The warmest love letter to Denver put to tape this year is also its truest. "O, Queen City" begins with a pair of guitars in no particular rush and feels more and more like the perfect day in the Mile High City with every passing bar. The song is about stopping by Denver on the way to a beach destination and getting too drunk on the sun, the people and, of course, the booze to keep driving. It's about settling for Denver and coming to realize that you wouldn't have it any other way.

With the Internet pretty much taking over where independent publishing once reigned supreme, it's refreshing when anyone puts out a new print publication — much less one done in the grand tradition of the photocopied, stapled, black-and-white zine, like Infested With Ugly. True to form, Infested With Ugly focuses on parts of the local punk scene that virtually no one else in Denver covers. Surprisingly well-written, the debut issue of this zine included a thoughtful essay on collecting vinyl by punk-scene booster and documentarian Aaron Say. Stay free and feisty.

Best Evidence That Giving Music Away Pays Off

Pretty Lights

Five consecutive sellouts at every major theater in the state. Five! On his own, or as the headliner: Aggie Theatre, Boulder Theater, Fox Theatre, Gothic Theatre, Ogden Theatre. Yeah, Derek Vincent Smith, who performs under the Pretty Lights moniker, is pretty much playing with the house's money at this point. While the recording industry scrambles to figure out just how to survive in the digital era, Smith is giving his music away on his website. All of it. Free. And clearly, the gambit has paid off, since those consecutive sellouts aren't just here in Colorado. Last year, Pretty Lights sold out sixty dates across the country, making it one of the most successful and sought-after independent acts out there right now. Smith, who just released another EP, Making Up a Changing Mind, is slated to issue two more by the end of the year. And this summer, accompanied by drummer Cory Eberhard, he'll bring his banging live show to Red Rocks. Trust us: This one's worth paying for.

Couldn't get tickets to see Matt Morris at the Bluebird? Couldn't find a babysitter in time to make it to the Flobots show at the Ogden? Not to worry: Twist & Shout has you covered with a full calendar of in-store performances featuring the most laudable locals — everyone from Rose Hill Drive to DeVotchKa to Paper Bird. And they sometimes bring in acts from outside the area code. On Record Store Day this month, for example, Paul Epstein's legendary shop will host a special DJ set by Bonobo. Past performances have included Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, and Jon Butler — all of whom have recorded and released the in-store gigs. And the best part? Every performance is free. Now, that's something to shout about.

Bluebird Theater

The members of Everything Absent or Distorted always played like they were going down in flames, so when they finally did, it was quite the spectacle — never mind that the breakup was for logistical reasons and totally amicable. So maybe there was a little too much booze, and maybe some of it got on some electronics, and that might have been one of several examples of the rock and roll overtaking the music. Didn't really matter: The members of EAoD left us with a reminder of why we bother devoting our lives to pop music. They also left us an excellent EP, which is still available for free at http://eaodals.blogspot.com.

1STBANK Center

When AEG Live first announced that it had partnered with Kroenke Sports Enterprises to manage the Broomfield Events Center, a far-flung venue with a checkered history, skeptics wondered how the partners would turn it into a choice destination. Still, history has shown that, under the direction of Chuck Morris, AEG Live can transform Commerce City soccer fields into a prime location for a major music festival. And when the curtain was raised on the renovated, renamed 1stBank Center in March, the transformation was impressive. With good sound and great sight lines, this venue feels more like a concert hall than a mid-sized arena.

Cactus Jack's Saloon

In 1938, Frank Sinatra was 23 years old — and much better-looking than you might imagine, judging from the mug shot snapped in Bergen County, New Jersey, where he'd seduced "a single woman of good repute...under the promise of marriage," according to the arrest report. Back then, that kind of hanky-panky could get you thrown in jail — but Sinatra was quickly released when it was determined that the woman in question was already married, and not to him. But first the cops captured this photo, in which Sinatra is staring intently — but also a tad insouciantly — into the camera, a lock of black hair falling over his left eye. He looks good enough to eat. Particularly in the huge blow-up hanging outside the ladies' room of Cactus Jack's, which has only one toilet. It's nice to have something pretty to look at while you wait...and wonder exactly what doing it his way entails.

DanzArtz Studios

Zombies are not only dancing in the streets, but they're doing it like pros, thanks to DanzArtz' series of Thriller-specific Guerilla Thrilla classes that teach Michael Jackson's classic video dance sequence step by step to anyone willing to offer up their time and the class fee. On Halloween night, close to 250 students donned zombie togs and makeup and danced the routine in Skyline Park; later, some of them repeated the feat in the Congress Park neighborhood. Fields and crew say they're on board for the event again this year, but it'll go down with a twist: an Addams Family theme. Get ready for a Fester occasion.

Clark Griswold, eat your heart out. If it's Halloween or Christmas, you can be sure that Alek Komarnitsky has bedecked his Lafayette home with the most incredible light display around. After he caught flak in 2004 for tricking visitors to www.komar.org into thinking they could control his Christmas light show (it was an elaborate online hoax), Komarnitsky figured out a way to actually do it. Now folks can log on to his overly stimulating website during the holidays and turn his thousands of lights on and off. It may not make the neighbors happy, but since Komarnitsky uses 100 percent wind energy, makes carbon-offset contributions for the electricity his display consumes and allows online visitors to donate money to celiac disease research, this is insanity for a cause.

Sie FilmCenter

If your interest in film extends at all past Hollywood's latest remakes, explosion showcases and toy commercials, you're probably already a regular of Starz FilmCenter. The menu runs the gamut from foreign gems to the best of local indie cinema, with stops at all points in between. It also offers great regular programs, including the GLBT-focused Cinema Q and Doc Night, which brings documentary filmmakers in to show their films and talk about them. Whatever your taste in cinema, chances are good that Starz has something to offer that you simply won't find anywhere else.

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