Welcome to the weekend! We know, it's here already? Indeed. Hooray for short weeks! As always in our beloved Mile High City, the options are ripe for the picking and plentiful. We have them all listed in our massive concert calendar. If you're feeling industrious and have some time to kill before lunch, print that bad boy out, break out your red Sharpie and have at it. If you're just not that motivated or don't have the time, not to worry: We've done all the heavy lifting for you and put together a list of the weekend's best concerts. It's a healthy mix of imports and exports, as we like to put it. Continue reading to get the full rundown.
10. THE CHAIN GANG OF 1974 @ HI-DIVE | SUN, 9/9/12 A couple years ago, it used to be you could see the Chain Gang of 1974 pretty much anytime you felt like it. Back then, Kamtin Mohager lived here and performed with dependable frequency -- when he wasn't on the road with 3OH!3, that is. Since then, however, Mohager moved to Los Angeles, where he made a big splash with Wayward Fire, his auspicious debut for the Modern Art imprint. He doesn't come back to town quite as often these days, which means when he does, like all things in life you tend to take for granted, it's a real treat to get to see him perform. Currently writing songs for his Warner Bros. debut, Mohager returns to the hi-dive this weekend, where he'll share a bill with the Photo Atlas and Pop Cult.
9. NATURE KIDS / DOGBREATH @ LARIMER LOUNGE | FRI, 9/7/12 Pavement and the Replacements? On the same bill? No shit? No. Shit! Eh, well, that would be pretty badass, wouldn't it? Guess you'll never know -- unless you have a time machine and some sort of unspoken magical powers we don't know about. Or will you? Hmm...appears so. Thanks to some of Denver's finest musicians, who've assembled in a pair of expertly crafted -- well, as expertly as you can channel the drunken-fueled, slacker swagger of those two legendary acts -- tribute bands you can experience it for yourself tonight at the Larimer Lounge.
8. CHRIS MCGARRY (CD RELEASE) @ WALNUT ROOM | FRI, 9/7/12 Chris McGarry grew up near the banks of the upper Mississippi; it was in this environment that his parents first exposed him to classic country and gospel music. But like most people who grew up in the '90s in Middle America, he got into Nirvana and then dabbled in jam before discovering Bob Dylan. Listening to the latter inspired McGarry to explore Dylan's influences in the kind of works Alan Lomax collected to establish the Archive of American Folk Music. Upon moving to Colorado, McGarry became fascinated with the local bluegrass scene -- and that influence, along with elements of traditional American folk, can be heard on Bare Bright Halos, the latest release from his band, Chris McGarry and the Insomniacs. Like the Band with modern sensibilities, these guys are no snoozers.
7. BRONZE (CD RELEASE) @ BENDER'S | SAT, 9/8/12 Cecil Bailey and Chris Garrow first played together in the stoner-rock band Core of the Earth. As fashionable as that musical style was a few years back, Core stood out from the pack for having good, solid songs. During their time in the band, Bailey and Garrow started up a friendship with Module Overload Studios engineer Jamie Hillyer, who has produced their work ever since. When Core dissolved, Bailey and Garrow put Bronze together with the goal of shedding the excesses of sludge metal in favor of leaner and, frankly, more cohesive songs. With drummer Joaquin Armstrong and bassist Steve Waltman as the rhythm section, Bronze has a focused yet sinuous sound that finds vivid expression on its latest release, Snake Oil.
6. MATISYAHU @ FILLMORE AUDITORIUM | SAT, 9/8/12 To see Matisyahu in concert is a spiritual experience. Even if the man didn't hold his mike like he's praying, close his eyes when he reaches the sad parts and twirl so violently his prayer vest dances with him, the power of his presence would still be nearly miraculous. The same thing goes for the reality that rap, rock and reggae can combine so comfortably in one of God's chosen people. The only real difficulty comes in determining whether the energy you're responding to is the one he's creating or the one he's radiating: Was it the religion or the egg?
5. THE KNUX @ LARIMER LOUNGE | SAT, 9/8/12 Don't let the tight jeans and thick-rimmed glasses fool you. The brothers who make up The Knux were raised about as far away from the suburbs as you can get: New Orleans' Ninth Ward. Still, Krispy Kream and Rah Almillio (aka Kentrell and Alvin Lindsey) found their sound by listening to just as much pop as hip-hop, and they are savvy enough to know that their cross-genre music plays better with the college kids than the hardcore rap fanatics. So they don't fight it. They fill their music with melody and keep the commentary relatively subtle. They like playing instruments, they like rapping and they like producing, so they do all three, which gives their music its distinctive character in a world where a handful of lookalike producers work with a crowded field of lookalike rappers.
