Some labels have a sound, others have a mission. Bocumast falls into the latter category, and what a mission it is! The defining characteristics of Bocumast's diverse roster, which ranges from the oddball post-punk guitar funk of Natural Selection to the oceanic electronic bliss pop of Iuengliss, are simple: They're all excellent, and none of them are afraid to take chances. The results are always surprising and consistently strong. At a time when record labels seem to be heading for obsolescence, Bocumast is ensuring its continued relevance by showing us the best stuff we might have otherwise overlooked.
Bluebird Theater
Band reunions that take place more than a decade down the line are generally sad affairs that tend to accentuate the passage of time rather than causing it to stand still. But even though the original members of the Fluid — John Robinson, Garrett Shavlik, James Clower, Rick Kulwicki and Matt Bischoff — hadn't played together since the early '90s, they marked Sub Pop Records' twentieth anniversary by making a racket every bit as thrilling as the stuff they churned out in their heyday, to the delight of a crowd populated by many of Denver's biggest music lovers. What a wonderful exception to the rule.
Who says making movies is a long process? Participants in the Shoot Out in Boulder have a single day to assemble a masterpiece (or a facsimile thereof), and most of them manage to do so. Not all, though: Last year, 53 teams began the competition, but seven of them vanished along the way. Even so, the contest is a great way to get young people interested in making movies, as opposed to simply watching them — and in 2008, members of nineteen teams were under eighteen. The future of film is in good hands.
Many of today's most extreme Denver bands were influenced by Bum Kon without even knowing it — and thanks to Drunken Sex Sucks, they can now fill in the gaps of their musical education. Only five of the 25 cuts here received a proper release, with the remainder appearing on an album for the first time. Tracks like "Giving In" capture the spirit of '80s thrash that Bum Kon exemplified even as "Slow Death" and others point toward a future that other groups would eventually experience.
Two-for-ones on a Saturday night at midnight? Damn straight. While the morning happy hours have been a tradition at the Zephyr since it opened more than six decades ago, the place has two more happy hours that run daily, from 5 to 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. It's also one of the few places in town where when you order a happy-hour beer, they'll give you the second bottle in a plastic cup filled with ice to keep it chilled. The bar's slogan is, "The train that never leaves Aurora." But with booze specials three times a day and live music with no cover on the weekends, who would want to leave?
The Mayan's atmosphere can't be topped, but it can be topped off by the beverage of your choice. The bar's menu has no shortage of colorful mixed drinks, ranging from Ruby Red Cosmopolitans to Blood Orange Martinis, not to mention weekend specials such as $5 Bloody Marys and mimosas. And teetotalers also receive deluxe treatment, by way of rich Dazbog coffee and the finest flavors of Mighty Leaf tea. Oh, yeah: They show pretty good movies there, too.
Aurora Cinema Grill - Colorado
When most of us watch movies at home, we don't eat fancy fare. Instead, we go for comfort food of the sort that's long dominated Cinema Grill's menu. Have a hankering for buffalo wings? The folks at CG offer them in one-, two- and three-pound serving sizes. The menu also boasts a large variety of salads, plus quite a few fancier dishes. But seriously, what would you rather munch on while watching Underworld: Rise of the Lycans: grilled trout fillet or a big wad of onion rings?
Sie FilmCenter
Does any theater in Denver even come close to matching the eclecticism of Starz? Sure, the FilmCenter programs plenty of well-known independent flicks. But it also spotlights obscure features, shorts and documentaries that earn screen time thanks to the archeological instincts of the dedicated staff. Also on tap are special series and events, including April's XicanIndie FilmFest and this summer's Young Filmmakers Workshop. No wonder anyone who truly cares about art and culture in this fair city is regularly seeing Starz.
Video may have killed the radio star, but it only serves to set Laura Goldhamer in a class of her own. Her distinctive voice and vocal style, serious skills on guitar and banjo and evocative and beautiful songwriting are special enough to mark her as an artist to watch. Goldhamer takes it a step further by actually being an artist to watch: She accompanies her music with surreal and entrancing stop-motion animated videos that add another dimension to her already wonderful work. The total effect is something enchanting and uniquely special.
Denver Art Museum
Courtesy Denver Art Museum
Because it has a wide audience, the Denver Art Museum has to come up with a range of attractions, but certain kinds of shows are hard to come by, and expensive, to boot. That's what made Houdon From the Louvre, an in-depth look at the master of classical French sculpture Jean-Antoine Houdon, so memorable. Active before, during and after the French Revolution, Houdon was a super-realist who specialized in sculpting portrait busts of notable figures in Paris, including the visiting American ambassador, Benjamin Franklin. He also sculpted George Washington while on a trip to the United States. In celebrating rare works by an old master, shows like this remind us that museums are about more than just counting heads.

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