Thursday | 06.01 What:Kiltro w/Nina De Freitas When: 7 Where: Mercury Café Why: Kiltro started as the solo acoustic project of Chris Bowers Castillo who as a Chilean-American, had moved to the port city of Valparaíso where he worked as a walking tour guide. And that job not only afforded him the time to learn the city and take in its richly diverse cultural influences but also the opportunity to write a body of work as a songwriter. After returning to Denver Kiltro formally came to life in 2017 and Bowers Castillo developed his acoustic songs with loops, pedals and percussion elements. But in 2018 the project expanded into a trio with Will Parkhill on bass and drummer Michael Devincenzi and later with Fez Garcia on board as a percussionist for live shows.
Kiltro’s 2019 debut album Creatures of Habit had been recorded after the material had been performed live and getting feedback from audiences and friends before being committed to an easily transmitted and shareable form. But the group’s new album, 2023’s Underbelly, is the product of crafting music in quarantine and working in the studio, following whatever creative paths sparked the most inspiration in the moment resulting in a more experimental set of songs which incorporates aspects of shoegaze, ambient, South American folk, psychedelia and a literary yet spontaneous form of storytelling that feels like a deeply personal experience in the listening. The record is a hypnotic and transcendent work of surprising immediacy that one might compare with the likes of Devendra Banhart, Hermanos Guitérrez and more locally to the work of artists like Midwife American Grandma. It fuses the aesthetics of electronic music with the intimacy of mythical folk music around the campfire for a truly unique record refreshing in its originality.
Kiltro is following up the release with a tour throughout the USA in June and July with other live dates in support of the album in August and September with an appearance at VORTEX festival at The JunkYard at Meow Wolf on August 25. Listen to our interview with Bowers Castillo on Bandcamp linked below.
Thursday | 06.01 What:Reptoid w/Quits and Endless, Nameless When: 8 Where: The Skylark Lounge Why: Reptoid is a one man, industrial noise rock freakout from Oakland. His most recent album WORSHIP FALSE GODS (2020) is a borderline, or not so borderline, nihilistic set of songs like a series of trainwrecks about how we’re all pretty much screwed in face of likely developments in the history of our species and its impact on the environment. If you’ve been into Buck Gooter or Author and Punisher this is your thing. Quits is a crushing noise rock juggernaut of a four piece from Denver whose incisive songs and eruptive energy can be startlingly scathing and heavy at once. Endless, Nameless erases the line between progressive metal, post-rock, post-hardcore, black metal and shoegaze with a forceful elegance. Its 2023 album Living Without should end up on the more discerning year end best lists.
Thursday | 06.01 What:Sorted: Surgeon & John Templeton When: 9 Where: Black Box Why: Surgeon is a DJ and electronic music composer from England whose labels Counterbalance and Dynamic Tension has been issuing some fine techno records for over 20 years. John Templeton is based in Denver whose own techno music has made a bit of a splash in the Mile High City and his Great American Techno Festival brought some of the most innovative practioners of that style of music to town for several years.
Friday | 06.02 What: ACxDC w/No/Más and Berated When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: ACxDC is the infamous powerviolence/grindcore band from Los Angeles whose 2020 album Satan Is King is a seethingly uncompromising run of anarchistic political sentiment set to blast beats and oddly anthemic antiestablishment shout along songs.
Saturday | 06.03 What:M. Sage Paradise Crick release show w/Zander Raymond When: 3 p.m. Where: TBA in Boulder Why: M. Sage has been a prolific and evolving songwriter and composer going back to at least far back as when he was based out of Fort Collins and doing early indiepop groups. But when he started writing and releasing music as M. Sage and often through his now defunct label Patient Sounds (2009-2019) it became obvious that Sage was thinking beyond standard songwriting even in the more experimental folk vein. His latest release, and first for RVNG Intl., is Paradise Crick, a collection of meditations on communing with nature as a route to a sustainable relationship with the world we all share. The pure fusion of acoustic and electronic aesthetics resonates with some of the more avant releases on the ECM label and its intuitive rhythms and informal structures ease the mind out of the standard pathways of being within one’s own mindset. This show is at unique venue and one must purchase a ticket at the link provided to get the address.
Saturday | 06.03 What:Danceportation – Justin Jay and others When: 9:30 Where: Meow Wolf Convergence Station Why: Danceportation is an immersive dance party pulsing through the worlds of Convergence Station. Be immersed in the full exhibition while stunning live performances on several stages with psychedelic projections and sentient universes welcome you. Danceportation on June 3rd will feature a takeover from Justin Jay’s Fantastic Voyage, the Los Angeles-based electronic dance music imprint now celebrating its seventh year of exisence.
This lineup features multiple sets from Justin Jay, along with performances from Ardalan, DJ Swisha, Juliet Mendoza, Todd Edwards, Adrian More, B Goody, Blake, Coldsweat, Danny Goliger, DJ Parqués, Don Jamal, Ed Hoffman, Gusted, Keefe, Lipgloss, Massii, Mick Jeets, Mizzmegan, The Other Jon, Planet Bloop, and Taylor Bratches.
Sunday | 06.04 What:Korine w/CD Ghost, Voight and DJ Niq V When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Philadelphia-based dream pop band Korine plays a headlining show in Denver for the first time in support of the release of its 2023 album Tear. The group’s sound is somewhere between 80s New Wave groups like, yes, Tears For Fears, late 90s emo’s earnest emotional release and punk attitude. Voight will bring the dark industrial intensity with its scorching shoegaze/techno concoctions CD Ghost from Los Angeles released a set of lush pop songs called Night Music in 2022 that sounds like a a more synth driven and more ethereal Black Marble.
Monday | 06.05 What:Yeah Yeah Yeahs w/Perfume Genius When: 7 Where: Red Rocks Why: Yeah Yeah Yeahs have been delivering scrappy, uplifting pop music with punk attitude since forming in 2000 and as first put into recorded form with its 2001 self-titled EP. But the band comprised of three art school kids from New York never rested on its laurels and immediately its creative ambitions drove the band to explore new sounds and expressions to match its emotional growth as well. Its spirited live shows turn even its more melancholic songs into epic anthems that sweep you up in its always deep mood. In 2022 the band released its first album in 9 years, Cool It Down, a record that showcases the group’s gift for richly evocative songwriting and ability to surprise with its willingness to explore new directions in sound and subverting the tropes of pop lyrics while offering new ways of thinking about and feeling timeless themes of human experience with a thrilling immediacy. You also get to see Perfume Genius whose own career in crafting meaningful and engrossing synth pop isn’t short on reinvention and re-envisioning core artistic impulses.
Monday | 06.05 What:Clan of Xymox w/Curse Mackey, A Cloud of Ravens and The Siren Project When: 7 Where: The Oriental Theater Why: Clan of Xymox is the pioneering dutch darkwave band whose early post-punk songs has been foundational to the modern version of that music with its icily melodic synths and deep, mysterious yet emotionally resonant vocals from Ronny Moorings. Curse Mackey has been involved in a variety of electronic industrial bands of the past few decades including My Life With The Thrill Kill Cult and Pigface and the music under his own name has been more in the vein of synth pop end of darkwave. The Siren Project is a Denver band that has persisted since the old local Goth scene of the 1990s but has never been a fashion victim group in sound or appearance. Its downtempo music and dream pop guitar sound with Malgorzata Wacht’s soaring vocals and emotional power has set it apart from most bands in the Denver Goth scene so its music has aged well and its excellent and so far only official album Denouement should appeal to fans of Dead Can Dance and Faith & The Muse.
Helloween is the influential power metal band from Hamburg, Germany. Since 1984 released a string of albums that have often featured concepts and storytelling commenting on the human condition in both personal, emotive narratives and paralleling historical references with current events and commenting on recurring themes of human civilization and the impact of culture and those in power on the lives of people within and without a particular country. The iconography of the pumpkin has been part of the group’s artwork since early on and infuses the often weighty subject matter of the songwriting with a touch of humor and humanity. In 2016 older Helloween lead vocalists Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen rejoined along with long time singer Andi Deris for the kind of sound not many groups in metal have ever had in one band. In May 2023 the group was slated for induction into the Metal Hall of Fame.
Tuesday | 05.02 What: Ruston Kelly w/Briscoe When: 7 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: Ruston Kelly has never been limited by his association with country and Americana and his 2023 album The Weakness even expands what that music can sound like. His earnest and dynamically expressive vocals seem to come from a deep place in his live performances and in music that can have a hushed, introspective quality, Kelly brings a vulnerable fortitude to songs that could work as chamber pop or a cosmic and existential brand of folk informed by a frank self-examination that has an appeal that transcends genre. Best to catch an artist at a time of having transitioned to music that bursts past previous boundaries and fans of his earlier work would do well to see Kelly on this touring cycle.
Tuesday | 05.02 What: Wilder Woods w/Abraham Alexander When: 6:30 Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Needtobreathe lead singer Wilder Woods aka Bear Rinehart is now touring in support of his new album FEVER / SKY, a collection of spirited neo soul roots rock that sounds like it could have come from the same music scene that spawned Joe Cocker. It’s an album that sounds like the songwriter is coming to terms with who he is as a man and as an artist reckoning with his past and his purpose in life born of a time of isolation during the early pandemic and its impacts on the life of anyone that depended on the world of live music and its associated cultural and economic infrastructure. But Rinehart goes much further and hits deep places in his soul bared self-examination that are more cathartic than uncomfortable.
Wednesday | 05.03 What:Skinny Puppy w/Lead Into Gold When: 7 Where: Fillmore Auditorium Why: Skinny Puppy were pioneers of electronic industrial music when it formed in 1982 out of the Vancouver, BC New Wave scene. Taking new technologies like sequencers and samplers and pushing the potential aesthetics of these new tools, Skinny Puppy had as much in common with hip-hop artists of that time and now as it did with underground and experimental electronic and industrial rock acts. Its themes of alienation, environmental destruction, animal rights and left politics, Skinny Puppy innovated musically and challenging convention in musical form as well as content. When early member Dwayne Goettel passed away in 1995 the band ended for several years even as a recording project before reuniting in 2000 for its first live performance since 1992. Four years later the group’s new album, the pointedly titled The Greater Wrong of the Right, released and Skinny Puppy toured again and has remained an active project since but with composition steeped in sound design and even more keen social commentary. Unfortunately this tour has been announced to be its last and will more than likely include Skinny Puppy’s signature high use of theatrical performances and striking visuals and some of the most well crafted, intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging electronic music ever made. The bonus is the opening act is Lead Into Gold, the long time project of Paul Barker, former bassist of Ministry.
Wednesday and Thursday | 05.03 and 05.04 What: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit w/Angel Olsen When: 6 Where: Red Rocks Why: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit is touring ahead of the June 9, 2023 release of the band’s new album Weathervanes so you’ll get plenty of material from the new record for this show. Isbell has become one of the most acclaimed songwriters of his generation for his vivid, sensitive and imaginative storytelling and delicate vocal style that makes it easy to forget what style of music he’s playing as it engages your emotions with an unexpected immediacy. In that way he’s like Neil Young whose own diverse songwriting and performance draw upon a broad array of methods and aesthetics that nevertheless have a comfortable familiarity. For these two dates Isbell will be joined by another of the modern great songwriters of the current era in Angel Olsen who seems to be able to make retro musical sensibilities seem modern and vibrant.
Thursday | 05.04 What:Molchat Doma w/Nuovo Testamento and Mothe When: 7 Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Nuovo Testamento is a Los Angeles-based darkwave band whose sound blurs the line between post-punk, italo disco and synthpop. On its 2022 swing through Denver at the Hi-Dive the group’s performance was like seeing Madonna fronting Depeche Mode but with its own distinctive flavor. Its new album Love Lines is filled with gorgeously produced darkwave dance club hits like the soundtrack to a retrofuturist thriller that has yet to be made. Molchat Doma is the cult post-punk band from Minsk, Belarus whose introspective songs of loneliness and alienation have struck a chord well beyond their homeland. Its of necessity thin production style and minimalist guitar sound has proven massive influential in Russia as well as globally in the realm of post-punk and darkwave.
Saturday | 05.06 What:I Ya Toyah w/eHpH, Hex Cassette, DJ Nitrogen When: 9 Where: The Broadway Roxy Why: I Ya Toyah is a Chicago-based artist whose dark electronic music has a kind of European flavor in the production and tonal palette. Like a darkwave/industrial Danielle Dax with elements of noise, ambient and breakcore in the mix. ehpH is the evolving, long time project of Fernando Altonago and Angelo Atencio also of post-punk rock band Plague Garden. The blend of EBM and industrial with punk attitude and social commentary always hits harder than expected and for this show more of the industrial side of their songwriting will be featured. Hex Cassette is a one man EBM/industrial cult leader of furiously energetic dance music and confrontational stage performance whose banter unsettles some but the choice and absurd humor value is undeniable.
Saturday | 05.06 What:Fishbone w/Frontside Five When: 6 Where: Levitt Pavilion Why: Fishbone has been genre bending and bursting since 1979. Its hybrid style of ska, punk, funk and beyond was like the punk side of Afrofuturism. Its songs always seemed to depict a time in the non-too-distant days to come where people could just be who they are and have the normal struggles of life we all face. All along the way the group’s sharp social commentary was couched in a surreal sense of humor and infectious party anthem grooves that didn’t downplay the issues so much as provide a soundtrack for working through them and shining a light on corners of American society that are often swept under the rug. The group recently released “All We Have Is Now” on the Bottle Music for Broken People compilation on Fat Mike’s new NOFX imprint with founding member Chris Dowd performing on a recording for the first time since 1994 and the song has the same irreverent and fun-loving spirit one would hope for with new Fishbone material.
Saturday | 05.06 What:Zealot w/Owosso and Loose Charm When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Zealot is celebrating the release of its new single “Newer Testament” at the Hi-Dive. Its literate yet spirited music is like if an indie rock band got reconnected with the intensity and musical inventiveness of early 2000s New York City rock with a similar level of imaginative songwriting and aim to make music that isn’t background playlist nonsense but which commands your attention. Owosso is a similarly-minded band comprised of local scene veterans who seem to have rediscovered a knack for crafting pop-inflected post-punk noise rock. If Loose Charm can be considered alt-country or post-rock its because its songs seem to be composed with ear for evocative melody and soundscaping that don’t usually go together unless you’re listening to something like Silver Jews or Wilco though Loose Charm doesn’t really sound like either.
Sunday | 05.07 What:Munly & The Lupercalians w/Polly Urethane When: 7:30 Where: Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox Why: Munly & The Lupercalians is like a darkly ritualistic, performance art mystical folk version of what Munly has been doing across his career. One might be tempted to compare it to neofolk but it’s more like a musical cognate to cinematic works like The Wicker Man and Kill List including the stage garb but also tied in with the singer’s baroque and stark poetry. Opening the performance is composer and performance artist Polly Urethane who seems to do a different type of performance and while sometimes combining musical elements and methods of previous performance with her new shows she always seems to push the boundaries of where she’s been before. Could be a weird DJ set, a visually striking performance to pre-recorded music with edgy components in presenting the material or who can say but always worth checking out.
Sunday | 05.07 What: Cobra Man w/Starbenders and Stolen Nova When: 7 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: Cobra Man is a self-styled “power disco” duo comprised of Andy Harry and Sarah Rayne and currently touring in support of its new EP New Paradise which releases on May 19, 2023. The lead single “Thin Ice” has all the bombast and gloriously, unabashedly epic sound of something you might have heard on the soundtrack for a Cannon Pictures action movie from the 1980s. And the live band isn’t just a couple of button pushers basically doing karaoke to well-produced tracks. They’re like a post-irony glam rock band that exults in the grand sweep and sonic excess of its music.
Monday | 05.08 What:Nox Novacula, Plague Garden and Weathered Statues When: 7 Where: HQ Why: Nox Novacula is a post-punk band from Seattle in the gritty death rock vein. Its moody guitar is shot through with a wiry energy and urgency that pairs well with impassioned vocals and driving rhythms. Its 2021 album Ascension bears obvious comparisons with Xmal Deutschland but with a more punk edge. Opening the show are two of Denver’s best post-punk outfits. Plague Garden’s music has a more electronic, New Wave-esque foundation with brooding lyrics and fiery, twin guitar work. Weathered Statues is a little more stark but with bright and buoyant vocals.
