become as mainstream as the acts to which they were once considered alternatives. How, then, can Built to Spill continue to make enjoyable and relevant music after all these years as indie-rock royalty? Because deep down, Doug Martsch is a scruffy traditionalist who never wanted to destroy popular music in the first place. He just wanted to make it better. (Built to Spill is also slated to perform at the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs on Friday, May 10.)
Mobb Deep has had an illustrious career that's spanned seven albums and more than a decade, but, really, this pair will forever be remembered for a single, legendary song: "Shook Ones, Pt. II," which took an unlikely Herbie Hancock sample and transformed it into a nihilistic anthem. With tracks like "Survival of the Fittest" and "Quiet Storm," Mobb Deep is far from a one-hit wonder, but at the end of the day, Havoc and Prodigy remain the arbiters of who is and is not shook.
As three-fourths of the legendary New Orleans funk group the Meters, bassist George Porter, guitarist Leo Nocentelli, and drummer Zigaboo Modeliste know pretty much everything there is to know about locking in a groove. These guys, along with singer and keyboardist Art Neville, pioneered the New Orleans funk sound in late '60s into the '70s. Since the original Meters broke up in 1977, the members went their separate ways and Neville joined the Neville Brothers and Porter later formed the Funky Meters and Nocentelli started the The Meters Experience. In recent years, the original members reunited for a one-off gigs, and late last year Porter, Nocentelli and Modeliste teamed up with Phish keyboardist Page McConnell under the name the Metermen, who will be at the Ogden for a two-night stand of funky good times.
The members of Speedwolf specialize in brand of no frills metal in the vein of Motorhead and Venom, played with the playful ferocity of a hardcore band. The guys are not necessarily carrying the torch for that older style of heavy music as much as they're embodying what made it so good in the first place. Without trying to fit any particular subscene, Speedwolf can play metal shows and punk shows with equal ease, and that's because the music does not fit a strict stereotype, and neither do the members.
Flobots.Org, a local nonprofit organization responsible for granting several mediums of art to the public, presents Music Matters May. This festival spread out over three weekends and nine venues, including Sync Art Gallery, Colorado Arts Center, Center for Visual Arts, CHAC Gallery and Space Gallery, and will deliver eighteen acts, including Melissa Ivey, Molina, Suzi Q. Smith, Varlet and more, as well as presenting local artist's work for viewing and sale.
The lineup for the second annual Northwest Denver Folk Festival is pretty stacked with an array of acts, including Chimney Choir, Ark Life, the Haunted Windchimes, Joe Sampson, Gora Gora Orkestar, the Changing Colors, Grant Sabin, Brian Molnar, Patrick Dethlefs and Martin Gilmore, Dr. Harlan's Amazing Bluegrass Tonic, Poet's Row and Al Trout. Doors open at 2 p.m., and tickets are $13.
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