4. TWIN SHADOW @ BLUEBIRD THEATER | FRI, 9/7/12 George Lewis Jr. grew up in Florida but moved to Boston before forming his punk-funk cabaret outfit Mad Man Films. That band split after releasing two albums, and Lewis moved to Brooklyn, where he started writing songs on his own under the name Twin Shadow. The project's debut album, 2010's critically acclaimed Forget, drew upon the more synth-tinged pop and R&B from the '80s, but also seemed lush and sultry, like an offering from later-era Roxy Music. The followup, this year's Confess, expands on the thick atmospheres and injects a kind of soulful urgency reminiscent of Sparks. The music video for "Five Seconds" has a dreamlike world-weariness that captures the mood of the entire album. While hazy, the music is hopeful and sonically rich, like early Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.
See also: Q&A with George Lewis Jr. of Twin Shadow
3. CALDER'S REVOLVERS (CD RELEASE) @ MARQUIS | FRI, 9/7/12 The members of Calder's Revolvers have impressive pedigrees: Frontman Andy Schneider and guitarist Brad Johnson hail from the Archive, while drummer Sam Gault came from instrumental group We Are! We Are! When the group first came together in 2009, what originally came out of their instruments sounded like a struggle to leave prog-rock behind, and their early sound lent itself easily to a sort of Queens of the Stone Age ambition settled firmly in the garage genre. These days, the band invokes heavy soul symphonies that kick dust in the face of its humbler garage-rock beginnings. Tonight, the act celebrates the release of its debut full-length, Steady By Your Side.
2. MILES NIELSEN @ HI-DIVE | FRI, 9/7/12 Miles Nielsen's dad is a famous musician. If you're really curious who his father is, Google it. When you find out, you'll probably marvel briefly before filing that tidbit of trivia in the same vault where you keep all of the other interesting but incidental and ultimately inconsequential information you've collected over the course of your lifetime. Whatever you do with it, it's a safe bet that two verses into his latest album, Miles Nielsen Presents the Rusted Hearts, the excellent follow-up to 2009's equally terrific Miles, it will most certainly be an afterthought. If anything, when this talented young man's name comes to mind, you're more apt to think of a similar sounding -- both stylistically and in surname -- songwriter.
1. FIVE IRON FRENZY @ SUMMIT MUSIC HALL | FRI, 9/7/12 Five Iron Frenzy was like an eight-year-long supernova that came, burned brightly for a few years and was then extinguished, with one final hurrah at the Fillmore in 2003. While its members splintered off into various factions, with bands that were compelling in their own right (Yellow Second, Nathan and Stephen, the Hollyfelds, Roper, Brave Saint Saturn), the once-great FIF was ultimately relegated to being a fond memory in the annals of local-music folklore. Until this year, that is, when the group's mostly original lineup (Keith Hoerig opted to let the past remain so) was resurrected and the members took the show back on the road. And thanks to the generosity of fans who proved the merits of Kickstarter a couple hundred thousand times over, a new album is in the works. Don't miss your chance to catch these local legends and see what the fuss was all about.
Keep reading for a half dozen more shows/events, and be sure to visit our concert calendar for a complete rundown of this weekend's shows.
KAREN AID II @ 3 KINGS TAVERN | SAT, 9/8/12 Karen Cuda, one of the most badass bassists this town has ever seen, needs our help. The talented four-string assassin (aka Karen Exley), who has held down the low-end for Nashville Pussy and Hemi Cuda, has several herniated discs in her neck. And while she's taken some time off and been seeking treatment to help alleviate the painful effects of that, she also recently discovered that she has Cervical Myelopathy, a degenerative malady in which her discs are not only pressing on her nerves and causing her discomfort, but, without surgical intervention, it will eventually cause irreversible damage to her spinal cord, perhaps even resulting in paralysis. Needless to say, Cuda needs surgery right away. Although she's fortunate enough to have health insurance, her deductible is well out of her range. And so, with this in mind, Cuda's friends (from a scene renowned for pitching in to help when the chips are down) are rallying around her and have organized a series of benefits for her, including this one featuring MF Ruckus, Native Daughters, Hot Apostles, Hi Strung and more.