Tuesday | 05.09 What:Ringo Deathstarr w/Pleasure Venom, Cherished and Bloodsports When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Ringo Deathstarr is the cult shoegaze band out of Austin, Texas’ seemingly vibrant community for that style of music. Its own particular flavor is ethereal, drifty and transporting in that Slowdive and Lush vein but with its own fuzzily psychedelic sheen. It’s been two years since the group’s self-titled full-length so maybe we’ll get to see some newer material for this stop in Denver. For this trip to the Pacific Northwest, Ringo Deathstarr is joined by Austin noise-rock/art punks Pleasure Venom with local support in Denver from Sonic Youth-esque post-punk band Bloodsports and shoegaze/post-punk greats Cherished.
Tuesday | 05.09 What:Death Grips When: 7 Where: Mission Ballroom Why: Death Grips is the now legendary industrial hip-hop group from Sacramento, California comprised of MC Ride, Andy Morin and Zach Hill. The group has become known for its edgy imagery and its disdain for playing along with music industry expectations and doing so with creativity and deep irreverence. But its well-publicized antics perhaps boosted the group’s cachet while its inventive music spoke for itself with artwork and album and track names that demonstrated a keen awareness of internet culture and American social reality. When the band did perform live it was an incendiary and aggressive affair that has been unforgettable.
Wednesday | 05.10 What:Pixies w/Pond When: 6:30 Where: Mission Ballroom Why: Pond from Perth, Australia has been developing and evolving its cinematic, psychedelic art rock since 2008 and its 2021 album 9 sounds like a series of interconnected short films. There’s a spaciousness and dramatic sense of mood and atmosphere that washes around the core rhythms and melodies as they burst with emotion. Like if Pink Floyd hung out with Hawkwind more and ditched their epic sweeps in favor of their more raw rock instincts but infused it with disco and funk. Australia has become known for its popular psychedelic bands but fortunately for the world they’re all very different from each other and Pond is a band whose creative trajectory has left behind some fine listening. Of course there’s also the headlining band, Pixies, who were a choice cult band in its first iteration from the mid-80s through the early 90s and highly influential for its wonderfully eccentric lyrics and brilliantly unconventional, noisy, eruptively energetic alternative rock. But once a younger generation caught wind of the band through the appearance of “Where Is My Mind?” on the soundtrack of Fight Club it became a much more popular band and able to tour on the strength of its older material and bring its sound, foundational to modern rock music, to a much wider audience.
Wednesday | 05.10 What:Spike Hellis w/Candy Apple, Moon 17 and Sell Farm When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Spike Hellis is basically making the kind of modern EBM and industrial that is informed by punk and even hardcore in its raw energy of delivery. In the live show it’s reminiscent of the kind of hard hitting vibe one might hear in early Nitzer Ebb and Meat Beat Manifesto but with the aesthetics of a modern, glitchcore project but with all the extraneous sonics ripped out but with the bombast left in place. One of the most electrifying live bands in the modern realm of darkwave. Sell Farm has lately been dipping deep into sequencing and sampling to create dystopian, politically charged dub dance post-punk. Candy Apple bridges the gap between a hardcore band and shoegaze-tinged noise rock. Moon 17 is a “Sci-Fi Industrial” band from Kansas City helmed by Zack Hames. The genre seems to fit even if it was dropped as slightly humorous but one hopes Nicolas Winding Refn taps these bands for his next movie soundtrack.
Wednesday | 05.10 What: Greg Puciato w/Escuela Grind, Deaf Club and Trace Amount When: 6:30 Where: The Marquis Theater Why: Greg Puciato is the former lead singer and lyricist for metalcore legends The Dillinger Escape Plan. Outside of the context of that band, Pusciato has been a member of synthwave band The Black Queen with its deep atmospheric, cinematic sounds akin to something you might expect to hear from the likes of Failure. And in recent years his solo records have been a fusion and evolution of his past work into something that reconciles an aggressive sound and energy with introspective sentiments and electronic aesthetics. The 2022 album Mirrorcell sounds like where metalcore should have gone and might be more favorably compared to a project like Author & Punisher or Blacklist. Opening are some heavy hitters as well with noise rock supergroup Deaf Club with Justin Person of The Locust, Brian Amalfitano of AcxDC, Scott Osment of Weak Flesh, Jason Klein of Run With The Hunted and Tommy Meehan of The Manx. And Escuela Grind, the modern grindcore/powerviolence legends from Pittsfield, Massachusetts who are quickly establishing themselves as a live band to catch whose songs are informed by a “intersectional progressive” revolutionary, inclusive fervor.
Wednesday | 05.10 What:Metronymy w/Glüme When: 7 Where: Summit Music Hall Why: Metronymy has been constantly evolving its experimental pop sound with an early focus on exquisitely alien techno soundscapes to its more recent albums that demonstrate its finely honed songcraft with organic elements that seem to more directly reflect tender human experiences with a startling poignancy. Its 2019 album Metronymy Forever wasn’t the first hint at a shift in sound and style but it is an album full of the kind of songwriting one might expect on a Wilco record or an album by The National. And the group’s 2022 album Small World is fully in that mode with songs that are vulnerable yet rich in subtle production that clears the space for the lyrics and organic textures of the music to shine making Metronymy a fascinating anomaly in the expanded realm of modern indie rock.
Friday | 05.12 What:Church Fire w/Calm., Moon Pussy, Sorrows When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Church Fire is celebrating the release of its new music video. For what song? Who knows? You’ll have to go to find out and maybe it’ll be released online later. But video or not, Church Fire’s emotionally vibrant industrial dance music is best experienced live without the filters of a purely online experience. Calm. is the hip-hop duo of Time and Awareness who have been putting out some of the most literate and politically charged hip-hop out of the Mile High City in recent years and don’t do many shows at venues like the Hi-Dive or similarly-sized venues these days. And hip-hop in generally isn’t getting a lot of traction at smaller clubs in general but Hi-Dive is an exception to that general rule. Chris “Time” Steele will probably crack wise between songs with genuine wit. Moon Pussy is the getting to be known nationally on the underground circuit noise rock band from Denver whose eruptive music and explosive energy always seems to exceed expectation. SORROWS is a downtempo electronic duo of Glynnis Braan and Lawrence Snell whose dark atmospherics and operatic vocals pull from diverse influences.
Friday | 05.12 What: 7038634357, Verity Larsen, Emilie Craig, sleepdial and Polly Urethane When: 9 Where: Glob Why: 7038634357 seems to be a generative ambient noise artist from Arlington, VA whose releases display a knack for signal processing. Verity Larsen combines musique concrète with prepared environmental recordings and ambient soundscapes to produce sonic experiences that recontextualize everyday experiences. French Kettle Station is performing as sleepdial, his more ambient experiments in electronics and sometimes guitar. Polly Urethan you just never know what to expect from how now broad palette of ideas for performance and music and just be prepared to get to witness something unique and potentially challenging.
Friday | 05.12 What: Frontline Assembly and Whorticulture When: 9 Where: Tracks Why: EBM pioneers Frontline Assembly is performing for this “Bladerunner — A Cyberpunk Party” and providing the perfect soundtrack for such an event with its dystopian lyrics and electronic industrial.
Friday | 05.12 What: Crowded House w/Liam Finn When: 7 Where: Paramount Theatre Why: Australian band Crowded House is perhaps best remembered for its outstanding 1986 hit “Don’t Dream It’s Over” with its spare yet orchestral melody. But Crowded House produced some quality folk pop during its initial run of 1985-1996 and when it has since reunited in the 2000s and 2020s still led by singer/guitarist Neil Finn who had a fairly successful career while Crowded House was split.
Saturday | 05.13 What:Scott H. Biram w/Garrett T. Capps and White Rose Motor Oil When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Scott H. Biram is the renowned blues punk musician/solo artist whose troubadour country ballads could seem like pure affectation but he’s done his time in punk and metal and bluegrass in crafting his signature gritty, gospel blues sound. Supporting this bill is the great Denver-based alternative country/outlaw rockabilly band White Rose Motor Oil whose own spare line-up as a duo always seems to punch above its weight in its forcefulness and emotional impact.
Sunday | 05.14 What: Caroline Polachek w/Alex G and Indigo De Souza When: 7 Where: Mission Ballroom Why: Indigo De Souza’s songs have since early on been an expression of a moody vulnerability cast as deeply atmospheric pop songs that are often pointed but never cruel, simply honest and poetic. Her latest album out on Saddle Creek is 2023’s All of This Will End continues the development of her vibrant songwriting filled with stories that take the pain of lived experience and reflecting on the broad expanse of feelings one goes through in life and sitting in them and finding a way to put them into stories that give them a context that makes them something from which to learn and exult in life rather than be overwhelmed by disappointment, bitterness, petty betrayal (by others and by oneself). And she’s a perfect artist in this line-up of other art pop practitioners of note such as Alex G who has taken conceptual psychedelic rock to fascinating new heights and headliner Caroline Polacek who as a member of Charlift (which was founded in Boulder, Colorado while she was attending CU) made some of the cooler indie rock to have emerged out of that decade that produced the foundations of much of what we hear now. But in her solo career she has emerged as an innovative and experimental artist whose pop songs don’t seem beholden to anyone else’s style bending genres and sounds to suit her creative vision of the moment. For her 2023 album Desire, I Want to Turn Into You you can hear the impact of hyper pop and glitch but as elements and not a root.
Sunday | 05.14 What: Spooky Mansion w/Sour Magic and Salads and Sunbeams When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Spooky Mansion is a surf-rock inflected psychedelic lounge pop band from Los Angeles making a couple of stops in Colorado including this date at the Hi-Dive. Denver’s Sour Magic sound like they could have come from a similar musical lineage but with more luminous guitar melodies. Like maybe they got deep into DIIV and Mac Demarco and found their own voice as a band. Salads and Sunbeams is the kind of band that has crafted exquisite psychedelic indiepop that might have come right out of an unlikely scene that included the Zombies and The Apples in Stereo. But it works and doesn’t have that throwback yesteryear worship vibe even if to some extent that’s what it is because the songwriting stands on its own and worthy of its obvious and not so obvious influences.
Monday | 05.15 What:Wednesday w/Cryogeyser When: 7 Where: Larimer Lounge Why: Wednesday from Asheville, North Carolina has garnered a bit of a cult following among fans of experimental noise rock and shoegaze and whatever one might call Canadian guitar bands like Women, Preoccupations and FRIGS. But then there’s another side of the band’s sound and that’s the more country flavor of some of its songs, unabashed, borderline cosmic honky tonk stuff. And Wednesday makes it work because it’s obvious the group is fully steeped in both creative instincts and its records are a journey for which a variety of sounds make sense. In particular its 2023 record Rat Saw God and its vivid stories of life in the American South told with great nuance, insight and poignancy. At times the songs can take you by surprise with an offhand lyric that’s so real but delivered with the nonchalance that makes it palatable and it all feeds into what’s making Wednesday one of the most fascinating bands of this moment.
Monday | 05.15 What:Yves Tumor w/Pretty Slick and NATION When: 7 Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Yves Tumor is an artist whose genre-bending art rock/hip-hop/electronic dance music/funk seems tapped into a raw, otherworldly energy that is a reflection of the anxieties and nightmares of the world we experience everyday. The 2023 album Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds) is more overtly rock than earlier albums but still like an alien glam rock that feels ahead of the curve. Live, Yves Tumor is a commanding figure with a lot of swagger and electrifying presence.
Monday | 05.15 What:Narrow Head w/Graham Hunt, Public Opinion and Flower Language When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Houston’s Narrow Head much like Phoenix’s Holy Fawn probably come from a general realm of local scene music but whereas Holy Fawn has transcended black metal into more the realm of a post-rock shoegaze, Narrow Head may have found its origins in a music scene that had or has fine examples of the resurgence of hardcore and emo in the compelling form that emerged all over the country in the past decade. But the band as we hear it on its new album Moments of Clarity is the kind of heavy shoegaze with dynamics like blossoming melodies and soaring vocals that seem to harmonize with the ethereal fuzz and dense low end to give the songs an undeniable uplift.
Tuesday | 05.16 What: Tim Hecker When: 7 Where: Boulder Theater Why: Can’t really blame Tim Hecker for expressing in his recent interview in the New York Times his misgivings for having helped to popularize ambient music since it has become such a workhorse of the bland playlist culture of Spotify. Who wants to be handmaiden to that? But to Hecker’s credit he’s always been an artist who has explored new vistas of the art form in terms of form, structure, sound palette, presentation and instrumentation. His new album No Highs is imbued with a textural, intimate quality that feels very much of the body as his music does in the live setting rather than the offensively bland and background quality of generic playlist ambient.
Tuesday | 05.16 What:Mr. Bungle w/Melvins and Spotlights When: 7 Where: Mission Ballroom Why: No matter where you check in on the Mr. Bungle timeline you will find boundary-pushing music that bends and breaks genres from the early death metal-surrealism to the lush and theatrical art rock of its late 90s output. Currently the band is touring with a lineup that includes Mike Patton, Trey Spruance, Trevor Dunn, Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo so who can say what the setlist will sound like whether its more baroque pop stuff or the material from its recently reissued 1986 demo The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny. Whatever it might be, the show will be bombastic and mind-expanding. Bonus: Melvins, the sludge rock legends, will bring their always riveting and cathartic performance of its own music that spans various ends of heavy rock with a hard hitting finesse.
Tuesday | 05.16 What: Hoodoo Gurus When: 7 Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Hoodoo Gurus are the legendary Australian garage rock band that was an influence on generations of bands that have been keyed into its particular brand of jangle psychedelia and punk. Currently the band is touring in support of its 2022 album Chariot of the Gods.
Wednesday | 05.17 What:Future Islands w/Deeper When: 7 Where: Mission Ballroom Why: Future Islands has come a long way from playing DIY spaces in Denver to Red Rocks and now headlining Mission Ballroom. But what hasn’t changed is its emotionally gripping synth pop and impassioned live performances. For this night Chicago’s arty post-punk band Deeper will bring its darkly atmospheric and poignant music to the proceedings.
Thursday | 05.18 What:Sparta w/’68 and Geoff Rickly When: 6 Where: Bluebird Theater Why: The 2002 album Wiretap Scars is where Sparta picked up where At The Drive-In, singer Jim Ward’s then most recently prominent band, left off. The angular, Fugazi-esque, anthemic songs that astutely commented on the times without being so topical as to age poorly in the years ahead. Rather, Wiretap Scars today seems perhaps even more relevant than it did when America was in a state of confusion and nascent authoritarianism and misplaced nationalistic patriotism was starting to settle into the swing of public life. There is a passionate coherence of productive outrage on the record and based on the group’s 2022 tour Sparta will deliver on that messaging on this tour as well.
Thursday | 05.18 What: The Mssng w/To Be Astronauts and Tiny Humans When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: The Mssng is a band whose hybrid of styles sometimes comes off like people who were inspired by the agglomeration of 90s alternative rock, post-punk revival and the glam rock end of modern garage rock. To Be Astronauts has generally been sort of a 90s throwback, alternative hard rock band who displayed all the stylistic fingerprints of 2000s stoner rock but with more melody. Lately some of the band’s recordings have included versions of songs, live and otherwise, that reveal that if you strip away some of those hard rock instincts you find a band that has some solid songwriting with nothing to prove. Sure, it’s a bit like a better version of the kind of acoustic and electric alt-rock you might have heard from the likes of Counting Crows which isn’t for everyone but respectable nonetheless. Tiny Humans, what can you say, except that the singer has to stop being carted on stage in a wheelchair and in hospital robes and pretending like he’s doing a Nirvana tribute band when it’s more obvious it’s a strange attempt to fully emulate The Amboy Dukes’ guitarist’s entire solo career. But hey, who doesn’t appreciate such fetishistic performance art?
Friday | 05.19 What:Vast Aire (Cannibal Ox) w/Gee Tee and guests When: 9 Where: Bar Red 437 W. Colfax Why: Vast Aire is the charismatic and enigmatic rapper who is perhaps best known for his work with alternative hip-hop group Cannibal Ox. His forceful delivery and vivid, socially conscious storytelling once encountered sticks with you because his various collaborators like El-P on the 2001 classic album The Cold Vein are able to create a darkly haunting soundscape from which his voice stands out like an urban mystic and mythological poet.
