The weekend's best live bets: The eighteenth annual Westword Music Showcase 2012

Welcome to the weekend! You made it. And of course, this is not just any weekend. It's the Westword Music Showcase weekend! Whoo freaking hoo! So with that in mind, here's a rundown of what you have in store tomorrow afternoon/evening on the main stage. Be sure to check out this page for a full rundown of the local acts that are performing this weekend at Showcase.

GIRL TALK 8:40-9:55 p.m., Main Stage

See Also: Q&A with Girl Talk

The brainchild of Gregg Gillis, Girl Talk is more than just an excuse for an unhinged dance party. Though often described as mash-up, what Gillis does is more akin to the cut-up technique pioneered by Brion Gysin for the printed word but applied to classic pop and hip-hop songs. In recontextualizing samples and fragments of music from numerous other artists, Gillis has created a new method of songwriting, one that blurs genres in as direct and pure a way as possible. If what Gillis does is theft, few have been as unabashedly obvious or creative with their art crime. Read an interview with Greg Gillis of Girl Talk.

MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS 7:10-8:10 p.m., Main Stage

See Also: Q&A with Macklemore

Ben Haggerty grew up in the same town as Sir Mix-a-Lot, but his own hip-hop was more directly informed by the injustice and self-destruction he saw around him. Having worked with troubled teens and having been one himself, Haggerty raps about racism and the deleterious effect of the most grossly materialistic aspects of society. With producer Ryan Lewis and a full band, Macklemore makes a compelling visual and visceral impact with his live show. The recently released video for "Victory Lap" reveals a performer who has no problem celebrating his success while keeping his roots intact.

BATTLES 5:45-6:45 p.m., Main Stage

See Also: Q&A with Battles

This is the kind of band that happens when people who have mastered their particular instruments come together to do something creative instead of just showing off their chops. Ian Williams was in renowned math/instrumental rock outfit Don Caballero; Dave Konopka was in the like-minded Lynx; and John Stanier became well-known as the drummer for Helmet. Highly textured and brimming with shifting dynamics, Battles makes what is essentially highly complex music accessible with an evocative, atmospheric depth. The outfit's 2011 album, Gloss Drop, found the trio working with fellow musical experimentalists Yamantaka Eye, Gary Numan and Kazu Makino.

KARL DENSON'S TINY UNIVERSE Presents a Tribute to the Beastie Boys 4:20-5:20 p.m., Main Stage

See Also: Q&A with Karl Denson

Karl Denson first came to the attention of a wide audience as the saxophonist on the first two Lenny Kravitz albums. Since then, he's explored several aspects of jazz and funk in the Greyboy Allstars, as well as his own trio and this project. For this outing, Denson and his Tiny Universe are celebrating the life of the late Adam "MCA" Yauch and the music of the Beastie Boys with the help of like-minded friends in Slightly Stoopid. The Beasties owed a lot to jazz and funk, and with this lineup, the material will get more than a little groovy.

BLACK JOE LEWIS 3:00-4:00 p.m., Main Stage

See Also: Q&A with Black Joe Lewis

Joe Lewis got his first guitar while working in an Austin pawn shop. It's a seemingly inauspicious start that sounds like the backstory of some blue-collar rocker. And yet, if you didn't have a picture or a video and just heard this band, you would be excused for thinking you were listening to some long-lost James Brown song. And not just because the Honeybears play the right notes; they also capture some of the same energy and excitement that coursed through Brown's band circa the late '60s. A rare intersection of soul, passion and solid musicianship.

BAYWOOD 2:00-2:45 p.m., Main Stage

Pare back the Polyphonic Spree back to just "two dudes sharing a bromance and making folk music," and you get a pretty good idea of the Baywood vibe. The myth of California as a sunny, carefree place where opportunity and good times hang from every tree and you can hang out at the beach with friendly strangers whenever you want is very much present in this band's music. Obviously the members of Baywood -- Jarrad Kritzstein and former Single File bassist Joe Ginsberg -- know better than to believe myths, but they're able to share the idea that focusing on what makes you happy is usually a better choice than the alternative.

CHURCHILL 1:15-1:45 p.m., Main Stage

Michael Morter spent some time in Nashville trying his hand as a solo artist, but he ended up back in Denver, where he started a band with his friend Tim Bruns. The result was Churchill, which has been described as an "indie folk band." That sound is certainly there, but there seems to be a bit more than just pastoral introspection behind the songwriting; the group's earnest and urgent sound could never be taken for old-timey music. In the three years since it formed, Churchill has had a handful of releases, and last year claimed the crown in KTCL's annual "Hometown for the Holidays" promotion.

MY BODY SINGS ELECTRIC 12:30-1:00 p.m., Main Stage

Founded in the cold months of 2007, My Body Sings Electric characterizes its early sound as heavier and more experimental than what the band is putting out now, which is angular punk riffing threaded together with classic emo and indie pop. If 30 Seconds to Mars listened to a lot of At the Drive-In and Braid, the results might sound similar to this. The band's latest release, 2011's Changing Color, garnered some much deserved attention for the band, the "Hometown for the Holidays" runner-up last year.


See Also: Q&A with Colin Stranahan

Since launching his professional career as a jazz musician at the age of seventeen, Stranahan has earned critical acclaim and professional kudos for his explosive and nuanced skill with a pair of sticks. But the Denver native says he spends just as much time and care honing his abilities as a composer, a sensibility that's earned approval from giants like Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. He calls himself a musician first, and is quick to credit his local mentors, a list that includes his father, saxophonist Jim Stranahan, as well as trumpeter Ron Miles.