The Eleven Best Concerts in Denver This Week

This week brings the surprising and powerful pop-punk revival to Englewood with a double-bill featuring Fall Out Boy and Paramore (whose leader recently skipped two dates on doctor's orders). Elsewhere, guitar hero Eric Johnson stops through, Sheryl Crow finishes off the Chatfield portion of the Botanic Gardens concert series and Future Islands comes to Fort Collins en route to top ten finishes on everyone's year-end album lists.

B.B. King Denver Botanic Gardens : 7:00 p.m. August 11 and Chautauqua Auditorium : 8:00 p.m. August 12

As one of the most celebrated blues performers of our time, B.B. King has always had that sad, Southern sound running through his veins. As a child he sang sing on the street corners of Mississippi for lucky passers-by, until those corners became massive stages barely five years later. You can still find King belting out "Three O'Clock Blues" well into his 89th year, and he ain't stoppin' anytime soon if he has anything to say about it. King still averages some 100 shows a year, and though they're a long way from that Mississippi street corner, you can bet that he puts as much soul into his blues now as he did way back when.

Fall Out Boy and Paramore Red Rocks Amphitheatre : 7:00 p.m. August 12

Punk has always been made to be atypical in both approach and presentation. Last year, however, few would expect Fall Out Boy, the once-TRL darling pop-punk five-piece, and Ryan Adams, one of the most genre-crossing musicians of our generation, to come together to release a hardcore, punk EP. In this case, the presentation, approach, and the collaboration is anything but expected. As if made in a completely hasty, indirect response to the vitriol spread by once-loyal fans (myself included), "Love, Sex, Death" is the perfect foil to

Save Rock and Roll

-- it's the actual rock 'n' roll that needs to be saved. Given their radio success with mega-hit "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light 'Em Up)," Fall Out Boy's

Marijuana Deals Near You


is the unlikely, belated harbinger of the same message they set out to spread.

Sheryl Crow Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield : 6:30 p.m. August 13

The warm welcome for Sheryl Crow's 2013 album Easy only confirmed people's suspicions that Crow had actually been making country music for years. In truth, Nashville needs more mature female voices like hers.

John Hiatt & the Combo Chautauqua Auditorium : August 13 and Denver Botanic Gardens : 7:00 p.m. August 12

Known for a distinctively gruff voice that masks his deft touch with a pen, John Hiatt is probably Indiana's third most famous native-born rocker after John Mellencamp and Axl Rose. He's got plenty of mailbox money from songs he wrote for folks like Bonnie Raitt ("Thing Called Love") and Bon Jovi ("Have a Little Faith in Me") but has built up a respectable following for his own solo albums, which can be pricklier and more exposed than the artists who cover him. Hiatt's 2012 album,

Mystic Pinball

, mingles cantankerous wisdom with feelings that can bruise as easily as any younger man's.

Future Islands Aggie Theatre : 8:00 p.m. August 12

With its fusing of the best of analog and early digital synth-based music with a modern aesthetic, Baltimore's Future Islands might seem like a contemporary version of new wave to an uninformed listener. Really, though, the act is a closer musical cousin to Architecture and Mortality and Dazzle Ships-era Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, whose own sound was rooted in post-punk. Strong, fluid, atmospheric bass lines carry the songs along like boats at sea, boldly charting promising new territory in a hitherto undiscovered tropical archipelago of the imagination. There's also a curiously romantic undercurrent to the music that manifests itself in vocals that implore and passionately declare heartfelt emotions -- perhaps as a reminder that through the international language of music, no one is truly alone.

Dugout Canoe Rhinoceropolis : August 13 In the mid-'90s in Birmingham, Alabama, Jacob Isaacs was in a hardcore band called Bear Witness with a handful of friends. One of them, Patrick Houston, moved to Denver after high school, and in 1999, Isaacs and the rest of the guys followed suit. The group then changed its name to Angels Never Answer. Part metal, part hardcore, Angels was difficult to pigeonhole, and because of that, it had an unusually diverse following. Isaacs parted ways with the band in 2001 and stopped playing music with anyone for a handful of years before putting together a solo project called Dugout Canoe. The music delivered by the one-man, multi-instrument act is like some kind of textured math rock created by a reclusive genius. With his more recent use of a sampler, Isaacs's layered experimental pop has only broadened in scope and in its ability to stir the imagination. Hear for yourself at Rhinoceropolis on Wednesday, August 13.

Dirty Heads and Pepper Red Rocks Amphitheatre : 7:00 p.m. August 13

Though it's been eighteen years since the death of Sublime singer Bradley Nowell -- and the release of Sublime's biggest album, the posthumous self-titled record featuring "What I Got" -- the band is still incredibly popular and attracting young fans all the time. Shrewdly, a lot of other bands have capitalized on this phenomenon, including The Dirty Heads. Like Sublime, they're from Southern California -- hailing from Huntington Beach, just a couple of miles south of Sublime's oft-referenced hometown of Long Beach. The Dirty Heads' breakthrough hit, "Lay Me Down," even features a hook sung by Rome Ramirez, a dude who sounds so eerily similar to Nowell that he's now the lead singer of Sublime with Rome, the legally agreed-upon name of the current project of the two remaining Sublime members. Last month, the band released its fourth studio disc,

Sound of Change

, which features guest vocals from Tech N9ne and B-Real.

Chimaira Bluebird Theater : 8:00 p.m. August 13

Lengthy attention-grabbing solos are the cornerstone of any great metal band, and Chimaira upholds that quality and provides a backbone of harsh vocals that gradually dirtied itself from earlier in the band's career. Multiple lineup changes have stalled the Cleveland-based act in the past, but the outfit has kept moving forward, producing a progressively aggressive sound for its listeners.

Eric Johnson Aggie Theatre : August 14

For years, Austin-based guitar wiz Eric Johnson was known as being something of a perfectionist when he's in the studio, which might explain four and five-year gaps between the handful of studio recordings over the last three and half decades. But Johnson took a slightly looser approach on 2010's

Up Close

, and tried to be more spontaneous and reckless, letting things happen in the moment and sometimes using the first few takes in the studio rather than labor over them for weeks, as he's done in the past. The guitarist, who's tone is instantly recognizable, is in damn fine form on the disc, as he is on his brand new live album,

Europe Live

, which includes some electrifying renderings of songs that spans his career, some new material and a badass cover of John Coltrane's "Mr. P.C."

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