Best Side Trip by a Pop Band 2010 | | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

In the public realm, they go by the names Jonny 5, Brer Rabbit and Andy Rok, but off stage, Flobots Jamie Laurie, Stephen Brackett and Andy Guerrero are looking for ways to put their ideas to work on a more human level. Through their non-profit, the local-rock-band-made-good brings some of the power back to the people by offering at-risk youth a second chance through music therapy; by supporting grassroots activism through workshops and actions instigated by their Fight With Tools Institute; and by providing a physical space in which to get all that good work done, at the headquarters. Like the song goes: "We need heroes/Build them. Don't put your fist up/Fill them/Fight with our hopes and our hearts and our hands/We're the architects of our last stand."

On the audio side, CacheFlowe produces dense, intelligent and profoundly weird music. His style incorporates IDM, glitch, dubstep and hip-hop to create a beat-driven, brain-warping and brilliantly creative sound. Then he adds custom, real-time-generated visuals, synced to and driven by his music via custom software he wrote himself. The result is an incredible audio-visual synthesis that will make you wonder if someone slipped one of those drugs that's known by just initials into your drink when you weren't looking. As it turns out, though, you'll be enjoying yourself so much you won't even care. This simply has to be seen — and heard — to be believed.

How dope are Boonie Mayfield's beats? Consider this: Mr. J. Medeiros from the Procussions sought out Boon Doc (aka Solomon Vaughn) after stumbling across a clip of him rocking his MPC on YouTube one morning. Medeiros ended up working with Boon on his five-song EP, The Art of Broken Glass, and last summer the burgeoning producer pretty much slayed the competition at the Red Bull Big Tune tournament to move on to the finals in Atlanta (where he and runner-up DJ Psycho ended up losing out to Frank Dukes). Besides having nice beats, Boonie is also gracious. At the beginning of the year, he put together a kit for fellow beatmakers to purchase/download that contains over 350 samples of various drums, percussions and effects. It's a pleasure to watch the man work and even more gratifying to listen to his smooth, fluid and always banging beats.

No band could possibly live up to the hype surrounding My Bloody Valentine's landmark recording, 1991's Loveless, in a live setting, but Kevin Shields and company come close. Somehow, their handful of 2009 North American dates included a gig in Denver, and after a rocky start in the house mix, My Bloody Valentine performed a show that was, at times, as much a physical experience as a musical one. And to close out the night, the band assaulted the audience with a cascading avalanche of sound that made clothes flap with the sheer force of the clamor. Denver hearts MBV.

Not nearly enough people remember the band Facade. The act was a charming mixture of dream pop and jazz that played low-key shows for a couple of years right after the turn of the millennium. Then the band's singer, Kitty Vincent, dropped out of music for the better part of the decade, while guitarist Joe Grobelny went on to Jet Set Kate and the highly lauded Everything Absent or Distorted. Vincent and Grobelny really had something as a musical unit, though, and after EAoD disbanded, Grobelny and Vincent got back together as the atmospherically bombastic, energetic and engaging Le Divorce.

Like some kind of superhero venue, Theory + Practice lives a double life. By day, it masquerades as an art gallery, but once night falls and a sound system and a few lights are added, it transforms into the sweetest underground dance venue in town. It has a central location, nice acoustics, a fine floor for dancing — and it's just the right size to feel both intimate and spacious. Of course, the real kicker is that the promoters who favor it have done a fine job of bringing in top talent from the real underground, making for some great experiences at this dark knight of dance venues.

You want a top-notch clubbing experience in Denver, Beta is the first place you should look. It's been around long enough now to lose that new-club smell, but it's still got an unbeatable tandem of the finest sound system and best talent bookers in town. That means you're going to see the world's best DJs and dance artists here, and they're going to sound just about as good as they possibly can. Add in a bevy of beautiful people and maybe some bottle service, and you've got a recipe for a great night on the town.

When the Friends of Historic Riverside Cemetery wanted to raise money to help restore Denver's oldest cemetery to its former splendor, they brought a host of historical city figures back to life on Halloween. Period-clad reenactors revived such characters as Sand Creek Massacre good guy Silas Soule, turn-of-the-century temperance worker and police matron Sadie Likens, African-American social climbers Barney and Julia Ford, brewer Philip Zang and many others as tour participants trekked through the burial ground; afterward, an FHRC-sponsored Spirits of Riverside art show reception at the Wynkoop Brewing Company featured Riverside RIP Ale and Riverside-inspired works by local artists.

Where better to celebrate the Day of the Dead than in an actual cemetery, right beside the holiday's honorees? The Chicano Arts and Humanities Council and Denver muertos artist Jerry Vigil put on a grave event worthy of the ancestors in Crown Hill Cemetery last November, complete with a sugar skull workshop for kids, Aztec dancing, mariachi music, fiesta food and an art show and lecture by Vigil. Not only did the event put the meaning of the celebration in clear perspective, but it was also a heck of a lot of fun. Kudos to Crown Hill for adding this to its ongoing series of community celebrations and to Vigil and friends for making it happen.

Popcorn and hot dogs might be classic cinema foods, but sometimes you hunger for more. And for those times, Cinebarre is the place to go. The Thornton theater offers first-run movies with a full menu (and bar!). There's nothing too fancy on the menu -- just pizza, burgers, sandwiches, salads, desserts and appetizers -- but it offers a solid selection of quality comfort foods with movie-themed names. The prices are reasonable, and you even get to sit at a real table. And traditionalists can still get a bucket of popcorn to munch on.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of