Weekend's best live bets: Global Dance Festival, The UMS, Dirty Projectors, Kenny Chesney, Lucinda Williams and more

Welcome to the weekend! There are few festivals happening over the next few days, including the Global Dance Festival at Red Rocks and The UMS, which includes a few hundred local acts and national acts like Shabazz Palaces, at various venues along South Broadway. There's also forward-thinking indie rock act Dirty Projectors, country superstar Kenny Chesney, alt-country singer Lucinda Williams as well as acts like Reckless Kelly, Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials, Hot Chelle Rae, Ghosts of Glaciers and more. Page down for the full rundown on the weekend's best live music bets.



David Longstreth was living in western Colorado when he befriended the Love Letter Band's Chris Adolf. The future Bad Weather California frontman put out Longstreth's debut album, The Graceful Fallen Mango, on his This Heart Plays Records imprint. Since then, Longstreth has released music under the name Dirty Projectors, with numerous collaborators. In 2007, the Projectors reworked and transformed a handful of early Black Flag songs for Rise Above, and 2009's Bitte Orca, inspired by the film Wings of Desire, found them fully embracing non-Western rhythms and incorporating them into an experimental-pop format. The group's latest, Swing Lo Magellan, was made with yet another lineup from the rotating cast. Placing vocals more deftly in the cradle of multiple, complementary rhythms, Dirty Projectors continues to expand pop's sonic possibilities.


Global Dance Festival is the biggest dance-music event of the year. What was launched more than a dozen years ago by KTCL as Rave on the Rocks and later came to be known as the Weekend of E has since evolved into a three-day electronic festival. Ha Hau, the founder and owner of Triad Dragons and Global Dance Music, has helped establish the template for how these sorts of electronic festivals are produced. The focus of Global Dance Festival, as it is now known, the thing that's made it a such dominant force, both in Colorado and nationally, is providing the best dance music in the world to EDM fans.


Post-rock has enjoyed a certain popularity of late, and it's easy to see why music that loosely fits that designation often gets put under of the umbrella of instrumental rock. Ghosts of Glaciers -- due this Friday, July 20, at Mouth House (2858 California Street) -- doesn't bother to observe the distinction, either. Unlike certain lesser post-rock artists who basically learned to make streaming sounds with a delay pedal and a guitar of choice, there are real chops being displayed by this band's members. Ben Brandhorst is the outfit's secret weapon, with the dynamism to do polyrhythms, and not just the standard sort; he'll throw in a tasteful blast beat in just the right place and render the song especially visceral. Steven Jackson and Michael Rouse play off each other in intertwining circles, putting out introspective melodies and driving, intricate passages. Ghosts of Glaciersf full-length debut, available at this show, is a vital fusion of post-rock and metal's edge.


Big K.R.I.T., the Mississippian with the silken rap voice and candy-coated production, will roar into the Mile High City with fresh material (his long-awaited album, Live From the Underground, was just released last month) and a smoldering intensity. Fighting the dredges of mainstream music with all his might, K.R.I.T. held off on releasing a full-length project, opting instead to drop several free mixtapes dedicated to the underground. Widely respected and regarded as one of hip-hop's rising stars, K.R.I.T. has built a staunch following among rap heads enamored of his Southern charm and honest lyrics. His sound is unique, and his perspective offers a pleasant diversion in the rap climate.


A befezed slide guitarist of roaring verve, Lil' Ed Williams mastered Chicago blues under the wing of his uncle J.B. Hutto, and has since become one of the music's essential showmen over the past quarter-century. Full Tilt, his band's 2008 release on Alligator, brings his raw holler and badboy fretwork into the age of compression, but without any excess slickness or fuss.


If Reckless Kelly were a transmission, it would be a five-speed. The Austin quintet's Wicked Twisted Road captures its music in all gears, from the quiet, low-gear country folk of the title track to lilting second-gear love-song ballads, from drunk-and-stumble alt-country Irish travelogues to off-the-speedometer Allman Brothers rumblers and nasty white-boy overdrive blues-rockers. Songwriting has always been a Reckless forte, and frontman Willie Braun and his co-writing friends and relatives have once again hit the lyrical bull's-eye with lines like these: "My first love was a wicked twisted road/Hit the million-mile mark at seventeen years old" (from "Wicked"). The album takes the long view of the band's catalogue, showcasing the wide range of styles employed in both its recorded work and its live presentations; tracks like "Sixgun" and "Wretched Again" illustrate the increasingly loud and hard-rocking direction the group is taking on stage. Call it alt-country if you want, but most of it is way too muscular to fit neatly into that niche.

Check out our newly revamped concert calendar for a complete listing of all of tonight's shows. Page down for rundown of tomorrow night's best bets.



Depending whom you ask, Kenny Chesney represents everything that's wrong with country music today: His songs stretch the once-tried-and-true country conventions so far that with the exception of the twang in his voice and the pedal-steel guitars, it scarcely resembles country, at least the kind once made by the genre's iconic framers: Johnny, Merle, Waylon, Buck and George. Just the same, you won't have to look hard to find folks who feel exactly the opposite and would contend that he's telling their life stories. And there's a legion of fans who fit that description -- who are not only not put off by the pop-inflected stylings of modern country, but who actually prefer the likes of Chesney and co-headliner Tim McGraw, as evidenced by the fact that these two gentlemen are among the rare contemporary acts whose draw is big enough to justify a stadium tour.


Lucinda Williams learned an important lesson from her poet father, Miller Williams: Never censor yourself. And indeed, since her 1978 debut, Ramblin' on My Mind, the 58-year-old singer-songwriter has never held back in her lyrics, shooting straight from the hip with her brutally honest songs. "Otherwise, what's the point?" she says. "But see, that's how I approach life in general. Like, no bullshit, be honest, treat people the right way. All of that informs everything I do -- my whole philosophy about life in general." (Continue reading full profile)


In the first half of the '90s, Ishmael Butler went by the moniker "Butterfly" as part of the rap trio Digable Planets. After the outfit's 1995 split, the group performed one-off shows here and there, but since 2009, Butler has released music with Tendai Maraire under the name Shabazz Palaces. Instead of completely ditching the jazz proclivities of the Planets, Butler and Maraire have combined that style with a broad sonic palette that includes samples, traditional African rhythms, dub and electronic melodies and textures. It doesn't hurt that Maraire is the son of Dumisani Maraire, best known for bringing the music of Zimbabwe to North America. In fusing exotic sounds and inventive collage composition, Shabazz Palaces has created an electro-organic dance music steeped in an alchemy of the traditional and the postmodern.


Fronted by the sons of two prominent country-music songwriters, this tween-beloved Nashville outfit plays high-energy pop-rock that sounds like a boy version of "Party in the U.S.A." by Miley Cyrus. If you don't recognize how good and rare a thing that is, we're not sure what we can do to help.



The image is stark and simple: a vintage truck painted a deep indigo, a battered brick wall behind, and the words "Better Days" spelled out in simple fonts above. For Chris Daniels, the cover art for his latest solo release is open to interpretation. "That's my old truck. I got that when I was seventeen," says Daniels, frontman of Chris Daniels and the Kings. "For some, I think that image means that better days were in the past. For others, because the truck is fixed up and looks brand-new, better days are in the future.... That's what the theme is. You get to identify where your better days are." (Continue reading full profile)

Check out our newly revamped concert calendar for a complete listing of all of tonight's shows.

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