Commentary

The best shows in Denver this weekend

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If you're sitting on the periphery wondering what all the fuss is about when it comes to Phish, let's just say that this band didn't inherit a legion of fans simply by being kindred to the Dead. Rather, the prodigious players built up their fanatical following by offering riveting live shows and taking care to ensure that each one is unique, by doing such things as playing entire themed sets keyed to a certain letter of the alphabet. If you have a chance to see these guys, take it. Whether you like the tunes or not, it's a show worth experiencing at least once if you're a true fan of music.

CHIEF KEEF @ SUMMIT MUSIC HALL | SUN, 9/1/13 Chief Keef leaped straight from the high-school mixtape circuit of his native Chicago to Interscope Records, home to one of the rapper's most discernible influences in 50 Cent, which gave him the biggest and loudest megaphone in 2012 debut, Finally Rich. This happened in a matter of months, too. Lewd and confrontational, but also clever and insightful (after a fashion), Keef delivers hyper-explicit raps with the kind of braggadocio that only comes to the very young, over synth-heavy, cut-and-paste electro-rap tracks like "Love Sosa" and "Hate Being Sober" that -- oddly enough -- rival only Keef's wigged-out rhymes in their catchiness.

ESHAM @ ROXY THEATER | SAT, 8/31/13 Esham is like the fallen star of hip-hop, except that he's fallen up from the depths of hell to a station where he's found a more positive outlook. His most notable contribution to rap is as the godfather of the horrorcore genre, which continues to influence acts like Odd Future and Hopsin. But even beyond the meta impact of his music, Esham has had a thoroughly impressive rap career, beginning in dazzling fashion at the age of thirteen with Boomin' Words From Hell, a gritty, visionary Detroit classic that captured the grim desolation of that city's crack epidemic. Since then, Esham has formed a group called Natas and has grown into an able storyteller and even a moralist, much in the vein of Insane Clown Posse, an act with which he has frequently collaborated. Esham's last album, 2012's Venus Fly Trap, is said to be his final solo release.

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