Weekend's best live music bets: Phil Lesh and Friends, Young the Giant and more
Phil Lesh plays two more nights at 1STBANK Center this weekend.
Welcome to the weekend! You made it! While we're assuming we'll be seeing you at Artopia tomorrow night, if for some reason we don't, there's a pretty diverse lineup of music on tap otherwise for the next three days, including two more nights of Phil Lesh at 1STBANK Center, two nights of Future Birds at the Larimer, DeVotchKa with the Colorado Symphony at Boettcher Concert Hall, Young the Giant at the Ogden, Wale at the Summit Music Hall and more. Page down to have a look at your best bets for live music this weekend.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17
PHIL LESH & FRIENDS @ 1ST BANK CENTER After coming through town a few times in the last few years with Furthur, former Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh and friends return to the 1STBANK Center for a three-night run. This time around, Lesh is in fine company with two outstanding guitarists in tow -- jazzer John Scofield and Gov't Mule's Warren Haynes -- as well as singer/guitarist Jackie Green and drummer Joe Russo of Benevento/Russo Duo fame.
WALE @ SUMMIT MUSIC HALL Wale has come a long way from the enthusiastic bounce-rap style that introduced him to the masses. A determined new signee to Maybach Music Group, the Washington, D.C., native sharpened his vernacular and defined his appeal with the release of his widely respected 2011 album, Ambition. He struck gold with the single "Lotus Flower Bomb," with R&B crooner-of-the-moment Miguel, and has inspired a new class of rap to rise from the underground. Wale's lyrics, combined with a keen ear for proper beats, set him apart from everyone else in the game. Ambitious, indeed.
BIRDSEED COLLECTIVE SHOWCASE @ UNIT E Nelson Echeverry may have cut his teeth on some strain of punk rock when he was a teenager, but when he connected with the merry band of indie-pop pranksters in the Haircut, his natural inclination for Fall-esque guitar experimentation jelled perfectly with Magee Headley's spirited vocal delivery. Even with Doris Brown, Micah Bontrager and Courtney Rodgers effortlessly and expertly switching roles on keys, drums and bass, the Haircut -- due at Unit E (1201 Sante Fe Drive) -- often sounds raw, but never without ebullient charm and sonic cohesion. Though only really around since last summer, the Haircut has quickly become the kind of secret band that bursts onto the scene seemingly fully formed, with instantly and surprisingly compelling songs and stage presence to match. More bands should be this good this soon, and the Haircut is just getting started.
LAURA GIBSON @ HI-DIVE Laura Gibson's smoky warble and elegant, jazzy phrasing will probably have you thinking Feist in fairly short order, but the Oregon indie-folk singer-songwriter has her own mesmerizing vibe going on - more the soundtrack to a sepia-toned Dust Bowl documentary than a contemporary Parisian café (or iPod commercial). Her unruffled songs - typically fashioned out of gently picked nylon-string guitar, dollops of piano, vibraphone, saw, and strings, and the occasional shuffling percussion - have a simultaneously soothing and mournful quality, like lullabies for the dying or peaceful transmissions from the afterlife.
FURTUREBIRDS @ LARIMER LOUNGE Last year was fairly epic for Athens, Georgia's Futurebirds with the release of two EPs and hitting the road with acts like Widespread Panic, Drive-By Truckers and Grace Potter. Between going in and out of the studio working on the follow-up to 2010's Hampton's Lullaby, the band brings its high energy countrified rock to five Colorado cities, starting with two nights at the Larimer Lounge, the to the Fox Theater in Boulder, the Aggie Theatre in Ft. Collins, down to the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs and finishing with a two-night stand at Vail's Sandbar.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18
DEVOTCHKA WITH THE COLORADO SYMPHONY @ BOETTCHER CONCERT HALL At this point, DeVotchKa appears incapable of producing music that's anything less than intoxicating; just listening to the band inspires a sense of romanticism in even the most hardened of hearts. Everything there is to love about DeVotchKa -- the lush strings, Old World accordion and horns and Nick Urata's rapturous vocals, all of which could make a torturous trek through the most barren wasteland seem delightful -- will undoubtedly be made even more transcendent tonight when set against the Colorado Symphony.