COLORADO CRUSH @ BALLPARK NEIGHBORHOOD | SAT, 9/8/12 Colorado Crush is upon us. The giant summer graffiti block party founded by Dread is back for its third year, and it has a new name. This Saturday, starting at 11 a.m., this year's enormous event will take over the ballpark neighborhood, namely the alleyways of the 2600 and 2700 blocks of Larimer and Casselman's, with a mix of street art and music, respectively, for an all-day, all-night party. The list of graf writers who will be showcasing their skills is quite impressive, as is the music lineup. Throughout the day, the live art will be accompanied by the musical stylings of some well known and underground hip-hop acts on a stage stationed next to the Matchbox. Because the focus is on graffiti, Mane Rok, Colorado Crush's musical curator, handpicked the musicians based on their involvement with the art community. Headliners include Qwel & Maker, Kam Moye and the Artifacts, who will be performing alongside a stellar cast of local acts, while MCs and
b-boys (b-boy battle has been canceled) will also be going head-to-head for prizes of $500 and $1000 in battles throughout the day. See updated lineup.
SERIOUS MOONLIGHT @ SUNNYSIDE MUSIC FEST | SAT, 9/8/12 A diehard David Bowie fan might see the band name Serious Moonlight (due at this Saturday's Sunnyside Music Festival with Varlet, Hearts In Space and more) and automatically think of the line from his song "Let's Dance." Locally, that name refers to a great side project that includes Alan Andrews and William Threlkeld III of Photo Atlas, Adam Halferty of American Tomahawk, Donny Rosentrater of Attic Attack and Dave Pinto, who plays with Chella Negro. Rooted in a folkier, almost country sound, Serious Moonlight is a mellower, polar opposite of the Photo Atlas's angular, guitar-driven sound.
CO MUSIC HALL OF FAME CERMONY @ BOULDER THEATER | SAT, 9/8/12 On Saturday, September 8, at the Boulder Theater, the Colorado Music Hall of Fame will host a ceremony to usher in the Astronauts, Sugarloaf, Flash Cadillac and KIMN Radio, all of whom will join the Hall alongside Barry Fey and Harry Tuft, the most recent inductees, and John Denver and Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the inaugural entries. Instead of inducting annual classes, going forward the Hall's plan is to induct peer groups. While this quarter's induction ceremony is officially sold out, you can read more about the Hall in Jon Solomon's feature in this week's paper.
RENO DIVORCE @ ORIENTAL THEATER | FRI, 9/7 Reno Divorce began in the mid '90s when frontman and guitarist Brent Loveday founded the outfit while still living in Orlando, Florida. Some early, glowing press came the way of the band's 7-inch, but it wasn't until Loveday relocated to Denver and discovered a place he felt like he could live that things began rolling. Since then, the guys have been on a handful of tours and shared the stage with many of their heroes. The band's surprisingly earnest, but never pretentious, combination of melodic punk and roots rock, peppered with something a little more aggressive, has resonated with fans across a relatively broad spectrum of musical taste. This fall, Reno Divorce (sharing a bill tonight with Voodoo Swing and Three Bad Jacks) will release Lover's Leap. If you've caught any of the outfit's recent performances, you already know that the songs going on that album have a rare emotional poignancy that is more than just honest -- it's poetic.
3MG @ CERVANTES' MASTERPIECE BALLROOM | SAT, 9/8/12 The name 3MG might not be immediately familiar to non hip-hop heads, but the names behind 3 Melancholy Gypsys definitely are. The three former classmates from Los Angeles, Murs, Eligh and Scarub, have each made compelling music and names for themselves solo and with the aptly named Living Legends crew, and, together, they're every bit as dope as you'd expect a supergroup like this to be. Catch 3MG this Saturday with PROF, Abstract Collective and Cysko Rokwel.
RASCAL FLATTS @ COMFORT DENTAL AMPHITHEATRE | SAT, 9/8/12 If corporate rock of the '70s and '80s has a modern contemporary, it's Rascal Flatts. While, granted, there's far more twang accompanying this Nashville outfit's ballads, the group trades in the kind of earnest, rubber-stamped sentimentality that once propelled bands like Toto and Journey on songs like "Without Your Love" and "Send Her My Love," where every matter of the heart is conveyed via bittersweet melodies and harmonies. Yeah, critics hate this stuff. Fans, however, love it: When frontman Gary LeVox sings of the voice mail on a cell phone "that he don't dare erase/She ended with 'I love you'/He saves it just in case...it might still be true,' he's singing about their lives, and he's doing so with an air of believability. This isn't matters of the art, but, in fact, matters of the heart.