Thrills for the week

May 1
What's new? In every swarm of musicians, there are always a few adventurous souls who aren't satisfied with playing the same old thing. Now a handful of the area's intrepid music makers, the Modern Chamber Players, with help from the Boulder Philharmonic, are celebrating la difference with a Modern Music Festival--heretofore known as M2F--at the CU-Boulder College of Music during May. The event is a mixture of seminars, workshops, children's activities and concerts that spotlight an eclectic cross-section of guest artists, including composer/keyboardist William Albright, performance artist Pamela Z, jazz reed player Chico Freeman, and African kora master Foday Musa Suso, each of whom concentrates on a different aspect of contemporary music. The fest concerts, which all take place at the College of Music, 18th and Euclid, CU-Boulder campus, kick off tonight at 8 with a bill of works by Albright, Eakin and Harbison, as well as the world premiere of this year's M2F Composer Competition winning work. Concert admission is $8 to $12 ($24-$40 for festival series tickets); all workshops are free. For concert dates and other information call 449-1343.

Dublin calling: Despite its size, Ireland seems to have more than its share of musical supergroups. And by some stroke of luck, two of the biggest play Denver tonight.

On the traditional side, no one exemplifies Irish music as consummately as the Chieftains, about whom little more need be said. The beloved group, led by Uileann pipe player Paddy Moloney, have now been performing their country's ancient melodies--and recently embarking on updated collaborations--for 34 years without signs of letting up. They charm local fans tonight at 7:30 at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl.; Galician bagpiper Carlos Nunez--a treat all on his own--joins them as a guest. For tickets, $22.50 to $32.50, call 830-TIXS.

No less Irish but maybe more accustomed to presentation on a grander scale, U2 also requires little introduction: The band is simply one of the biggest on the planet, and its international PopMart tour runs away with that theme by featuring the world's largest television screen, a 100-foot-high golden arch, a 12-foot-wide illuminated olive and other gargantuan stage props guaranteed to be seen easily from the uppermost decks of Mile High Stadium. Rage Against the Machine opens for U2 at 7 p.m.; tickets are $37.50 and $52.50. Call 830-TIXS.

May 2
Build it and they will come: Guess what? A couple of years ago they decided to throw a Friday evening gallery walk in LoDo every month--and it worked! One by one, other gallery enclaves in town followed suit by initiating their own monthly open-house events. The latest addition to that list is the Golden Triangle Arts District's First Friday event, to be held for the first time tonight from 5 to 9 in the area bounded by Lincoln, Colfax and Speer. Among the galleries participating are Hal Gould's well-respected Camera Obscura, 1309 Bannock St. (623-4059), currently showing Jacko Vassilev: Photographs of Bulgaria, through May 4; the relocated Abend Gallery, 899 Broadway (527-3081), opening a new show of works by artists of the Channel Six Art Auction; the folks-friendly Denver Buffalo Company Gallery, 1109 Lincoln St. (832-0885), offering Three Artists From Chicago, with works by Buffalo Kaplinski, Donna Polivka and Ray Kobald; and the Colorado Vintage Poster Gallery, 138 W. 12th Ave. (436-0225), where a show of antique Western film posters opens tonight. Call any of the galleries for details.

Waters brigade: There will never be another Pink Flamingos, and perhaps it's just as well. Even director John Waters called the depraved but groundbreaking 1972 comedy "an exercise in poor taste." But that's the point, isn't it? Bad taste never goes out of style.

Starring the late, great, trashy cross-dresser Divine, Mary Vivian Pearce, Edith Massey and other members of the Waters stable, Flamingos, rereleased this spring with added footage and commentary by the director, is the first offering in the Mayan Theater's summer-long Out Film Series featuring films with gay, lesbian or bisexual characters. To celebrate these various premieres and re-premieres, the Mayan, 110 Broadway, will host a Pink Party tonight at 9:30 p.m., prior to the film's late screening. Prizes will be given for trashiest attire and the best Divine look-alike, and drag queens weighing more than 300 pounds are promised free admission. Give it your best shot (and don't forget that pink hair is worth a bonus prize). For more information, call 744-6796.

May 3
People's parties: It's around the corner from May Day--the time of year to dance, drum, run, swim, crawl and otherwise get down in the streets, soccer fields, concert halls and reservoirs everywhere. It's just that kind of a goofy Saturday in spring when you can do all of the above, should you so choose:

The Cinco de Mayo Celebration today and tomorrow at Civic Center Park, Colfax and Broadway, honors one of the region's hottest holidays with the spicy food, colorful art and dance, boisterous music and whimsical handcrafts of Mexico, as well as an amazing display of lowrider cars and bikes. Attend the free festival from 10 to 7 both days; special events include a Celebrate Cultures Parade today at 11 and a traditional Mariachi Mass at 10 on Sunday.