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Weekend's best live bets: Fitz & the Tantrums, Machine Head and more

Catch Fitz & the Tantrums this Sunday, January 15, at the Ogden Theatre, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and American Tomahawk.
Catch Fitz & the Tantrums this Sunday, January 15, at the Ogden Theatre, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and American Tomahawk.

For whatever reason, you'll notice that this Saturday night, aside from the second night of STS9's two-night stand at the Fillmore, there aren't too many must-see shows. This is mere speculation on our part, but we're guessing that might have something to do with a certain sporting event taking place tomorrow evening. The rest of the weekend, meanwhile, is jam-packed with shows, including Mansions on the Moon, Fitz & the Tantrums, Machine Head, Jackie Green, Nurses, Cowboy Mouth and more. Page down for the full rundown.

SOUND TRIBE SECTOR NINE at FILLMORE AUDITORIUM

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.

MANSIONS ON THE MOON at LARIMER LOUNGE

Mansions on the Moon holds the rare distinction of being able to say that it's been backed by the likes of Pharrell Williams and Shay Haley and also opened for Wiz Khalifa. Few indie acts can make that kind of claim. Such opportunities undoubtedly came about because of Mansions on the Moon's lush songwriting, which has obvious roots in early-'80s R&B and soul while not trying too hard to cop some vibe from yesteryear. Based in Los Angeles, the act should appeal to fans of bands like Cut Copy, who will surely appreciate the trio's forays into deep melodic atmospheres. Mansions on the Moon's 2010 mixtape, Paradise Falls, included remix contributions largely from hip-hop artists like Diplo and Chiddy Bang. This year, the group is touring in support of its latest EP, Lightyears.

Also Tonight:

- Chainsaw Love Affair, Holley 750 and Warhawk at 3 Kings Tavern

- Wire Faces at the Oriental Theater (Festivus Film Festival)

- Josh Abbott at the Grizzly Rose

- WhiteWater Ramble at Cervantes

- Best of the West Battle of the Bands with Too Late for Tomorrow, Nemesys, Ascendant, Quandrum and the Hits

 


SATURDAY, JANUARY 14


JACKIE GREENE at FOX THEATRE

You can't throw a vintage Western shirt these days without hitting another Americana revivalist -- and few are worth the faded plaid they're dressed up in. Then there's Jackie Greene. Nimbly sidestepping the inherent corniness of too many contemporary twang-mongers, Greene has used his association with the jam scene -- he's played with various Grateful Dead survivors and toured with Gov't Mule -- to spread his bone-deep and abiding love of rootsy American songcraft. Rather than being a study in formalism, though, his music has a knack for bending tradition to suit his own fluid and soulful melodic sense. And since first perking up ears with "I Will Never Let You Go," his haunting contribution to the Brokeback Mountain soundtrack, he's been on a roll, up to and including 2010's polished yet pure-hearted Till the Light Comes

SOUND TRIBE SECTOR NINE at FILLMORE AUDITORIUM

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.

MELISMATICS at HI-DIVE

Minneapolis' Melismatics have a transportative quality, like a step back to a time to when rock and roll was just drums, bass, guitar and vocals. This isn't a bad thing at all -- the band's nostalgic sound taps into The Strokes' prime era of the early '00s, but with the more glamorous nuances of Louis XVI. Ryan Smith and co-frontwoman Pony's vocals are dramatic and almost over-the-top, but balance each other out amidst simple instrumentation. Featured on the soundtracks to MTV pseudo-reality series' Laguna Beach and The Hills, Melismatics would have also fit right along with the channel's actual music video programming fifteen years ago.

