The ten best shows in Denver this weekend
Catch Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Mastodon and more at the Mayhem Festival this Sunday at Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre.
Established in part by Kevin Lyman, one of the founders of the Warped Tour, this traveling showcase features a stacked lineup that caters to metal fans, with side activities for your downtime throughout the day. With a roster including acts as diverse as Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Children of Bodom, Mastodon and Job for a Cowboy, among others, Mayhem offers a fine slice of metal from across the genre's spectrum. Mayhem lets you see all these acts in one place without going broke in the process.
The country is awash in Americana fever as scores of rock-radio favorites dabble in the sounds of yore. It's part of a search for authenticity when so much pop is heavily synthesized, and partially a need for the warm, fuzzy blanket of an imagined yesteryear. Though it might be cute, many of the current banjo-picking types fail to elevate their style beyond gimmick. A huge exception is the Avett Brothers, a North Carolina act helmed by, yes, brothers Scott and Seth. Sure, they're nominally folk-influenced, with their relatively stripped-down, deeply earnest sound and penchant for things like harmonicas. But what sets the Avetts apart is a serious, genre-defying talent for songwriting. Their melodies soar and stick, regardless of the folksy window dressing.
Over the past seven years, Achille Lauro has become a band that's essentially synonymous with the Denver scene. A founding act in the Hot Congress collective, the quartet has been witness to an exciting evolution in the scene, watching fellow acts rise and fall while its own sound has evolved in eclectic directions. But now the outfit has decided to permanently dock its musical vessel.
Aesop Rock has always had a twinge of darkness to his lyrics and sound. If his twisted tone and often abrasive melodies aren't enough to scare the delicate away, his convoluted vocabulary and abstract speech probably are. So you can imagine the hip-hop world's surprise when we learned that Aesop Rock would be collaborating with the whimsical and child-sounding Kimya Dawson as the Uncluded. The result is an intriguing tension of innocence and the dreadful feeling of I've-seen-too-much.
Though R.A. the Rugged Man has been in the rap game for roughly a decade, his recently released Legends Never Die is only his second official release. He is perhaps best known for one incredible verse -- one of the best you'll ever hear -- on the Jedi Mind Tricks track "Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story." That's not a bad thing to be known for, but it is also perhaps a little unfair, because the Rugged Man has much more personality than is revealed in that one song; it's a shocking, unapologetic one that is not afraid to throw the kitchen sink at an industry that has, in some ways, rejected him. Live, the Rugged Man should be nothing short of a spectacle.
From a New Orleans tradition as old as the bordellos of Storyville, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band continues to reinvent Dixieland jazz with ace musicianship, dynamic interplay and horns aplenty: two trumpets, two saxophones and a sousaphone that fattens the bottom end like a wedge of mud pie. Rounding out the fabled "second-line sound" with a snare drummer, a bass drummer and a guitarist, the Crescent City's most relentless touring act has postponed Ash Wednesday for over a quarter of a century and counting. New Orleans Southern rock/Americana act Honey Island Swamp, which has a new album later this month, opens the show.
Founded in 1994 in Portland, Oregon, by the classically trained pianist Thomas M. Lauderdale, Pink Martini was originally created to play politically and environmentally minded fundraisers. In 1997, the group wooed fans with the debut album Sympathique, an intoxicating collection of covers. From festive cafe tunes and sexy sambas to rousing rumbas and steamy jazz numbers, this mini-orchestra and its enchanting chanteuse, China Forbes, concoct tempting aural cocktails for enthusiastic audiences worldwide. Get Happy, slated for a September 24 release, includes guest vocalists Phyllis Diller (her last recording), Philippe Katerine, Meow Meow, Ari Shapiro, The von Trapps and Rufus Wainwright. (Pink Martini is also slated to perform at Chautauqua Auditorium on Monday, July 8.)
Critics have often hailed Radiohead's OK Computer as one of the greatest pieces of popular music of the twentieth century. But how does it stand up next to nineteenth-century classical music? We'll find out this Sunday when arranger and conductor Steve Hackman delivers a mash-up of the nineties rock album with Johannes Brahms's Symphony No. 1.
Dick Dale is one of the most influential living musicians. If Dale hadn't blown the first 48 guitar amplifiers Leo Fender had brought to him, guitar amps as we now know them may have taken longer to develop. Dale, who invented surf rock, used to pay the Beach Boys fifty dollars to open for him in the early days. Dale's influence on rock and roll since the 1950s is immense, and he has shared the stage with legends while being a legend in his own right. He was a seminal influence on Jimi Hendrix, who immortalized Dale in song.
In richly intimate songs, David Wilcox creates audio tapestries that blend intricate arrangements and warmly appealing tunes with the musician's ongoing personal growth. Whether recording in a log cabin -- as he did for the 1997 release Turning Point -- or experimenting with unconventional guitar techniques, the introspective Wilcox has produced quality tracks filled with poetic purity. He credits his singular style -- folk standards woven with scraps of jazz and pop, rootsy arrangements often flecked with remnants of his brief classical training -- to the rustic influences of Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, but it's his own intense lyrical clarity that makes both his studio and his stage performances unforgettable.
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