What an ironic week for t-shirt weather in Denver. We music fans will benefit plenty from the SIA festivites, which mostly kick off later in the week. Among the shows in the snow sports industry event's general orbit are the return of Run the Jewels, fresh off a world-beating performance in our collective year-end polls. The rest of our picks follow.Sam Smith 1STBANK Center : 7:30 p.m. January 26
Sam Smith is a 22-year old British soul singer whose music throbs with pain and longing far beyond his tender years. Some of the chart-baiting of debut In The Lonely Hour lies in the depth-charging sincerity suffusing his voice as he begs a would-be paramour to ditch the lover or admits, forthrightly, that he totally isn't in love with someone he nonetheless doesn't want to let go of. It's dramatic and complicated - a kind of performative meta-puzzle fledgling careers are built upon.Eric Church Pepsi Center : 7:00 p.m. January 27
Nashville eats mavericks for breakfast, spitting them out compromised or undigested. Eric Church has never played by Nashville's rules, yet he appears poised on the brink of country mega-stardom. The clever iconoclast's edgy debut single, "Two Pink Lines" (off his 2006 debut, Sinners Like Me), waited out a teen pregnancy scare; later that year, Church got booted from a Rascal Flatts tour for playing too long and/or loud. The down-home rural North Carolina native was blackballed from the country touring circuit for a minute, but the rock clubs he played instead toughened his sound. This is apparent on 2009's rebellious Carolina, where Church claims that country's still got a "Lotta Boot Left to Fill" and scored a surprise hit with pot ode "Smoke a Little Smoke." 2011's chart-topping Chief built on that with more witty phrasing and a tight, rugged sound built to conquer country's suddenly guitar-obsessed capital. Country veteran Dwight Yoakam is also this bill.
"I play the guitar like a demon from hell," howls Kyle Thomas, aka King Tuff, on his new album, Black Moon Spell. And that might be the best description for this Vermont garage rocker. He tends to act like he's insane, and he definitely plays with a certain insanity, but he's also one of the smartest musicians out there. Mixing punk riffs, poppy hooks and simple, truthful lyrics, King Tuff has managed to make his brand of loud-as-hell garage rock as accessible and addicting as any pop hit. You just want to revel in his mayhem and destruction. He's the punk next door: One second he's lighting random objects on fire, and the next he's shouting out the deepest truths about love. He'll be bringing stacks of amps, ridiculous guitar skills and all his punk antics and pop charm to Denver this week, and you'd be crazier than he is to miss it.Mark Farina's Mushroom Jazz Cervantes' Other Side : January 28
That love of house music accompanied Mark Farina from his high-school dance-club days in Chicago to the now-legendary Mushroom Jazz club night in San Francisco, manifested itself on seven Mushroom Jazz albums and countless world tours, and ushered him onto a new label, Mushroom Jazz Recordings, which he launched in 2011. He became exposed to house while listening to industrial and new-wave music at an under-eighteen club in Chicago, his tastes moving from industrial to Detroit techno to house. He would listen to house mixes on the radio, record the ones he liked on cassettes, then take them to a record store to see if the staff could identify the mix.John Doe Lion's Lair : 9:00 p.m. January 29; 9:00 p.m. January 30
John Doe is most well-known for his tenure in the influential punk/roots rock band X. That band was known not just for a fiery intensity as a live act but also for its combination of primal rock and roll and thought-provoking lyrics, which had roots in the work of the Beats. Parallel to his songwriting in X, Doe embarked on a solo project in 1990 with the critically acclaimed albumMeet John Doe
. Doe's richness of tone, both vocal and in musicianship, coupled with an unaffected thoughtfulness, emotional vibrance and poetic imagination is what has made his work outside of a band context stand well apart from anything resembling a standard singer-songwriter effort. With Jesse Dayton.The Dirty Femmes Toad Tavern : January 29
Jen Korte has been on the radar of the Denver music scene for some time now, but it was only last year that she introduced us to the Dirty Femmes, her Violent Femmes tribute band. Korte embodies the Femmes' gender-bending songs with a passion and accuracy that could only spring from a devoted fan. The pleasure she gleans from performing each memorable tune is only surpassed by the strident roars delivered by the fanboys and fangirls in the audience, clearly buzzing with delight at hearing their favorite album tracks live. And in a pleasantly bizarre act of postmodern transcendence, last November the band was joined by original Violent Femmes singer Gordon Gano for a pair of shows in Denver, backing up the Dirty Femmes on fiddle and approaching the mic for a song or two. With Gin Doctors.Ship2Ship Beta : January 29
Australian DJ and producer Anna Lunoe, who's part of the Ship2Ship Tour with Destructo and Motez, has the eclectic taste you'd expect from a former radio disc jockey; she plays house, indie dance, techno and disco clubs with equal aplomb, packing dance floors with her genre-bending sets.Run the Jewels Ogden Theatre : 9:00 p.m. January 29
Some matches are made in heaven -- others, like Run The Jewels, are made in the murky, underwater trenches of underground hip-hop. Named after a verse in LL Cool's J "Cheesy Rat Blues," RTJ swerves like a great white shark -- sleek as hell, just don't get caught in those teeth. This isn't the first time El-P and Killer Mike have crushed it together -- El-P was behind Killer Mike's 2012 critically acclaimed album R.A.P. Music, and later that year, Mr. Killer appeared on the track "Tougher Colder Killer" from El-P's Cancer 4 Cure. Forming Run The Jewels was just the natural progression of things. Metz and the Blackouts are also part of this free House of Vans show.
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