Also Tonight:

- Nathan Maxwell & the Original Bunny Gang, Tin Horn Prayer, The Minor Note Orchestra, Champagne Charlie, Endless Monster at 3 Kings Tavern

- Brother Lynch Hung at the Roxy Theatre

- Baby Bash at Casselman's

- Tea Leaf Green at the Bluebird with HaHa Tonka

- Red Fox Run CD release at the Larimer

- El Toro de la Muerte at the Walnut Room

- Phil Vassar at the Grizzly Rose

- Best of the West Battle of the Bands at Herman's Hideaway with Midknight Run, Musuji, From Slaves to Kings, Devoutcast and Red Tide Rising

 


SUNDAY, JANUARY 15


FITZ & THE TANTRUMS at OGDEN THEATRE

Formed in 2008 around music already written by bandleader Michael Fitzpatrick, Fitz & the Tantrums came together within a week, just in time to play their first show. The chemistry was perfect, and the group's brand of rhythm and blues with a shiny modern radio style was cemented. While there's an undeniable revivalist spirit in its soul-on-wax sound, the Los Angeles sextet incorporates a personal take on what Motown made famous: Fitzpatrick's voice stands out with an almost '80s-pop twist, but it's pulled back to its roots by a pristine rhythm section, plus horns, organs and the complementary backing of Noelle Scaggs's vocals. Having shared the stage with the likes of Maroon 5, Hepcat and Flogging Molly, Fitz & the Tantrums are a band with mass appeal, one that will no doubt follow the path of soul's rebirth set by contemporaries Raphael Saadiq, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and Adele.

NURSES at HI-DIVE

Sometime in the past decade, Nurses moved from Idaho to Portland. Now based in a town that's in no short supply of chamber-pop bands both great and mediocre, Nurses has successfully taken some of that sensibility and transformed it into something much more idiosyncratic. At least that's the impression you'll get from listening to the band's 2011 album, Dracula. Although Aaron Chapman doesn't have a conventionally good singing style, his voice -- part Daniel Johnston, part cat, part cartoon character -- helps the music sound like a kids' book written about adult subjects brought to life. At once tender and haunted, otherworldly and organic, Nurses proves that you can have eccentric stage presence and toss aside musical conventions that get in the way of expressing the sounds in your head and still remain accessible.

MACHINE HEAD at SUMMIT MUSIC HALL

Machine Head's latest record, Unto the Locust, is one of the most consistently enjoyable mainstream-metal releases of the year. From the choral opening of "I Am Hell (Sonata in C#)" to the final refrain of "Who We Are," which fades into a peaceful violin passage played over a martial drumbeat, Locust is a very well-considered album, with plentiful moments of meticulous mayhem, fierce fretwork and awe-inspiring timekeeping.

COWBOY MOUTH at BLUEBIRD THEATER

Since its inception in 1990, New Orleans-based Cowboy Mouth -- named after Sam Shepard and Patti Smith's play about misfits musing on the foibles of the American Dream -- has produced the kind of eclectic sound that defines most of the music coming out of that town. The group delivers the kind of pop rock that would have fallen under the umbrella of "alternative rock" a couple of decades ago, when similar acts like the Tubes and NRBQ could be stamped with the same title. Like those two acts, Cowboy Mouth takes a lighthearted approach to its songwriting, subsuming the technical ability of its musicians to a more playful sensibility.

SPLIT LIP RAYFIELD at THE FOX THEATRE

When Split Lip Rayfield played at the Bluebird Theater in September 2006, it was hard to tell that guitarist Kirk Rundstrom had just a few months to live. Despite the fact that the 37-year-old was battling esophageal cancer, he tore through the set with the fervor of a teenager taking a hot rod out for a joyride. Hell, the whole band was on fire that night, dishing out a potent set of high-octane, supercharged bluegrass. About six months later, Rundstrom passed away. His last days were captured in the film Never Make it Home, which recently premiered at the Denver Film Festival. The rest of the guys in the band -- gas-tank bassist Jeff Eaton, banjo player Eric Mardis and mandolin player Wayne Gottsine -- are keeping his memory alive with yet another trip through Colorado, a place where the Wichita, Kansas-based act has been countless times over the years.

Contributors: Dave Herrera, Britt Chester, Tom Murphy, Jason Heller, Bree Davies and Jon Solomon


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