YOUNG THE GIANT @ OGDEN THEATRE Young the Giant possesses songwriting wisdom and craft far beyond that of a band whose oldest member is only 23. The California quintet is made up of guys who started playing music at a young age and have already amassed more indie-rock cred and mainstream clout than most players who have been at it twice as long. After winning an online contest in 2009, they got to open for Kings of Leon in Chicago, which opened a lot of doors. The band, which changed its name from the Jakes in 2009, displays quirky indie-rock rhythms mixed with Sameer Gadhia's soulful, lounge-singer croon, creating moving and poignant ballads with just a hint of danceability.
PHIL LESH AND FRIENDS @ 1ST BANK CENTER After coming through town a few times in the last few years with Furthur, former Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh and friends return to the 1STBANK Center for a three-night run. This time around, Lesh is in fine company with two outstanding guitarists in tow -- jazzer John Scofield and Gov't Mule's Warren Haynes -- as well as singer/guitarist Jackie Green and drummer Joe Russo of Benevento/Russo Duo fame.
FUTUREBIRDS @ LARIMER LOUNGE Last year was fairly epic for Athens, Georgia's Futurebirds with the release of two EPs and hitting the road with acts like Widespread Panic, Drive-By Truckers and Grace Potter. Between going in and out of the studio working on the follow-up to 2010's Hampton's Lullaby, the band brings its high energy countrified rock to five Colorado cities, starting with two nights at the Larimer Lounge, the to the Fox Theater in Boulder, the Aggie Theatre in Ft. Collins, down to the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs and finishing with a two-night stand at Vail's Sandbar.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 18TH
ENGLISH DOGS AND THE TOXIC HOLOCAUST @ SUMMIT MUSIC HALL The members of Portland's Toxic Holocaust can send a bit of a mixed message when they first come out on stage, because frontman Joel Grind looks like he walked right out of Los Angeles circa 1985. As soon as he and the rest of the band start playing, though, it's pretty obvious that they haven't exactly been influenced by guys who spent too much time putting on makeup before hitting the stage. Grind started Toxic Holocaust as a solo project about ten years ago, eventually turning it into a full-fledged band. A mixture of Celtic Frost's and Venom's darkly aggressive sound with a backbone of hardcore's furious energy, this trio has a refreshingly palpable presence. Last year's Conjure and Command, the band's first fully collaborative effort, comes off like Slayer. If names are a promise, this is one that delivers.
LESLIE & THE LYS @ HI-DIVE As a rapper, gem-sweater museum curator, children's television-show star and overall Internet phenom, Leslie Hall covers quite a few bases. But when flanked by her crew, the LYs, the Iowa-bred diva becomes an audience-commanding, plus-sized powerhouse, unfurling tales of Maury Povich not-the-fathers, minivan rides to the club and other facets of a Midwestern existence atop her own basement beats. Breaking out in 2005 with Gold Pants, Hall introduced the viral world to her strip-mall-maven humor and love for all things bejeweled, using YouTube as the successful vehicle for her audiovisual art pieces. Over the last half-decade, she's managed to shoot far beyond her twenty-something social-networking fan base, making appearances on both the televised and touring renditions of eccentric children's show Yo Gabba Gabba!. Whether Leslie and the LYs are churning their butter or showing off their body rolls, their performances emphasize fun, including the importance of a sense of humor in a world of disillusioned pop-culture norms and Internet meme sensationalism.
"LATIN QUARTER" WITH THE MANUEL LOPEZ LATIN JAZZ TRIO @ DAZZLE RESTAURANT AND LOUNGE Colorado native Manuel Lopez discovered a fondness for Latin music after he stared playing congas in his early teens, and then found his way to the drum kit. Together with pianist Peter Ellingson and bassist Eduardo "Bijoux" Barbosa, Lopez's trio delves into a variety of repertoire from old Cuban standards to more modern arrangements. The trio plays at Dazzle every Sunday evening.
Compiled by Nick Callaio.
Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Denver, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.