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Critic's Choice

Whether being banned for life from playing at the Cricket on the Hill is a blessing or a curse, the Otter Pops still found a way to make ends meet on Denver's punk-rock circuit after being 86'd from the hallowed watering hole. But if they actually did drive a car through the dive bar's back wall (as rumor suggests), the Pops aren't copping any pleas beyond an alcohol violation or two. Besides, for frontman Myke Martinez and his over-exerting rhythm section -- bassist Matt Bickle and kid brother/drummer Ricky Martinez -- it's no less inglorious to play for a bunch of loud drunks than it is for a bunch of cud-chewing cows. (After stealing a gas generator from a highway construction site several years ago, the Pops actually plugged in under an overpass in the boonies and let 'er rip -- just for the sheer joy of it.) Older and wiser now, the band joins Saucy Jack and Ill Gotten Gainz on Friday, June 4, at the Lion's Lair, for an evening of generator-free sonic thrash and bash. Parole officers, you've been warned.
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John La Briola