The best punk shows in Denver in January

FRI | NAKED RAYGUN at SUMMIT MUSIC HALL | 1/31/14 In the annals of Chicago punk, Naked Raygun was one of the longest-running and most beloved of bands. But while sharing stages with the hardcore bands of the day, Naked Raygun was always just a bit more experimental than most of its peers with a sound that never fit strictly into a punk subgenre. This probably explains a bit why singer Jeff Pezzati and guitarist Santiago Durango were able to become members of Big Black for a spell. But it was Naked Raygun's willingness to follow its own muse and splice in elements of rockabilly, weirdo post-punk and noise rock into its music that has made it an enduring and influential outfit. Naked Raygun returns to Colorado after an appearance at Riot Fest 2013 this past fall.

See also: Naked Raygun's Jeff Pezzati on Wax Trax, and why and how the band got back together

FRI & SAT | JOHN DOE at LION'S LAIR | 1/17-1/18 John Doe started the band X in 1977 with Exene Cervenka, Billy Zoom and DJ Bonebrake and wrote some of the most vivid portraits of American life in the annals of punk rock. Combining country and punk, X couldn't be said to be in the traditional punk mold while also being directly influenced by The Ramones. As a solo artist, John Doe has written music in a more singer-songwriter vein but with the same ability to highlight the poetic aspects of the dark edges of culture and a hopeful romanticism that doesn't wax into the naïve or melodramatic. In 2011, he wrote an excellent collaborative album with former Colorado-based singer-songwriter Jill Sobule, A Day At The Pass, as well as his latest record, Keeper.

FRI | THE GEDS at LION'S LAIR | 1/10/14 The GEDS started in the mid-'90s with former members of Twice Wilted, '57 Lesbian and Spell. Fusing the fuzzed-out punk of late-'80s Seattle bands like Mudhoney and Tad with garage-rock songwriting sensibilities, the GEDS, comprising bassist/vocalist Chanin Floyd and guitarist Tim Beckman, were a fixture of undeground rock in Denver for close to a decade before essentially going on hiatus for a handful of years. Although having only put out sporadic recordings over the years on various compilations, including the first Radio 1190 Local Shakedown release and Mike Jourgensen's Noise Tent samplers, the GEDS wrote powerful, memorable songs. Apparently the group is set to release an actual album in the near future.

FRI | FINAL BLOW at THE MARQUIS | 1/10/14 Founded in 2008 by vocalist Vino, Final Blow has experienced some line-up changes over the last few years, but the one thing that hasn't changes is its love for late-'80s New York hardcore. The aggression and menace of bands like Sick Of It All, Madball and Agnostic Front can be heard in the underlying spirit of Final Blow's music. And it's not just a defiant and macho persona -- after all, Cassie Begay formerly of Throat Culture once played in this group -- Final Blow's ethos is one of brotherhood and a disdain for the bastards that grind everyone down. For this show, Final Blow is releasing its latest album.

THURS | MXPX at BLUEBIRD THEATER | 1/30/13 MxPx was started in 1992 as Magnified Plaid by a group of three fifteen-year-olds in Bremerton, Washington. When the band's name didn't fit on posters and t-shirts, drummer Yuri Ruley shortened the name to the four letters by which the band has become known and it stuck. Though signed early on to Tooth & Nail because the members of the band are Christian, MxPx has never really made that appeal in its music proper and you'd be hard pressed to find songs in the band's entire oeuvre that could be construed as preaching a specific religious message or a religious message generally. Instead, it's just well-written, melodic punk with some humor and energy driving the songwriting.

FRI-SUN | FILMAGE: THE STORY OF DESCENDENTS/ALL at 7TH CIRCLE | 1/24-26 Several years in the making, Filmage is being screened appropriately enough at a DIY venue known for being a place where you can see punk bands before anyone else hears about them. Descendents were one of the earliest of pop punk bands and the one that served as a kind of template for almost every other band playing music in that style since. When Descendents wrote songs about girls and suburban angst, it seemed to strike a universal chord, and the band's goofy and often self-deprecating sense of humor only added to its punk cred rather than come off like an affectation. Before the show and after, local punk acts will be playing sets with the film screening at 9 p.m.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.