Welcome to the weekend! If you haven't made plans yet, there's an unreal number of shows, from five different festivals to several CD release shows to old school hip-hop. Of course, we have them all listed in our massive concert calendar. If you're feeling industrious, print that bad boy out and break out your Sharpie. If you'd prefer, however, we've done all the heavy lifting for you and put together a list of the
five ten best concerts (there's that much good stuff going on) in Colorado this weekend, followed by a list of other worthwhile shows. Continue reading to get the full rundown.
10. REGGAE ON THE ROCKS @ RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATRE | SAT, 8/25 Not ready to let go of summer just quite yet? That's probably because Reggae on the Rocks hasn't happened yet, signaling the end notes of another season. The 25th edition of the annual shindig goes down tomorrow night at the Rock with a lineup that includes Yellow Dubmarine, Judge Roughneck, the Meditations, Steel Pulse, Burning Spear and Rebelution. When we caught up with Eric Rachmany, the frontman of Rebelution earlier this year, he told us it's taken time and experience for him to learn how to be comfortable in the spotlight. Soft-spoken and humble, Rachmany's a songwriter who's uncomfortable writing lyrics about his own experiences, and he's dealt with the duties of fame in different ways, from writing songs from different perspectives to incorporating a saxophone player in the band's live shows. We spoke with him about releasing three different versions of the album. Read the full interview.
9. KS-CLASSIC @ COMFORT DENTAL AMPHITHEATRE | FRI, 8/24 With all of his extracurricular acting endeavors over the years, it's easy to forget that Ice Cube -- headlining the KS Classic with Snoop Dogg, E-40, Bone Thugs N Harmony, WC and Kurupt -- was a rapper first and foremost. But a single listen to his seminal work with N.W.A or any of the classic albums that followed will remind you how dope the dude is and dispel any notion that he's anything but one of the tightest golden-era MCs who's still in the game. Admittedly, he sometimes comes off as corny and soft as some of the other MCs who have flourished as actors -- the Smiths, for example, Will and James Todd, his Tinseltown counterparts -- but at the end of the day, Cube still manages to seem cool as Ice, at least to us. That could just be nostalgia talking, though.
8. YEASAYER @ OGDEN THEATRE | SUN, 8/26 Yeasayer likes to float between the lines of genre convention enough that its music is often mischaracterized as "experimental." In some respects, it's true -- the group does sound different from other bands, but when it comes down to it, Yeasayer is a pop act making music for people to sing along to. Calling Yeasayer experimental is a way to make up for lost words, or perhaps to get around pointing out that its worldy-electro vibe is inspired more by Paul Simon or Peter Gabriel than by its contemporaries. Yeasayer's sound is a pleasant mix of beat-propelled sonic weirdness held together by jangling guitar lines and traditional synth hooks. The result is still pop music, but it somehow sounds so much smarter than most of what's out there.
7. NEDFEST @ NEDERLAND | FRI-SUN, 8/24-8/26 NedFest is always something of a rite of summer, but this year in particular, the fourteenth annual event takes on ever more significance with the unexpected passing of the festival's founder and president "Michigan" Mike Torpe last November. Not only is the three-day camping festival continuing on, as Mike would've no doubt wanted it, but it's being presented by friends of Michigan Mike and features a stellar lineup, including Los Lobos, Keller Williams, Steve Kimock, Kyle Hollingsworth, Melvin Seals & the JGB, Fox Street Allstars, Yarn, Jeff Scroggins, Kort McCumber, She Said String Band and more. Tickets range from $20 to $140.
See also: R.I.P. "Michigan Mike" Torpie of NedFest
6. KINFOLK CELEBRATION @ PLANET BLUEGRASS RANCH | FRI-SAT, 8/24-8/25 Planet Bluegrass, the Lyons-based outfit that brings you the enormously popular Telluride Bluegrass, RockyGrass and Rocky Mt. Folks festivals, presents the Yonder Mountain String Band's two-day Kinfolk Celebration on the fifteen-acre Planet Bluegrass Ranch in Lyons. If you missed Yonder's appearance at Telluride Bluegrass earlier this summer, here's another chance to catch them with Greensky Bluegrass, Todd Snider, Split Lip Rayfield, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge and Andy Hall. Nearly a decade since headlining the inaugural edition of Kinfolk in 2003, Yonder Mountain, which first performed at Rocky Grass, returns to Planet Bluegrass for what should be a memorable weekend. Tickets range from $50 for a one-day ticket to $130 for a two-day pass plus on-site camping.
