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The weekend's best live music: Ghostland Observatory, STS9, Warped Tour and more

Catch Ministry this Sunday night at the Ogden Theatre.
Catch Ministry this Sunday night at the Ogden Theatre.

Welcome to the weekend! Another diverse lineup of musical goodness awaits you. Tonight at Red Rocks, Ghostland Observatory and MiM0SA kick off two nights of electronic goodness that will culminate with a show featuring STS9 tomorrow night. And there's a full slate of rock on tap as well, including Ministry on Sunday night at the Ogden and the Vans Warped Tour on Sunday afternoon at Sports Authority Field at Mile High with Breathe Carolina and more. Elsewhere, Toby Keith is at Comfort Dental, Richard Thompson is at the Boulder Theater, Tennis is at Chatauqua, Munly & the Lupercalians is at Bender's, Junior Brown is at the Walnut Room and more. Page down for a full rundown of the weekend's best bets for live music.


FRIDAY, JUNE 15

GHOSTLAND OBSERVATORY @ RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATRE

See Also: Win tickets to see Ghostland Observatory and MiM0SA

Austin's Ghostland Observatory is more than just another pair of sweaty dudes making party music. Aaron Behrens and Thomas Turner crank up the heat on this formula by combining filthy French electro with '60s soul and plenty of '80s synth pop. While Turner churns out beats that butts can't resist, Behrens belts out vocals that combine Al Green's potent lust, Brad Delp's cock-rock croon and Michael Hutchence's oversexed come-ons. Turner -- who often appears in a lamé cape -- holds down the tracks and occasionally rocks a drum kit, but the frontman is the undeniable secret weapon in the act's live show. In his long braids and tight pants, Behrens works a Native American sex-god look, grinding his pelvis and prowling around the stage with PG-13 prowess. It's a sweaty seduction scene that lures many observers right on stage to join the party.

TOBY KEITH @ COMFORT DENTAL AMPHITHEATRE Those of you who hate Big Toby's right-wing orthodoxy are making a mistake if you reject his music, too. Sure, he's got a reactionary streak an acre wide, but so do Merle Haggard and plenty of other country artists worth hearing. Dismissing him because he's not the Dixie Chicks's ideological cousin is like expecting Lauryn Hill fans to burn all their Jay-Z discs. Besides, Keith's politically incorrect style is a gigantic relief, given the considerable percentage of Trashville contemporaries who are sensitive, mature and monumentally dull.

JUNIOR BROWN @ THE WALNUT ROOM Junior Brown is more than just a hot picker. He's a first-rate songwriter with a penchant for both clever wordplay ("Venom Wearin' Denim") and serious topics ("Don't Sell the Farm"). He's got a resonant baritone voice that evokes such country-music legends as Ernest Tubb and Ray Price. It's on his guit-steel, however, that Brown has made his mark, and, like the gapers who worship at his feet, he's been something of a guitar geek for most of his life.

MUNLY & THE LUPERCALIANS @ BENDER'S TAVERN Jay Munly's presence can be a bit frightening at times. And with some of the Lupercalians wearing black robes and cone hats and others wearing burlap hoods at their shows, the whole experience treads on the verge of being downright creepy -- probably not something you'd want to take your five-year-old daughter to. But if you wanted her, or anyone else, to get a completely different take on the children's tale Peter and the Wolf, written over seventy years ago by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev, just park her between a pair of speakers and have her behold the dark glory of Munly & the Lupercalians' Petr & the Wulf. There's still some of the gothic country of Slim Cessna's Auto Club, of which Munly is co-frontman, but sometimes the twang is stripped away in favor of a completely different musical experience that can be as joyous as it is sinister.

Check out our newly revamped concert calendar for a complete listing of all of tonight's shows. Page down for rundown of tomorrow night's best bets.

