The Eight Best Shows in Denver This Week

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That was a pretty good sports game, everyone! There was football, sure, but also: dancing sharks! Eight-bit lions! Missy freaking Elliott!

So that's done. Now, to the business at hand: Denver concerts. There are plenty this week, including Wale tonight at the Gothic. The rest of our picks follow.

See also: a href="http://blogs.westword.com/backbeat/2014/06/50_best_photos_from_this_season_at_red_rocks_1.php">50 Photos That Prove Red Rocks Is the Most Beautiful Venue on the Planet

Wale Gothic Theatre : 8:00 p.m. February 2

Wale has come a long way from the enthusiastic bounce-rap style that introduced him to the masses. A determined new signee to Maybach Music Group, the Washington, D.C., native sharpened his vernacular and defined his appeal with the release of his widely respected 2011 album, Ambition. He struck gold with the single "Lotus Flower Bomb," with R&B crooner-of-the-moment Miguel, and has inspired a new class of rap to rise from the underground. Wale's lyrics, combined with a keen ear for proper beats, set him apart from everyone else in the game. Ambitious, indeed. With Audio Push, Bizzy Crook and Pries.

Cannibal Corpse & Behemoth Summit Music Hall : 7:30 p.m. February 3

When a U.S. senator says that your music "threatens to undermine our character as a nation," you know you're doing something right. Twenty years after Bob Dole made that statement, Cannibal Corpse doesn't seem quite as shocking, as plenty of bands have followed its gruesome lead. But the group has always tested the conservative limits of American culture, finding the things that are considered unacceptable in art and music. Not everyone got the satire of album titles like Eaten Back to Life and Butchered at Birth, though they're clearly intended to be ridiculously, horrifyingly funny. In depicting cartoonish horror, Cannibal Corpse points out our society's hypocrisy when it comes to actual horror and challenges us to question where our priorities lie.

Stardeath & the White Dwarfs Lost Lake Lounge : 9:00 p.m. February 3

Musically speaking, Oklahoma City is best known for the Flaming Lips, the Starlight Mints and Colour Music. But it's also known as the home of Stardeath and White Dwarfs. Fronted by Dennis Coyne, the band owes an artistic debt to his famous Uncle Wayne's long-running project. Mysterious, otherworldly atmospheres, the distinctive use of acoustic and electric guitars, quirky songwriting and vocals that you can't escape when you're related to another person by blood draw immediate comparisons to the Lips. However, Stardeath explores a decidedly different sonic angle and is also clearly informed by soul, R&B and modern psychedelia. Fans of Black Moth Super Rainbow and the Helio Sequence will love the outfit's rich tapestry of sounds. With a name that mentions disaster but suggests hope, this is an ideal band for our era. With Tjutjuna and Tommy Freed & the Sound

LTJ Bukem Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom : February 4

Call it smooth, intricate, complex, jazz-influenced, even masterful, but do not call the drum-and-bass of LTJ Bukem "intelligent." Bukem has rejected the label on the grounds that it implies that other artists aren't intelligent, which is eminently decent of the guy. The thing is, it is intelligent. Layered and deep, his music abandons the harsh sci-fi futuristics of most jungle for a melodic, soulful sound that's obviously the work of a sharp mind and clever ear.

moe. Fox Theatre : 8:30 p.m. February 5

Veteran jam-band act moe. celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, yet the band is still creating interesting new stuff while also refreshing old classics. The outfit doesn't rely on tons of lasers to excite an audience, just group communication and lots of improvisation to keep your ears tuned in to what's coming next.

Bush Ogden Theatre : 7:30 p.m. February 5

In the mid '90s, most music fans who passionately experienced the rapid rise of the grunge movement firsthand viewed bands like Bush, Stone Temple Pilots and their ilk with skepticism, painting them as illegitimate knockoffs who were just capitalizing on a scene that they would forever be outside of. But there was ultimately no denying their commercial success and legions of fans throughout the world. And now that enough time and distance has passed, and those unsettled adolescent territorial fires have dimmed just a bit, the songs are ultimately what endure, not where you came from or when you broke big. And Bush clearly have plenty of undeniable anthems that still resonate just as potently with audiences today as much as they did when they dominated U.S. radio and the pop charts nearly two decades ago. With Theory Of A Deadman and Stars in Stereo.

Michael Franti & Spearhead Belly Up Aspen : 8:30 p.m. February 5

Michael Franti has made a career of crafting rhymes and music for an everyman audience. Social justice and accessibility have always played a big part in the man's music; it's an ethos made clear in the title of his most recent release, 2013's All the People. Yet for all their broad appeal, Spearhead's groove-based tunes and conscientious, insistent lyrics are not made for arenas.

Jonathan Kreisberg Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge : 7:00 p.m. February 5; 7:00 p.m. February 6

Guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg's playing conjures the duality of New York. The guy's a badass, burning up the fretboard like Jimmy Bruno, with a swaggering bravado that's pure Gotham. At the same time, there's an evenness to his attack in which every note has clear and distinct resonance, lending the material an air of sophistication.

- 50 Photos That Prove Red Rocks Is the Most Beautiful Venue on the Planet
- Photos: Musicians Buying (Legal) Weed in Denver
- The Ten Most Underrated Guitarists in the History of Rock
- 50 Ways to Support Your DIY Music Community

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