Friday | 05.19 What:MUNA w/Nova Twins When: 7 Where: Mission Ballroom Why: Given that the members of MUNA all have academic backgrounds in music or cultural studies one might expect the music to be something more cerebral or conceptual. And initially when developing their own material the trio of Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin and Naomi McPherson experimented with sounds and styles before coming upon exuberant pop songs with earworm hooks and lyrics that are sure about instantly relatable subjects of love and relationships but also with a sensitivity toward issues of identity beyond the usual tropes and which resonate broadly. The group released its 2022 self-titled album to critical acclaim and now MUNA is on a headlining tour of large concert halls with a supporting slot on the upcoming Taylor Swift tour where an appreciative audience for its particularly expansive and upbeat songs will be found.
Friday | 05.19 What: Shady Oaks w/Weary Bones, Fern Roberts and The Picture Tour When: 7 Where: Lost Lake Why: Shady Oaks is a mix of blues and indie rock and Americana. Weary Bones is a bit of an Americana jam band from Louisville, Colorado but more in the vein of Widespread Panic where there are coherent songs that have resonance beyond the genre. It released its latest album Humble Echoes in 2023. Fern Roberts might be described as an indie rock band that seems to be equally influenced by Bright Eyes, 90s alternative rock and the more pop end of Built to Spill. The main reason to go to this show is to see the live debut of former Emerald Siam guitarist Billy Armijo’s band The Picture Tour. Its 2022 album Before the Sound, Before the Light was an audacious debut of introspective, gloomy shoegaze with an ear for interweaving atmospheres and feedback sculpting to produce unique melodies and an enveloping sound.
Friday | 05.19 What:Fruit Bats w/Kolumbo When: 7 Where: Ogden Theatre Why: The new Fruit Bats album A River Running To Your Heart seems assembled and composed as a cinematic experience as much as one more musical. When the record gets up and going its intricate guitar arrangements flow with a grace and elegance that one normally hears more in music that operates at a slower pace and yet for this set of songs Eric D. Johnson and the band never sound rushed. The music is just focused even in reflective passages and there is an energy to the music that pulls you in. Fans of early The War on Drugs will hear some resonance here but Johnson’s songs seem to reign in the impulse to psychedelic self-indulgence and one gets the sense that as free as the music feels that it’s been crafted to edit out excesses that don’t contribute to one of the most consistently enchanting pop albums of the year.
Saturday | 05.20 What:Placebo w/Deap Valley and Poppy Jean Crawford – canceled When: 7 Where: Fillmore Auditorium Why: Placebo emerged at a time in the mid-1990s when the alternative rock wave was basically spent and a lot of really dull, beige rock and roll and uninspired pop was peddled as exciting. Placebo offered something that seemed to reinvent the edginess of the darker end of grunge with a more glam rock sense of theater and drama. Its early albums dipped into rock and dance music equally before it became even more of a thing at the turn of the century and in a fashion different than had been done by the likes of New Order, Primal Scream and their storied ilk. Its 1998 album Without You I’m Nothing and its promotional videos revealed a band that seemed to have embraced Goth-like personal darkness in musical style and outward presentation. That the band appeared in Velvet Goldmine, Todd Haynes’ 1998 glam rock fictional biopic of David Bowie and Iggy Pop and that early 1970s era didn’t hurt in establishing Placebo’s cred as a band that embodied the emerging new alternative culture. The band’s 2022 album Never Let Me Go, perhaps a reference to Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2005 tragic novel of of the same name as well as the 2010 film, its first in 9 years has Placebo pushing its own boundaries beyond where it has been before as a band with an unabashed use of saturated synth melodies and a much more creative use of processed guitar in rock music than we’ve heard in awhile. And if you’re going to have an opening acts like mutant garage psych duo Deap Valley and experimental pop/singer-songwriter Poppy Jean Crawford that just hints that someone in your camp has been listening for something different and actually cool which isn’t always the case in the music industry even on accident.
Saturday | 05.20 What: Fenne Lily & Christian Lee Hutson w/Anna Tivel When: 8 Where: The Bluebird Theater Why: The intimate production on Fenne Lily’s new album Big Picture puts her expressive and breathy vocals front and center without pushing the delicate, almost impressionistic, warm and layered guitar work into the background. The songwriter sounds resigned on these set of songs but that seems to come more out of a sense of having to come to terms with how you can never really get too complacent in life nor do you want to and that sometimes getting to used to comfort can be a path antithetical to personal growth but also how feeling like you’re always having to fend off life’s static and unpredictably intermittent challenges can be kind of a bummer even if you’re able to brush them off and move forward. Lily sounds like she understands and has some deep empathy for how in recent years everyday challenges have seemed like a bit much and how that pace isn’t exactly relenting yet we do have to maintain a core of some grace to weather this steady stream of a whole lot of everything. Big Picture, the title alone, points to how stepping back in the moment can give you the pause you need to keep things in perspective even if you have a moment or ten.
Sunday | 05.21 What:Shania Twain w/Hailey Whitters When: 6:30 Where: Ball Arena Why: Shania Twain needs no introduction. The “Queen of Country Pop” is one of the best selling artists of all time. Certainly in the realm of country and pop music of the last 30 years. Normally in this show listing these kinds of artists don’t make the cut because they’re just too mainstream and not creatively interesting. But Twain was a pioneer in pushing country music into the realm of pop. She and Garth Brooks, whether you’re into their music or not, paved the way for people like Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood to find an audience beyond the niche of country. Twain’s humor and charisma made her songs appealing beyond genre and continue to do so. In 2023 Twain released her new album Queen of Me which features current production techniques (even some elements of hyper pop) one might expect to hear on the record of a newer artist but of course the draw is her commanding voice and ability to articulate a range of feelings that seem to capture timeless experiences in new ways that fortunately hint that Twain is keenly aware of not only her place as a country artist that has always embraced new sounds but as one who has also been trying on new ways of having her songs hit with fresh sounds and songwriting that doesn’t sound like she’s stuck in the past.
Sunday | 05.21 What:Violent Femmes w/Jesse Ahern When: 5 Where: Levitt Pavillion Why: Violent Femmes will perform its 1983 self-titled debut album in its entirety for this show. That record was a staple of alternative rock radio and college dorms for decades. Its weird blend of folk, punk, jazz and outsider pop had an undeniable, immediate and enduring appeal with classics like “Blister in the Sun,” “Add It Up” and “Gone Daddy Gone” but the whole record beginning to end is a journey into the essence of youthful angst and frustrations but expressed in a way that somehow remained relevant well beyond anyone’s teen years. The Femmes remain a force in the live setting and always surprisingly powerful yet fun.
Tuesday | 05.23 What:Arts Fishing Club w/Homes at Night When: 7 Where: Globe Hall Why: Arts Fishing Club is an indie rock band from Nashville that formed in 2016. Singer/guitarist Christopher Kessenich grew up seeing live music with his father and older brothers witnessing a mix of alternative music, classic rock and jam bands all of which fed into his own eclectic songwriting. The band’s debut album Rothko Sky (due out June 16, 2023) is arranged as a kind of personal journey of a person who in the first half of the record sets out in life idealistic and open to everything only to find out that all of us have limitations both human and of our own unique psychology. On the album’s second half there is a reflection on the nature and impact of love, sex and pain and how that can shape who we are once the shine and novelty of new experiences evolves into appreciating the breadth and depth of life. The songs have a bluesy grit and an often impassioned delivery informed by the flow of its narrative element for a record that sounds like it had to be made by a band a few releases into its career once it has figured out who it is and what it wants to say with intention but with the exuberance of a new band intact. Listen to our interview with Kessenich on the Queen City Sounds Podcast on Bandcamp.
Monday | 05.22 What:My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult w/ADULT. and KANGA When: 6:30 Where: Oriental Theater Why: My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult is currently touring celebrating its 36 years as a band with a set list that focuses on the group’s first decade. The band’s campy, industrial disco sleaze has always demonstrated a more fun and lighthearted side of industrial culture while offering a distinctive visual and musical style in its bombastic live shows. By the time Thrill Kill Kult appeared in The Crow (1994), the band had already been staples of the more underground end of alternative rock write large but its performance in the film was the perfect embodiment of the aesthetics of the movie. ADULT. is the great industrial post-punk duo from Detroit whose music of the past few years has really been the musical reflection of the conflicted and dystopian times we’ve been going through with a world on the brink of domination by authoritarian regimes and the already unfolding disastrous consequences of climate change with little to no vision and action by world leaders. ADULT.’s music is an act of human solidarity and a catharsis of ambient despair. KANGA is a Los Angeles-based producer whose dusky pop music is darkwave adjacent but also adjacent to a more dance beat infused chillwave and vaporwave with sultry vocals. It might be more apt to compare KANGA to the likes of Charli XCX and Jessie Ware than an artist out of the Goth world.
Tuesday | 05.23 What:Martin Dupont w/Julian St. Nightmare and French Kettle Station and Kill You Club DJs When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Legendary French New Wave band Martin Dupont, formed in 1982, is playing few shows on this tour through the US and one of those stops is in Denver. The group has a new album out called Kintsugi that with its sweeping synths and darkly melancholic melodies seems to have arrived in time for the current era of appreciation for its particular style of cold wave pop/minimal synth and marking its first album in 36 years. French Kettle Station might be described as a hybrid New Age/glitch/post-Cloud rap/abstract post-rock artist whose stage antics involve some impressive dance moves and prodigious energy. Julian St. Nightmare is one of the best post-punk bands from Denver at the moment whose songs seem to have emerged out of its members having gone through phases of playing garage and psychedelic rock and surf but come through with some strong songwriting skills and the ability to craft moody yet powerful songs that don’t sound like the cookie cutter version of modern darkwave.
Tuesday | 05.23 What:Y La Bamba w/Ritmo Cascabel When: 7 Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Ya La Bamba is currently touring in support of its new record Lucha which in its typically exploratory fashion employs folk music of various traditions and an experimental soundscaping aesthetic that allows for a rich expression of themes and the sounds that serve to anchor them in your mind. The album is one about various identities and how they overlap and how we can come to embrace them as a coherent and intermingled part of our existence no matter what those categories might be of gender, sexuality, culture and individual psychology. It’s a gentle record but one that runs deep into the aforementioned subjects and through that more vulnerable approach that encourages patience with self and others is able to more successfully enter into the more tender realms of the heart and mind and comment with an intuitive insight. The psychedelic folk of these songs are ambitious in scope and imagination and the live band always seems to truly render the songs into a vibrant and moving form.
Friday | 05.26 What:Mareux w/Cold Gawd When: 7 Where: Marquis Theater Why: Mareux established his cult following as a darkwave artist with singles and EPs over the past few years. What set him apart from some of his peers though are his deeply lush and detailed production with rich low end, his dusky and soulful vocals and his poetic tales of romantic yearning like something out of late night cafe reminiscing about heartbreak and lost loves. Currently the producer/singer/songwriter is touring in support of his debut full-length Lovers From the Past, a record that reveals a dimensionality to Mareux’s gift for conveying sonic depth and emotional nuance. Opening is the Cold Gawd whose 2022 album God Get Me the Fuck Out of Here was one of the records of choice to connoisseurs of shoegaze and music that pushes the boundaries of established styles. With R&B beats and granular guitar melodies in densely expressive layers, Cold Gawd is helping to reshape what both forms of music have to sound like and whether there has to be a separation.
Friday | 05.26 What: Chromeo and Hot Chip w/Coco & Breezy and Cimafunk When: 5 Where: Red Rocks Why: Canadian electro-funk duo Chromeo seems to regularly tour with its bombastic and visually arresting live show and always with an innovative opening act or two along for the ride. For this outing at Red Rocks you will get to see Hot Chip. The UK band came to prominence in the early 2000s for its innovative fusion of synthpop and dance music that sounds like a successor to the kinds of sounds we heard out of Madchester, the Balearic Beat, disco and neo soul. Hot Chip always seems to have a keen ear for use of space in its compositions and how that can have a very powerful emotional resonance that goes beyond the mere us of dazzling, atmospheric melodies and strong beats. Its latest album is 2022’s Freakout/Release which found the band leaning heavy into its alternative pop sound with some nice experimental moments reminiscent of Kraftwerk and perhaps contemporaries it influenced like Cut Copy. It might be the group’s most full-realized album in its long career.
Friday | 05.26 What:Ganser w/Antibroth and The Red Scare When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Chicago’s Ganser is probably well within the realm of post-punk but artier and with a more interesting palette of sounds upon which it draws. In moments like noise rock math rock psychedelic weirdos with angular flow but with an ear for sculpting the collective soundscape it creates. In this way the band has more in common with other Chicago weirdo post-punk bands like Facs or Dehd or beyond the Windy City and akin to bands like Studded Left, Body Double, Dry Cleaning, Lithics or FRIGS. Whatever the exact nature of Ganser might be for anyone into more experimental post-punk that isn’t being defined by a trendy sound. Opening are confrontational, mathy post-punk band Antibroth and the more noise rock The Red Scare.
Saturday | 05.27 What:Suzanne Ciani w/Colloboh When: 7 Where: Central Presbyterian Church Why: Synth pioneer Suzanne Ciani is doing a rare performance in Denver this night with quadraphonic sound and a projection-mapped light show. Ciani’s long career has seen her work appear in film, television and commercials as music and sound effects and her 1980s and beyond New Age albums have been nominated for a Grammy five times. Her contributions to sound design and music has been a part of popular culture in ways both subtle and overt and her unique achievements as a composer in league with the likes of Morton Subotnick, Wendy Carlos, Laurie Spiegel, Pauline Oliveros and Delia Derbyshire. Don’t sleep on these shows. You may never get another chance to see Ciani live.
Saturday | 05.27 What:Nerver, Almanac Man and Edith Pike When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Nerver from Kansas City is a rising noise rock band in the vein of the kinds of artists you’d hear from Amphetamine Reptile and Touch and Go. It’s 2022 album CASH was a brutal yet haunting selection of songs that are somehow both melancholic and introspective yet fiery in their cathartic moments. In 2023 Nerver released a split with noise rock legends Chat Pile called BROTHERS IN CHRIST. Edith Pike’s self-titled EP from 2022 may have been pretty lo-fi but you can hear the kind of screamo-noise rock crossover sound that may have its roots in hardcore but has evolved beyond the predictable version of that music. Almanac Man also from Denver has the kind of gristly noise rock that’s feral like Neurosis but with a post-punk angularity that gives its music a vibe like Shellac if Steve Albini had come up in the music world he helped to influence.
Saturday | 05.27 What:Meet the Giant album release w/Church Fire and The Mssng When: 8 Where: Enigma Bazaar Why: Meet the Giant is releasing its new album We Are Revolting. The group’s 2018 self-titled debut was the product of several years of woodshedding musical ideas and songs as well as production and its gritty mix of rock and downtempo with emotionally stirring vocals reflected with the then emergent live band. This time around the trio appears to have focused on an even sonically edgier catharsis with songs that express an anger born of frustration and weariness at the political and cultural situation in which we find ourselves in America and really worldwide. As touchstones one might point to the likes of Failure and its own fusion of rock and electronic sensibilities and a sheen of the cinematic. Or Nine Inch Nails in even further implementing sound design elements in the mix. But Meet the Giant’s songs tend to be more melodic and its sound having more in common with a modern shoegaze band with a bit more rock and roll kick to its songwriting. Church Fire is also on the bill bringing its own reinvented amalgam of political, electronic industrial dance music and are rock touches.
Sunday | 05.28 What:Sarah Shook and the Disarmers w/Porlolo and Wheelright When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Outlaw country, country-punk, whatever designation fits Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, Sarah Shook is one of the most distinctive voices in modern country music on the still fairly underground level where a great deal of the best of that and other musical styles are found. Shook’s voice has enough of a rough edge to be interesting but their melodic resonance serves well stories of every day life written in a way that seems so specific yet relatable in spirit and substance. Speaking of, Pololo is more an indie rock band but Erin Roberts has a gift for turning a sense of humor into music with a sharply observational and existential bent.
Sunday | 05.28 What:Yob w/Cave In and Dreadnought When: 7 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: Yob is an influential doom band that began in 2000 before splitting in 2006 and reconvening in 2008. Its sound is definitely in that realm of mining what Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Sleep and Earth had done before but seeing Yob live it seems obvious that Mike Scheidt is injecting a sense of fun into the music and its flows of heavy rock is tinged with psychedelia. This coming year the group is re-issuing its debut album Elaborations of Carbon so perhaps the set list will favor that record but either way, Yob is a fun live band that makes music that is both cosmic and deeply human. Cave In is the influential post-hardcore, foundational metalcore band from Massachusetts. Dreadnought is the doom band from Denver whose rhythmic style has a tribal sensibility and whose overall sound is more atmospheric, psychedelic and more rooted in dark folk than many of its heavy music peers.
