The ten best shows in Denver this week
Phish is playing at Dick's this weekend. You know what that means, right? Yep --the end of summer. Bye-bye, barbecues and basking in the sun. Besides signifying the conclusion of the iconic Vermont band's summer tour, the now-annual three-day extravaganza represents the last massive open-air blowout of the season. Oh, sure, there will be more shows between now and when fall officially enters the picture, but none will be as big or as boisterous as this.
If you're sitting on the periphery wondering what all the fuss is about when it comes to Phish, let's just say that this band didn't inherit a legion of fans simply by being kindred to the Dead. Rather, the prodigious players built up their fanatical following by offering riveting live shows and taking care to ensure that each one is unique, by doing such things as playing entire themed sets keyed to a certain letter of the alphabet. If you have a chance to see these guys, take it. Whether you like the tunes or not, it's a show worth experiencing at least once if you're a true fan of music.
Ryan Tedder is arguably one of the most commercial successful musicians in Colorado. Aside from having a string of hits with his own band, OneRepublic, he's penned blockbusters for everybody from Adele to Beyonce to Kelly Clarkson. He's performed at the White House, he's got a Grammy, he's toured the world, he's shared stages with U2. But while he's pretty much done it all, this week is a banner week, marking a first for both him and his bandmates. This Thursday night, OneRepublic will co-headline Red Rocks with Sara Bareilles.
Blurring the line between punk rock and noise, No Age could be mistaken for a particularly frantic and raw garage rock band. But this Los Angeles duo was one of the handful of bands that played at the Smell in L.A. in the mid-2000s and helped champion the DIY world and the rich tapestry of diverse music coming out of that scene. The group's debut album, 2007's Weirdo Rippers, is a classic of what has clumsily been termed "lo-fi punk" putting No Age in league with bands like Times New Viking, Pink Reason and Psychedelic Horseshit. But No Age stands on its own as a powerful and riveting live band that embodies the anything goes spirit of punk rock more than most acts out there today.
Okalahoma band Broncho -- the name is a term used for a mustang that has yet to be broken -- plays back-to-basics rock and roll with an unvarnished sound that bears no affectation or appropriation of style. Frontman Ryan Lindsey is also the keyboard player and guitarist for experimental indie-pop act the Starlight Mints, but Broncho's sound is closer to the Fall embracing the punk rock that helped spawn it: The dispassionate yet intense vocals and disregard for conventional rhythms and song dynamics (unless they serve to propel the song forward at a near-reckless pace) would make Mark E. Smith proud. The music of Broncho is frayed and frantic in a way that more garage punk should be.
Though often attached to Chicago blues, Buddy Guy was born in Louisiana, and that's where he first started to develop what would later become his signature sound, an amalgam of traditional blues, jazz and rock. In the late '50s, Guy made his way to the Windy City, where he was taken under the wing of that city's reigning bluesman, Muddy Waters. As a recording artist on Chess records, Guy was considered too noisy, but it was precisely his energetic performance style that proved to have a deep and lasting influence on the blues-based rock artists of the 1960s. Guy played backing parts on classic blues records of the era, but it wasn't until the blues revival two decades later that his prodigious talent was fully recognized. A living blues legend, Buddy Guy remains one of the guitar world's master practitioners.
Because Chris Isaak's pompadoured mug might as well be the picture of eternal California youth, it's a little discomfiting to realize that the Golden State singer-songwriter is now five years past his fiftieth birthday -- and that it's been almost twenty years since his black-and-white beach romp with Helena Christensen powered his sultry "Wicked Game" all the way to the top of the charts. Isaak may have never duplicated the success of that iconic single, but he's hardly a one-hit wonder. Since 1990's Heart Shaped World, Isaak has released a steady string of albums that never fail to intersperse lonesome ballads lush with his female-enrapturing croon -- often compared, with good reason, to Roy Orbison -- with livelier rockabilly and show-band numbers that allow his longtime band to flex its chops.
It's honestly astonishing that Keith Urban has never achieved the whole Twain/Swift mainstream crossover thing. He's well into his forties now, so don't hold your breath for that, but he's one of the best pop songwriters operating outside actual pop music, enlivening string-laden and seemingly by-the-numbers love songs with clever metaphors, engrossing narratives and unexpected slant rhymes. And if you still get bored by all of that, that's when he'll start shredding.
As bold and specific in their political beliefs as they are technically practiced in a deep growling ditch of bass dropping deathcore (with death metal more at the forefront), King Conquer is marching into Denver with a new album, 1776, to feed its minions with a fresh appetite. The band's last album America's Most Haunted spiked its sound with a shot of groove metal to cleverly contrast with the rest of its gut ripping brutality.
Rose's Pawn Shop may forever attract cheap punchlines about the aptness of its name; after all, the group sports more instruments than the back room of a run-down secondhand shop. But a fair listen to the music should put a dead stop to any assholery. Amid the banjo, upright bass, fiddle, mandolin, bouzouki, lyra, pedal steel and accordion is a rich, riveting body of songs that balance hill-steeped rootsiness and a peripheral worldliness. Not that the Shop's bluegrass-tinted debut, The Arsonist, will ever get confused with Gogol Bordello -- though there is a similarly rousing feel to both that bridges the gap between folksy depth and ass-shaking frenzy.
Ideal Flow (who also goes by Peter Cliffton) was born and raised in Los Angeles, the town he currently calls home, but he also spent some time in the Mile High City, playing in a couple of bands and honing his chops before returning to the West Coast. Fans of dark, minimal techno will appreciate his sound, which is extra-gritty while retaining a deceptively simple minimal undertone. Ideal Flow has created remixes for several labels and released his own tracks on Android Muziq, Gynoid Audio and many more. Dropping heavy bass lines with delicately syncopated rhythms and robotic synth sounds, he meshes everything together in a mechanical groove that's beyond captivating.
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