5. RIDE FESTIVAL @ TELLURIDE TOWN PARK | SAT-SUN, 8/25-8/26 While America needs another festival like Denver needs another dispensary, this Triple-A-centric fest should be a big draw. The Ride Festival, which is being presented by Telluride's KOTO radio and headliner Big Head Todd & the Monsters, takes place in Telluride Town Park on Friday, August 25, and Saturday, August 26, and features Ben Harper, Los Lobos, JJ Grey & Mofro, the North Mississippi Allstars, the Wood Brothers, James McMurtry, David Lindley, Matthew Curry and local faves Nathaniel Rateliff and the Lumineers. Tickets range from $55 to $87.50.
See also: - Review: Big Head Todd and the Monsters at Red Rocks, 6/10/12 - Photos: Big Bad Bill Murray is apparently a big fan of Big Head Todd - Buy Big Head Todd's Washington Park bungalow - Cubs Opening Day: Bill Murray and Big Head Todd sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"
4. GAUNTLET HAIR (FAREWELL SHOW) @ LARIMER LOUNGE | SAT, 8/25 Tomorrow night at the Larimer Lounge, the men of Gauntlet Hair sadly bid adieu to colorful Colorado, the place the band called home for the past four years, and a place where the band launched its acclaimed career. Soon the outfit will be heading back to the Windy City from whence its members originally hailed to set up shop at which point the outfit will become another storied entry in the annals of local music. "You can't help but calm the fuck down when you move to Colorado from inner-city Chicago," Craig Fleischman (aka Craig Nice) told us last fall when we profiled the band on the eve of its self-titled Dead Oceans debut. Don't miss your last chance to wish the guys well and catch the group, which will no doubt be sorely missed.
3. THE KNEW (CD RELEASE) @ LION'S LAIR | FRI-SAT, 8/24-8/25 The Knew has been kicking around Denver for roughly eight years, playing its first show on New Talent Night at Herman's Hideaway in 2005. Since then, the quartet has carved a bit of a niche for itself as strong rock and roll band, respected not just for its solid songwriting but for the manner in which these guys conduct themselves about town. If you've been around long enough, you've probably bumped into either singer/guitarist Jacob Hansen, guitarist Tyler Breuer, bassist Tim Rynders or drummer Patrick Bowden at a show, and, if so, you know the guys are always engaging. The band's music could be described as power pop akin to the sort of thing Billy Bragg or the Clash might do but without the emphasis on politics and less grounded in folk. This weekend, the Knew celebrates the release of its brand new album, Man Monster, with a two-night run at the Lion's Lair with Varlet on Friday and the Gamits on Saturday and Chuck Roy on both nights. (Psst: The Knew will also be at Wax Trax tonight at 5 p.m. with the Outfit, in case you want to get a head start on things.)
2. FLOBOTS (CD RELEASE) @ HI-DIVE | FRI, 8/24 After releasing two albums on the Universal Republic, the breakout 2007 debut, Fight With Tools, and its 2010 follow-up, Survival Story, Flobots return with a brand new fourteen-track record on Shanachie, The Circle in the Square. On the eve of that album's release and in advance of an extensive cross-country tour that kicks off next month in Missoula, Montana, the homegrown quintet stops by the hi-dive for an intimate show with Ian Cooke and Princess Music opening.
1. HIGHER GROUND @ CENTRAL CITY | FRI-SUN, 8/24-8/26 Out of all the copious options this weekend, this is the best bet by far, especially if you're a local music fan. Nestled on the hill just above Central City off the Central City Parkway on Nevadaville Road, Higher Ground is a three day destination festival with camping and nearly forty of the best local bands on the bill, including Wheelchair Sports Camp, the Swayback, Places, You Me and Apollo, the Foot., Kill Paradise, MTHDS, the Photo Atlas, Bop Skizzum, Kinetix, Epilogues, Fierce Bad Rabbit and more. Tickets range from $25 for single day tickets to $175 for three-day VIP.
