The twelve best shows in Denver this weekend
Icelantic's Winter on the Rocks 2013 is one of the twelve best concerts this weekend.
Ah, yes, what a, uh, super weekend we have on tap. Welcome! You made it! Not only is the big game going down, but the weather is supposed to be favorable with a high in the fifties, and there is an abundance of music to look forward to -- so much so, in fact, that we've expanded our picks this week to an even dozen from our normal ten. As always, we've got all the shows happening on the Front Range this weekend listed in our concert calendar, or you can keep reading for the full rundown on the twelve best concerts in Denver this weekend.
Though birthed in the dysfunctional cradle of the Southern California hardcore scene, Agent Orange never stuck to convention. Although the group's debut, Living in Darkness, contained the instant punk-rock classic "Bloodstains," the outfit's influential sound is equal parts hardcore, power pop and surf rock. At heart, though, as evidenced by its ferociously fun live shows, Agent Orange is really nothing less than an outstandingly entertaining rock-and-roll band. The group's influence can be still be heard in many of the punk bands that followed in its wake. Though never as commercially successful as its followers -- like the Offspring -- Agent Orange has nonetheless maintained its underground credibility. Touring consistently since the early '80s, Fullerton's favorite sons make a great case for sticking with what you do best. Never ones to follow contemporary fashion, the members of Agent Orange have found their own musical formula, which is, well, killer.
Andrew WK, Fugazi, the Descendents, the Replacements and the Misfits? On the same bill on the same night? Uh, no. Not in this lifetime, even if you've got Warren Buffet money and you're on some Looper shit. Sorry. But, alas, here's the next best thing: some of Denver's finest musicians pooling their vast creative resources for a night to pay homage to all of the above icons at the aptly named Flattery Festival. And for the underage set, there will be a pair of matinee sets at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. featuring the School of Rock channeling Weezer. You know what they say: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Most people in Denver know Greg Stone better as Uncle Nasty, and for good reason. For the better part of two decades at KBPI, Stone was one of the most popular on-air personalities, and during that time, through Metallix and with his Local Band Hang Out Day, he was also a tireless champion of the local scene. When he was talking local music, you could hear the passion in his voice, and this wasn't merely lip service. For at least as long as he was with the station, he's also been a card-carrying member of the scene, from his days fronting Nasty's Nightmare in the early '90s to recent years fronting the powerhouse known as Horse. As the frontman of Horse, he's every bit as commanding a presence, and tonight Stone and the men of Horse headline a heady bill featuring some fellow monsters of local metal, Immortal Dominion, Iconocaust and Flood of Souls.
The last time RJD2 took to the small, technology-overwhelmed stage of the Bluebird almost exactly a year ago, the DJ/producer was barely recognizable behind a Daft Punk-style robot mask and the sound effects box strapped to his waist like an oversized graphing calculator. Like Girl Talk, the campier, glitchier producer he is often compared to, this is a performance that depends largely upon preparation and timing, though it relies much more heavily on technical DJ skills. Onstage, Ramble John Krohn manipulates four turntables, an impressive stack of vinyl and various effects setups for roughly an hour and a half. Backlit in alternating red, blue and green, the spread is as much a part of the show as its puppet master.
Machine Gun Kelly (named after the infamous early 20th Century gangster) is well-known for his rapid-fire delivery, rabid fan base, "Wild Boy" persona and crazy antics (during a performance for a Microsoft Store, he was stomping across tables, destroying several computers before getting shut down by the very company that hired him). MGK asserts that he is also a superior lyricist and anybody who doesn't see it isn't on his level. The rapper's first studio album, Lace Up, has done well, debuting at number four on the Billboard Charts and receiving generally positive reviews. MGK is only 22 years old, and with his career only really beginning, he has plenty of time to convert the nonbelievers.
Hot Water Music formed in 1993 when a group of friends got together after their other bands split up. The chemistry was immediate, and the foursome relocated to Gainesville, Florida, where Hot Water Music became one of the most well-regarded melodic hardcore bands of the '90s. Eminently tuneful, the quartet also benefited from Chuck Ragan's eloquent turns of phrase, in which he captured the essence of the experiences, yearnings and travails of average Americans. In some ways, Ragan's words are punk-rock existentialist poetry with none of the pretension. The bandmembers split amicably in 2006 but left the door open to work together again. In 2008, Hot Water Music got back together, and in 2012 the group released Exister, which was recorded at the Blasting Room in Fort Collins.