 


SATURDAY, JUNE 16

STS9 @ RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATRE

Inspired by the Mayan calendar's succession, STS9 has developed a one-of-a-kind musical experience in the form of a tour dubbed the Great Cycle Spectacles, a presentation of art, imagination and music performed by one of the most sought-after psychedelic jam-rock bands going right now. After a successful tour following bassist David Murphy's brain-tumor surgery last year, STS9 headlined festivals alongside Ghostland Observatory, Pretty Lights, Rusko and Snoop Dogg, culminating in a tour-ending sell-out show at Red Rocks. With more than a decade in the scene and eleven studio albums under its belt, STS9 has more than fulfilled its stated mission to "make electronic music relevant again," and the Great Cycle Spectacles tour should further cement that notion.

TENNIS @ CHAUTAUQUA AUDITORIUM See Also: Once "thrown into the fire," Tennis emerges with Young & Old "We were the band that our first show was sold out," notes Patrick Riley about the live debut of his group, Tennis. "From the start, it was like being thrown into the fire." Riley clearly has a firm grasp of how fortunate his band has been after getting early encouragement from friends in the bands Woodsman and Family Portrait, whose labels, Fire Talk and Underwater Peoples, respectively, put out Tennis's first two seven-inch releases in July 2010. Those two records and a flurry of write-ups on music blogs were key to the group's securing a record deal with Fat Possum Records -- in the time it takes most bands to find their footing.

RICHARD THOMPSON @ BOULDER THEATER See Also: Richard Thompson Q&A Richard Thompson probably isn't the first name that comes to mind when listing the greatest guitarists of all time, but it should be. In his seventh decade of existence, Thompson is a respected figure among those who appreciate superb musicianship informed by a rich imagination. Thompson first came to prominence as a member of the influential folk-rock outfit Fairport Convention. After parting with the band, Thompson played on the first two Nick Drake albums. As a solo artist, his recorded output has been as critically acclaimed as anything he did previously. In 2003, Thompson embarked on what he called 1000 Years of Popular Music, in which he and his collaborators covered popular songs from the eleventh century through 2003, including a song by Britney Spears. Director Werner Herzog's production team tapped Thompson to score Grizzly Man.

LISA ENGELKEN JAZZ QUINTET @ DAZZLE RESTAURANT & LOUNGE Classically and theatrically trained, San Francisco-based jazz singer Lisa Engelken is equally at home singing tunes by Cole Porter and Freddie Hubbard as she is Joni Mitchell and Billy Idol. Wielding an impressive three-octave range, Engelken's inventive vocal chops are more than evident her album Caravan, which was part of the Jazz Journalists Association's Best of 2010 list. For her Dazzle date, she's joined by some of Denver's finest, including pianist Eric Gunnison, bassist Bijoux Barbosa and trumpeter John Lake, as well as San Francisco drummer Matt Swindells. The group will debut new works from Anima Explorations, slated for release this fall.

Check out our newly revamped concert calendar for a complete listing of all of tonight's shows. Page down for rundown of tomorrow night's best bets.

 


SUNDAY, JUNE 17

VANS WARPED TOUR @ SPORTS AUTHORITY FIELD AT MILE HIGH See Also: Breathe Carolina takes a side trip with the Vans Warped Tour You can hear Breathe Carolina's music pretty much everywhere you go these days. You'll find it in all the expected places, of course -- on alternative radio; on TV, on shows such as The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and MTV's The City -- but it's also managed to infiltrate various other parts of everyday life that you wouldn't necessarily expect, from video screens in trendier shops at the mall to sports talk, where one local station has co-opted "Blackout" as part of its daily imaging. Impressive for a couple of guys who got their start playing in battle-of-the-bands competitions and who made their first songs on Garageband.

MINISTRY @ OGDEN THEATRE Ministry started in Denver at a time when synth pop was just starting to get off the ground in a meaningful way. But Al Jourgensen wisely moved to Chicago when the Wax Trax label was starting up and more or less creating the influential Chicago electronic and industrial sound that would subsequently prove to have worldwide impact -- partly through the efforts of Ministry, which became one of its flagship bands early on. The act's sound changed profoundly when Jourgensen teamed up with former members of experimental Seattle band, the Blackouts. Long before Nine Inch Nails, Ministry established industrial rock as a commercially viable form of music through groundbreaking albums such as 1988's The Land of Rape and Honey and the even more mainstream Psalm 69 in 1992.

Check out our newly revamped concert calendar for a complete listing of all of tonight's shows.


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