In most towns, going out the weekend after New Year's is probably as deflating and anti-climatic as showing up a week after the Broncos have won the Super Bowl -- after the impromptu revelry in the streets and the work-stopping weekday parade makes its way through the streets of downtown -- and expecting the same level of exuberance. This is Denver, though. We're not most towns, obviously. Even in the slower weeks, you can find something worth getting off the couch for, and this weekend is no exception. From back-to-back performances at the Bluebird by Who's Bad, the touring Michael Jackson tribute act, to BoomBox's two-night stand at the Ogden, there's plenty of goodness in store. Keep reading for the five best concerts in Denver.5. WHO'S BAD @ BLUEBIRD THEATER | FRI & SAT, 1/4-1/5
It's hard to believe that Michael Jackson has been gone nearly four years now. But while the King of Pop may no longer be with us, the iconic music he left behind, which still has a stunningly unique and pronounced ability to cross all age, genre and cultural boundaries (put "Billie Jean" on at a party sometime and see how many people lose their minds) continues to live on. Although we'll never have the chance to experience that music live as performed by the originator, Who's Bad, widely lauded as one of the finest tribute acts going, offers the next best thing.
4. TWIN PEAKS (CD RELEASE) @ LARIMER LOUNGE | FRI, 1/4/13 Most bands pillaging the coffers of '70s rock pull from the rich if over-tapped urns of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and AC/DC on the hard-rock side, and ELO, the Eagles or Fleetwood Mac on the softer end of the spectrum. Twin Peaks takes cues from both, but the overall effect is more like Steely Dan, if that band had aimed more for hard rock than lounge jazz. There's something loose and mellow about the music of Twin Peaks, but there's also a groovy edge to it. The group's image and presentation skew toward blue-collar metal, but the vibe has a certain Laurel Canyon cool going on, too. In 2011, the band released the excellent Oolaroo; this year's Lifetaking seems thematically darker but no less appealing or sonically colorful.
3. STONEY LARUE @ GRIZZLY ROSE | FRI, 1/4/13 Stoney LaRue was born in Taft, Texas, near Corpus Christi, to a family of musicians and spent part of his formative years in Oklahoma, eventually settling in the Stillwater of Cross Canadian Ragweed and Jason Boland. So guess what he does for a living now? If you can get past the silly name, which you should, you'll find that LaRue is one of the strongest young talents in the Red Dirt/Texas Country arena, and such a seasoned road dog that two of his first three records were live sets.
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2. JOHN GORKA @ SWALLOW HILL | SAT, 1/5/13 John Gorka got his start performing live as a musician through Godfrey Daniels, the venerable coffee shop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, while he was attending Moravian College as a student of philosophy. It was there that he honed his craft as one of the preeminent folk songwriters of his generation. Gorka's warm presentation and his subtle, intelligent lyrics and gift for understated guitar flourishes brought him to the attention of respected folk label Windham Hill in the late '80s. Since then, he's released nearly a dozen albums, toured internationally and shared the stage with many of his own heroes. Lately he's been revisiting his roots as a craftsman of spare melodies of exceptional refinement.
1. BOOMBOX @ OGDEN THEATRE | FRI & SAT, 1/4-1/5 The last few years have been a renaissance of sorts for electronic musicians. Once confined to the underground warehouse rave scene of the '90's, modern dance music has grown infinitely more sophisticated, stylistically, into a new frontier of performers who expertly mate digitally enhanced beats with traditional drums, bass and guitar. At the forefront of these modern hybrid of electronic dance rock bands is BoomBox, featuring multi-instrumentalist and singer Zion Godchaux and fellow bandmate DJ Russ Randolph on sequencers, groove boxes and turn-tables. Although there is jamband DNA flowing through the veins of Zion Godchaux, son of Grateful Dead alumni singer Donna Jean Godchaux, don't mistake Boombox for a jamband. If anything, there is more a strong digital dance vibe to the music than the guitar noodling Godchaux's namesake might suggest. (Signal Path and Ramona open on Friday night, and Orgone and Ramona on Saturday.)
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