The ten best concerts this weekend: Sept. 28-30

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Hell yeah! It's finally Friday! Welcome to the weekend! Feel like tossing back a few cold ones and seeing some live music? You've come to the right place. There's an overwhelming number of outstanding shows for you to check out this weekend. We've got all of them listed in our concert calendar if you're so inclined. Otherwise, you can keep reading for a full rundown of the best concerts on the Front Range this weekend.

See also: - Boulder's Big Gigantic has taken some big steps in the past year - The longtime friends in Churchill are on a mission - From tough times, DJ Cavem Moetavation built conscious lines - Nightwish's Tuomas Holopainen on symphonic metal and the band's new film, Imagineaerum

10. BUCKETHEAD @ GOTHIC THEATRE | FRI, 9/28/12 The artist known as Buckethead is an unusual variant on "guitar hero." He knows six-string constructs like a salamander knows wet leaves, but few know the face, or identity, of Buckethead (due to his ever-present bucket-shaped hood). Buckethead's style is forged from the metallic assaults of Slayer and Steve Vai, Eddie Hazel's psychedelic funk, and the free-improvised fervency of (saxophonists) John Zorn and Peter Brötzmann. He started out with Bay-area funksters the Deli Creeps, then branched out to record and/or perform with disparate luminaries Les Claypool, Bernie Worrell and actor and poet Viggo Mortensen (yes, Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings films), and even did a stint in the re-formed Guns N' Roses. It's anyone's guess what Buckethead has in store for the Mile High City. Whatever it is, you can bet the rent it'll be memorable.

9. AWOLNATION @ SUMMIT MUSIC HALL | FRI, 9/28/12 Awolnation singer/songwriter Aaron Bruno cobbles together modern-rock tunes that are candy pop, hard as nails and cathedral-huge. Aggro refrains choke on wafting choruses and kitchen-sink post-Beck song suites, but somehow it still all feels right. At once wading-pool shallow and mercilessly affecting, the quintet caulks the fault line separating a guilty pleasure from a cultivated muso obsession. Last year's Megalithic Symphony suggested that the band could do anything, so expect them to keep break-dancing atop your notions of what popular music should be able to accomplish.

8. NIGHTWISH @ OGDEN THEATRE | FRI, 9/28/12 Formed in 1996, Nightwish gained instant popularity in its native Finland with the 1997 release of its first album, Angels Fall First. Eventually, Nightwish achieved international success with album sales in excess of over eight million worldwide, yet the group has struggled to achieve popularity and recognition here in the States. Nightwish delivers chugging distorted guitars, double-bass kicks, fast tempos and time changes -- the signature traits of any metal band. But the act's songs also include classical structures and arrangements and have featured an orchestra and a choir, bolstering a classically trained female vocalist -- all of which has earned it a "symphonic metal" designation, a tag its members are comfortable with.

See also: Nightwish's Tuomas Holopainen on symphonic metal and the band's new film, Imagineaerum

7. CODY CHESNUTT (BLACKTOP FESTIVAL) @ DCPA | SAT, 9/29/12 Cody ChesnuTT's fans are used to an explosive and eccentric live show during which the bearded soul crooner dons a matador's cape and dances his sexy dances with audience members. And that army helmet he wears? There's more revolutionary power under there than under all the helmets at a Critical Mass bike rally. The mastermind behind the aptly titled Headphone Masterpiece and the upcoming album, Landing on a Hundred, due out on October 30, comes to Denver to perform at the inaugural Blacktop Festival, curated in part by Gregg Ziemba of Rubedo, on the heels of performing a week of shows in Europe. You can catch ChesnuTT, along with Nurses, Luke Wyland, Wild Pack of Canaries and Rubedo, for free this Saturday at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Complex at 14th and Champa.

6. MICHAEL KIWANUKA @ FOX THEATRE | SUN, 9/30/12 Don't let the name throw you: Although Michael Kiwanuka's parents are from Uganda, he grew up in the north of London and didn't parlay his folks' background into a career in world music. Instead, he came up hearing various forms of music that inspired him, especially folk and soul. Kiwanuka's gentle cadence and delicate but emotionally vibrant phrasing have drawn immediate comparisons to Bill Withers. But it wouldn't come as a surprise to find that he has also listened closely to Nick Drake, Fairport Convention and Bob Dylan. Kiwanuka's musical voice isn't one that needs to hit you over the head with its passionate intensity in predictable moments. Rather, like Otis Redding, who was one of his early inspirations, he's able to express perfect emotional nuance with taste and sincerity.

