Best Mic Stand 2014 | Lola Black | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Lola Black's badass copper mic stand made its concussive debut last June, when the band performed at Broadway's during the Westword Music Showcase. The stand was given to lead singer Lola by a seriously devoted fan, Josh Saucier, who's a metal fabricator. The idea for the head-butting brass-knuckle design came from the band's merch dude, Brad Tachibano, and guitarist Paige O. It's an eye-catcher, always a crowd-pleaser and a friendly reminder that Lola Black can — and will — kick your ass.

Eric Gruneisen

What better soundtrack for Denver's finest comics than tunes from the city's best indie bands? As obvious as the pairing may seem, it took the combined efforts of the Greater Than Collective, Illegal Pete's and the folks from Lannie's to make it happen — and the partners have cooked up a monthly gathering that's bound to become a cherished local tradition. Past events have featured A. Tom Collins, the Ian Cooke Band and Snake Rattle Rattle Snake on the music side, and comics Kristen Rand, Ben Roy and Sean Patton on the other. One of last year's installments even tapped into community goodwill for a bigger, nobler cause: The show featuring Adam Cayton-Holland and Bad Weather California was a fundraiser for Mike Marchant, a well-loved local musician undergoing chemotherapy. Forecast for 2014? More of everything.

When you snuggle up with a dreamy date, the stiffest, smallest movie-theater seats start feeling plush. The true test of movie-theater comfort is to go solo and sit between two strangers in a crowded theater — and there is no theater to which we would rather go alone than the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Here even a giant among men would have sufficient legroom and enough space to wiggle, shuffle and lean back and forth without annoying his gargantuan pals. The Alamo also provides ample space for servers to walk, crouch and bend, so if you need to escape mid-movie, you never bump knees, stomp toes or whack someone in the face with your oversized posterior. The tables provide plenty of room for concessions, and the seats are easy on both your back and your butt.

Could a chocolate-chip cookie save the world? Until you bite into the warm, crispy exterior and molten inner gooeyness of the cookies at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, hold your bets. Even home-baked cookies taste stale compared to these. Beyond the cookies, the Alamo offers melted butter — real butter — drizzled over popcorn that is served up in silver bowls, and burgers with patties charred to perfection on buns that caress your mouth and come with a panoply of toppings: prosciutto, goat cheese, pesto and Hatch green chile, to name just a few. There's also a hefty list of adult milkshakes, such as the Grasshopper Shake, with crème de cacao, crème de menthe and vanilla ice cream, as well as standard-fare cocktails and a long list of craft beers. If you're looking to pack dinner, drinks and a movie into one unforgettable binge, get to the Alamo Drafthouse, now.

Denver has killer blockbuster multiplexes and a few arthouse-chain theaters, but none of those corporate programming teams can compete with our hometown curators at the Denver Film Society. As a nonprofit, DFS has multiple funding streams that allow the Sie FilmCenter to show movies no other venue could. Last year, when the crown was passed from former programming manager Keith Garcia to Ernie Quiroz, Denver cineastes held their breath. Would the newbie build on Garcia's legacy? He has. Whether you want to scream and giggle through an '80s horror flick, scratch your head through an experimental documentary, analyze porn with an academic or meet some of the most innovative filmmakers of our age for a post-screening cocktail in the intimate Henderson's Lounge, the Sie has programming for you.

Courtesy Denver Art Museum

Last fall, the Denver Art Museum bundled three related shows — Court to Cafe, Drawing Room and Nature as Muse — as a unified blockbuster called Passport to Paris. Like previous blockbusters at the DAM, Passport to Paris attracted huge crowds who drove up ticket sales, membership rolls and gift-shop receipts. This kind of successful audience-building is the culmination of a dream of former director Lewis Sharp. But it was his successor, Christoph Heinrich, who carried it out. Using his wits and sensibilities rather than stats and charts, Heinrich figured out the formula for getting attention by mounting blockbusters — or beacons, as he calls them. The next point of light: Modern Masters, which just opened.

Brandon Marshall

Former Nordstrom exec Chuck McGothlin has an impeccable eye honed during a career buying for the department store's Fifth Avenue boutique in New York, and his experience there clearly translates well at the beautifully upscale Denver Botanic Gardens gift shop. What makes this a must-see stop before or after any visit to the gardens (or even when you're just gift-shopping)? Brilliant merchandising — and a well-selected mixture of art, jewelry, repurposed materials, books, cards, pottery, plants and elegant home accents, along with many nature- and garden-oriented items. And with a much-awaited outdoor exhibit by glass artist Dale Chihuly coming to the DBG in June, the shop should be even more spectacular.

When the DIY Brass Tree House collective came to an end in 2012, the excellent Brass Tree Sessions series of live concert videos ended as well. But with their background in video and television production, the heads behind Brass Tree were able to team up with former Teletunes host and Pindowns member Heather Dalton, a producer on the arts program Out of Order, to produce Sounds on 29th. The program, which airs late on Saturday nights on Channel 12.2, features comedy sets alongside a handful of songs performed by local bands. Hosted by Sid Pink, Sounds on 29th is the less surreal — but no less entertaining — cousin of Dalton's other show, Late Night Denver.

Colorado has had a nice share of video cyphers from different hip-hop crews in the past couple of years. But most stay confined to their own group — or they add so many people that they lose the attention of their fans. Rarely does one video capture a careful cross-section of the hot artists of a given moment. But "Culture Over Currency Vol. 1" does just that, delivering some of the best talent the town has ever seen in one video: Squizzy Gang is well represented, with Trev Rich and AP, and Welcome to the Dope Game has Hustle Man and Turner Jackson. You'll also see appearances by Mr. Midas, F.L. of the Foodchain, and Koo Qua.

A lot of elements make up a great musical: a tuneful, clever libretto; fabulous singing and dancing; expensive tech. But The Full Monty, directed by Scott Beyette, wins hands down for pure heart, daring and soul — as well as talent and skill, of course. Set in Buffalo, the musical follows a group of desperate, out-of-work guys who decide to make some money and win back the respect of their wives by staging a strip show. They may not have impressive biceps, gorgeously defined abs or sinuous dance moves, they figure, but they do have the essential equipment. The terrific cast at Boulder's Dinner Theatre let it all hang out emotionally as well as physically, which took a lot of guts in a venue so small that audience members could reach out and touch flesh at any moment. It was a perfect choice of material when so many are facing hard times, executed with passion, intelligence and style.

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