The ten best concerts to see in Denver this week
Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson at Red Rocks. Sweet Jesus! How this totally obvious and sure-to-be-awesome pairing has not happened before now is anybody's guess. The music world's O.G. shock rocker and his direct artistic descendent are slated to share a bill at Red Rocks Amphitheatre! Brace yourself for the apocalypse!
Formed in 2005 by a group of classmates in Putney, England, the xx came to the attention of wide audiences in 2009 with its self-produced and self-titled debut album. Bringing together a moody, post-punk musicianship with hip-hop beats and down-tempo sensibilities, the band struck a chord with music that recalled acts like Portishead and New Order. The xx's follow-up album, Coexist, from 2012, revealed the increasing influence of dance music heard in U.K. clubs and elsewhere. The results reflected a clear attention to a depth of atmosphere and texture tied subtly yet masterfully to rhythm. This is dark R&B imbued with warmth and a sense of romanticism.
Foals's 2008 Sub Pop debut Antidotes, produced by TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, is filled with electro-clash beats, passionate soccer-chant-style vocals and sprightly, interwoven guitar melodies influenced equally by Graceland and Megaman 2. Total Life Forever, the deep-lyric, dance-party phenoms' 2009 release, which delineates the Theory of Singularity and was recorded in Sweden, explores more My Morning Jacket-esque vocal and musical territory than its fun-filled predecessor, but the band's live shows are still more Super Mario than Yim Yames.
Whether you're a fan of the whomp or not, Dubstep is here to stay. Borgore is definitely on the newer end of the movement, but the Tel Aviv-born producer and DJ has already carved out his own style within the genre. Former drummer of the Israeli metal band Shabira, Borgore incorporates a similarly sharp sound to his drum-and-bass reworkings, as evidenced on his remix of Britney Spears's "Womanizer."
Ritzy Bryan and Rhydian Dafydd grew up together in North Wales and formed their first band, Tricky Nixon, while living in Manchester. When that outfit split up in 2006, the two wasted little time in putting together what would become the Joy Formidable when they moved back to Wales. Over the next five years, the three-piece created a bright sound comprising broad vistas and sweeping dynamics, pushed along by a notable urgency and exuberance. Immediate comparisons could be drawn to the shimmering electricity of Split-era Lush and the wiry guitar experimentation of Medicine, but this act seems to hurl itself into the music with a startling forcefulness worthy of its name.
They Might Be Giants has been making nerdiness seem cool for more than three decades now. Since 1982, the Brooklyn-based duo of John Flansburgh and John Linnell have carved out a cottage industry of making precise and demanding music that includes no small amount of unabashed geekiness. From seminal 1990s alt-rock albums Flood and Apollo 18 to more recent output extolling the fun of science and the fascinating history of ancient cultures, the group has never been shy about showing off its brain power. The Giants' latest album, Nanobots, is a record that follows the pattern of complex musical structures, heady lyrics and a fiercely independent production process.
One of the quickest ways to break into the biz or revitalize a stagnant career is to modernize someone else's hit song a decade or so after its release with a clever cover version. San Francisco-based singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek's motivations for borrowing another's tunes, however, don't exactly coincide with that get-rich-quick scheme. The erstwhile Red House Painters frontman doesn't copy songs; he tends to translate them into an unfamiliar musical language that speaks volumes about the original's starkly sentimental intentions. What's Next to the Moon, released in 2001, consisted of Kozelek's folk-song interpretations of AC/DC classics, and in 2005, Kozelek and his band Sun Kil Moon issued Tiny Cities, the critically polarizing album of reinvented Modest Mouse songs. It's possible that Kozelek, whose own work delves into instrumentally sparse and moody sad-core, does these mini-tributes not to shy away from his own talents as a writer, but to reveal more of himself as a musician.
Over the last five years, Sting has played local gigs with the Police and the Royal Philharmonic, and in 2011, he came through town with his stripped-down Back to Bass Tour lineup, who will join him tonight at Red Rocks. The singer and bassist will perform many of his greatest hits joined by a five-piece band including guitarist Dominic Miller, keyboardist David Sancious, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, electric fiddle player Peter Tickell and vocalist Jo Lawry.
When their time in the spotlight ends, most rock stars live in denial. As trends shift, they're unable to adapt and either try feebly to resurrect their careers via reality TV or hobble along from town to town, hawking nostalgia with a revolving lineup of replacement players. Not Darius Rucker. Dude rolled with the punches. Rather than signing up for Mark McGrath's nostalgia cruise, the former Hootie and the Blowfish frontman revised his template and successfully reinvented himself by adding pedal steel to his folk pop, and he took his earnest, everyman lyrics and, well, made them even more so. He then wisely marketed himself to new country fans, who, of course, eat that sort of shit up. Say what you will about the makeover, but while most of his Clinton-era peers are playing strip-mall bars, Rucker is headlining Red Rocks.
Rather than pristine operatic clarity, the famed Italian tenor's voice simultaneously exudes both masculinity and vulnerability, which is precisely why he's grown out from the classical world and crossed over to pop audiences with record-breaking chart performance. In support of his upcoming release, Passione, Bocelli will be joined by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, conductor Eugene Kohn, soprano Maria Aleida, world-renowned choirs and other special-guest vocalists.
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