Red Rocks plays the classics this week, with performances by Chicago (with REO Speedwagon) and Boston. It'll also host a damn good time of a double-bill in Chromeo and Cut Copy. The rest of our picks follow.Chicago and REO Speedwagon Red Rocks Amphitheatre : 7:30 p.m. August 4
The REO Speedwagon story most typifies the story of a lot of arena rock bands. They toil for years as a simple midwest rock band. Great singer. Great guitarist. Tight band. They build a loyal fan base, but never make it big. Then a big-ass ballad hits, and their lives are never the same. The band instantly gets rich, and soon after loses all rock credibility. Never did this happen on a bigger scale then the zillion-selling Hi-Infidelity. We assure you, they are better than that album.
American Culture intentionally obscures its origins, its membership and its intentions as a band. Its only stated goal is to create the kind of music that would appeal to disaffected suburban youth and anyone else on the fringe of urban culture. It may be a utopian notion to craft such a populist appeal while establishing a mystique that's sorely missing in even the underground music world today, but American Culture is effectively doing just that. The act has largely played house shows and DIY spaces around town (including a show on Tuesday, August 5, at Rhinoceropolis) -- probably to make its music accessible to the kids its members remember being. The band's recently released cassette on Lightning Records, Wanna Go to the Movies, bears the slogan "Party music for introverts." That accurately sums up American Culture's melancholic yet highly energetic pop songs and reflects the fact that this band plays some of the most engaging live shows around.Chromeo and Cut Copy Red Rocks Amphitheatre : 6:30 p.m. August 5
Since Chromeo's formation almost a decade ago, the band has become a leader in dance music with its innovative, modern take on funk. Most notably, the group's third album, 2010's Business Casual, released hits like "Hot Mess" and "Don't Turn the Lights On." Chromeo's fourth studio album, White Women, released last May, and includes "Come Alive" (featuring Toro Y Moi) and "Sexy Socialite" (featuring Pat Mahoney of LCD Soundsystem).Los Lonely Boys Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities : 7:30 p.m. August 5
If you can't recite the words to Los Lonely Boys' 2004 hit, "Heaven," you must have been living under a rock when the San Angelo, Texas natives hijacked just about every radio format you could imagine with their unique style of "Texican Rock n' Roll." The Garza brothers haven't quite seen another song grow to those massive proportions as of yet, but their blend of rock, conjunto, Tejano and Texas blues has nonetheless won the Boys a loyal Lone Star following as they've steadily added more and more Santana-esque elements to their sound.311 Fillmore Auditorium : 8:00 p.m. August 5
Once upon a time, five guys in Omaha, Nebraska, decided to fuse funk, reggae, rock, and hip-hop. It's been an eventful 26 years since they decided to do so. Anyone who's bothered to turn on a rock radio station in the '90s or 2000s is well-acquainted with 311's vast catalog. The act has put out 11 albums, including this year's Stereolithic, and have charted Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart 20 times. 311 has sold more than 8.5 million records in the U.S., and have provided chill rock anthems for summer boat trips and pool parties world-wide.Boston Fiddler's Green Amphitheater : 7:00 p.m. August 6
One of the greatest arena rock bands of the last four decades, Boston made significant inroads into what become millions of people's ears with its 1976 self-titled debut album that included the hits "More Than a Feeling" and "Peace of Mind." Since then, the band has only released a handful of albums, including last year'sLife, Love & Hope
, which was Boston's first studio album in eleven years and the first recording following the death of lead singer Brad Delp in 2007 (although his vocals do appear on some songs on the disc). Tommy DeCarlo, a fan of Boston since he was a teenager, now handles lead vocals. The Doobie Brothers, who have had a long successful forty-plus year run, are also on tap tonight.Foster the People Red Rocks Amphitheatre : 7:00 p.m. August 6
Crazy the difference a year and a half can make. In the spring of 2011, Foster the People was a little-known quantity making its first trek to Denver for an intimate show at the Walnut Room. The band returned to the Mile High City for a notably larger gig at the Bluebird Theater later that summer, then literally exploded on radio with the breakout single "Pumped Up Kicks." In 2012, the group headlined Red Rocks. That's a pretty stunning trajectory, no matter how you look at it. But whether this ends up being the band's peak really depends on what it does from here. A ubiquitous hit single brought the group this far, but that pumped-up track has since lost air. Is there more where it came from?Lady Gaga Pepsi Center : 7:30 p.m. August 6
