Another week, another swell roster of music in the Mile High City. From the bacchanalian throwback debauchery of the Darkness, who will be invading the Summit Music Hall, to the lyrical thriftiness of Macklemore, who is set to headline Icelantic's second annual edition of Winter on the Rocks, there are plenty of great shows worth staying up late for this week. We've got every last one of them listed in our concert calendar, or if you'd prefer, we've singled out the five best concerts in Denver this week. Keep reading to see what made the cut, and feel free to weigh in with some picks of your own.
5. AGENT ORANGE @ LARIMER LOUNGE | FRI, 2/1/13 Though birthed in the dysfunctional cradle of the Southern California hardcore scene, Agent Orange never stuck to convention. Although the group's debut, Living in Darkness, contained the instant punk-rock classic "Bloodstains," the outfit's influential sound is equal parts hardcore, power pop and surf rock. At heart, though, as evidenced by its ferociously fun live shows, Agent Orange is really nothing less than an outstandingly entertaining rock-and-roll band. The group's influence can be still be heard in many of the punk bands that followed in its wake. Though never as commercially successful as its followers -- like the Offspring -- Agent Orange has nonetheless maintained its underground credibility. Touring consistently since the early '80s, Fullerton's favorite sons make a great case for sticking with what you do best. Never ones to follow contemporary fashion, the members of Agent Orange have found their own musical formula, which is, well, killer.
4. RJD2 @ BLUEBIRD THEATER | FRI, 2/1/13 The last time RJD2 took to the small, technology-overwhelmed stage of the Bluebird almost exactly a year ago, the DJ/producer was barely recognizable behind a Daft Punk-style robot mask and the sound effects box strapped to his waist like an oversized graphing calculator. Like Girl Talk, the campier, glitchier producer he is often compared to, this is a performance that depends largely upon preparation and timing, though it relies much more heavily on technical DJ skills. Onstage, Ramble John Krohn manipulates four turntables, an impressive stack of vinyl and various effects setups for roughly an hour and a half. Backlit in alternating red, blue and green, the spread is as much a part of the show as its puppet master.
3. THE DARKNESS @ SUMMIT MUSIC HALL | FRI, 2/1/13 In the music video for the Darkness's greatest hit, 2003's "I Believe in a Thing Called Love," the band's alternately naked and jumpsuited lead singer, Justin Hawkins, is repeatedly groped by a motley crew of space aliens. He appears, for all intents and purposes, to be into it. His band's mock-rock aesthetic is heavy on falsetto, generous with mayhem and short on seriousness, and the Suffolk group has followed that same wacky formula, albeit with extensive breaks, in the near-decade since. But aside from a handful of strangely named side projects (see: Hot Leg) and one consistently ridiculous mega-jam, the Darkness has little to show for its time off. Cue the age of reunions: In 2012, the guys returned to fun and funky territory for a third album and a tour that restores their original lineup. The real question is: Do you believe in a thing called second chances?
2. ELLIE GOULDING @ OGDEN THEATRE | FRI, 2/1/13 For almost three years now, Ellie Goulding has been steadily taking over the airwaves. Whether it be vocal features on the hottest new EDM tracks, dominating on her own with singles from one of her two platinum albums or appearing on remixed tracks from the world's biggest producers, the Brit-pop starlet from the English countryside is continuing to make inroads and gain momentum.
MACKLEMORE/WINTER ON THE ROCKS @ RED ROCKS | FRI, 2/1/13 Winter on the Rocks is slated to return to Red Rocks for its second year. While the inaugural edition of the frozen fiesta featured Atmosphere, Common, Grieves + Budo, the next Winter on the Rocks features Westword Music Showcase 2012 alums Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (with Major Lazer and the Grouch & Eligh). Since performing at the Westword Music Showcase last summer, Macklemore's stock has soared. His independently released album, The Heist, topped the Billboard sales chart, and the album's breakthrough single, "Thrift Shop," surpassed "Somebody That I Used to Know," Gotye's song that was virtually inescapable not too long ago, on the on-demand streams chart, if that tells you anything. But while Macklemore just came to prominence within the past year, he's been paying dues, and he's far more than some mere novelty rapper. From 2005's The Language of My World, the Seattle MC proved himself thoughtful and eloquent, particularly on songs like "White Privilege," in which he examines the white guilt that comes with being a rapper who's not of color, and "Ego," in which he takes an unflinching look at how arrogance can destroy everything and how nobody's exempt from the envy that accompanies it, even him.
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