Maybe it's just because we're claustrophobic and get all sorts of anxious being pressed in by tight crowds, but the thought of being trampled seems more than a little unnerving, which is precisely why we always avoid Black Friday. But being trampled by turtles, on the other hand, well, that just sounds rather wonderful, doesn't it? With all those stubby little legs walking all over you, it would be like a shiatsu massage for your senses or something. Delightful. That's about the same sensation we have listening to a certain batch of bluegrass enthusiasts from Minnesota who are rolling into town this week for a two-night stand at the Ogden and playing one of the five best concerts in Denver this week. Keep reading for all of our picks.
5. REEL BIG FISH @ GOTHIC THEATRE | THUR, 1/10/13 Third-wave ska was last in vogue when people still thought Y2K was a threat, but the passage of a decade hasn't changed the fact that many of these bands still make an awfully accessible and enjoyable racket onstage. See: well vetted Huntington Beach six-piece Reel Big Fish, the main attraction of the Candy Coated Fury Tour, a package tour that takes its name from Candy Coated Fury, Reel Big Fish's latest record. Besides being the tour's name, the phrase aptly encapsulates the group's sarcastic, semi-seething lyrics, which are wrapped up in fun, bouncy tunes. Sharing the bill is self-described "raggacore" unit the Pilfers, a New York City quintet that has been in business intermittently since 1997. And rounding it out is a solo performance from Dan Potthast, the prolific Santa Cruz citizen best known for fronting the sensational MU330. If you've ever needed a reason to pull your ratty checkered Vans out of the closet, this is it.
4. JASON BOLAND & THE STRAGGLERS @ GRIZZLY ROSE | 1/10/13 Too many country-music purists of the past couple decades brag about keeping the true sound of country alive. Oklahoma native Jason Boland, though, just does just that. Bearing a catalog of gritty, twangy songs that sound as natural as falling off a horse, Boland and his Stragglers have spent the last ten-plus years crisscrossing the nation and building a grassroots following, one that knows and feels authentic Americana when it hears it. On albums like Comal County Blue -- and particularly its keening, fiddle-laced single, "Bottle By My Bed" -- Jason Boland and the Stragglers present a rich, deep and elemental sound that doesn't come off as retroactive as much as it yanks out country's roots and replants them in the modern world.
3. IMPENDING DOOM @ MARQUIS THEATER | WEDS, 1/9/13 Although Impending Doom is a Christian death-metal band -- normally a contradiction in terms -- the act isn't some cartoonish, mutant purveyor of death grind. Singer Brook Reeves sounds like he's listened to more than his fair share of '90s-era Napalm Death, as the music he and his bandmates produce is similarly brutal and dynamically precise. These guys also do the nearly impossible with genuinely clever turns of phrase, coining terms like "Repentagram" and "Gorship." Both words clearly reveal a playful sense of humor that extremists such as James Dobson and Pat Robertson do not possess. Nevertheless, the music is very serious, and the band's latest record, Baptized in Filth, is its darkest offering yet.
2. MONDO GENERATOR @ LARIMER LOUNGE | TUES, 1/8/13 Mondo Generator started life as a Kyuss song, and the Nick Oliveri-penned tune offers a decent blueprint for the band it would later become: The Oliveri-fronted incarnation of Mondo tends more toward shouted, almost hardcore-style vocals, but otherwise you're going to get pretty much what you expect from a Kyuss-spawned Queens of the Stone Age side project from the dude who got kicked out for either partying too hard on tour or beating up his girlfriend, depending on which story you believe. (Other QOTSA members including Josh Homme, Dave Grohl and Mark Lanegan have also clocked time in Mondo.) In other words, Queens-style heaviness all around, only less subtle, a little dumber and a lot of fun.
1. TRAMPLED BY TURTLES @ OGDEN | THUR & FRI, 1/10-1/11 When the improbable success of Mumford & Sons put the spotlight on scruffy youngsters toting banjos and mandolins, this Duluth, Minnesota, crew was one of the bands peeking back out from the shadows. Trampled by Turtles started in 2004 out of pure necessity: After his previous band's equipment was stolen, singer Dave Simonett figured a group that didn't need amplifiers would be less of a target. Now Trampled By Turtles are seasoned regulars on the bluegrass-festival circuit and released their sixth collection of breakdowns and ballads, Stars and Satellites, last year.
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