The ten best concerts of the week: Nov. 19-23
Bruce Springsteen shows Denver who's the Boss tonight at the Pepsi Center.
Another weekend in the books, another week ahead. But oh what a kickass week this one will be. For starters, not only will it be abbreviated for most of us, thanks to the annual Tryptophan-filled holiday devoted to overeating and football, but next to perhaps New Year's Eve, but this is also the biggest and most hotly anticipated party week of the entire year. With that in mind, you'll find an abundance of great music to soundtrack your excursions/indiscretions. And while we've got it all laid out in our concert calendar, here, we've done the heavy lifting for you and narrowed it down to the ten best concerts of the week. Keep reading to see what's goodness awaits you.
Australian Pink Floyd is precisely what it sounds like -- a bunch of Aussies mimicking the spirit and sound of classic Floyd. And while granted, on paper, this premise seems only slightly more entertaining than sparking a fatty with your buddies and taking in a Laser Floyd show at Gates Planetarium back in the day, this now eleven-piece tribute band has been at it for more than two decades and its honed its show to the point that when the members perform their spot-on renditions, it sounds more like they're channeling Waters, Gillmore and company rather than simply imitating them. Gillmore himself reportedly enlisted the group to perform at his 50th birthday party.
Since its first performance at Cervantes' in 2005, this annual show has become something of a Thanksgiving week tradition, and without fail it usually turns out to be among the most enjoyable outings of the year. Seven years ago, the members of Polytoxic tapped a bunch of their friends and deftly set about recreating The Last Waltz -- the Band's 1976 swan song, which took place on Thanksgiving Day that same year at the Winterland Ballroom and was immortalized by Martin Scorsese -- in its entirety. The three-hour show is magical whether you're a fan of the Band or just want to see some of the finest local players losing themselves in the music and having the time of their lives.
Everyone's heard of the legendary Pete Tong, whose BBC Radio 1 show has been known as the best place to hear the hottest new EDM trends for years. Pay attention to the person touring with him when he next hits up Denver: Bristolian Daniel Pearce, who's better known as Eats Everything. The name is appropriate, too, because this producer/DJ spreads out a buffet of Detroit house and techno right alongside garage and drum-and-bass from the United Kingdom. And he presents it all in a pulsing, undeniably fresh format of house music that's drawn attention from such labels as Catz N Dogz (his debut single, "Pets Recordings," can be found on that imprint) and, most recently, Claude Von Stroke's flagship dirtybird label, on which his latest release, "Vertigo," can be found.
When Diplo's Mad Decent spin-off label Jeffree's dropped the Bro Safari single "Da Worm" last year, it brightened the spotlight already shining on Nicholas Weiller. Bro Safari might be a relatively new project, but Weiller, who currently performs under that name, earned his stripes as a DJ and producer with years of bass-heavy joints as Knick, as well as half of collaborative projects Evol Intent and Ludachrist. Having put his stamp on mash-ups, glitchy downtempo and hard, dark drum-and-bass, Weiller is focusing his latest evolution is focused on Moombahton, along with occasional dalliances with the emerging sub-sub-genre of trapstep. After spending the summer on the Bros Gone Wild Tour with Baltimore party veteran Tittsworth, Bro Safari will deliver a set that will probably jump styles like a mad Double Dutcher. But no matter which crate he decides to pull from, the dance floor will be packed for a sermon on serious low end frequencies.
There are several reasons that Red Fang is better than most bands of its ilk. The first and most apparent is its drummer. Preferring to be on the ground level with his bandmates rather than on the drum riser, John Sherman delivers blow after punishing blow to his kit, keeping the tempo to near-metronome precision while catapulting the already powerful quartet into new decibel ranges. If loudness equals greatness, then Red Fang could give Spinal Tap a run for its money. In additional to volume, the Portland band displays expert musicianship with showy guitar leads that segue effortlessly into complex breakdowns. In a genre becoming saturated with similar ideas and styles, most bands would be well advised to take a second to evaluate how they want to sound and ultimately decide to be more like Red Fang.
Avid viewers of Cartoon Network's late-night Adult Swim programming probably know all about Metalocalypse. The show first aired in 2006 as a showcase for the absurdist antics of the band Dethklok, a death-metal band of mythic proportions whose revenues make it the seventh-largest economy on Earth. The music resides somewhere between melodic, Viking-inspired metal and, well, cartoonish death metal that draws inspiration from Cannibal Corpse and At the Gates. In 2007, series co-creator Brendon Small took the concept and made it a real, touring band. That group's latest record, Dethalbum III, has song titles like "I Ejaculate Fire" and "Impeach God," so tongue is firmly in cheek. But the fact that Small brought in renowned drummer Gene Hoglan, of Testament, Dark Angel and Death fame, means the band isn't just funny -- it's legit.
More than three decades ago, rock and roll stood on the cusp of two possible futures: Would it follow the path set out by punk, with its abrasive roar and cut-to-the-bone simplicity, or would it follow the path of Springsteen and his ilk, embracing nuanced singer-songwriter rock that appealed to heartland sensibilities? Turns out the answer is "yes," because music is not a zero-sum game, and when you hand a kid a bunch of records, he just likes what he likes, music-critic arguments and thought experiments be damned. Just ask Titus Andronicus, whose three albums -- this year's Local Business is the latest -- show off Springsteen-esque tunes powered by the raw vitality of punk and spiced up by whatever else is handy. It's a distinctly American sound that recalls the glory days of rock without ever seeming to look backward in its mad dash toward the future.
The guys in Death Grips are not interested in following in anyone else's footsteps, hip-hop or otherwise. Adopting what drummer/percussionist Zach Hill refers to as "future primitivism," the outfit uses whatever is readily at hand, including camcorders and cell phones, to capture sounds, and mulches a lot of raw audio into its palette, regardless of fidelity. Fittingly, last year's Exmilitary sounds like an industrial dub-noise collage made from rough, recycled parts. While completing The Money Store this past April, Death Grips was signed to Epic. But not wanting choosing not to wait for a vague 2013 release date for the follow-up, No Love Deep Web, Death Grips released the album for free on the Internet, resulting in their being dropped from Epic. That souldn't be much of a setback for Death Grips, which has already established itself as one of the most vital acts going.
EARTH @ MARQUIS THEATER | WEDS, 11/21/12
Founded in 1989 by Dylan Carlson, Earth took its name from the original moniker of Black Sabbath. And that's entirely appropriate, seeing as how Earth is one of the pioneers of droning doom metal. Saint Vitus and Sleep were a direct influence on stoner rock, but Earth was a primary influence on the likes of SunnO))), Kevin Drumm and what Justin Broadrick has done with Jesu. From the mid-'90s until about 2005, Carlson more or less took time off from music to battle the trespasses of his personal demons, but since then, Earth has been releasing some of the most beautifully sprawling records in the genre to date, including its latest, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II. It's rare that this band tours, so fans of ambient metal should definitely not miss this one.
Bruce Springsteen is one of a handful of rock musicians to have aged gracefully while also growing as an artist. Instead of burning out and fading away, Springsteen had a remarkable fourteen-year streak of eight great albums, starting with 1973's Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. What has made him special from the beginning is his keen ability to bring intelligence and native wisdom to a wide range of subjects and incorporating that seamlessly into compelling music -- whether it was the full-blown rock of Born to Run or the haunted introspection of Nebraska. The Boss continues to be the rock-and-roll equivalent of Steinbeck with the soul of a Beat poet, and he still performs one fiery show after another.
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