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.

Whether this dude is partying hard in Moscow or shooting couches with a shotgun between shows in Alaska, Pictureplane is always talking about Denver. The Rhinoceropolis inhabitant has been going his own way for the better half of a decade, but as his goth star has risen, so has the promotion of his adopted home town. Mr. Plane, aka Travis Egedy, celebrates what's good in the community from which he emerged, making Denver-centric mixes for Fader and spreading the cassette-tape gospel that is Hideous Men, Alphabets and Hollagramz to kids overseas. Denver has enjoyed the benefits of his cheerleading, too, as national bands have made Rhinoceropolis a must-stop on the DIY touring circuit.

Set in a timeless Japan, The Sound of a Voice tells the story of a warrior who arrives at the home of a woman he believes to be a witch; he intends to kill her, and the two interact in several taut, charged and ambiguous scenes. Director Warren Sherrill did full justice to the play's poetry and intensity in Paragon Theatre Company's production. He enlisted two dancers from the Kim Robards Company to add depth and perspective, and in Sheila Ivy Traister found an actress able to communicate both the central character's witchiness and her humanity. When she poured tea into a cup, the sound of the trickling liquid mesmerized the entire audience — such was the level of precision and concentration Sherill's entire production achieved.

Phamaly is truly an amazing family of performers, all with varying physical disabilities — and director Steve Wilson knows how to work around, and with, every one of them. Wilson doesn't just accommodate these handicaps; he makes them a positive force in the action. When he and the company took on Beauty and the Beast, a tired, sentimental old musical, they made it new and vibrant. Jenna Bainbridge and Leonard Barrett were magnificent in the leads, and there were many pleasures in the smaller roles: Every one of the enchanted objects in the Beast's castle had its own charm and personality, for instance. The big numbers were done with a professionalism that any major Broadway production would have trouble matching — and with far more heart.

Winner of Best Scene Enthusiast in 2008, John Baxter has long been a force to be reckoned with in the local music scene, the rare type of promoter whose commitment to the arts outweighs the unsavory connotations of the term "promoter." And in ZetaKaye House, where he's teamed up with wife Kim Baxter, he's really outdoing himself. A merger of Oscar Zeta Acosta (Hunter S. Thompson's attorney) and Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat and Fugazi frontman and founder of Dischord Records), the name pays tribute to legends of the do-it-yourself movement and does them justice. From movies (the Baxters have been working with the Mayan on an Orson Welles film fest) to music (besides promoting, managing and booking several local bands, they provide recording, lesson and practice space), from Denver to Brooklyn (client Tim Pourbaix stuck with them when he moved there), ZetaKaye House is doing it, and helping you do it, too.

True to the do-it-yourself ethos, Titwrench exists solely through the time, energy and funding of its volunteers. Westword MasterMind winner Sarah Slater created the women-centered experimental noisefest in 2009 and keeps the spirit and interest of the community going throughout the year with Surfacing, a monthly, like-minded showcase of music and art. As a festival, Titwrench does more than just present such bands as Hell-Kite, Joy Von Spain and Caldera Lakes to the masses; the three-day gathering also provides a platform for performers, zine-makers and artists of all kinds to share and sell their work, and to educate others on how to do-it-themselves, too.

With the tacit support of No Fun Fest founder Carlos Giffoni, John Gross of Page 27 and Todd Novosad of Novasak have created a festival of local and national acts connected to the noise, experimental-electronic and avant-garde music underground. Over the course of two nights last year, people got to witness acts as diverse as Giffoni's No Fun Acid, Crank Sturgeon, Married in Berdichev, Architect's Office and Arrington De Dionyso's Malaikat Dan Singa. Rather than string together one harsh noise act after another, the festival features a wide array of sounds and styles that happen to fall under the umbrella of "noise." And this year's fest, set for April 22 through 24 at Old Curtis Street, promises to make just as big a noise in the scene.

Rhinoceropolis has it all — even if some of that is do-it-yourself. The venue is part show space, part home, and all living homage to every underground hangout in American teenage music history. There's no sign on the building, never any set cover charge for any show, and no question that whether Nu Sensae, Monotonix or SSION is coming through, there's a party to be had. The space is always all-ages, and open to virtually any kind of music. The best best way to book a show at Rhinoceropolis? Go to shows there. The venue is the not-for-profit heart of a creative community that exists on the bands, DJs, artists and people who get involved.

Maintaining various residencies at all of the top-notch hip-hop clubs in the city, the Moolah Boyz — Ktone, KDJ Above and DJ Top Shelf — are everywhere, introducing hit songs getting heavy burn in other regions to a Denver crowd while keeping local hip-hop music in heavy rotation. Pooling their collective talents, the three rock clubs, pack venues, make pretty girls dance (even your mother could do the Moolah Shuffle) and break records. The Moolah Boyz have not only created a brand and perfected a concept, but they've refined a mentality.

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