Five best concerts in Colorado this weekend

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See also: - Brennen Bryarly goes Into the Night as option4 - Parting words: A Sauna Q&A before its farewell show - Sharon Van Etten Q&A: "I get nervous sometimes that my songs are too personal" - Q&A with Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance - Q&A with Derek Vincent Smith of Pretty Lights

Welcome to the weekend! Congratulations! You made it! Now it's time to cut loose and hear good music. How about it? As always, since you're here, it means there's a ton of shows to pick from, and we have them all listed in our massive concert calendar, the most comprehensive database you're going to find anywhere. If you're feeling industrious, print that bad boy out and break out your Sharpie. Or, if you'd prefer, since we've already done all the heavy lifting for you and put together a list of the five best concerts in Colorado this weekend, followed by a list of other worthwhile shows in the area, page down to get the full rundown.

05. SAUNA FAREWELL SHOW @ LARIMER LOUNGE | FRI, 8/17 Sauna played its first show just before Christmas in 2010 opening for Lust-Cats of the Gutters. At that time, guitarist C.J. Macleod, bassist Ethan Hill, drummer Samantha Davis and lead vocalist Molly Bartlett were juniors in high school. Since then, Sauna has ventured out on three tours out west, issued a handful of releases and opened for a ton of national acts, including the B-52s last year at the Ogden. As a result, the outfit has earned widespread acclaim across the scene. Sauna is playing its last show tonight for at least a while as its members head in different directions and go off to college.

See also: Parting words: A Sauna Q&A before its farewell show

04. OPTION4 EP RELEASE @ LARIMER LOUNGE | SAT, 8/18 Brennen Bryarly is still terrified of heights. You'd think he wouldn't be by now, but he is. For a decade, he performed the most dangerous job in America, and he spent a lot of time looking down. Now he's soaring to new heights with his music. Bryarly, of course, is better known locally as option4, a resident DJ at Lipgloss, one of Denver's longest-running club nights, and the curator of the Hundred, a regular showcase for emerging house acts new to Denver. This week, he's ramping up his burgeoning career by releasing a new EP, the dark-house-inflected Into the Night. Before any of this, however, he made his home in hotel rooms across the country, in between putting his life at risk while ascending and working on cell-phone towers, a job that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) once labeled the most dangerous job in America...

Continue reading: Brennen Bryarly goes Into the Night as option4

03. SHARON VAN ETTEN @ FOX THEATRE | SUN, 8/19/12 Although she grew up in New Jersey, it wasn't until Sharon Van Etten went to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, that she became exposed to the music that inspired her to write her own songs. Getting an early boost of encouragement from TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone, Van Etten started writing the material that would become her 2009 debut, Because I Was in Love. Her ability to pair emotionally resonant lyrics with an equally raw but melodic delivery drew immediate comparisons to Édith Piaf. But it's Van Etten's talent for crafting music that reflects her songs' psychic headspace that has made her work so compelling. Touring in support of her latest record, Tramp, Van Etten is now pushing her own boundaries of folky pop with icy yet vibrant soundscapes.

See also: Sharon Van Etten Q&A

02. DEAD CAN DANCE @ TEMPLE BUELL | SUN, 8/19 A year after forming in Melbourne, Australia in 1981, the members of Dead Can Dance moved to London, where they came into contact with the great post-punk bands of the era, such as the Sound, Comsat Angels and Death in June. The dark urgency of that music can be heard in the group's self-titled debut from 1984. By the end of the decade, however, Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard's interest in archaic music of all cultures took over their songwriting. The result was a vibrant sound with roots in world music, but with the aesthetic of ancient minstrels drawing upon a timeless, universal poetry. The band re-formed in 2011 for a string of dates that led to the recording of its new album, the soothing yet haunting Anastasis.

See also: Q&A with Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance

01. PRETTY LIGHTS @ RED ROCKS | FRI-SAT, 8/17-8/18 Derek Vincent Smith is the owner of perhaps the most inspiring local success story. The ascent of this Fort Collins native has been as deliberate as it's been steady. The Pretty Lights maestro has built his empire brick-by-brick by giving his music away for free. And he's gone from headlining places like Aggie, Boulder, Fox, Gothic and Ogden theaters (all in the same week) to headlining a single date at Red Rocks last year to returning this year for a two-night run. And he's amassed his legion of fans by delivering a stunning live show that does justice to his tracks. Needless to say, expect some captivating visuals tonight and be prepared to dance yourself stupid when Pretty Lights kicks off its sold-out, two-night run at Red Rocks this evening.

See also: Q&A with Derek Vincent Smith

Page down to see what other noteworthy shows are happening this weekend.

