Best Band Made Up of Comedians 2017 | Big City Drugs | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Bobby Crane, Cory Helie, Kevin O'Brien and Sam Tallent are local comedy veterans who have toured together and helped build Denver's comedy scene into something respected beyond our city's limits. They are also big music fans who shared a love for unconventional punk and punk-influenced bands like Dead Boys, Gun Club and Reatards. Big City Drugs could have been yet another example of an ill-advised endeavor ventured upon by artists in a different realm of creativity. But the group was undeniably good from the beginning, and its 2016 debut EP, Human Cargo, proved that BCD has much to offer beyond its frantic, riveting live shows.

Nearly 25 years into its existence, Slim Cessna's Auto Club could have rested on its laurels while recording its latest album, The Commandments According to SCAC. Considered an institution of the local music scene and all but appointed a torchbearer of the so-called Denver sound, the group probably felt a lot of pressure to deliver the familiar — or something completely different. But rather than burst free from who it is entirely, SCAC wrote an album that capitalizes on what it does best while imbuing each song with a spirit and luminosity that sounds like a new chapter. If earlier albums established the Auto Club's reputation as an important Denver band, The Commandments will hopefully carry the group into much wider circles.

Product Lust started in 2016 and has already earned some national acclaim. The band revives the post-punk spirit and injects hardcore with unconventional rhythms and a disruptive energy. Product Lust's stage shows are impossible to ignore: The act manages to make its music seem dangerous — even scary — with the sheer disorienting intensity of its performances. It's a refreshing reminder that music still has the power to inspire — and alienate.

Readers' Choice: The Bucktones

Paul Italiano isn't just an expert in '80s alternative, punk and new-wave music; he's actually met many of the artists whose music he plays as DJ Paul on occasion at Milk Bar. That's because Italiano is also the owner of South Broadway rock-clothing boutique FashioNation with his wife, Pam — and many of those '80s alt-bands visit the shop when they're in town. Over the years, Italiano has hung out with members of the Cure, Joy Division, R.E.M., the Pixies, the Ramones, Tears for Fears and the Go-Go's, just to name a few. FashioNation even has a wall of framed pictures of its famous visitors.

A Nuggets game without the foot-stomping "We Will Rock You" or the revved-up excitement of "All I Do Is Win" wouldn't feel like a basketball game at all. Thanks to DJ Bedz: The White Shadow, no Nuggs match-up goes down without the proper soundtrack. Spinning the right records at the right time is Bedz's specialty; he's been keeping the crowd jumping and the players pumped for the past fourteen years. Along with being the sole music man for the Nuggets, he's also a part-time DJ for the Denver Broncos and plays hot tracks for the CU Buffs. Thanks to DJ Bedz, Colorado's biggest sports teams get to sound as good as they play.

With all the transplants moving to town, there's a growing desire to preserve what it means to be from the metro area. Fed Rez is a rowdy hip-hop act that grew up in Bear Valley and pridefully reps the Northside, where the crew's decades-old family-owned print shop is still thriving amid encroaching development. Proud to be from this once-unknown cowtown, the Feddy promised that "It's all good, 'cuz our hood has got your back" in its 2016 Mile High City anthem "Danver." Fed Rez will always be there for fellow Queen City OGs, repping Denver's once uncool and unassuming corners and 'hoods, from Athmar Park to Green Valley Ranch.

As Americans clamor for political action through art, Allout Helter remains ahead of the curve. The punkish, melodic hardcore band had been around for a while before linking up with lead singer Ross Hostage, who brought a frenetic energy and civics-lesson-minded slant to the band's lyrics. This year the group joined forces with fellow anti-fascist musicians for Punk Against Trump, a protest show that also raised money for the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. Find members of Allout Helter on stage and in the streets, raising fists for the working people and engaging fans in the political process, all while creating catchy rallying cries to inspire a more informed crowd.0x2029

Every spring, female dancers, emcees, graffiti artists and DJs from around the country converge in Denver for the annual Queenz of Hip Hop Jam. The event showcases talented female hip-hop artists and encourages young women to pursue their craft in a genre traditionally dominated by men. Among the activities at each year's Jam are the much-anticipated dance battles, which pit contestants against one another in various categories such as "1v1 footwork," "2v2 b-girls" and a "Bonnie and Clyde" battle that matches male and female duos against each other.

When the feminist punk band Cheap Perfume wrote the song "Trump Roast" prior to last year's election, the group didn't know how relevant it would become. "Dear Don, we've got blood coming out of our wherever," sang Stephanie Byrne and "Jane No," the band's two frontwomen. The track ends with them telling the now-president to "eat a dick and die." That sentiment certainly resonated with the crowd at the Punk Against Trump concert at the Summit Music Hall this year. The band, which also includes David "Hot Dave" Grimm and Geoff Brent, came together in 2015; its members hail from Colorado Springs and Denver. Since the inauguration, Cheap Perfume has continued to speak out about number 45, including railing against his controversial immigration orders. So don't expect Cheap Perfume to lie low: In January, "Jane No" vowed to turn her "disappointment and fear into action."

When Beta opened on Memorial Day 2008 with a show by superstar DJ Danny Tenaglia, it was clear that the mammoth club was destined to be a huge player in Denver's dance scene. Not only has Beta since established itself as the best dance club in town, but the venue was voted one of the 25 Greatest Dance Clubs of All Time by Billboard in 2015, and in 2013 Rolling Stone put it at the top of its Best Dance Clubs in America list. The club's booming Funktion-One system is supreme, and Beta regularly brings in top-notch world-class talent like Paul Oakenfold, Richie Hawtin and Benny Benassi.

Readers' Choice: Beta

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