The ten best concerts this weekend: Dec. 14-16
Tonight, Big Head Todd and the Monsters return to Herman's Hideaway, the place where it all began.
It feels like we say this every week, and we probably do, but we're continually astounded by how good we have it here music-wise. If you haven't noticed, this time of year, the number of touring acts decreases dramatically, generally in line with the music industry itself, which pretty much slows to a crawl in a lot of places. And that of course translates into the doldrums, giving little reason to leave the comfy confines of your couch. Not so here, obviously, where our exports are every bit as choice and compelling as the imports, as you'll see from this week's best concert bets. While we've got all of the shows this weekend listed in our concert calendar, keep reading for the ten best concerts this weekend.
It's one thing to listen to Trace Bundy on record, but it's a whole other experience to actually see the guitarist -- one of the finest acoustic fingerpickers around these parts -- do his guitar gymnastics firsthand, from two-handed finger tapping and percussive slapping to looping phrasing and using multiple capos. There's a reason that Boulder's "Acoustic Ninja" has racked up more than 21 million views on YouTube: People want to see Bundy in action for themselves. Those folks will undoubtedly be in heaven with Elephant King, Bundy's latest release, which includes both a studio disc, which showcases some stellar fretwork, as well as a live DVD recorded at the Boulder Theater last December, which allows fans to get a glimpse of the fretmaster in his native environment doing what he does best, and then marvel at how he actually pulls it all off.
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.)
Although in the minds of many, Dethklok represents the unlikely foray of death metal into the mainstream, it was pioneers like Maryland's Dying Fetus that did the legwork in establishing and refining the art form. Beginning in 1991, Dying Fetus fused technical death metal with grindcore, and co-founder and singer/guitarist John Gallagher and various other vocalists for the band perfected the distorted roar/bark heard these days in much of extreme metal. But fusing death metal's precision and dynamic experimentation with grindcore's breakneck speed and raw musical savagery, then exploring the possibilities that combination presents, is what has long made Dying Fetus not just an interesting band, but an influential one, as well. Reign Supreme, the act's latest effort, marks a return to its signature, uncompromising brutality.
You can hear Breathe Carolina's music pretty much everywhere you go these days. You'll find it in all the expected places, of course -- on alternative radio; on TV, on shows such as The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and MTV's The City -- but it's also managed to infiltrate various other parts of everyday life that you wouldn't necessarily expect, from video screens in trendier shops at the mall to sports talk, where one local station has co-opted "Blackout" as part of its daily imaging. Impressive for a couple of guys who got their start playing in battle-of-the-bands competitions and who made their first songs on Garageband.
The Nichols brothers, Kendrick and Sherwyn, are the masterminds behind Two Fresh, an outfit whose sound, an amalgamation of hip-hop, jazz and electronic music, fits perfectly into the current EDM boom. As with most twins, it's challenging to tell the brothers apart. And fittingly, the stories of how the two siblings, who grew up in Nashville, ended up producing music together are as similar as their physical characteristics. From early memories of vibing out to Dr. Dre's The Chronic to listening to acts like Three 6 Mafia, Kendrick and Sherwyn absorbed everything their brothers exposed them to as they worked to create their own sound. Although hip-hop brought Two Fresh to the game, it was the wide world of samples that really piqued their interest. Starting early with instrumentals, Two Fresh has since grown past those early stages of production and now focuses more on song structure. The music of Two Fresh is made distinctive by Kendrick and Sherwyn, who add their own vocals to the music as opposed to relying on vocal samples. The result: Two Fresh now stands on the front lines of a changing genre.
It's tougher to decide which is more noteworthy for Air Dubai, that it's fanbase has grown to the point where it can now headline a place the size of the Ogden, news that it has secured a record deal with Hopeless Records, who will issue its next record, Be Calm, this spring, or the fact that the outfit is sharing a bill with Mr. Funky Cold Medina himself, Ton Loc. Proud moments all the way around, if you ask us, and the outfit has put in a lot of work to get here, progressing dramatically from its earliest days as a duo to continually honing its sound as a full-fledged band. This is sure to be a special night for the group and another high watermark for the scene.
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.
Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head, T.I.'s brand new album, doesn't hit stores until Tuesday, but there's a solid chance you'll get to hear at least part of the record, including "Hello," the new cut featuring Cee Lo that just dropped, at 1STBANK Center this Saturday night when T.I. headlines KS 107.5's Jingle Jam with Lupe Fiasco, Travis Porter, Kirko Bangz and Jonn Hart.
Long before most folks in the music industry even knew where to find Denver on the map, Big Head Todd and the Monsters were representing the Mile High City on the radio with breakout singles like "Sister Sweetly," "Bittersweet" and "Broken Hearted Savoir." And before that, the outfit, led by Todd Park Mohr, was making a name for itself locally by playing gigs at places like Herman's Hideaway. Today, Todd and the boys are still going strong, having sustained a successful and even more respectable career on their own for more than two decades, and this evening, they return to Herman's, the place where it all began, for a rare, intimate (and of course sold-out) performance.
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.
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