The ten best concerts this weekend: Nov. 23-25
Death Grips at the Larimer Lounge tonight is one of this weekend's ten best concerts.
Welcome to the weekend -- excuse us, make that the holiday weekend! Whoo hoo! If all is going according to plan right now, hopefully you're reading this right now in your jammies -- or better yet, you won't be reading this for a few hours because you're taking advantage of your day off and you're still sleeping. Whatever the case, you have a banner weekend on tap with a bevy of sweet shows. If you're a completist and you'd much rather craft your own itenerary, have at it. We have all the shows listed in our concert calendar. If you'd prefer a more curated approach, we narrowed it down the ten best concerts this weekend. Keep reading to see what's in store.
Sid Pink was heartbroken. So he did what any reasonable, red-blooded American man his age would do: He penned a rock opera about the ordeal -- or a "rockeretta spectacular," as the show's poster proclaims -- with the help of a crack team of musicians affectionately christened American Fuck-Tape "About eighteen months ago, I suffered a devastating episode via Real Life," Sid explains in an e-mail, "courtesy a hotsy-totsy Los Angelinan [but former Denverite] who seemed to find folly undertaking an unnecessary heart-surgery on your old Uncle Sidney." The Yellow Machine, as the one-off production has been dubbed, actually sounds eventful, especially the part about a white baby grand piano being lowered from the ceiling. At the risk of overselling things, Sid describes The Yellow Machine live experience as "Hedwig meets Alice Cooper meets...hustle and connections budget."
Brandon and Collin Bordeaux have been making music together since they were kids. The two brothers, better known in local hip-hop circles as H*Wood and Kid Vegas, respectively, act as each other's business partner, musical critic, marketing director and confidant. Brandon, who's returned home after four years in Los Angeles, is celebrating the release of his new album, First Light. It's the first release for the Denver native since he left Darkchild Records, the imprint run by his former manager, Rodney Jerkins. From the sounds of the album's genre-bending tracks, which infuse EDM with soul and hip-hop, H*Wood has clearly grown since the days of "Could It Be You (Punk Rock Chick)." He burst onto the scene with that single a couple of years ago, and at the time, many would have filed his music under "pop." But he thinks it's more complex than that. "I'm not really pop," he says. "I've always been fascinated with EDM, and over the last few years, I have learned far more about it. Also, just taking time to study live music, which I love."
"The first time I dealt with a major label, I thought I had all the answers," recalls Tyler Ward. "I thought I was so good at what I did that they couldn't tell me what was going on. There were two or three offers on the table, and I said, 'I know better than you guys. You're trying to change me. You're trying to control me.'" It was an audacious stance for the singer-songwriter/producer to take. The then-26-year-old was still making music in his parents' basement when the labels came courting more than two years ago. Working from a bare-bones studio in Aurora, Ward had quickly built up a rabid following online with his do-it-yourself approach to performance, music production and songwriting. The buzz had come from seemingly menial moves -- videos posted on YouTube, songs spread through Facebook, a savvy use of Twitter and other social media. Ward was leading a fiercely independent ground campaign to get his music heard, a push with enough reach and depth to make any political strategist drool, and he didn't want to give it all up for the sake of a record deal.
Leftover Salmon occupies a unique spot in music. The band does not adhere to any one genre, though it borrows liberally from bluegrass, Cajun, rock, swing, jug band and even Latin and Caribbean influences among others. What the band does do is whip up one hell of a good time no matter where it finds itself, be it at a ski-bum bar in the mountains of Colorado, a summer music festival in the Midwest or at a packed local club. While the group suffered the loss of one of its beloved founders, banjoist Mark Vann, in 2002, and has scaled back its annual schedule, it continues to keep the flame that was lit on New Years 1990.
See also: Q&A with Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon
Twiztid, the Michigan-based horrorcore duo, occupy a peculiar spot in the annals of recorded music. As Insane Clown Posse's younger protégés, they have a hugely loyal fanbase, they've been signed to the same label for 12 years, they still earn revenue from actual records, but outside of Hot Topics and Juggalos, their existence has been so widely ignored, the duo frequently joke about being Psychopathic Records' "red-headed stepchild."
See also: Noah Van Sciver draws the Twiztid show
Known as the Godfather of schock-rock, Alice Cooper has influenced generations of evil performers like Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson with his theatrical performances and controversial antics (see 1969's "chicken incident"). With songs like "I'm Eighteen," "Schools Out" and the dark-rock concept album Billion Dollar Babies, Cooper became frightened parents, and along with KISS and Iggy Pop, he came to epitomize the stateside version of U.K. glam-rock, which was an ultimately darker, more masculine version of what Bowie and Bolan were up to across the pond. Keeping a healthy career throughout the '80s with fan favorites like "Teenage Frankenstein" and "Poison," Cooper is now a revered elder statesman of rock, having guesting on album cuts from Guns N' Roses and Insane Clown Posse.
From Tupac to Too Short, the Bay Area has consistently produced a wealth of talented hip-hop artists over the years. Oakland duo the Coup, featuring MC Boots Riley and DJ/producer Pam the Funkstress, is yet another exceptional export. Falling somewhere between the political declarations of former peace activist Abbie Hoffman and the over-the-top sarcasm of fellow Oaktown crew the Digital Underground, Riley's lyrical tirades are both poignant and spot-on as he tackles everything from the war in Iraq to his love of shoplifters. Backed by a band that provides a unique dimension to its already compelling live show, the Coup is underground NoCal hip-hop at its best.
Cephalic Carnage, Vale of Pnath, To Be Eaten, Swashbuckle and Rainbowdragoneyes -- these are all names that anyone paying attention to the better end of death metal and grind in Denver should recognize immediately. Some of the guys from those bands created a new band called Collapse, an outfit that demonstrated in no uncertain terms how you could breathe a little life into extreme music without merely being louder and engaging in superficial mechanical proficiency on your instruments. The band, now known as Vimana, weaves together a burst of sounds that warp around each other in seething rhythms so that you sometimes think they must be using electronic elements somewhere in the mix, but they're not. If Derrick Jensen's Endgame could have official music, it might sound like this. (Cephalic Carnage, Iconocaust, Tree of Woe, Silencer, Vimana, Despise the Sun, Fields of Elysium, Impaled Offering and Harvest The Murdered are also slated to appear on this Harvest Fest bill.)
The guys in Death Grips are not interested in following in anyone'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 after choosing not to wait for a vague 2013 release date for the followup, No Love Deep Web, the bandmembers released the album for free on the Internet, resulting in their being dropped from Epic. That shouldn't be much of a setback for Death Grips, which has already established itself as one of the most vital acts going.
Born Daniel Keith Swain, the MC, known these days simply as Danny!, comes with some pretty heavy endorsements from Jay-Z and ?uestlove, and here locally from DJ Low Key. The tastemaking hip-hop DJ and Solution co-founder, who previously introduced Denver to Blu, just before he dropped Below the Heavens, and Tayna Morgan, is bringing Danny! to town for the tenth edition of the Solution Showcase. If you're a hip-hop fan, that should tell you just about everything you need to know to come check out this South Carolina-based rapper, who's been in the game now for nearly a decade. But just in case you still somehow need convincing, hit up Spotify real quick and listen to "Do It All Over Again" from Payback, his Okay Player debut. Yep. That should do it. Not only will you get a good feel for his flow, but he succinctly lays out the highlights of his story.
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