One of the most gripping live acts around these parts for the past two decades, Slim Cessna's Auto Club generally kicks up dust with equal fervor on its studio recordings. With Unentitled, the followup to 2008's Cipher, the band didn't steer too far from its tried-and-true formula of dark country and gothic Americana while injecting most of the tracks with a decent amount of the vigor from its live shows. The album's opener, "Three Bloodhounds Two Shepherds One Fila Brasileiro," with its chugging banjo, is classic Auto Club. The intro to "The Unballed Ballad of the New Folksinger" slightly resembles, strangely enough, the intro to Echo & the Bunnymen's "Do It Clean," while the accordion recalls a sped-up take on 16 Horsepower's "Harm's Way." Each of the nine songs on Unentitled could easily stand on their own, but as a collection, the album stands out as one of the Auto Club's finest efforts and possibly its most accessible release to date.
Brent Cowles started writing the music for You Me and Apollo in 2007 while still living in Arizona. Three years later, he moved to Fort Collins and spent time refining his songwriting and sound, eventually deciding that he needed a band to turn his already compelling material into something more lush and emotionally expansive. At times playing like countrified pop, Cowles's songs also have a kind of soulful tone and tasteful melodrama that suggest he and his cohorts are no strangers to the music of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. The new, self-titled EP from You Me and Apollo is an even richer, more emotionally stirring offering than the quintet's 2011 full-length, Cards With Cheats.
In the music video for the Darkness's greatest hit, 2003's "I Believe in a Thing Called Love," the band's alternately naked and jumpsuited lead singer, Justin Hawkins, is repeatedly groped by a motley crew of space aliens. He appears, for all intents and purposes, to be into it. His band's mock-rock aesthetic is heavy on falsetto, generous with mayhem and short on seriousness, and the Suffolk group has followed that same wacky formula, albeit with extensive breaks, in the near-decade since. But aside from a handful of strangely named side projects (see: Hot Leg) and one consistently ridiculous mega-jam, the Darkness has little to show for its time off. Cue the age of reunions: In 2012, the guys returned to fun and funky territory for a third album and a tour that restores their original lineup. The real question is: Do you believe in a thing called second chances?
One of hip-hop's most distinctive (read: shrill) voices, Danny Brown ascended to the upper echelon of indie hip-hop following the success of his 2011 album, XXX. With a strong dose of humor and a stronger dose of psychedelics, the record got love from critics and fans alike for its absolute freshness. XXX might share unambiguous drug references with more mainstream hustler raps, but that's where the similarity ends. Far from being a new face in the game, the Detroit native had paid dues with mixtapes and albums, including collaborations with Black Milk and G-Unit's Tony Yayo, since 2003.
For almost three years now, Ellie Goulding has been steadily taking over the airwaves. Whether it be vocal features on the hottest new EDM tracks, dominating on her own with singles from one of her two platinum albums or appearing on remixed tracks from the world's biggest producers, the Brit-pop starlet from the English countryside is continuing to make inroads and gain momentum.
Since performing at the Westword Music Showcase last summer, Macklemore's stock has soared. His independently released album, The Heist, topped Billboard sales charts, and the album's breakthrough single, "Thrift Shop," surpassed "Somebody That I Used to Know," Gotye's virtually inescapable song from a few years ago, in number of streams, if that tells you anything. But while Macklemore just came to prominence within the past year, he's been paying dues, and he's far more than some novelty rapper. From 2005's The Language of My World, the Seattle MC has proved himself thoughtful and eloquent, particularly on songs like "White Privilege," in which he examines the white guilt that comes with being a rapper who's not of color, and "Ego," in which he takes an unflinching look at how arrogance can destroy everything and how nobody's exempt from the envy that accompanies it, even him. Major Lazer, Grouch & Eligh and Neelais share this bill, and Diplo will host the official afterparty ($25) at the Gothic Theatre tonight.
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