Best Undiscovered Film Festival 2008 | Independence Film Festival | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
It's not hard to "Get High on Film," as the Independence Film Festival motto suggests, when the whole thing takes place up in the clouds at various venues in Buena Vista, Leadville and Salida. Last year's inaugural cinema bash kicked off with a ceremony featuring filmmaker John Landis on the 12,000-foot summit of Independence Pass, and the rest was purely off the wall, with guests including Grease director Randy Kleiser (feted with a '50s sock hop and screening at the Comanche Drive-In in Buena Vista) and the daughter of late comic actor Don Knotts. This year, fest promoters Lawrence Foldes and Victoria Meyerink will hit the heights again in the same slightly kitschy/sweet vein, with a tribute to Elvis movies, a critic's forum with Rex Reed, a new juried film competition and guest Franklin J. Schaffner, who directed Patton, Planet of the Apes and Papillon.
When the Fray prepared for a sold-out three-night run at Red Rocks in August, its members asked their favorite bands, including Bright Channel, to play for them. The gig ended up being Bright Channel's final public performance, and while much of the crowd didn't seem to understand why this darkly atmospheric band was playing before Isaac Slade and company, everyone seemed intrigued. Although Jeff Suthers made a few well-deserved, lighthearted digs at the whole experience, how many underground bands can say they played Red Rocks as their last hurrah?
There's no shortage of half-assed DJ nights or unlistenable open jams in the area, but by combining the two and being somewhat selective about who participates, JINXED! manages to create a truly exceptional experience. Hosted by Eric Halborg — frontman for the Swayback and multi-talented renaissance man — the Wednesday-night session has drawn members of Vaux, the Lawrence Arms, Hemi Cuda and, of course, the Swayback. Styles range from solitary sad bastard to full-blown avant-skronk rock — and if you're lucky, you might even catch an unplugged version of your favorite Swayback tune. Around 10:30 p.m., the jam gives way to Halborg's computer-aided deejaying. Though it's not designed to fill the dance floor, it never fails to tickle the ears and the brain, providing the ideal end to a unique weeknight happening.
Thanks to consistently engaging bookings at both of these clubs, we've found ourselves on countless weekends bouncing back and forth between the two joints. If Denver has a quintessential rock block, this section of Broadway is it. While the individual programming can be vastly different and the vibe is unique at each place, somehow the acts booked into these clubs complement each other — either that, or we just love local music so much we aren't put off by the notion of consuming gutter punk and indie pop in the same evening. And we're not alone: It's not uncommon to see a proprietor of one club sneaking off to the other for a few minutes.
If any group was made for video, it's 3OH!3. And on "Electroshock," the so-normal-they're-bizarre tandem of Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte prove it again with a gag-and-gore-filled trip to an operating room, set to a track funky enough to break hips. The results are as danceable as they are uproarious — an all-too-rare combination that explains the boys' growing national rep. They're slated to appear on more than forty dates of this year's Warped Tour — but then, their Denver appearance last year outdrew all but a few national acts. They could deliver just the sort of "Electroshock" America desperately needs.

Best Way for Drummers to Get Their Groove On

Po' Boy Drums

Driven by a desire to offer top-notch drum kits at an affordable price, Tony Chadwick founded Po' Boy Drums, a Littleton company that offers drums manufactured in the same plants as the better-known and more established brands. The prices may be lower, but Chadwick doesn't take shorcuts; the drums are made from the finest woods and undergo a special lamination process to keep the shells from warping or cracking. And Chadwick backs his product with a thirty-day satisfaction guarantee. No wonder we keep seeing more and more local drummers playing these kits.
There's no better way to enjoy a cheesy, cliched sci-fi "classic" than getting drunk with a few smart-ass friends and piling on the snarky comments and vulgar innuendo as it plays. That's why we're lucky to have Mile High Sci Fi, a group of hilarious local comedians who've picked up the torch of movie-riffing pioneers Mystery Science Theater 3000 and run with it. Free of the constraints of television, they can be as nasty as they want to be, and they make the most of the opportunity. Every month they transform another cornball classic into a platform for biting sarcasm and boob jokes — and they send girls around to sell beer while they do it. Once you've watched Barbarella with a frosty brew in hand while the MHSF crew cracks wise, you'll never want to watch it in the privacy of your home again.
The earliest movies were Westerns, probably because there's something so archetypal and striking about the idea of a wild frontier with no boundaries — legal, spiritual or physical. It was the same anything-can-happen spirit that brought people to Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, which is why the Buffalo Bill Museum hosted this display of film memorabilia, including more than forty original movie posters, artifacts (a shirt worn by John Wayne, as well as Slim Pickens's cowboy hat) and screenings of such films as 1909's The Life of Buffalo Bill in 3 Reels. It was a fantastic introduction to the still-popular movie genre. Just think: If there hadn't been a Buffalo Bill, there might never have been a Shane.
Freelance curator Rose Fredrick came up with the idea of putting classic nineteenth- and twentieth-century Colorado landscapes together with contemporary ones, and the result was Masterpieces of Colorado Landscape, a traveling show that stopped at Foothills Art Center in Golden last spring and is now on view in a somewhat retooled version at the Denver Public Library. The show highlights the ongoing attraction of the Rockies to several generations of artists and demonstrates their diversity with the wide range of styles they used to capture our beloved scenery.
Artfully blending contemporary concepts with Western images is a popular pursuit for many Colorado artists, though few have been doing it longer or more successfully than Boulder artist Don Coen. The magnificent Don Coen took over the entire first floor of the Havu gallery and featured the artist's depictions of ranch animals, which are often monumental in size and hyperrealist in style — sort of like pop art with a rural twist. In this way, Coen avoids the sentimentality that characterizes most of the Cowboy-and-Indian junk that typically makes up new art about the American West.

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