TUES | STING & PAUL SIMON at PEPSI CENTER | 2/11/14 Sting and Paul Simon have had a hand in producing some of the most memorable pop and rock songs of the past four decades (five, in Simon's case). Sting, of course, was the lead singer of the Police, but he also had solid enough jazz chops to play bass alongside the likes of Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers. That trio brought an uncommon sophistication to pop songwriting that yielded a string of hits, and Sting's solo albums have often fared well, too. Simon, meanwhile, first came to mass public attention as one half of Simon and Garfunkel. The duo created a vibrant blend of folk and pop that Simon later perfected in his solo career. Though likely to play the hits, these guys also have the talent to pull out some surprises in the live show.
THURS | THE PIXIES at FILLMORE AUDITORIUM | 2/13/14 The Pixies formed in 1986, and within two years, the act became one of the most important and influential of the bands of the alt-rock era. Though credit for the loud-quiet-loud dynamic the Pixies made famous more properly belongs to another Boston outfit, Mission of Burma, this foursome took that idea and turned it into some of the most twisted, tender and electrifying songs of that time period. With four proper albums and an EP, the Pixies made an impact with its music which sharply contrasted the overproduced hard rock that ruled the airwaves in the late '80s. The outfit eventually split in early 1993 and regrouped more than a decade later for a proper international headlining tour. The outfit has remained somewhat quiet after that until last year when the band released two EPs. Both are clear departures from previous albums while remaining distinctively Pixies.
MON | PUSHA T (WITH 2 CHAINZ) at OGDEN THEATRE | 2/10/14 Pusha T and his brother, No Malice, rose to prominence as the Clipse with the single "Grindin'," which sported a minimal Neptunes beat of simple snaps and bangs, allowing its recreation on lunchroom tables across America. Now, more than a decade later, Pusha T is on Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music label, and his solo debut, My Name Is My Name, was one of the best rap albums of the past year, thanks to detailed lyrical fluency from King Push and standout production from Kanye.
TUES | AMON AMARTH at SUMMIT MUSIC HALL | 2/11/14 Swedish quintet Amon Amarth formed in 1992 and took its name from the most sinister sounding Sindarin words for Mount Doom in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. ("Orodruin" and "Sammath Naur" perhaps didn't sound enough like words that Vikings would yell before battle.) While musically, Amon Amarth comes from well within the realms of melodic death metal, the band's sound actually has a cinematic and melodramatic quality befitting its namesake. Live, the guys look and sound like they could have formed the template from which the archetypal characters in were taken. In achieving that sort of thing, Amon Amarth represents what many bands playing in this style strive for. The outfit's latest record, Deceiver of the Gods, is a high definition sonic assault. Appropriately enough, the video for "Father of the Wolf" feels like a minisequel to Valhalla Rising.
THURS | OF MICE AND MEN at SUMMIT MUSIC HALL | 2/13/14 More musical structure doesn't mean less intensity for Of Mice & Men. The quintet's latest full-length album, Restoring Force, features precise guitar hooks and complex arrangements. Songs like "You're Not Alone" and "Feels Like Forever" offer a more mature dynamic than did earlier work by the Costa Mesa-based metalcore rockers. That said, these dudes are still metalheads at heart, and the group's latest material features all the low tunings, speedy solos and frenzied vocals that marked albums like 2012's The Flood and the band's self-titled debut from 2010. Even so, those elements now come with a push toward an even more polished brand of metal.
THURS | WINTER WARMER PRE-PARTY at CERVANTES | 2/13/14 Previously, this was a two-night event at the Denver Marriot Tech Center, but due to unforeseen circumstances, that has all changed. Wick-It The Instigator will now kick off the pre-party alongside RumTum, Samples, Lotus Drops and 2Nutz at Cervantes. Tickets dropped down to only $10, which means you don't need to skimp on the big V-Day bash you better have planned for the following night.
FRI | WINTER WARMER FESTIVAL at FILLMORE | 2/14/14 Since dropping his debut solo album Dreaming of a Bigger Life, Michal Menert has been steadily touring the country building a grassroots following in the same way Derek Vincent Smith of Pretty Lights did when he first hit the scene. Menert has won fans over with his galactic spaced out grooves, which draw heavy influence from the golden eras of soul, funk and hip-hop, and he's proven he can move a massive room. On the heels of a great show at the venue this past November, Menert returns to the Fillmore for the Winter Warmer with the Polish Ambassador, Mikey Thunder, Late Night Radio, Krooked Drivers.
FRI | HOT SINCE 82 at NORAD | 2/14/14 Before taking a three-year break from deejaying and producing, Hot Since 82 (aka Daley Padley) lived up to his moniker, going from being a scene fixture in his late teens and hosting a well-received club night in his home town of South Yorkshire, England, to landing a coveted residency at Cream in Ibiza. After being away from the music for a few years, he rediscovered the warehouse rave scene and realized that the house music he grew up loving was still around. Last year he released an album, Little Black Book, that showed just how far this he's come in his career. Combining old-school abilities with impeccable taste, Hot Since 82 offers up smooth, sultry mixes that ignite audiences worldwide. If you're looking for the perfect soundtrack to lose your mind and your worries to, look no further: Catch Hot Since 82 at NORAD this Friday, February 14, with Hoang and Keepers.
FRI & SAT | THE BIG WU at QUIXOTE'S TRUE BLUE | 2/14-2/15 Using unique song craft to grab audience's attention, legendary Minnesota band the Big Wu brings its brand of hard and loud Americana roots rock to Denver for a two-night run at Quixote's True Blue. In an era when jam bands are teased over the lack of good songwriting, this is a band that writes truly great songs, which is exactly why the outfit has attracted a devout fan base that has kept it touring for almost twenty years.
THURS | WOLFGANG GARTNER at BETA | 2/13/14 Wolfgang Gartner has a knack for hypnotizing audiences all over the world with his masterful mixing, composing, and production. You don't chalk up eight number one hits on Beatport electro-house charts just because you are cranking out tunes. You earn that by cranking out absolute banger tracks that consistently prove you have a firm grasp on what makes the masses move. Gartner certainly has no problems there.