The ten best concerts this week: December 10-14
Lamb of God tonight at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver is one of the week's ten best concerts.
We're blessed to live here, you know. If you haven't already come to this conclusion on your own from feeling the ever-present sunshine and observing the wondrous sunset paintings we're treated to each evening, all you have to do is take a look at the brimming concert calendar. Whereas the live music options dry up in many parts of the country around this time of year, they're still enticing and plentiful here. This week, there's a full slate of musical goodness awaiting you. We've narrowed it down to the ten best concerts this week. Keep reading to see what we picked.
While the great majority of P.O.D.'s contemporaries in the ill-conceived nu-metal/rap-rock movement of the mid- to late '90s -- chagrin-inducing outfits like Limp Bizkit, a skeleton in oh-so-many closets -- have become fossilized relics, P.O.D. has outlasted them all. And while it hasn't thrived, necessarily, the San Diego-based act has certainly endured. This is largely thanks to the fact that, much like it did for kindred acts Rage Against the Machine and Downset, the fusion of metal and hip-hop always seemed organic rather than contrived for P.O.D. What's more, the quartet wisely eschewed the hedonism that fueled a lot of that era's music; as a result, P.O.D.'s songs have always displayed a depth and earnestness that evaded those other bands, who seemed capable of conveying only anger or lust. (P.O.D. supports headliners 3 Doors Down and Daughtry on this bill.)
Indie nation made a collective sad face when the Shins went on hiatus after 2007's Wincing the Night Away. That departure added a whole new layer of poignancy to the songs that had already made James Mercer's Portland-based crew one of the '00s' most beloved bands, even before Natalie Portman raved about them in Garden State. But those frowns turned upside down when Mercer assembled a completely new cast of bandmates and returned earlier this year with Port of Morrow, a new batch of quintessentially wistful songs that blow through like a soft, melancholy breeze. (The Shins are one of the headliners at Vail Snow Daze, the music portion of which runs from Thursday, December 13 through Saturday, December 15, and features Michael Franti and Wilco, respectively.)
With her force-of-nature voice, Grace Potter has probably been drawing favorable comparisons to Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin since she could crawl. Before this year, she and her band the Nocturnals had released three albums of blues-rock and retro-soul, with 2010's Grace Potter & the Nocturnals and its sassy single "Ooh La La (Paris)" both becoming modest hits. Add the leggy blond's model-good looks, and Potter has seemed like a pop star in the making for a while. That moment may be at hand on her fourth album, The Lion The Beast The Beat, released this past summer on Hollywood Records. From the opening moments of the title track, a widescreen alt-pop epic à la Florence + the Machine, Lion feels engineered to make Potter a star. (Potter shares this bill with Gavin DeGraw and Adelita's Way.)
When the Format broke up in 2008, frontman Nate Ruess regrouped and formed Fun. with the help of Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff, venturing firmly into the realm of pop rock with the act's debut album, Aim and Ignite. That release garnered acclaim, but the group really hit the big time with Some Nights, on the strength of the anthemic single "We Are Young," which topped the charts and garnered a slew of mainstream placements: The cast of Glee, for instance, covered the song, and Chevrolet used it in a Super Bowl commercial. (Fun. shares this sold-out bill with Of Monsters and Men and Churchill.)
Dweezil Zappa is on a mission, and it's a pretty personal one. Since 2006, the son of the late guitarist/composer/bandleader Frank Zappa has toured the world, playing his father's music in an effort to attract and educate a new generation of listeners. In leading the Zappa Plays Zappa project, Dweezil Zappa has covered songs from all phases of his father's nearly forty-year career. He's delved deeply into a catalogue that numbered more than sixty official albums at the time of Frank Zappa's death in 1993. While in the past, Dweezil's touring band has included alums from his dad's touring ensembles, musicians like Terry Bozzio, Steve Vai and Ray White, Dweezil's pared down the band to six members for the latest tour.
The word Americana comes up a lot in Of Monsters and Men's press coverage, despite the fact the band hails from Iceland. Apparently, Icelandicana is not a thing. In any case, that lazily applied label is shorthand for the kind of indie pop-meets-folk sound that's been all the rage over the past few years. You know the drill -- lots of soaring melodies, male-female vocals, a tendency to use shit like glockenspiel and melodica just because you can. Sure, it nods toward folk traditions at moments, but at its heart this is just twee pop music dressed up in backwoods clothing. Nothing wrong with that, of course, and Of Monsters and Men's songwriting is solid. (Of Monsters and Men are also slated to perform at KTCL's Not So Silent Night on Thursday, December 13 at 1STBANK Center.)
After Sleep broke up in 1998, singer/guitarist Matt Pike formed High on Fire with drummer Des Kensel and bassist George Rice. Initially evoking more of a doom rock sound, High on Fire evolved into being more of a straight ahead metal band without either dumbing down the music or taming its players' collective talent for writing driving and brutal music with a walloping low end and warping melodies. The imagery of the band's songs could have been pulled from the pages of the best of Robert E. Howard's stories and the music is surely the soundtrack for a barbarian invasion. The appeal of High on Fire seems to extend to people who wouldn't normally be into metal partly because, despite its proclivity for fantasy imagery, High on Fire comes off as the kind of band who cares about writing songs that don't just appeal to fellow musicians or those that wish they were.
Even though this band got started earlier this year, its members are hardly unknown figures: Britt Daniel started the experimental pop group Spoon in Austin in the early '90s; Dan Boeckner played guitar and sang in the like-minded and popular Wolf Parade; and drummer Sam Brown came to this project from long-running punk band New Bomb Turks. While you can hear some of the members' other projects in the music of Divine Fits, mostly it compares favorably with '70s glam with a great deal more urgency in the rhythms. There's also a bit of early power-pop darkness coursing through the songwriting. Daniel and Boeckner give the name of the project real credence because the co-frontmen, individually and separately, have never been short on being able to draw inspiration and energy from out of nowhere. (Divine Fits are also performing at Vail Snow Daze on Thursday, December 13.)
Bob Weir is a restless soul. Already fully engaged with Furthur -- his latest and perhaps most true-to-form post-Grateful Dead venture -- his solo band Ratdog, assorted musical projects at his TRI Studios, activity in various political and environmental organizations, plus the occasional mountain bike foray, this founding member of the Dead comes back to town in the midst of a short solo tour. If there were ever a musician who deserved a little rest and relaxation, it might be the tireless Weir. Instead, the songwriter is really only at rest when he's busy playing his guitar, which, in the solo acoustic context, offers yet another level of musical fulfillment - for Weir and everyone else involved.
Lamb of God began as an instrumental band called Burn the Priest in 1990, when its founding members were in college in Richmond, Virginia. In the mid-'90s, after releasing a series of demos, Burn the Priest recruited singer Randy Blythe, changing the band's name in time for its first full-length album, New American Gospel, in 2000. From then on, Lamb of God became one of the most popular metal bands in the scene. Blythe and company embraced their collective interests in hardcore, death metal and thrash, cultivating a sound that doesn't fit neatly into one genre. While touring in support of their latest record, Resolution, they were briefly sidelined by the incarceration of Blythe, who faces charges stemming from an unfortunate incident in the Czech Republic involving the death of a fan. Although the case is still pending, Blythe was released on bail this past summer, and Lamb of God is back on the road.
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