Monday | 05.29 What:Djunah w/Moon Pussy and Limbwrecker When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Chicago’s Djunah is a noise rock band of the kind that fans of the jarring and cathartic music of HIDE and Diamanda Galás might find much to their liking. Fronted by guitarist/singer/Moog bass player Donna Diane, Djunah recently released its new album Femina Furens. The heaviness of the music doesn’t just come from its gloriously clashing dynamics and instrumentation, it’s, per Djunah’s Bandcamp page, “the story of diagnosis and continuing recovery from complex post-traumatic stress disorder, or C-PTSD. The album’s title comes from the Latin for ‘furious woman.’ The artwork is inspired by representations of the divine feminine in 1970s sci-fi metal art.” Touchstones on a quick listen would have to include Chelsea Wolfe, Patti Smith and Nick Cave for the exuberantly unleashed emotional energy present within. Who better to open than Denver’s Moon Pussy whose own eruptive noise rock while often accompanied by an eccentric sense of humor between songs has a similarly elemental energy that releases personal darkness, pain and frustrations in built and rapidly uncoiled tensions. Limbwrecker has a similar aesthetic though from a place that seems more steeped in a foundation of hardcore and extreme metal.
Monday and Tuesday | 05.29 and 05.30 What: LCD Soundsystem w/M.I.A. and Peaches When: 6 Where: Red Rocks Why: LCD Soundsystem is the band started by James Murphy of DFA Records as a vehicle for his experiments in blending indie rock and electronic dance music. Though often associated with “dance punk,” LCD Soundsystem is much more wide-ranging than that designator would suggest with innovative production and a highly experimental approach to songwriting format and style beginning with the early single “I’m Losing My Edge” to its newer material like “New Body Rhumba” from the soundtrack to Noah Baumbach’s 2022 film White Noise based on Don DeLillo’s 1985 novel of the same name. Perhaps just as noteworthy for this show are the opening artists. Sure, irreverent and theatrical electroclash pioneer Peaches was in Denver recently with a powerful and entertaining show at the Summit Music Hall but rapper M.I.A., who learned how to make her own music from Peaches, hasn’t played in this area since her most recent national tour in 2008 at the Fillmore Auditorium, and her own music and performances are informed by her fusion of hip-hop, experimental electronic dance music, non-Western musical styles and an activist bent that challenges human rights abuse and imperialism.
Tuesday | 05.30 What:Helloween w/Hammerfall When: 6 Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Helloween is the influential power metal band from Hamburg, Germany. Since 1984 released a string of albums that have often featured concepts and storytelling commenting on the human condition in both personal, emotive narratives and paralleling historical references with current events and commenting on recurring themes of human civilization and the impact of culture and those in power on the lives of people within and without a particular country. The iconography of the pumpkin has been part of the group’s artwork since early on and infuses the often weighty subject matter of the songwriting with a touch of humor and humanity. In 2016 older Helloween lead vocalists Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen rejoined along with long time singer Andi Deris for the kind of sound not many groups in metal have ever had in one band. In May 2023 the group was slated for induction into the Metal Hall of Fame. In the coming days look for our audio interview with guitarist Sascha Gerstner on the Queen City Sounds Podcast series.
Tuesday | 05.30 What:Ryan Oakes w/Layto and Cherie Amour When: 7 Where: Globe Hall Why: Ryan Oakes released his new album WAKE UP on May 12, 2023. The album makes good on the rapper’s experiments in genre bending and blending. The subject matter is about personal struggle, mental health difficulties and overcoming adversity but the attitude and delivery is punk set to trap beats and production for a sound that could be a complete disaster but works because the words are raw and real and the music hitting with an exhilarating immediacy. Somehow Oakes takes the anthemic quality of modern post-hardcore emo and a dazzling parade of current cultural references to tell stories of striving and struggling in an era of amplified anxiety and pressure to succeed despite human limitations and vulnerabilities. Oakes doesn’t bother not tapping into hyper pop’s sonic surrealism and industrial hip-hop as well as the aforementioned styles to create a compelling sound of his own.
Tuesday | 05.30 What:Drain w/Drug Church, MSPAINT and TORENA When: 7 Where: The Marquis Theater Why: Drain is a melodic hardcore trio from Santa Cruz, California that recently released its new album Living Proof. Drug Church hails from the opposite end of the country in Albany, NY but its own style of hardcore is also not short on melody but its style is one with some roots in pop punk or the modern, better, version that emerged in the early 2010s. But the real reason to go to this show is to see MSPAINT from Hattiesburg, Mississippi whose debut full length Post-American release came out on Convulse Records. Clearly the band came out of the punk/hardcore scene but it’s synth-driven art punk is stranger and more colorful than a lot of what else is on offer for this night but delivered with the same level of intense energy and outpouring of passion. One might compare the band to Milemarker and The VSS but it’s really its own, unique flavor of challenging-to-classify punk.
Wednesday | 05.31 What:Chris King & The Gutterballs w/Chella and The Charm and Silver Triplets When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Chris King & The Gutterballs is a band from Seattle whose flavor of Americana has more in common with CCR than the more modern country folk strain though that’s in the mix too. Chella and The Charm has for the past decade or so provided the kind of Americana that is an urban soundtrack to contemplating life and the sorts of issues and thoughts and feelings that drive an authentic existence and performed with the earthy energy of a rock and roll band. But even within that you can hear the irreverent humor and sharp social commentary and observations on human behavior with affection and insight.
Wednesday | 05.31 What:Ultra Bomb w/Black Dots, The Black Gloves and Shiverz When: 7 Where: HQ Why: Ultrabomb is a punk supergroup featuring Greg Norton of Hüsker Dü, Jamie Oliver of UK Subs and Finny McConnell of The Mahones. The music that’s been available appears to be a particularly vibrant style of power pop and fantastic vocal melodies that one might expect from a group of such punk luminaries.
Per the group’s Bandcamp page, “Nastyfacts were part of a Brooklyn teen punk scene that included the Speedies and The Stimulators. Their core line-up consisted of Cherl Boyze on bass and lead vocals, guitarists Brad Craig and Jeff ‘Range’ Tischler with Genji “Searizak” Siraisi on drums. These last three also sang back-up. They began playing music together while attending St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn.” And the band’s sole release during its initial run was the 1981, three song 7-inch Drive My Car originally engineered at Media Sound Studios in NYC in 1980 as produced by Ramona Lee Jan known for her work with The Ramones and Brian Eno among others. The record became a bit of an underground hit and championed by the likes of John Peel and with music appearing on old punk compilations like Killed By Death. Boyze was an 18-year-old queer POC in a band with people in the mid-teens or younger at the time of the release of the record and touring wasn’t exactly on the agenda and as would happen in the normal course of events the band drifted apart and Boyze went on to other musical projects and styles, relocating to the Bay Area and is now known as KB. But for that period when Nastyfacts were around they regularly played CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City and other venues willing to host all-ages shows. One thing that set the band apart from other punk bands of its milieu was obvious musical ability and KB’s melodious vocals. Fast forward some decades and Drive My Car has been reissued again on Left For Dead Records on November 18, 2022 available on limited vinyl 12”, CD, cassette and digital downloads via Bandcamp.
KB has since become the founder and director of Queer Rebel Productions (est. 2008), a queer and trans artists of color organization (QueerRebels.Org), was the bassist in the pit band (The Felicia Flames) for a recent production at Z Space in San Francisco of The Red Shades: A Trans Super Hero Rock Opera and is now a member of The Homobiles “The Bay’s Mainstay Queer Party Punk Supergroup” according to The East Bay Express with Lynn Breedlove formerly of queer punk legends Tribe 8.
Listen to our interview with KB about the band and the record and what the artist has been up to since those early punk days on Bandcamp. And to learn more about Nastyfacts and order copies of Drive My Car, visit the Bandcamp link below the interview.
Saturday | 04.01 What:Wild Powwers w/Calamity, DANA, Body and DJ Marika When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Wild Powwers from Seattle basically picked up where neo-grunge style spelunkers left off and turned it into a vibrant and lively riff heavy variant that bears some comparison to Sleater-Kinney for its spirited vocals and creative rhythmic layers. But heavier and its moments of unhinged catharsis, at least listening to its recorded output lives up to the name of the band. Calamity is the project name for the works of Kate Hannington whose own songwriting is in line with the kind of pointed emotional delivery of the headliner but with a touch more introspective atmospheric element that live hits a little harder than seems obvious from the evocative singles available via Bandcamp. DANA is an experimental, psychedelic garage rock band from Columbus, Ohio whose quirky and ebullient songs sound something like the offspring of Tyvek and Suburban Lawns. Body is also an eccentric pop band but one whose songcraft bringing together borderline campy krautrock synth with indiepop is surprisingly moving and refreshingly unlike insipid indie rock trends of the past decade. No surprise considering talented weirdos like Roni Beer, Ned Garthe and Stuart Confer are in the band.
Sunday | 04.02 What: KEEP w/Cherished, Flower Language and Glacierface When: 7 Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective Why: KEEP from Virginia recently released its most recent album Happy In Here expanding on its reputation for crafting gritty, engulfing shoegaze in the vein of acts like Airiel and A Shoreline Dream. Elegant melodic arrangements and a deep sense of space work toward establishing a sound that is both otherworldly and immediate. Cherished is a Denver shoegaze band that emerged from an earlier, more post-punk sound but leaned into its instincts for emotionally rich atmospherics and heartfelt moods. Flower Language seems to have taken a route out of metal and hardcore to reach its own urgent and searing brand of atmospheric rock. Glacierface finds Jackson Lacroix who many may know more for his immense talent as a drummer playing guitar and using electronic processing to this four piece lo-fi dream pop/shoegaze four piece.
Monday | 04.03 What:Filth is Eternal w/XSAVAGEX, Victim of Fire and Suicide Cages When: 7 Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective Why: Filth is Eternal is a hardcore band from Seattle that seems to find no contradiction in aesthetic to incorporate vocal processing and more angular guitar dynamics more often heard in post-punk in creating its seething and pointed sound. XSAVAGEX is also a hardcore band based out of the Emerald City but one that, as the name suggests, is more in the driven vein of amped up straight edge style. Victim of Fire from Denver is more D-beat flavor of hardcore with highly political lyrics that are aimed squarely at vested power and authoritarian impulses. Suicide Cages sounds like a former grindcore band that wanted to aim in a more decidedly metallic direction without waxing into metalcore while retaining the absolutely scorching and feral sound of its roots.
Tuesday | 04.04 What:Enumclaw w/Nitefire and Compass & Cavern When: 7 Where: Lost Lake Why: Enumclaw is still touring in support of its excellent debut full length Save the Baby and breaking expectations for what a band playing this kind of emo-inflected post-punk has to look or sound like and doing so with great spirit and off-the-cuff attitude.
Tuesday | 04.04 What:Black Belt Eagle Scout w/Claire Glass and Adobo When: 7 Where: Larimer Lounge Why: Katherine Paul’s latest Black Belt Eagle Scout album The Land, The Water, The Sky expands on her already entrancing and emotionally expansive ambient rock music that sounds like it’s connected directly to something beyond mundane reality. And on the new album Paul dives deep into connecting with the energy and spirit of her ancestors and the land that connects her to a cultural lineage that rapacious development and rapacious capitalism seeks to erase and transform into a commodity when its significance is much greater than limited and short term considerations of profit. Paul brings a sensitivity and poetry to tapping into what makes the continuum of native cultures and yes civilization relevant not just for those who share that blood lineage but for anyone that would attempt to share that space and how it connects with the world entirely. Closing the album with the powerful track “Don’t Give Up,” it’s clear Paul has chosen the opposite of the despair and apathy we’re encouraged to adopt in the face of vested power.
Tuesday | 04.04 What:Unknown Mortal Orchestra w/Amulets When: 7 Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Unknown Mortal Orchestra can be depended upon to provide some left field sounds that not only disrupt past expectations but also those for trends in indie rock that it helped to spark with the wildly original psychedelia of its early records. It’s new album V (2023) the sounds are even more lo-fi and in going that direction the songwriting has also become even more exposed and raw embracing a delicacy inherent to not embracing the varnish of overproduction to easily fit in with some arbitrary playlist algorithm. It may not be what a conventional record label would want from the band but that’s why UMO continues to provide us with music that challenges as much as it charms.
Tuesday | 04.04 What: Aly & AJ w/Miya Folick When: 7 Where: Summit Music Hall Why: Indie folk/pop artist Miya Folick is on the verge of release her new album Roach (due out May 26, 2023) and advance singles for the album showcase her gift for subtle shadings of mood in her introspective melodies. That and a penchant for experimentation in her composition weaving free jazz flourishes and ambient beatmaking like she has been listening to some Kate Bush and Laurel Halo or even Julia Holter and making her own style of a new variety of hypnogogic pop that has no disdain for more mainstream pop songwriters like Jessie Ware and Lana Del Rey. Aly & AJ are a pop duo of sisters Alyson and Amanda Joy Michalka from Torrance, California who have across their nearly 20 year career carved out a reputation for thoughtful and tender songs that make great use of their exquisite ability to harmonize and complement each other as vocalists. Aly & AJ quit performing for around half a decade in the late 2000s and early 2010s but since 2015 have been back to active touring and now in support of the recently released With Love From.
Thursday | 04.06 – Postponed from 04.04 What: Satan’s God w/Disturbing Taxidermy, Polly Urethane and Wolf Larva When: 9 Where: Glob Why: Since at least the mid-90s, Jeremy Bequette has been making bass and vocals driven noise experiments with a fairly prolific level of output and this is a rare show he’ll be playing in Denver or anywhere and go expecting perhaps some multimedia performance art style antics. Bonus, you get to see Polly Urethane performing “Elizabeth Citadel” Pt. 1 and given her penchant for switching up the sound and format of her performance for most shows it could be anything but will probably incorporate elements of classic music and noise mashup and confrontational delivery in her usual creative fashion.
Friday | 04.07 What:The Murder Capital w/Pet Fox and The Sickly Hecks When: 8 Where: Lost Lake Why: Irish post-punk band The Murder Capital has garnered critical accolades over the past few years for its darkly introspective songs informed by a working class perspective. Which of course has drawn immediate comparisons to peers like IDLES, Shame and fellow Dubliners D.C. Fontaines. Its new album Gigi’s Recovery (2023) features the band’s usual level of fine sonic detail and fusion of electronic composition and rock songcraft with lyrics that are bold in their vulnerable observations and sensibilities.
Friday | 04.07 What:Candy Apple w/Destiny Bond, Zero Function, Crime Lab and Supreme Joy When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Candy Apple and Destiny Bond are two of the more interesting hardcore bands out of Denver now. Both have a more experimental edge than a lot of what has passed for hardcore in the past decade and a half with noisier musical elements and more fluid dynamics while both driven by a spirited performance style that is joyful catharsis rather than a modern tough guy stance.
Friday – Sunday | 04.07, 04.08 and 04.09 What: The Mochines w/Cyclo Sonic (04.07), also with The Old Men (04.08) and The Pitch Invasion (04.09) When: 7 (04.07), 5 (04.08) and 3 (04.09) Where: Surfside 7 (04.07), Larimer Lounge (04.08) and Globe Hall (04.09) Why: The Mochines is a garage punk band from Cape Town, South Africa fronted by Ross Kersten formerly of Denver punk legends La Donnas with Tom Cook (Magnolias) on drums, Curt Florczak on guitar and backing voca and Bill Graves on bass and vocals as well (the latter two from B Movie Rats). At least that was the line-up cited on the group’s Bandcamp account from 2019. Whatever the current lineup Kersten will be singing and playing guitar and the band is playing a string of shows in Colorado this weekend and all dates shared with Cyclo Sonic, a musically similarly-minded outfit with its own share of Denver punk greats in Matt Bischoff (Fluid, Frantix, The Buckingham Squares), Arnie and AJ Beckman (Choosey Mothers and also The Buckingham Squares) and Jif Jipers (Rok Tots). Whatever show you catch it’ll be a nice reminder of what punk has been and can still be with much better than average songwriting and musicianship.