311 @ RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATRE | SUN, 8/19 Originally hailing from Omaha, Nebraska before anyone associated that city with being a creative hub for music, 311 is a testament to tenacity. The quintet, which emerged in the early '90s, has stayed unwaveringly true to its hybrid sound over the course of ten albums (eleven if you count the live record). As a result, with its original lineup intact, the act has withstood every fair-weather trend of the past two decades and maintained a dependably fervent fanbase. In this mercurial era of blogs, that's a feat. Thriving without the help of radio or press, 311 can still pack Red Rocks in a time when many of their counterparts from the Clinton years are playing places the size of the Bluebird. Catch Nick Hexum and company this Sunday with the kindred Slightly Stoopid and SOJA.

GUN STREET GHOST EP RELEASE @ HI-DIVE | FRI, 8/17 Gun Street Ghost is the latest project fronted by Mike Perfetti, perhaps better know from his stints in Ideal Fathers, Johnny Knows Karate and Raleigh. With bassist Tyler Campo (ex-Cowboy Curse, also in Port Au Prince), guitarist Daniel White (Bellowers), drummer Kim Baxter (ex-Le Divorce) and keyboard player Tiffany Meese (The Centennial), Perfetti has found an ideal team with which to tell stories of Americana from the perspective of his childhood in Carey, Illinois. There's a core of hope in Perfetti's dark tales; the music sounds like it's been written and played by people who have been put through the wringer but didn't come through the other sidef hardened cynics.

ANDREW BIRD @ OGDEN THEATRE | FRI, 8/17 Andrew Bird was one of the earlier pioneers of modern chamber pop. Growing up in Chicago, Bird -- a classical violinist in training at age four -- worked with alterna-swing band Squirrel Nut Zippers before firmly establishing a name for himself as a songwriter far beyond the Windy City with the release of his 1997 album Thrills. Since then, Bird has slowly but steadily explored various musical styles and eras, adopting ideas and creating a body of work that's had a clear impact on anyone who makes pop music that fuses classical instruments and older musical styles with a modern sensibility. Bird's latest offering, 2012's Break It Yourself, is not a marked departure for the multi-instrumentalist, but it does show him further incorporating electronic music into his constantly evolving aesthetic.

OZOMATLI @ OGDEN THEATRE | SAT, 8/18 This is distinctly American music. Working with a lineup that's fluctuated between six and ten and has included members of Jurassic 5, Ozomatli has for some fifteen years been blending Latin rhythms and hip-hop influences for a sound that's as big as it is varied and multicultural. The U.S. State Department found the band such a good representative of the melting pot, it's even sponsored Ozomatli on tours of Africa and Asia.

MURDER BY DEATH @ THE BLUEBIRD THEATER | FRI, 8/17 Murder by Death has often been compared to Johnny Cash and Tom Waits. Really, though, the act sounds like a more thoughtful Pixies with a terrific cello player. If the name didn't tip you off already, let's just say that Murder by Death is not the type of group that will leave you feeling uplifted or positive about anything -- which is just as well. Not everyone can be Andrew W.K.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN FOLKS FEST @ LYONS | FRI-SUN, 8/17-8/19 Ninety percent silk and ten percent grit, Philadelphia blue-eyed-soul man Amos Lee's vocals are steeped in both the smooth R&B stylings of Billy Paul and Smokey Robinson and the Seventies singer-songwriter tradition of James Taylor and Harry Chapin. The schoolteacher turned singer -- sharing an absolutely stellar bill with the likes of Justin Townes Earle, Dawes, Iron & Wine, Neko Case, the Dunwells and more at this weekend's Rocky Mountain Folks Festival at the Planet Bluegrass Ranch in Lyons -- went from playing the Philly coffeehouse circuit to touring with Norah Jones and warming up crowds for Bob Dylan. The only knock on Lee is that he occasionally sounds like that weenie from Train, but, for the most part, his albums are quite likable.

VAIL SOUL MUSIC FEST @ VAIL | FRI-SAT, 8/17-8/18 If you're looking to have a smooth, relaxing weekend, you can hardly do better than the Vail Soul Music Fest at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater tonight and tomorrow night. Besides the fact that Vail is positively splendid weather-wise this time of year, there are some solid acts on this year's lineup, including newer cats like Anthony David and elder statesmen like Jeffrey Osborne and the Ohio Players. Tickets for the fest, now in its third year, range from $30 to $85.

SKID ROW @ GRIZZLY ROCK | SAT, 8/18 Sebastian Bach is no longer the frontman of Skid Row. Might as well get that out of the way upfront. Although if you're still keeping tabs on this brand and vintage of metal, you know this. If, however, you've lost track of Skid Row, allow us to bring you up to speed: Rachel Bolan, Scotti Hill, and Snake Sabo are still in the band, and Johnny Solinger is the name of Bach's replacement. He joined at the turn of the century, so you can't really call him the new guy. Verdict: He's not Bach, but he's not bad. That's to say he doesn't necessarily have the pipes of the band's original frontman, but he has a very similar range, and he holds his own on the band's post-Bach fronted output.

Check out our massive concert calendar for a complete listing of all of this weekend's shows

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