See also: - For Fierce Bad Rabbit, success was not pulled out of a hat - The Swayback reflects on a decade of going for the musical nectar - With No More Wasted Days, Places is enjoying a new phase - The Epilogues' story has a happy ending
TOO MUCH FUNSTIVAL @ CITY O' CITY/MARQUIS THEATER | THU-SUN, 8/23-8/26 If you're not heading to the hills for the myriad of festivals happening this weekend, there's one closer to home happening here in the city, and this one has "fun" as part of its name, which should tell you everything you need to know. Tonight is the second night of Too Much Funstival, and the lineup of Total Ghost, Night of Joy, Men in Burka and Tjutjuna at City O' City is most excellent. Oh, and there's a dunk tank and dance party featuring Pictureplane and Hollagramz. Tomorrow night is even more music at the Marquis with Wheelchair Sports Camp, Bad Weather California, Hot SAUNA Knights, Negative Degree, Jeff the Chef and the Skeleton Show. Everything wraps up on Sunday with Joe Sampson and Harpoontang. Visit Facebook.com/toomuchfunstival for full details.
THE BLUE RIDER (CD RELEASE) @ HI-DIVE | SAT, 8/25 The Blue Rider, which formed nearly a year ago, was initially the brainchild of Mark Shusterman, Rett Rogers and Scott Beck before they brought in Alex Eschen to add his guitar wizardry to the mix. Shusterman is probably best known for his tenure in Constellations and Widowers. With the Blue Rider, he's largely set aside his interest in experimental and atmospheric psychedelic music in favor of the raw emotional expression of the music he grew up with, channeling the sounds of Nuggets artists and classic R&B and soul through a modern lens. We recently sat down with Shusterman and chatted about his favorite abstract-expressionist painter and the importance of making music fun for audience and performer alike.
RISE! @ 3 KINGS TAVERN | FRI, 8/24 It's no surprise that comics fans would band together in the wake of the Aurora shootings, considering that the movie premiere that night focused on Batman, one of the most enduring and beloved of all superheroes. And in true superhero style, a number of local groups, including the folks behind Denver Comic Con and Mother Mind Studios, are hosting Remember Aurora, a week of fundraisers for shooting-related charities. The action begins on Friday night with Rise! An Aurora Theater Shooting benefit featuring Little Fyodor & Babushka, Mr. Pacman, Barstool Messiah, the Limbs and Glass Homes, the party will also play up its comics connection by including a cosplay costume contest and photo booth, as well as an exhibition of works by Comic Con artists. Tickets are $8-$10 (photos are $20), and a portion of the proceeds from the gig, which is being presented by the Colorado comic book community and Mother Mind Studios, will benefit Aurora Mental Health Center and Colorado Red Cross.
OVERCASTERS @ WALNUT ROOM | FRI, 8/24 It's too bad that the title "Headphone Masterpiece" has already been claimed, because that's a perfectly fitting description of what Overcasters have delivered on its latest effort, Curses/Prayers. Actually, check that: Headphones merely allow you to better absorb and appreciate the nuances. Fact is, this record would sound utterly sensational on a pair of rinky-dink computer speakers. As compelling as Kurt Ottaway's past endeavors were -- up to and even including past recordings from this band -- they've all led to this shining moment. Curses/Prayers is a breakthrough record for Overcasters that not only represents its finest and most memorable songwriting to date, but also marks the group's strongest performances yet: Ottaway's voice sounds notably more expressive and confident over the jagged and careening guitars, which blend together with swirls of unrelenting feedback to create a dense pall, carried by persistent bass lines and powerful drumming. Monroe Monroe, Talk All Night and Dead Rollers share this bill.
For a complete rundown of all the shows happening this weekend, feel free to consult our massive concert calendar.
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