Saturday | 04.08 What:Messiahvore w/Cobranoid, Lost Relics and Moon Pussy When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Messiahvore is the current band to feature Bart McCrorey of The Crash Pad Studio fame on vocals and guitar with Jenn McCrorey on bass, former The Bronze member Bailey Cecil and Kevin Disney on guitar and backing vocals. It’s straight ahead sludge/stoner rock but a better version of what we got to see in the 2000s. Cobranoid is in a similar mold but with some punk attitude. Lost Relics are more in the vein of heavy noise rock like Unsane. Moon Pussy is the odd band out and its ferocious noise rock is both surreal and experimental and while more in line with what Lost Relics is doing much more in the realm of an Amphetamine Reptile or Touch and Go band.
Thursday | 04.13 What:VV w/Kaelan Mikla When: 7 Where: Summit Music Hall Why: Ville Valo is perhaps best known for being the lead vocalist for gothic rock band HIM. But with 2023 release of his debut album as VV, Neon Noir, he’s continuing with an even more pop version of that goth aesthetic for which he’s made a name for himself. So he’s probably the big draw for this show but Icelandic band Kaelan Mikla opening the show is the real reason to make it down for their lushly orchestral darkwave post-punk and genuine air of the mysterious. Its most recent album Undir Köldum Norðurljósum (2021) is an otherworldly journey into a realm of never ending winter.
Thursday | 04.13 What:100 Gecs w/Machine Girl at Mission Ballroom When: 7 Where: Mission Ballroom Why: Hyperpop legends 100 Gecs recently released their second full length 10,000 Gecs and thankfully tend to confound more conventional minds because there’s the usual layered genre busting material but also genuinely catchy pop that border on ska, at least with “Frog On The Floor.” Still surreal and creative in threading together stylistic aesthetics at will, this might be a good time to catch the band as it’s expanding its own horizons. Opening is industrial dance project Machine Girl that isn’t short on hyping the audience with its own high energy antics.
Thursday | 04.13 What: Casey James Prestwood, White Rose Motor Oil and Chella and The Charm When: 8 Where: The Skylark Lounge Bobcat Club Why: The Americana show of the week with Casey James Prestwood and his own interpretation of fairly traditional country songwriting tinged with some of the punk sensibility with his background as a member of Hot Rod Circuit, Chella and the Charm’s sly and philosophical songwriting and fairly earnest yet atmospheric and nuanced moods and White Rose Motor Oil, the rockabilly band with its own punk edge who are releasing their new album The Gift of Poison.
Friday | 04.14 What: Buck Gooter w/Polly Urethane, Nightshark and Pythian Whispers When: 9 Where: Glob Why: Buck Gooter is the legendary “industrial blues” band from Harrisonburg, Virginia originally comprised of guitarist and vocalist Terry Turtle and lead vocalist/electronics musician (though both worked on the electronics side) Billy Brett. Beginning with its earliest releases in 2006 the duo started garnering an underground fanbase including the likes of Henry Rollins for its politically charged, electrifyingly intense songs that blurred the lines between industrial music, dark psychedelia and rock and roll. Turtle tragically passed away in 2019 but Brett was tasked with the legacy of the band and has since released two albums with Turtle contributing posthumously with 2021’s Head In A Bird Cage and the new record Ghost Brain which was produced, recorded and mixed by Oliver Ackermann of A Place to Bury Strangers fame at his Death By Audio studio. Buck Gooter is performing as a duo for this tour and after this Denver date they will be doing shows with Kilynn Lunsford formerly of experimental post-punk legends Taiwan Housing Project but in support of her outstanding 2022 solo album Custodians Of Human Succession. Openers for this show are Polly Urethane who literally does a different set for every local performance and it’s always creative, conceptual and memorable, noise rock and free jazz legends Nightshark and psychedelic ambient trio Pythian Whispers of which this author is a member.
Saturday | April 15 What:Andy Monley, Roger Green and Joe Sampson When: 7 Where: The Skylark Lounge Why: Three of Denver’s greatest songwriters on one bill and Andy Monley and Roger Green are both releasing an album. The latter two were once in The Czars together and Monley was a founding member of country punk legends Jux County and his solo material, while quite different, benefits from the sophistication of his songcraft. Roger Green is a professor whose work on psychedelia is widely respected and whose own style dips into the avant-garde and jazz.
Saturday | 04.15 What:Screaming Females w/Generación Suicida and Smirk When: 7:30 Where: Marquis Theater Why: Merely calling Screaming Females a punk band does it a bit of a disservice because its musical style is more wide-ranging and often conceptual in the songwriting if imbued with that spirit. But singer and guitarist Marissa Patermoster’s creative guitar riffs and vocal melodies have a tenderness and force all at once. The group’s new album is Desire Pathway. Generación Suicida is a punk outfit from Los Angeles that sings in Spanish and its songs have a spookiness and atmosphere to them that might put them more in the post-punk column. Smirk is the solo project of Nick Vicario who makes some bleak and minimalistic punk that is more in the realm of some kind of lo-fi, arty post-punk with some real grit and mystique.
Sunday | 04.16 What:Dead Congregation w/Predatory Light, Black Curse and Many Blessings When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Greek death metal band Dead Congregation makes a stop in Denver for this stacked line-up of regional extreme metal. Dead Congregation was inspired in part by Swedish death metal and maybe the more Gothenburg contingent with its drawing upon progressive rock and grindcore. Predatory Light is a black metal band from Santa Fe, New Mexico whose own melodic black metal has a similar musical DNA as Dead Congregation. Black Curse includes members of Blood Incantation, Spectral Voice, Primitive Man and Khemmis and definitely more in the vein of feral trve black metal. The x-factor is Ethan McCarthy performing as his noise project Many Blessings where he does a distorted ambient music with heavy frequency modulation.
Monday | 04.17 What:Nikki Lane w/Leroy from the North When: 7 Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Nikki Lane released her fourth album Denim & Diamonds in 2022 and is currently touring in support of the record. Produced by Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age fame, the album represents a new chapter of the artist’s songwriting. She’s always had that voice with a touch of edge and force, resonant in commanding emotional nuance. But the earlier offerings were definitely within the realm of more traditional country. Her witty and insightful storytelling this time around finds a vehicle in an eclectic set of songs that showcase her range as an artist as a musician and as a vocalist. As a live performer Lane seems to have something extra about her stage presence that comes across as authentic, unvarnished and direct.
Tuesday | 04.18 What:Lizzy McAlpine w/Olivia Barton When: 7 Where: Summit Music Hall Why: After the release of her 2022 album Five Seconds Flat, Lizzy McAlpine has garnered a bit of buzz for her intimate songwriting style and delivery. The album is a catalog of heartbreak and looming anxieties expressed in hushed yet warm tones and delicate strains of music like a miniature orchestra as the soundtrack to vignettes from her life. Coinciding with the release of the album McAlpine also released a short film named after the album that contains two of the tracks from the record but which features the themes of heartbreak as a small death in cinematic form. Watch below on YouTube.
Friday | 04.21 What:LEAF night 1: Rue/Bainbridge When: 7 pm start time Where: Center For Musical Arts (200 E. Baseline Road, Lafyette, CO 80206) Why: The first night of Lafayette Electronic Arts Festival, a festival dedicated to experimental and avant-garde electronic music with an emphasis on mixed media performances. The festival runs 4.21, 4.22 and 4.30. For more information on the festival and schedule please visit https://leafcolorado.org/. For this initial musical portion of the festival, per the LEAF press release:
“Rue Bainbridge, the bi-coastal duo of Gryphon Rue and Benton C Bainbridge, exists in the intersection of expanded cinema and sonic art. Generating electric calligraphy with a hacked game console, the light patterns become a score, with visual rhythmicity suggesting electro-acoustic events. Perception shifts as light and sound momentarily synchronize, tracing a zone of concentrated intricacy. Rue Bainbridge is the first recipient of the Nam June Paik and Shigeko Kubota Video Art prize (2019). The project has been supported with residencies at spaces in transition: an Italianate palazzo that housed destitute millionaires, an abandoned 18th century hotel favored by rock stars, and an officer’s house on a former military island. Rue Bainbridge have been presented by Roulette Intermedium, Pace Gallery, Hauser & Wirth, The Hepworth Wakefield, Slate Projects / Foreign Domestic, Center for Visual Music, Public Works at Governor’s Island, Andrew Freedman Home, and Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation. Projects are realized as immersive audiovisual performances, yielding single-channel artworks with decentralized provenance. Rue Bainbridge is supported by Andrew Freedman Home Artist-In-Residence program in The Bronx, NYC.”
Friday | 04.21 What:Bud Bronson & The Good Timers album release w/Don Chicharron and The Knew When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Bud Bronson & The Good Timers are playing their last show for the near term in celebration of the release of their expansive and heartfelt new record BBGTIII out on Snappy Little Numbers. Connoisseurs of power pop are already fans of the Denver-based band and this new record seems even more ambitious in terms of songwriting and lyrics than its already impressive earlier output and the live band is a force of good will and passionate performance. Joining them for this occasion is Latin psychedelic rock band Don Chicharron who could headline a night on their own and the return of The Knew, one of the most underrated rock bands out of Denver with its own brand of power pop-inflected rock and roll.
Saturday | 04.22 What:Xeno & Oaklander w/Martial Canterel and DJ Eli When: 8 Where: HQ Why: Brooklyn-based Xeno & Oaklander has had a long career of producing some of the more forward thinking modern techno dance music in the darkwave vein by way of early electroclash. Its albums have had a consistent through line that suggests a European synth pop influence and a fall like chill in its overall melodic tones. It’s hard, angular rhythms somehow flow and have a tactile quality that anchors the music keeping its ethereal drift grounded in a way that feels like a secret great band in an underground club of the non-dystopian of the cyberpunk-esque near future.
“Ryan Wurst and Aaron Alexander perform an improvisational mix of generative ambience and camera-based visuals processed and mixed in real-time. Hailing from Pueblo, CO where both teach media-based music and art at the University of Colorado, the duo explore slow-moving sonic motifs that surge and swell through live visual pan/tilt/zoom explorations of intimate environments constructed in tiny terrariums.”
“The Carbon Dioxide Ensemble and Diablo Montalban join forces as the Carbon Diablo Ensemble to present a multimedia deconstruction, reconstruction, and live score for the 1910 silent film Frankenstein.
The Carbon Dioxide Ensemble performs improvisational musique concrète with interactive visuals. Members include Thomas Lundy on Copper Heart articulated with dry ice, Victoria Lundy on Theremin and Live Electronics, and Mark Mosher on Live Sampling, Visuals, and Mix.
Performance artist Diablo Montalban, the Master of Audio Disaster, mixes live art through sound collage, drawing inspiration from music, pop culture, and noise. Diablo works spontaneously, creating pieces that are unique for the moment.
In Diablo’s live pop-up performances, he combines multiple sound sources with natural atmospherics — combining, overlapping, reversing, whatever — to create something original, never to be performed the same way again . . . Diablo is obviously influenced by Wayne Coyne’s parking lot experiments. While Wayne’s celebrity is able to attract hundreds, Diablo is often left to his own devices with a handful of quizzical looks for his troubles.”
Sunday and Tuesday | 04.23 and 04.25 What: Goth Babe w/Yoke Lore (04.23) and Cautious Clay (04.25) When: 7 (04.23) and Where:Mission Ballroom (04.23) and Red Rocks (04.25) Why: Goth Babe has been imbuing his recent EPs with some essence of a place and each has a distinct aesthetic and personality including his most recent, Iceland, released in November 2022. Goth Babe aka Griffin Washburn is originally from Tennessee but found a way to live a somewhat nomadic life with his dog Sadie. Which sounds a lot like that influencer hipster “van life artist” lifestyle except that Washburn has carved out a name for himself as a songwriter of note whose evocative pop songs are transporting and poetic recorded either in his studio on a boat or on his RV. With his newer music Washburn has made a soundtrack for wider spaces and forward thinking, expansive experiences with deep and lush atmospherics making it an apt soundtrack for venues the size of which he’s playing these days.
Tuesday | 04.25 What:True Widow w/Shadows Tranquil and Shiny Around the Edges When: 7 Where: Meow Wolf Why: True Widow were early adopters of blurring the line between post-punk, doom metal and shoegaze and still one of the best though the Dallas-based trio hasn’t released an album since 2016’s Avvolgere. Live it’s heavy, atmospheric sonic sculptures hit like a dark and transformative dream. Sharing the stage is Denver’s own Shadows Tranquil whose own mixed aesthetic of ethereal yet heavy, metallic shoegaze is emotionally rich in its musical resonance as well.
Thursday | 04.27 What: Crocodiles w/Cleaner and Easy Ease When: 8 Where: The Skylark Lounge Why: Crocodiles from San Diego has evolved its sound since its inception in the late 2000s and dipping into various ends of its core sound somewhere between classic pop, noisy post-punk, garage rock and shoegaze. Its new album Upside Down In Heaven sounds like a lo-fi pop fusion of the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Soft Moon. Like a bubblegum pop band of the 60s that woke up in the 2000s and dove deep into the music of Jay Reatard and No Age. Fortunately like-minded openers like the psych garage band Cleaner and the more dark indie pop Easy Ease will keep the evening from being all the same flavor.
Thursday | 04.27 What:Julian St. Nightmare w/Antibroth and Dream of Industry When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Julian St. Nightmare is one of the top tier post-punk bands from Denver with its sound steeped in darkwave, surf pop and garage rock. Antibroth is also a post-punk band but one who seem to be driven by a concept that elevates its angular guitar rock to something more arty yet playful and delivered with a sometimes unhinged intensity. Dream of Industry is also in the darkwave vein but more in the lo-fi shoegaze mode.
Thursday | 04.27 What: Donovan Woods and Henry Jamison When: 7 Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Canadian folk pop artist Donovan Woods is currently traveling with Henry Jamison on what they’re calling The Husbandry Tour. Apparently its an attempt by both songwriters who admire each other’s work to become friends and hopefully not ruin the association with such close proximity and daily familiarity. Woods’ critically acclaimed body of work is born out of his gift for expressive and gently poetic songwriting and performance that one might compare favorably with that of Iron & Wine and Bon Iver and that subtlety and power of composition.
Friday | 04.28 What:The HIRS Collective w/Endless Nameless, Ukko’s Hammer, Squerm and BetterSelfs When: 7 Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective Why: The HIRS Collective is a Philadelphia-based hardcore band whose hard hitting songs are an assertion of dignity and self-empowerment with songs like “We’re Still Here,” the title track of the group’s new album of the same name. That record with contributions from Shirley Manson of Garbage, The Body, Gouge Away, My Chemical Romance, Soul Glo, Escuela Grind, Screaming Females, Fucked Up, The Locust, Thursday and Touché Amoré is an invigorating blast of amped punk bordering on grindcore that aims at the dissolution of negative structures and celebrating, per its bio on the Get Better Records site, “the survival of trans, queer, poc, black, women and any and all other folks who have to constantly face violence, marginalization and oppression.” And stacking this bill are Denver bands who embody this ethos in spirit and membership.
Saturday | 04.29 What: Lesser Care w/No Gossip in Braille and Bloodsports When: 7 Where: D3 Arts Why: Lesser Care might be the greatest purveyors of the synthesis of post-punk and shoegaze in the underground at the moment. Hailing from El Paso, Texas, the trio delivers a disarmingly powerful and emotionally rich music that is as transporting as it is grounding. No Gossip in Braille is an ethereal post-punk band with elegant layers of guitar suffused with a full spectrum of tonality in its expressive interplay. Bloodsports is a noisy post-punk band that sounds like instead of imitating modern darkwave it went in for finding inspiration among older alternative rock bands with imaginative guitar sounds like Sonic Youth.
Sunday | 04.30 What:Morton Subotnik and Lillevan When: 7 pm start time Where: The Arts Hub (420 Courtney Way, Lafayette, CO 80026) Why: or more information on the Lafayette Electronic Arts Festival and schedule please visit https://leafcolorado.org/. Per the LEAF press release for the final night of the festival:
“On Sunday, April 30, the Lafayette Electronic Arts Festival is honored to present pioneering experimental electronic music composer Morton Subotnick, and Berlin-based visual artist Lillevan, performing live in immersive quadraphonic sound. Having worked together for the last twelve years, the technique and process of Subotnick and Lillevan has culminated in the work, “As I Live and Breathe”. Subotnick has stated that he feels this work will be “the ultimate fulfillment of his public performance; one of the last, if not the last, of his public performance works”, as he turns 90 years old this year. The work is centered around Subotnick’s breath, which becomes ever more musically and visually ornamented by Lillevan, only to end with a single, exhaled breath. The work is meant as a musical metaphor for the composer’s life in music.