5. SWAYBACK + BLKHRTS @ CASSLEMAN'S | FRI, 9/28/12 While a lot of shows get tagged with by now hackneyed "must see" status, very few truly merit such a designation. A quadruple bill featuring a host of local heavyweights, this show is one that actually rises to the occasion. A veritable clash of Denver titans, this show features some of the finest acts in the Mile High City on the same stage on the same night: the Swayback, BLKHRTS, the Photo Atlas and Colfax Speed Queen. Each of these acts are hitting their creative stride right now, with Swayback riding high on the heels of releasing its best album to date, Double Four Time, and preparing for CMJ, while BLKHRTS and the Photo Atlas are both on the cusp of releasing eagerly anticipated albums in the not too distant future. File under: must see. No, really.

See also: - The Swayback reflects on a decade of going for the musical nectar - BLKHRTS brings three MCs together for some really good rap - The Photo Atlas prepares to dance its way across the country

4. DISPATCH @ 1STBANK CENTER | SAT, 9/29/12 Dispatch, in case the name isn't immediately familiar, is arguably one of the most successful independent bands of all time. To wit: The band played what was then thought to be its farewell show at Boston's Hatch Shell in 2004. That show, as documented in the film The Last Dispatch, drew more than 100,000 people. (To put it in perspective, Phish's, ahem, farewell show didn't even attract that many people.) Three years later, that show was followed by three back-to-back sold out shows at Madison Square Garden in 2007. Now, five years later, the outfit, which features Brad Corrigan, frontman of the local outfit Braddigan, Chad Urmston of State Radio and Pete Heimbold, is reconvening once again to headline a date at 1STBANK Center this weekend.

3. DJ CAVEM @ FULL MOON HARVEST FEST | SAT, 9/29/12 If you've ever met DJ Cavem, or even if you just follow him on Facebook, you know that he is a man with vision: singular vision, some might say. He's so passionate and driven by his convictions, in fact, that he's just as well known for his evangelistic proclivities as for his music. But to him, the two aren't mutually exclusive: The music is the message and the message is the music. The ideas he's pushing aren't the most easily digestible concepts: environmental awareness, sustainability, integrating organic remedies into your lifestyle. But Cavem wraps it all up with fresh beats -- or "beets," as he puts it -- and smooth flow. Catch DJ Cavem this Saturday at Green Spaces Full Moon Harvest Festival at Sustainability Park (25th & Araphaoe) with A. Tom Collins, Ian Cooke, Lunar Fire and more.

See also: From tough times, DJ Cavem Moetavation built conscious lines

2. CHURCHILL @ BLUEBIRD | SAT & SUN, 9/29-9/30 Since first emerging on the scene in 2009, Churchill has made a slow and steady rise. What began humbly as a collaboration between two former schoolmates, Tim Bruns and Michael Morter, grew into a full-fledged band that wowed audiences with an earnest brand of folk rock, which they've since refined into a leaner indie-rock sound. Last year, the group drummed up enough support from its fan base via Kickstarter to finance the excellent full-length Happy/Sad, which was followed this year by the equally swell Change. Playing back-to-back nights at the Bluebird seems like a fitting capper to what's already been a banner year for the band, from taking home honors in KTCL's annual Hometown for the Holidays promo to touring with the Fray to securing a record deal with A&M/Octone Records.

See also: The longtime friends in Churchill are on a mission

1. BIG GIGANTIC @ RED ROCKS | SAT, 9/29/12 Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken are Big Gigantic, the sweeping Boulder-based duo taking over the electronic world. Born from Lalli's own creative and abstract mind, the act came about after years of formal music training in New York, playing with the Motet and utilizing MySpace to spread their beats far and wide. The ascent of Big Gigantic has been quite dizzying. In the spring of 2011, mere minutes after the electronic act posted a new track for free download on ThisSongIsSick.com, the site's server crashed due to the demand, which was literally overwhelming. But unlike many blogosphere wunderkinds, the interest in Big Gigantic has been genuine and devout. Some eighteen months later, Big Gigantic is headlining a sold-out date at Red Rocks. Welcome to Rowdytown!

See also: Boulder's Big Gigantic has taken some big steps in the past year

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