Milk
Britt Chester

When Rock Island closed in 2006 after a long, legendary run, it left a big hole in the gothic and industrial community. While there are still rumors that Rock Island will one day start up again, it's probably not going to happen anytime soon. In the meantime, for those who frequented the legendary club on 15th Street, there's a good chance you'll run into somebody you know at Milk on Wednesdays and Saturdays, when the club hosts '80s & '90s Retro/Goth nights. Resident DJ Mike Rich spins a thoroughly decent set of new wave from the Reagan era, with a bit of old-school goth thrown in; Paul Italiano, FashioNation owner, spins at the club once a month. (Both Rich and Italiano are former Rock Island DJs.) While Milk, with its Clockwork Orange theme, is a bit small, it's still a great spot to get your retro dance on and hang with a fascinating mix of folks, some decked out in full goth regalia.

The Buntport Theater Company has been working in the musical genre — in its own way — for a while; not many other theater groups would have realized the aesthetic possibilities of turning Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus into a musical, for instance. And a couple of years back, the Buntporters got the inspired idea of collaborating with artist-composer Adam Stone — even though, as they proudly and publicly asserted, none of them really knew how to sing. The brilliant result was Seal Stamp Send Bang, a musical about the postal service first produced in 2009 and revived this year. And good got even better with a second collaboration, Jugged Rabbit Stew, among Buntport's most entertaining, and memorable, productions, with the music alone — a mix of genres from rock to country-Western — worth a listen.

Best Collaboration Between Artists Who Are Also Musicians

Modern Witch

Both collage and multimedia artists in their own right, Kristy Foom and Mario Zoots make up Modern Witch, and when the two come together, the magic is multiplied. This act uses alternative modes of recording — like the microphone on an old VHS camera — to capture its dark and warbling down-tempo tracks. Since Foom works out of Amsterdam most of the year, Modern Witch shows in Denver are both rarities and gems: With a rotating cast of musical artisans and a heavy dose of visuals to complement the sounds, no two shows are alike. And even though the group works remotely 90 percent of the time, video and audio releases are plentiful, and everything, down to Modern Witch's digital tracks, comes with gorgeous collaborative artwork to match.

Stoney's Bar and Grill
Dylan Burkhardt

Stoney's Bar & Grill touts itself as "a local kind of place," and the owners take that concept pretty damn seriously. This rustic spot, which moved into the former Andrew's on Lincoln space last summer, practically screams "Colorado," with a pond and miniature campsite near the entrance, a ski gondola turned photo booth up front, 150-year-old reclaimed barn wood lining the walls, and antique skis and bikes hanging from the rafters. In keeping with the theme, Stoney's uses locally sourced meat (including some exotic critters) for its sliders and offers plenty of Colorado beers in cans — which all get recycled, with the proceeds going to local charities. And with twenty HDTVs scattered around the place and two 120-inch projection screens, Stoney's is not just a "local kind of place," but a great spot to watch the home teams.

You really have to see Lunar Fire to understand what's so special about this collective. You can't accurately call it a band, because dancers are an integral part of the show, often leading the musical improvisation through movement. And what dancers they are, implementing fantastical costuming, spinning fire, aerial acrobatics and more while the world-jam-rock fusion pounds out behind their graceful gestures. Each member of the group has fingers in several other pies; they all come together in Lunar Fire to cut loose and let the music go where it will. With two percussionists, two vocalists, a bass player, several dancers and a rotating cast of guest musicians playing unusual instruments in the group, you never know where this journey is going to take you — but it's a given that it will involve deep, inspirational lyrics and some of the sweetest eye candy you'll ever see.

Founded in 1953 as the Mines Chamber Ensemble, the Jefferson Symphony Orchestra has evolved into the toast of Golden, thriving in an era when even big-name orchestras are struggling to fill the seats. Chalk it up to the dedication of nearly a hundred talented musicians who volunteer long hours to the cause; stability at the helm (conductor William Morse has been the maestro in these parts since 1999); a commitment to a distinguished young artists competition; and a real connection to a community that loves the orchestra's fine-tuned blend of pops, holiday and classical fare.

There was no shortage of memorable concerts over the past year, with shows ranging from Lady Gaga at the Pepsi Center to LCD Soundsystem at the Fillmore to Gorillaz at Wells Fargo. But none were quite as memorable as this one. Three decades after Pink Floyd first conceived this production, technology finally caught up to the original vision, and Roger Waters brought the whole spectacle to life with flawless precision. From the opening explosions of "In the Flesh," complete with a WWII-era biplane dive-bombing the partially erected wall, to the closing notes of "Outside the Wall," the evening was positively mesmerizing. The sound wasn't just good — it was an expansive, enthralling, spectral, three-dimensional experience. Combined with the stunning visuals, pyrotechnics, inflatable creatures and airborne pig, it was like watching a digitally remastered version of The Wall in 5.1 surround with thousands of your friends.

When the Warlock Pinchers announced they'd be reuniting for two shows in August 2010, Denver exploded with excitement. Then, almost immediately after the shows, Eyeosaur Productions announced that it would be releasing a DVD chronicling the two nights — which led to more explosive anticipation. When the product was finally delivered in December, it combined live footage, behind-the-stage scenes and interviews with everyone involved into what is certainly the best concert documentary that Denver has seen in a very long time. It couldn't have been easy to capture the pure energy that flowed through the Gothic Theatre those nights, but somehow the Eyeosaur folks managed to do it.

Beta

Now in its third year, Beta continues to be Denver's hot spot for clubbing. Armed with the Funktion-One Dance Array 4 Speaker Stack System (Beta was the first spot in North America to get one), this dance club bumps like no other, bringing in such world-class talent every week as top spinners Richie Hawtin, John Digweed and Pete Tong, as well as a parade of the area's finest DJs. Although Beta is huge, it still fills up on a regular basis. And for those nights when the dance floor is packed with sweaty, beautiful people, Beta recently teamed up with Kryogenifex Productions to help cool down the crowd by blasting liquid nitrogen into the air.

Lost Lake

When hi-dive/Sputnik owner Matt LaBarge took over the Bulldog Bar (and Monroe Tavern before that) last year, it didn't take long for him to turn the dive into a comfortable, inviting spot. Taking his inspiration from older clubs in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles — as well as an even earlier incarnation of the space as the Alamo, which was East Colfax Avenue's first piano bar back in the '40s — LaBarge made the Lost Lake Lounge the kind of cozy, cabin-like club you're always happy to find. And with folks like Nathaniel Rateliff doing monthly residences, you're certain to run into more than a few appreciative musicians in this dark joint. We're not in Kansas anymore — and it doesn't feel much like Denver, either.

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