“In the early 60s, Subotnick taught at Mills College and with Ramon Sender, co-founded the San Francisco Tape Music Center. During this period he collaborated with Anna Halprin in two works (the 3 legged stool and Parades and Changes) and was music director of the Actors Workshop. It was also during this period that Subotnick worked with Don Buchla on what may have been the first analog synthesizer (now at the Library of Congress).
“Between 1961 and 1980, Morton Subotnick’s principal work as a composer was devoted to the development of electronic music as a studio art. The first four years of that period were spent with Don Buchla designing and building an appropriate instrument with which to make music specifically for recorded formats, to be heard in one’s home. In 1969 Subotnick helped carved out a new path of music education and created the now famous California Institute of the Arts.
“Lillevan is an animation, video and media artist who is perhaps best known as a founding member of the visual/music group Rechenzentrum / Data Center (1997-2008). He has worked and performed with an array of acclaimed artists from other genres: music – both club culture and classical, dance, theatre and opera, and has enjoyed challenging projects in performance and installation, and academic settings. His performances, DVD releases, collaborations and solo works have been acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, taking visual music, animation, bricolage and film manipulation to new levels. Lillevan performs and lectures all over the world, previous festivals and events include Europe, Asia, North & South America; Ars Electronica, Transmediale, Mutek, Dis-Patch etc.”
Sunday | 04.30 What: The New Pornographers w/Wild Pink https://www.gothictheatre.com/events/detail/?event_id=464311 When: 7 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: The New Pornographers is the well-known supergroup from Canada whose membership includes Neko Case, AC Newman, John Collins, Todd Fancey, Kathryn Calder and Joe Seiders with contributions from touring member Nora O’Connor who also plays with Neko Case when she’s touring her solo deal. Twenty-six years into its existence The New Pornographers has established itself as one of the most respected pioneers of modern indie rock but perhaps because its members have their own projects separate from the collective the band’s songwriting has always had a broad range of variety that resists settling into too much of a routine. And yet its new album Continue as a Guest finds The New Pornographers exploring broader vistas of sounds and songwriting ideas and its songs sound like a soundtrack for a literary thriller with urgent energies and lush atmospherics boosted emotionally by the classic New Pornographers harmonies among some of the finest voices in modern music. Live the band has an orchestral yet fresh sound that comes off more unvarnished that one might expect lending it an unexpectedly spontaneous edge.
Sunday | 04.30 What: Xiu Xiu w/Voight https://tickets.holdmyticket.com/tickets/405810 When: 7 Where: HQ Why: Xiu Xiu at this point can do whatever it wants and explore any creative musical idea and concept and craft it into compelling and deeply imaginative and sonically inventive music. Check in at any point in the band’s career and you’re never quite sure what you’re in for except that it’ll be fascinating and emotionally charged listening. Its new album Ignore Grief might be its most challenging and sonically experimental record to date fully bridging any gaps that existed between its industrial tribal sounds, noise and an avant-garde horror movie soundtrack. Voight won’t be as weird but its own industrial-techno post-punk also has a thrillingly unsettling emotional quality that hits with an unexpected and deep resonance.
VanGerrett Records run by producer/musician/songwriter Kramies just released the latest set of songs by Denver-based artist Bryon Parker. “Razor’s Edge” and “Fever Dream Death Kiss” represent an experiment in Parker’s approach to songwriting in form and approach.
“These two songs were written in the same day,” says Parker. “They are siblings. Their production, while experimental at times, pushes the boundaries I deem acceptable of stark immediacy.”
The songs were recorded in Lucas Johannes’ Studio Basemess in Denver, Colorado with Parker providing vocals, acoustic guitar, upright bass and Flamenco guitar backed by contributions from former The Symptoms and Lionsized singer/guitarist Josh Bergrstrand on guitar/noise and drums with Johannes on Wurlitzer, Midi, string arrangements and bass. The result is a pair of songs with a delicacy, immediacy and momentum. On the recording the textures of the instrumentation and Parker’s unconventional vocal delivery add to a dreamlike sense of introspection that escalates into heights of sonic frisson in particular on the second track. Both benefit from an expert combination of a kind of outsider folk sensibility and a willingness to incorporate raw noise as an element that brings warmth and humanity, a sense of analog “imperfection” that makes the music relatable in an instant.
Parker is no stranger to this form of songwriting though many in Denver and elsewhere may know him better for his time in noise rock groups Accordion Crimes and Simulators but it is an evolution into an exciting new direction from earlier forays into more avant indie songwriting as Rebellious Son and in the rock band Raleigh. Listen to “Razor’s Edge” and “Fever Dream Death Kiss” and download the music on Bandcamp linked below.
Wednesday | 03.01 What: Vinyl Williams w/Presentable Corpse and Aaron Dooley https://lost-lake.com/event/vinyl-williams-w-presentable-corpse-jorge-elbrecht-aaron-dooley-dj-reed-fox/lost-lake/denver-colorado/ When: 7 Where: Lost Lake Why: Vinyl Williams is the creative moniker of Lionel Williams based out of Los Angeles whose ethereal “celestial pop” is rooted in a multimedia presentation of the music with the artist often bathed in cinematic, psychedelic visual collage. Opening the show is Presentable Corpse whose lineup will include founder, producer and record mixer of choice in a certain subset of the more hip indie music of recent years Jorge Elbrecht along with Jenna Balfe (Donzii), Bobby Amulet, James Barone (Tennis, Tjutjuna, Beach House) for a unique and certainly unusual performance.
Thursday | 03.02 What:White Reaper w/Militarie Gun and Mamalarky When: 6:30 Where: Summit Music Hall Why: Louisville, Kentucky-based garage punk band White Reaper is touring in support of its 2023 album Asking for a Ride. In addition to its more raw sound showcases the band’s knack for pop hooks without quite crossing over into pop-punk and when it does it’s in the manner of pop-punk as it re-emerged in the 2010s with its emphasis on earnest and vulnerable lyrics in its storytelling. Militarie Gun has been making waves in the modern hardcore scene with its own angular post-punk style akin to the kind of band you’d hear on Dischord in the late 80s and 90s. Mamalarky is a psychedelic pop band whose sound is reminiscent of Deerhoof in its more pop moments and with a similar proclivity for intricate yet playful and loose, layered songwriting.
Thursday | 03.02 What: Paul Cherry w/The Mattson 2 and Donzii When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Paul Cherry’s 2022 album Back on the the Music brings a quirky and whimsical energy to songs about finding fulfillment in the endeavors we think should bring them and in this case art and music but with which we often find out there’s a great deal of quixotic endeavors, repetition, disappointments, mundane necessities, social politics and certainly no guarantee of the traditional trappings of success for your efforts regardless of your talent. Cherry across the albums ten tracks finds glimmerings of hope and the core meaningfulness of the creative life in songs that sound like they wouldn’t be out of place on a weird, feel good comedy from the 80s that was allowed to happen despite its unusual and imaginative script. The Mattson 2 are a surprisingly enjoyable example of what happens when two musicians with jazz chops create chill indie rock like they took in a bit of Beach Fossils and Foxygen and created their own kind of summery vibes. The odd band on this bill is Donzii from Miami who released one of the most focused yet danceable No Wave funk post-punk disco deconstructions of the modern social and political landscape with their new album Fishbowl. Last time Donzii came to Denver was 2021 shortly after shows started happening again and turned the back room at Pon Pon into an inspired performance art zone for the duration of its set. Think Lithics, Pylon and Bush Tetras for touchstones but expect something unusual and ferocious.
Friday | 03.03 What:Otoboke Beaver w/Cheap Perfume When: 8 Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Otoboke Beaver from Kyoto, Japan takes cultural references, tropes and frustrations and shreds them and reassembles them in a surrealistic yet cathartic bursts of mutant punk rock fury. That this process is set to hypermanic melodies that are undeniably catchy and even infectious is a testament to their deep resonance with anyone that has had to tangle with the alienation of modern hypercapitalism and the way it warps culture and consciousness unless you make a break with it and turn it in on itself the way Otoboke Beaver has done not just with that particular brand of psychological conditioning but also with the baked in misogyny of Japanese and Western culture. But this band makes it seem fun and revolutionary by virtue of making that critique seem exciting. None more so than on its 2022 album Super Champon. It’ll be in good company with the radical yet immediately relatable subject matter and the energy of Colorado Springs punk band Cheap Perfume who mince no words in their deconstruction and dismantling of sexist tropes.
Friday | 03.03 What: Duck Turnstone album release w/American Culture, Bobby Amulet and Bloodsports When: 7 Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective Why: Duck Turnstone seems to have helped resurrect a 90s indiepop vibe in its songwriting with no apparent connection to that musical world or scene and is celebrating the release of its debut album Duck Tells A Story. Also on the bill are indiepop legends American Culture who lately seem to be exploring far afield of its roots in indiepop and post-punk so who can say what this show will sound like now that Chris Adolf has also been playing with Easy Ease and former lead guitarist Michael Stein had to take a sabbatical. Or has he? You’ll have to go to find out.
Saturday | 03.04 What: Street Fever w/Polly Urethane, Ani Christ and K129 When: 9 Where: Glob Why: Street Fever has been an acclaimed artist for years from Boise, Idaho for his visually arresting performances and inventive industrial dance style that isn’t really much like anyone else. Polly Urethane always brings an unpredictable element to her performances that completely blur the line between performance art, classical music, art pop and noise. Difficult to say what this show will be like at Glob but there will probably be some element of the confrontational or at least breaking the barrier between performer and audience.
Sunday | 03.05 What:Munly & The Lupercalians w/Ryan Wong & His Country Sounds and Voight When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Jaysun Munley is perhaps best known for his membership in Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. But as an advanced practitioner of unusual folk music he has created a rich body of work under his own name and in various projects including that with The Lupercalians, named after an ancient Roman fertility festival. Imagine if The Wicker Man or Kill List were bands but no one had to die, just the drawing on primal, ancient folk imagery that perhaps goes beyond the Americana mythology invoked by the Auto Club. This will be the debut performance of Supreme Joy’s Ryan Wong & His Country Sounds. Voight will probably confuse people with their mashup of noisy shoegaze and techno and the show will be all the better for it.
Tuesday | 03.07 What:PUP & Joyce Manor w/Pool Kids When: 7 Where: Mission Ballroom Why: If you were to pick two bands that really helped put pop-punk back into vogue in the underground but in a way that wasn’t corny but retained all the fun and anthemic music with words that come right from the heart with actual persona insight, PUP and Joyce Manor both really helped to pave that road. PUP’s 2022 album, The Unraveling of PUPTheBand was so self-aware it was almost a try hard gimmick but PUP made the concept work and offered a new vista for bands to creatively work earnestness and self-deprecating humor into songwriting without feeling like a retread of what has already been way beyond done. Joyce Manor’s own 2022 record 40 oz. To Fresno is a succinct modern power pop classic that begins with a cover of O.M.D.’s “Souvenir” and then cuts to the chase with a distilled run of songs that waste no time in delivering with great energy poignant sentiments and incredible economy of songwriting.
Wednesday | 03.08 What:Chiiild w/Isaiah Huron When: 7 Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Yonatan Ayal aka Chiiild is touring in support of his new record Better Luck in the Next Life. Early singles from the record solidify Ayal’s reputation for genre bending pop songcraft. His vocal processing borders on the realm of hyperpop at times but that serves to reinforce a sense of hazy introspection that seems to run through the album. There is a great sense of space one hears in the music like you’re invited into Ayal’s private space to contemplate and feel the moods as gentle percussion and sweeps of textural atmospherics swirl and spare guitar melodies trace the songwriter’s soulful singing.
Saturday | 03.11 What:King Tuff w/Tchotchke and The Savage Blush When: 8 Where: Globe Hall Why: King Tuff is the creaive moniker of Kyle Thomas who has established himself as an artist whose imaginative and eclectic songwriting has evolved over the course of several imaginative albums. His style might be traced to some roots in psychedelic and garage rock but what shines in his recorded output and performances is Thomas’ craft as a storyteller whose lyrics illuminate aspects of American life and culture through the lens of his own experiences and their grounding details. With his latest record Smalltown Stardust, Thomas reflects on the small town life hailing from Brattleboro, Vermont that shaped him and drawing on warm memories to inform a set of songs that sound like an affectionate exploration of how reconnecting with a past one left behind in pursuit of one’s life goals can enrich an appreciation of where you are now and where you’ve been. Beginning to end it’s an album of uncommonly well crafted pop melodies that feel grounding and comforting after a time of some of the greatest chaos and uncertainty for any musician hoping to share their music with a public in living memory. The record is also a celebration of the community and context of Thomas’ musical life and conceived and recorded while his housemantes Meg Duffy (Hand Habits) and Sasami Ashworth (Sasami) were putting together their own extraordinary records of the past couple of years (Fun House from 2021 and Squeeze from 2022 respectively). Some of that spirit creative spirit and good will seems to have intermingled into Smalltown Stardust as well.
Saturday | 03.11 What: Down Time with The Mañanas and Barbara When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Down Time now calls Los Angeles home but the indie pop trio has its origins in Denver where it honed its tender and vulnerable songwriting including the tracks on its 2022 album Spirit. That latest record revealed that the group had developed its electronic component to new heights and lent the songs brewed and recorded during the phase of the pandemic when no one was touring and not many playing actual live shows. So the songs have an uncommonly introspective mood but buoyed by the group’s warmth of expression. The band recorded and produced the album itself but got a mix done by Patrick Riley of Tennis fame. Across the arc of the album it sounds like we’re getting a peak into hopes and dreams that spent some time incubating and set adrift on their own in the subconscious before being reclaimed and re-examined and given musical form and interconnected with beautifully hazy edges.
Sunday | 03.12 What: Show Me The Body w/Jesus Piece, Scowl and ZULU https://www.gothictheatre.com/events/detail/?event_id=453875 When: 7 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: Clearly the big show of the year featuring artists pushing the boundaries of punk. Show Me The Body from NYC through its thorough fusion of noise rock, hardcore and hip-hop production and lyricism has produced a body of work that doesn’t just challenge genre convention but also provides a poignant and insightful critique of society and culture through personal narratives that hit hard even when the band is employing its acoustic side. Philly’s Jesus Piece likewise bucks expectation in its own metalcore-esque sound that threads in hardcore intensity and conviction but there is something so caustic and focused in its bursts of sound that recall artists that blur the line between death metal and grindcore like Napalm Death and Ethan McCarthy’s old band Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire. It’s new album …So Unknown is filled with concise exorcisms of modern angst and anxiety through amplifying those feelings to burn them out. Scowl from Santa Cruz, California sound a little like Betty Blowtorch if that band had come up through hardcore with magnetic frontwoman Kat Moss channeling the music’s aggression. And Zulu the self-styled “soul-infused power violence” band toured with OFF! This past fall and garnered a widening fanbase for its caustic and relentless style of noisy hardcore informed by a decidedly anti-racist messaging and a presentation of the music that challenges hardcore orthodoxy.
Tuesday | 03.14 What: Wallice w/Jawny When: 7 Where: Meow Wolf Convergence Station Perplexiplex Why: Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Wallice began releasing her witty and well-crafted pop songs in 2017 but really caught the attention of a wider audience with her 2020 single “Punching Bag” and its very of the moment sentiments commenting about online culture and dating including the amusing, no budget music video. Since then Wallice has honed her skills in writing solid pop hooks as evidenced by songs like “Hey Michael” and “Off the Rails” and her two EPs thus far (2021’s Off the Rails and 90s American Superstar from 2022). With the release of the heartfelt and tender folk-inflected “Japan” about visiting her father’s hometown in central Japan Wallice revealed that the sensitivity and emotional insight that was at the core of even a fairly sassy diss track like “Hey Michael” could sit with complete vulnerability. A commanding performer, Wallice shares the stage with one of the other stars of modern indie pop, Jawny, whose work with Doja Cat and Beck highlight his eclectic style with roots in hip-hop and R&B as well as psychedelic pop. His new single “fall in love” is much more melancholic than much of his earlier output but the lush soundscape of the song is in keeping with his ear for an immersive approach to songwriting and production.
