The nine best shows in Denver this week

A few spectacularly heavy hitters come to Colorado this week -- both Nick Cave and Merle Haggard are in town. Sharon Van Etten, playing Tuesday at the Bluebird, has plenty to show for her own relatively short career. You can read our extensive interview with her elsewhere on Backbeat this morning.

There's plenty more to hear; the rest of our picks follow.

DEVO Summit Music Hall : 8:00 p.m. June 23 To the uninitiated, Devo is just some '80s band with funny hats who did that "Whip It" song that occasionally gets a nod on Family Guy or something. To the slightly wiser, they were the basis of Weird Al's mind-bending original "Dare to Be Stupid." Such a person might start getting to know the soundtrack work of singer Mark Mothersbaugh and from there notice something else: Nearly every single person whose musical opinions he values is an unabashed Devo freak. In March, the band announced an eleven-date tour dedicated to its recently deceased guitarist/keyboardist, Robert Casale, also known as Bob 2. Devo devotees will be thrilled about the band's return to early "experimental" work from 1974 to 1977; those tracks can be found on the recently reissued Hardcore compilations.

My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult Gothic Theatre : 8:00 p.m. June 24 My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult began as a film idea that Frankie Nardiello and Marsten Daley had that never fully came to fruition. The two met while touring with Ministry, and in 1987, inspired in part by disco, exploitation films, the industrial scene happening around them in Chicago and a mutual love for campy horror movies, the pair formed a creative partnership that produced something better than any movie they could have made. With Nardiello taking on the stage name of Groovie Mann and Daley performing as Buzz McCoy, the two larger-than-life characters have been making larger-than-life music and putting on incredibly entertaining and gloriously colorful (in every sense) shows ever since.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds Temple Hoyne Buell Theater : 8:00 p.m. June 24 Love, death and religion: These have been common themes in Nick Cave's quarter-century-long career. He's been a junkie, a punk Baudelaire, the Black Crow King, a penitent man and countless others, but through it all, he's steeped himself in the most extreme iconography of these subjects. As part of the lineage of the soul-bared singer, like Robert Johnson and Johnny Cash, Cave can sound like he's clinging to Heaven even as all of Hell chases after him.

Peter Murphy Summit Music Hall : 8:00 p.m. June 24 Peter Murphy is probably best known for his role as the charismatic, mysterious, ectomorphic frontman for influential post-punk band Bauhaus. But before that act reunited in the late '90s and since, Murphy has released a string of accomplished albums under his own name. It wasn't until his second solo record, 1988's Love Hysteria, that he came to be known as an artist in his own right, outside of his past projects. He had a hit with "Cuts You Up," from 1989's Deep, and became something of a figure in the early days of alt-rock with his song "I've Got a Miniature Secret Camera," which appeared on the Pump Up the Volume soundtrack.

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