Since she first burst onto the scene and into the hearts and minds of her little monsters, Lady Gaga has become a genre unto herself. Beyond her hit-laden catalog, featuring many of the biggest songs of the past half-decade, Gaga is known for her over-the-top onstage antics, making her one of the biggest live draws in music. Despite the lukewarm reception to November's ARTPOP, the pint-sized singer remains a pop superstar and continues to take bold risks with both her music -- eschewing Top 40 pop for a more electronic sound -- and her ever-changing image. Love her or hate her, Gaga continues to buck trends by remaining one of the unique singers of her time.Ray LaMontagne Fox Theatre : 8:30 p.m. August 6, Red Rocks Amphitheatre : 7:30 p.m. August 7
Ray LaMontagne is a notoriously reclusive artist. When it comes to giving interviews, he may well be music's JD Salinger. Okay, maybe he's not that isolated. But, seriously, how many in-depth profiles have you read about the guy? Precisely. Good for him, then, that his music needs no introduction. While he was understandably cast in Van Morrison's shadow at the front end of his career, LaMontagne has since established himself as an esteemed troubadour in his own right, one whose music speaks volumes.Samantha Fish Toad Tavern : 7:30 p.m. August 7
This Kansas City-based artist is one of the hottest female guitar players and vocalists currently on the blues circuit. Fish became well known in the blues world in 2011 when she was included on theGirls with Guitars
CD along with Cassie Taylor and Dani Wilde. The trio also toured Europe and the U.S. together. Fish later recorded the album Runaway, which mixed her gusty-riff blues along with touches of jazz. She's been on tour almost non-stop the last few years and also performs such covers as Howlin Wolf's "Who's Been Talking?" and Mike Zito's "Go to Hell," which she co-wrote. Most of Fish's songs are originals, however, as evidenced by the track list on her her newest album Black Wind Howling, which features bluesman Mike Zito (who also produced the disc), Yonrico Scott on drums, and percussion and Charlie Wooton on bass.Ed Kowalczyk (acoustic) The Soiled Dove Underground : 8:00 p.m. August 7
Twenty years ago, the York, Pennsylvania, four-piece Live, which formed for a middle school talent show, was one of the biggest rock bands in the world. The group sold out stadiums and performed the massive Woodstock anniversary concerts in '94 and '99 on the strength of the album Throwing Copper. That release sold more than 8 million copies, topped radio charts, and dominated MTV with staples such as "Lightning Crashes." But one of their biggest hits has turned out to be the most prophetic: "I Alone." While Live has re-formed with a new singer, the band's original voice and lyricist, Ed Kowalczyk, is now embarking on an acoustic tour where he will be both alone and live.Shawn Colvin (solo) Boulder Theater : 8:00 p.m. August 7
Don't count on geography to help pin down Shawn Colvin's musical style: The singer was raised in South Dakota, educated at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and cut her teeth in Austin, Texas. Since the mid-'80s, she's tread mostly in the realms of folk and country, but her presence can be felt in the alternative-female singer-songwriter boom of the '90s (particularly through her backup vocals on songs by Suzanne Vega and Lisa Loeb). The 1996 hit "Sunny Came Home" cemented what many already knew: that Colvin is a singer whose vocal sweetness makes her incisive words sting that much more.Jolie Holland Larimer Lounge : 8:30 p.m. August 7
When many people think of folk music, they envision acoustic-guitar-wielding mopes who pick at their fractured relationships like apes searching for ticks. In truth, the style is as big as the planet, and if Jolie Holland hasn't explored every square inch of this creative territory to date, give her time. She's personally covered a lot of territory during her career -- although born a Texan, she's been part of music scenes in San Francisco and Vancouver -- and her compositions are equally wide-ranging.Ryan Adams Fox Theatre : 8:30 p.m. August 7
If you ignore the fact that any of his sadder, sappier new material could be about his wife, a post-Walk to Remember
Mandy Moore, Ryan Adams remains one of the most listenable and versatile singer-songwriters just this side of Americana. Five years ago, he married Moore, sobered up, disbanded his alt-country band the Cardinals, took a break from touring and began stockpiling all of his previously unreleased material. Through his 2012 solo album,Ashes & Fire
, we're led to believe that Adams escaped this period unscathed and unfazed, a little raw for the wear but with a deeper, clearer and more intimate shade of voice and self-awareness than we've seen from him in years. In making himself more vulnerable, Adams has made his second act unmissable.
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