Tuesday | 03.14 What:The Acacia Strain, Fit For An Autopsy, Full of Hell and Primitive Man When: 6 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: The Acacia Strain has rightfully become one of the most well known of the bands out of death metal that emerged at the beginning of the 2000s with its savage rhythms and caustic vocals. But show up early and catch the some of the heaviest death grind around with Primitive Man and the relentless and chilling drive of Full of Hell’s particular brand of powerviolence.
Tuesday | 03.14 What:Deaf Club w/Only Echoes and Ukko’s Hammer When: 7 Where: Globe Hall Why: Deaf Club is the hyperkinetic, noisy hardcore band fronted by Justin Pearson of The Locust fame. Weirder than the typical hardcore band with a definitely electronic music aesthetic built into its DNA, Deaf Club’s music sounds as unhinged yet as precise as its member’s earlier projects (the aforementioned as well as AcxDC, Weak Flesh and Run With the Hunted etc.). Opening are metallic post-rock juggernauts only Echoes from Denver and hardcore outfit Ukko’s Hammer also from the Mile High.
Friday | 03.17 What:Plack Blague w/Ms. BOAN and Kill You Club DJs When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Plack Blague is the industrial dub/techno noise fetish performance art act from Lincoln, Nebraska that has established itself over the past decade and more as one of the most entertaining and unforgettable acts to have become part of the modern darkwave movement. The now duo has a handful of seven inches and other releases out there but no full album as yet and really the live show is one of the main attractions of the project because it doesn’t fully translate to the purely audio experience. BOAN is another darkwave duo but one whose music is more melodic electronic post-punk dance music. But this show will feature vocalist Mariana Saldaña solo as Ms. BOAN. In 2022 Saldaña guested on Boy Harsher’s song “Machina” from that band’s album and short horror feature The Runner showcasing the singer’s strong vocals and stage presence in a mode reminiscent of electroclash with industrial dance flavor.
Friday | 03.17 What: Weyes Blood w/Vagabon When: 7 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: Depending on where you checked in on the musical development of Natalie Mering you might have heard her early forays into noise and as a bassist for experimental rock band Jackie-O Motherfucker. But these days she’s most rightfully known for her ambitious and orchestral pop music as Weyes Blood. Her 2022 album And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow is the second of a trilogy of albums beginning with Titanic Rising (2019). The arrangements on the album are not the typical stuff and it seems as though Mering has really keyed into a kind of musical narration that yields rich layers and a willingness to experiment with movements within a song and across the album. Its lush production hearkens back to some art pop record of the 70s without being hemmed in by instincts to recreating the past.
Friday and Saturday | 03.17 and 03.18 What: The Magnetic Fields When: 8 Where: Swallow Hill Why: These shows probably should have happened at a larger venue because these performances sold out weeks ago. But the intimate setting of Swallow Hill is probably the best environment to take in Stephin Merritt’s raw vulnerability in the current incarnation of his long running band The Magnetic Fields. This isn’t the band of Get Lost or Distortion, but likely of Quickies on which Merritt stripped things down to a compelling minimum of acoustic guitar and spare electronics and his own highly expressive voice. But maybe you can find a ticket or find one of those egregiously price gouging after market tickets if you didn’t already get one.
Saturday | 03.18 What:Big Dopes, Modern Leisure and Frail Talk When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Big Dopes released its most recent album Destination Wedding in November 2021 and are now finally set to release the vinyl edition of the record at this release show. The group fronted by Eddie Schmid has a knack for telling stories in its songs that put you in a distinct place sonically and emotionally and the aforementioned album in particular has sound elements in the music that convey the impression of physically being in the setting of the lyrics. Modern Leisure hasn’t played shows in awhile and the band that is a vehicle for the songwriting of Casey Banker offers its own emotionally resonant musical insight into modern life.
Saturday | 03.18 What:Underoath w/Periphery and Loathe When: 6 Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Underoath emerged from its early metalcore and screamo period to integrate and evolve those creative impulses to craft a body of work that seems to have culminated in its 2022 album Voyeurist. It has the honestly poignant and feral screaming vocal style and angular guitar progressions and driving percussion that has been part of its core sound since early on. The band also tackles in a more mature and philosophical fashion existential issues and the place of faith in their lives. But there is an imaginative creation of mood and atmosphere and layered songwriting that one doesn’t often hear in heavy music of this ilk and if footage of recent performances are any indicated, delivered with a spirited conviction that is undeniably compelling.
Saturday | 03.18 What: Kimbra w/Tei Shi When: 6 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: Kimbra’s soulful vocals and quietly lush, subtle production has made her one of the more acclaimed songwriters in the more creative, arty end of modern alternative pop. In January 2023 she released her new album A Reckoning and its raw and confessional yet tender lyricism and emotionally expansive presentation. Sharing the bill this night is Tei Shi who releases her new EP Bad Premonition on 3/17/2023. The title track offers an inventive rhythm and production that fans of Goldfrapp and Charli XCX will appreciate for its pure fusion of R&B and an experimental electronic soundscaping.
Sunday | 03.19 What:Orions Belte w/Alex Siegel When: 7 Where: Marquis Theater Why: Norwegian band Orions Belte has been seemingly conjuring unique music for several years that sounds like an impossible but always somehow appealing and flowing blend of psych, indiepop, prog, library music, Bossa Nova, jazz and whatever seems to make this music that sounds like it was recorded high fidelity onto cassette but with the lo-fi aesthetics intact. The group just released a new single called “Silhouettes” that is vintage Orions Belte in that it sounds like it could have come out 50 years ago in the same scene you’d find Os Mutantes or W.I.T.C.H. or today.
Monday | 03.20 What:Laveda, Isadora Eden and Autumnal When: 7 Where: The Skylark Lounge Why: Albany, New York’s dream pop band Laveda is touring in advance of the release of its new album A Place You Grew Up In, the released singles from which hint at an album that is both tender and vulnerable in its lush melodies and melancholic moods but not without pointed commentary. Laveda’s lyrics offer insight about the likely future facing us all and the current social and economic climate that many if not most of us have had to navigate even though it seems obvious the powers that be are steering the world into disaster. It’s an album very much of this moment and crafted with a poignancy and delicacy of feeling that honors the anxiety, pain, disappointment, disillusionment and anger with a rare grace.
Monday | 03.20 What:KEN Mode w/Frail Body, Abrams and Fathers When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: KEN Mode delivered a reliably cathartic set of songs with its new record NULL. Is it “extreme noise rock” or “extreme metal”? Yes, but with its caustic sonic powers used for scorching and purging some of the amplified despair and repressed frustration and desperation underlying the mood in much of the world as governments careen into fascism, an ideology completely inadequate to addressing global climate change, corruption, fiscal malfeasance and income inequality. Joined on the bill by a couple of prominent bands in the realm of extreme metal and noisy hardcore in Abrams and Fathers.
Monday | 03.20 What: PROBLEMS w/Heligoats, Kelly Garlick and Mr. Pacman When: 8 Where: Glob Why: PROBLEMS is experimental electronic and performance art legend Darren Keen whose finely crafted electronic music in a modern techno vein is pared well with his unusual, always entertaining, performance style that challenges the conventions of the format with also being directly relatable. Mr. Pacman will bring the mutant synth pop/rock costumed post-futurist performance that will be a great complement to Keen’s own musical and aesthetic subversion.
Tuesday | 03.21 What:The Church When: 7 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: The Church is the respected Australian rock band whose music falls into multiple categories like New Wave, post-punk, psychedelic rock, dream pop, art and alternative rock. But always on its own creative terms and with a body of work that is both thoughtful and passionate. Even from the beginning The Church’s lyrics have gone beyond rock and roll tropes to offer insight into human relationships and culture in a way that gets to the essence of the human condition resulting in an uncanny ability to reinvent and offer new vistas of songwriting across its entire career including its remarkable 2023 album Hypnogogue. It’s pretty much an evening of The Church but that just means a well orchestrated set of richly emotional music and a performance that establishes and sustains a shared mystique of exploring and feeling the core resonances of living.
Tuesday | 03.21 What:The Residents When: 7 Where: Bluebird Theater Why: The Residents are the long running and beloved art pop band whose membership has long been obscured with elaborate costumes and theatrical stage sets that allow for its always inspired storytelling and social commentary. The group has been noted for its innovations in multimedia live shows and albums as early adopters of new technology and formats in engaging a potential audience. Its latest offering is the Triple Trouble film which will drop via Night Flight’s new platform The Movie Store. The film is the story of Randall “Junior” Rose who becomes to believe that a fungus is a threat to the human race and in typical conspiracy theory fashion, heads to the realms of the unhinged. Perhaps some of the music for the film will be performed on this night.
Tuesday | 03.21 What:¿Téo? Sol & Luna Tour w/Maesu When: 7 Where: Larimer Lounge Why: ¿Téo? Is an LA-based songwriter who spent a stretch of 2022 opening for Justin Bieber. But his lushly imaginative production and soulful vocals sound like a new incarnation of neo soul. The lead singles from his forthcoming album Luna, the companion tot he 2021 record Sol and as the name of the tour indicates, the set list will likely comprise choice selections from each record. A fusion of reggaeton, hip-hop and one might even point to the aesthetics of chillwave, ¿Téo?’s warmly intimate songs will probably find a larger audience in the near future so catch him at a small club if it sounds like it’s your thing.
Wednesday | 03.22 What: Kiss the Tiger w/Blankslate and Dead Boyfriend When: 8 Where: The Squire Lounge Why: Kiss the Tiger is a rock band from Minneapolis whose sound draws on some Americana flavor but fueled by a driven energy channeled ably by singer Meghan Kreidler. Though its vibe is very much of the present time its songwriting is reminiscent of some of the better early 80s power pop New Wave bands like The Plimsouls with a gritty soulfulness and a scrappy spirit that lends the music an upbeat immediacy. Denver’s Blankslate is likeminded in sound with its own core of confessional, moody pop. Dead Boyfriend’s recently released album battle of carthage is a concept album about licing in a New York village as a fourteen-year-old young person navigating and exploring a sense of self and of identity. Musically it’s like a true mashup of dream pop, emo and whatever confessionally poetic and insightful post-folk pop songcraft Elliott Smith was getting up to in his late 90s development as a songwriter.
Wednesday | 03.22 What: Disco Doom w/Taleen Kali and Pleasure Prince https://www.skylarklounge.com/schedule/disco-doomtaleen-kalipleasure-prince When: 7 Where: The Skylark Lounge Why: Disco Doom is an avant-garde post-punk band from Zurich, Switzerland whose left field rhythms and off melodic tones and extensive experiments in texture are like a fusion of Sonic Youth and Pavement but somehow noisier and weirder. Its recent album Mt. Surreal is like the mutant offspring of musique concrète and noise rock. Taleen Kali with its newest album Flower of Life is an example of where shoegaze could have gone had it taken more the route of Medicine and Curve with soulful melodies and a more bold use of rhythm and more crisp songwriting. Pleasure Prince is a Denver band whose exquisite synth work and vocal melodies sit at a gorgeous nexus of jazz, IDM, dream pop and R&B.
Friday | 03.24 What: Palehorse/Palerider w/Git Some, Ghosts of Glaciers and Despair Jordan When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Palehorse/Palerider returns with its new lineup after the tragic passing of founding drummer Nate Marcy in 2021. The tribal doomgaze group recently reissued its 2017 album Burial Songs and its vast, sweeping soundscapes capturing the stark beauty of the desert and high plains of the western United States and its pockets of ghost towns. Sludge rock legends Git Some reconvened in 2022 to play shows with These Arms Are Snakes and now on a short run of gigs in Colorado including this night, 3.25 at Six-Two in Colorado Springs (also with Palehorse/Palerider) and an early evening show at Mutiny Information Café on 3.26.
Friday | 03.24 What:Solar Fake w/Voight, eHpH and DJ Nitrogen When: 8 Where: HQ Why: Berlin’s Solar Fake is one of the few futurepop bands of recent years that doesn’t sound like a pale imitation of Covenant, VNV Nation and Assemblage 23. Its 2021 album Enjoy Dystopia is more like a solid synthpop record with an electronic industrial sound palette and an upbeat if melancholic take on modern existential dread. Denver’s eHpH (pronounced “eff”) is similarly rooted in classic EBM but its presentation is more confrontational and even punk though its production is enveloping and expertly rendered. Voight might be the only band bringing guitars to execute its own shoegaze-inflected industrial darkwave akin to acts like A Place to Bury Strangers and The Soft Moon in terms of aesthetic and emotional intensity.
Friday | 03.24 What:SORROWS w/Lanx Borealis and Baby Baby When: 7 Where: Enigma Bazaar Why: SORROWS is the latest project from vocalist Glynnis Braan and drummer Lawrence Snell. Both are talented producers of electronic music in their own right and this band’s downtempo, sultry, nearly operatic music is like a modern update on trip-hop. Lanx Borealis is an ambient artist from Denver whose ethereal compositions demonstrate the influence of the more tranquil Krautrock and progressive New Age music. Baby Baby is Lily Conrad’s electronic-based indiepop band that fans of The Blow may enjoy.
Monday | 03.27 What:John Mellencamp When: 7 Where: Ellie Caulkins Opera House Why: Few artists of the stature of John Mellencamp are touring 76 dates but that’s what Mellencamp is doing now. The songwriter’s rock and pop hits of the 80s and 90s are part of the canon of American music culture beginning really with his sixth album, 1982’s American Fool and radio hits “Hurts So Good” and “Jack & Diane.” For his entire career Mellencamp has offered a poignant and poetic portrait into everyday life in a way relatable to most people with a particularly keen insight into working class life in a way that resonates broadly and garnering him prestigious acclaim like the John Steinbeck Award, The Woody Guthrie Award and the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Nevertheless Mellencamp has continued to be a prolific songwriter and visual artist. Expect the artist’s typically engaging and witty performance in a venue that feels like getting to see a show in a large, particularly well-appointed high school recital hall, lending any concert there a touch of intimacy not present over other rooms in town of comparable size.
Monday | 03.27 What:HIDE w/HARPY and BENT (updated HARPY had to cancel and 00.AUR is now performing) When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: HIDE is an industrial noise duo from Chicago whose sample-based compositions offer a harrowing and cathartic commentary on the identities imposed by traditional culture, misogyny, environmental destruction and a sonic expression of liberation from oppression from without and internalized and imposed from within. All of its albums are a fascinating exploration of these themes and others but 2021’s Interior Terror decidedly goes off the map of conventional songwriting style or structure (not that HIDE every really made many concessions to that kind of accessibility) and going for the rhythms and frequencies in establishing a powerful, confrontational mood. Seems as though Providence, Rhode Island’s HARPY is having to cancel this date due to COVID but fans of industrial drone and, frankly, HIDE, should check out the band’s music on Bandcamp. BENT is a like-minded project from Colorado Springs that fuses harrowing industrial noise with glitch and breakcore.
Monday | 03.27 What: Airiel w/Wave Decay and Shadows Tranquil When: 7 Where: The Skylark Lounge Why: Airiel is a long-running shoegaze band from Chicago that’s been popular among connoisseurs of the genre despite the band not having a copious, readily available recorded output. Its particular flavor of the music incorporates electronic sounds and musical sensibilities giving its songs an especially tonally rich and immersive quality. Sharing the stage are two of the best Denver shoegaze practitioners with the more Krautrock-inflected Wave Decay and the darker moodier yet uplifting soundscapes of Shadows Tranquil.
Tuesday | 03.28 What:Protomartyr w/Immortal Nightbody When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Detroit post-punk band has been on quite a trajectory since forming in 2010. When the group first played in Denver at a basement show in 2014 and similar situations on that early national tour it had garnered some critical acclaim for its then new album Under Color of Official Right on Hardly Art. But it quickly garnered high profile fans like Iggy Pop, Greg Dulli, David Bazan and Kelley Deal (who joined Protomartyr for a 2020 tour) for its stream of consciousness lyrics, its highly evocative and dramatic blend of introspective moods and gritty dynamism combining garage rock roots with artier ambitions. As well as its live shows that seem to teeter on the edge of coming off the rails in a loosely controlled release of tension in cathartic bursts. On June 2, 2023 the band will release its new album Formal Growth in the Desert on Domino.
Tuesday | 03.28 What:Morbid Angel w/Revocation, Skeletal Remains and Crypta When: 6 Where: The Oriental Theater Why: Morbid Angel is one of the foundational bands of death metal having formed in 1983 as more of a thrash band. But by the time of its highly influential 1989 debut album Altars of Madness. The record admittedly offered themes of supernatural horror that one heard in the darker corners of extreme metal of the time and since but its threading together of fast and brutal guitar rhythms and leads in a fashion taking what Slayer, Celtic Frost and Venom had already done and pushing that in an even more extreme direction along with truly sepulchral vocals became a template for much of death metal and perhaps black metal since.
Wednesday | 03.29 What:Sell Farm, Sky Creature, French Kettle Station and Pink Lady Monster When: 7 Where: Globe Hall Why: Sell Farm has been exploring an unusual but fascinating creative trajectory for the past few years seeming to create an unlikely combination of indiepop, dub and industrial music. New York City’s Sky Creature is an eclectic fusion of punk energy, dream pop and art rock. French Kettle Station has often defied easy categorization but might be loosely be considered to make music expanding beyond a brilliant nexus of dub, glitchcore, New Age music and ambient. Pink Lady Monster might once have been considered a “dream pop” band and there are elements of that there but the trio and maybe quartet at this point has moved more into the realm of post-psychedelic rock free jazz prog while having become one of Denver’s best bands not yet widely acknowledged as such.
Wednesday and Thursday | 03.29 and 03.30 What: Hermanos Gutiérrez When: 7 Where: Washingon’s (03.29) and Boulder Theater (03.30) Why: Hermanos Gutiérrez, as the name suggests, is brothers Alejandro and Estevan Gutiérrez who have an Ecuadorian mother and Swiss father. With frequent trips to Playas, Ecuador growing up the brothers absorbed the culture and music of both family backgrounds. The duo formed its current project in 2015 in a jam session that apparently created an evocative sound that had roots in surf rock and Latin musical styles. By 2020 a sound more akin to Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack work became an element of the band’s style expanding its emotional or at least tonal range and lending its already compelling instrumental music even more nuance and emotional shading. The brothers Gutiérrez seem to play as one instrument with their various elements on guitar and percussion in perfect sync and working toward telling introspective and thoughtful stories without lyrics and operating on pure mood and the poetry of their shared expression through sound. Hermanos Gutiérrez toured in Fall 2022 in support of its then new album El Bueno y el Malo produced by Dan Auerbach for his label Easy Eye Sound and for this tour one can expect a reprise of that set of music for the shows at Washington’s in Fort Collins and Boulder Theater.
Friday | 03.31 What:Muscle Beach, Endless Nameless and Limbwrecker When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Endless Nameless released its debut album Living Without via Silent Pendulum Records on March 24, 2023. The Denver-based band has been establishing its reputation for a uniquely creative sound that is math rock, emo, progressive metal and punk and for its cathartically energetic live shows that feel like an extended flow of enthusiasm and emotional upswing. Sharing the bill this night are hybrid hardcore-extreme metal legends Muscle Beach and grind/hardcore/thrash group Limbwrecker.
Friday | 03.31 What:N3PTUNE w/Rusty Steve, Neon the Bishop and Cain Culto When: 7 Where: Bluebird Theater Why: N3PTUNE has against the odds turned his inspired R&B, glam rock, futuristic funk and dream pop inclinations into a band that seems unbound by narrow genres. The live show is theatrical, dramatic and powerful in a way that one doesn’t often see in local music like the offspring of Prince and David Bowie.
Saturday | 01.07 What:Autumn Creatures w/Cherished, Bloodsports and Shadows Tranquil When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Autumn Creatures is a band from Colorado Springs whose music bridges the worlds of ambient, post-rock, orchestral post-metal, dream pop and outright shoegaze. So on a solid bill with Denver’s Cherished which has emerged from its early incarnation as more a post-punk and death rock band into the realm of shoegaze but with tweaking the edges of the aesthetic with unconventional vocal tones and rhythms that shift easily from drifty to direct. Bloodsports also from Denver is hitting the sweet spot of slowcore and shoegaze with introspective vocals and flares of noise to give what might be a more amorphous aesthetic some dramatic definition. Shadows Tranquil also doesn’t trade in subgenre adherence by thoroughly fusing chilly shoegaze with a touch of emocore and mathrock but all aimed at expressing direct emotional resonances with a maximalist sonic approach with an impressive level of musical detail and dynamic nuance.
Saturday | 01.07 What: Noise Brap: Barbie Bloodbath, Muttering, Verhoffst, Kneiffii, Sheet Metal Skingraft, Wontanii, Ghost Thief, Wolf Larva, Avarice and Mumble w/DJs Ursa, B2B and Combat Sport When: 8 Where: Glob Why: The concept of the brap was coined by Skinny Puppy and was even the title of the 1996 edition of its Back and Forth Series (3 & 4 for that iteration) which collected early instrumental demos and live recordings from earlier in the decade of collaborative electronic improvisations. And for this show the various artists in the local noise/electronic industrial/glitch scene will be teamed up with another for sessions throughout the evening and into the night.
Saturday | 01.07 What: Summit Quartet & SeFa LoCo When: 7-9 Where: Mercury Café (Jungle Room) Why: This is an evening of live improvised music featuring Right Brains Records artists Summit Quartet which includes Swedish pianist Walter Thompson and long time Denver-based avant-garde saxophonist and educator Mark Harris who has performed with the likes of Bob Hope, Roger Waters and Cab Calloway and locally known for his time in art rock projects Thinking Plague and Hamster Theater. Also on the bill is SeFaLoCo which includes not only Matt Smiley and Ron Coulter from Summit Quartet but long time local masters of improvised music Farrell Lowe and Bret Sexton.
Sunday and Monday| 01.08 and 01.09 What: Open Mike Eagle w/Video Dave and DVNEHPPY (w/Azon Classic) (on 01.08) and w/S.iah (on 01.09) When: 7 Where:Larimer Lounge (01.08) and The Coast (01.09) Why: Open Mike Eagle has been created “art rap” for more than two decades and has long been a star in the modern alternative rap world. His new album A Tape Called Component System with the Auto Reverse (2022) is a fine dose of his always creative and imaginative lyricism casting every day situations in surreal terms that reveal insights what might otherwise be mundane and everyday situations. The album includes contributions from Armand Hammer, Aesop Rock and opening artist Video Dave. His beats go beyond mere choice sample processing and have a cinematic and literary quality in their own right creating a layered listening experience.
Friday | 01.13 What:R A R E B Y R D $ When: 6-10 Where: Rainbow Dome Why: Rainbow Dome is a project rooted in visual art and community building and this Capricorn Season-themed event involves roller skating, a dance party and a performance from hip-hop trio R A R E B Y R D $ whose music is brash, tender, emotionally rich and deep and incorporates a diverse sound that is an amalgamation of electro soul, ambient, R&B, alternative hip-hop and techno. If one were to count the top live music acts in Denver at the moment these people would have to be included.
Friday | 01.13 What:Modular Synth Night: Enemy Sender, ALX-106, Love Cosmic Love, Sine Mountain and Kent_ucky When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: As the name of the event suggests this is a showcase for some of the local modular synth artists. Normally a show like this happens at a place like Black Box or maybe Fort Greene or with the artists separately at other spaces open to pure electronic music and the more avant electronic dance and techno music but that it’s happening at a venue like Hi-Dive is a testament to what those in the know already knew and that’s that there has been an blossoming interest in synthesizer music beyond the confines of EDM and electronic dance music for many years and maybe a sign of more events like this to come outside the usual venues.
Saturday | 01.14
What: Coastless Creatives Presents Void: Feat. Closegood, Cole3K, Church Fire and Polly Urethane When: 7 Where: Lost Lake Why: Closegood is an experimental R&B duo originally based out of Los Angeles and may still be. Its 2021 album THOTFORM was a colorful set of music that sounded like a bit like R&B, glitch, hyper pop and something that one might expect on the Orange Milk label. Cole3K is similarly-minded in sound with a more hip-hop infused cadence but with production that sounds like the rapid fire shifting pulse of modern life. Church Fire is a hyper political electronic dance industrial trio from Denver but lately it has been incorporating production ideas from the realms of glitch and hyperpop in finding ways to express the reconciliation of self with a fragmented and fragmenting world in a time of great change and crisis where world governments, especially great powers, focus on pointless conflict and a charade of identity politics while the world burns and no one holding the reigns of economic and political power is taking a leadership position to address our collective challenges with the environment, authoritarian politics, economic inequality connected by the domination of global oligarchy. Church Fire’s music is in opposition to that and creating an oasis of joy and solidarity while performing it. Polly Urethane is an evolving visionary artist who seems comfortably situated in creating works that cross the boundaries of classical music, opera, noise, industrial, performance art, dream pop and post-punk. Her shows are an exercise in fearless confrontational challenge of the artist and audience dynamic.
Tuesday | 01.17 What: Alice Does Computer Music, Certain Lives, Polly Urethane and Lanx Borealis When: 8 Where: Glob Why: Alice Does Computer Music is a New York City-based synth pop/hyperpop artist who incorporates cello into her immersive and playful soundscapes. Fans of Mitski may appreciate this artist’s particular brand of pop composition. Lanx Borealis is a Denver-based, dark ambient electronic artist whose work is in the realm of the sort of thing you might expect to hear on the long running Hearts of Space program on public radio. You never really know what kind of set you’re going to get from Polly Urethane and this might be a repeat of her show the previous Saturday or something more improvised or something new but always imaginative and powerful.
Wednesday | 01.18 What:Suki Waterhouse w/Blondshell When: 7 Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Blondshell is the stage name of Sabrina Teitelbaum, a songwriter based out of Los Angeles whose singles have been making the rounds since 2022 when she started touring a bit as well on a national level. Her surprisingly fiery rock songs with lush pop hooks and commanding vocals as heard most recently with the December release of her “Veronica Mars” single are appealing enough but live Teitelbaum is a bit of a mysterious creature whose nearly acrobatic stage poses executed with an unaffected calm adds another dimension of performance style one doesn’t often see at a show like she’s incorporating yoga practice into the performance while keeping it theatrical and emotive. Suki Waterhouse is perhaps best known for her acting and modeling career having appeared in the films The Divergent Series: Insurgent (2015) and Ana Lily Amirpour’s gritty horror thriller The Bad Batch (2016) to name but two. In 2022 Waterhouse released her debut album I Can’t Let Go through Sub Pop as well as an EP called Milk Teeth after periodically releasing a single starting with 2016’s “Brutally.” Waterhouse’s hushed vocals and introspective, spacious, cinematic songs offer some insightful and nuanced perspectives on modern relationships.
Friday | 01.20 What:The Velveteers w/The Mañanas and Pink Lady Monster When: 7 Where: Bluebird Theater Why: The Velveteers return from a year of playing big out of town shows with their scorching yet joyful brand of blues rock and psychedelia with two performances and this night the Denver show with two of Denver’s finest. The spirited garage rock/power pop group The Mañanas and their breezy rhythms and sound like something that might have happened had indiepop bands taken even more of a cue from tropicalía. Pink Lady Monster seemed to emerge onto the Denver scene fully formed with an aesthetic that perfectly amalgamates dream pop, psychedelic rock and downtempo in a way reminiscent of both Broadcast and Blonde Redhead.
Friday | 01.20 What:Kool Keith w/Stay Tuned and DJ boyhollow When: 7 Where: Mercury Café Why: Kool Keith is the eccentric and influential rapper whose music with Ultramagnetic MCs and Dr. Octagon alone earn him an important place in the history of hip-hop. His surreal wordplay, profane humor and chameleonic style coupled with numerous alter egos have exerted a clear influence on hip-hop since the 1980s as a creative figure with a singular and evolving vision. Opening is the great, Denver-based crew Stay Tuned whose own style of hip-hop with two MCs is not short on imaginative culture and media commentary set to supremely creative beats in the vein of the likes of Dilla and A Tribe Called Quest. DJ-ing the show is legendary track selector boyhollow whose long running alternative music dance night Lipgloss recently went from a weekly to a monthly event.
Saturday | 01.21 What: The Velveteers w/Shady Oaks and The Nova Kicks When: 8 Where: Fox Theatre Why: This night The Velveteers play a hometown show with Americana inflected blues and garage rock band Shady Oaks and Denver indie rock band The Nova Kicks.
Saturday | 01.21 What:Instant Empire w/A Mouthful of Thunder and A Place for Owls When: 8 Where: Globe Hall Why: Since 2011 Instant Empire has been threading together classic New Wave sensibilities with introspective and hazy melodies. A Mouthful of Thunder is the latest band from Stephen Till formerly of Hearts of Palm and Black Black Ocean. Who? At any rate, Till’s sensitive lyrics and knack for dynamic melodies and inventive hooks are present here too as evidenced by its 2020 album Careful Now. A Place For Owls released its excellent self-titled debut full length in 2022 and sure it can be lumped under the clumsy umbrella genre designation of indie rock. But there is a level of orchestral composition that brings to the music a full and rich sound that complements well its yearning and existentially explorational lyrics.
Saturday | 01.21 What:Lykotonon w/Ritual Aesthetic, Noctambulist, Morningstar Delirium and DJ Swarth When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Lykotonon includes members of Wayfarer, Stormkeep and Blood Incantation and its music might be described loosely as experimental black metal in that it’s more in the realm of Wolves in the Throne Room than Darkthrone and underpinned with spooky electronics that give the music an otherworldly feel. The group recently released its new album Promethean Pathology (2022) and this might be seen as something like an album release show since the record dropped on November 25. Also on the bill are like-minded denizens of the more interesting end of local extreme metal.
Sunday | 01.22 What: Velnias w/Ghosts of Glaciers and Grief Ritual When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Velnias is tricky to pin down in clear terms because its music isn’t just doom or progressive psychedelic black metal. But its appealingly forbidding yet melodic and epic songs have found an audience well beyond its unlikely hometown of Nederland, Colorado where it’s not just banjos and jam bands. Ghosts of Glaciers will be a good complement to the bill with its own progressive, doomy post-metal and Grief Ritual’s cutting, hardcore-influenced is a relentless assault on authoritarian nihilism.
Thursday | 01.26 What:Nightshark w/Quits, Tripp Nasty, Sense From Nonsense When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Free jazz/noise rock avant-garde legends Nightshark is playing its first show in over a decade and its first with saxophonist Becca Mhalek in more than fifteen years. The trio of Mhalek, Mike Buckley and Andrew Lindstrom were staples of the Denver underground scene in the 2000s playing small clubs, drive bars and DIY spaces regularly with its mind-altering musicianship and wild energy. Later incarnations of the group included the likes of Neil Keener of Wovenhand fame and Brittany Gould who some may know for her transcendent ambient folk project Married in Berdichev. But the classic trio was the longest lasting and the lineup for this reunion. Sharing the stage will be some other luminaries of the 2000s and 2010s Denver DIY world with composer and modular synth artist Tripp Nasty who has recently launched a new lathe cut label called From the Desk of the Sick Librarian which released the new Sense From Nonsense record. The latter is the solo micro soundtrack and synth and film project of Tom Nelsen who many may know from his tenure in both mutant garage rock band Vicious Women and industrial post-punk phenoms Echo Beds. Quits will also bring its noise rock madness and eruptive energy to the show with former members of White Dynamite, Sparkles, Hot White and Felt Pilotes. All killer.
Friday | 01.27 What: Church Fire, Velvet Horns and Pink Lady Monster When: 7 Where: Enigma Bazaar Why: Church Fire will grace the west side with its politically charged industrial dance party and raw emotional power. Velvet Horns is supposedly a pop punk band in the queercore vein and that’s true enough in essence but there’s nothing corny about its intensity and storytelling, like they aimed right for the vulnerable emotions that is part of the best of pop punk. Pink Lady Monster’s art pop psychedelia always seems to have a paradoxical mysterious immediacy with songs that defy easy genre tagging as its songs aren’t readily comparable to any obvious influences.
Friday | 01.27 What:Circuit des Yeux and Bleak Mystique When: 7 Where: The Coast Why: Experimental indie folk artist Haley Fohr has been releasing fascinating records as Circuit des Yeux since at least 2010. Her spectral, almost classical compositions and otherworldly and dramatic vocals seem like something that one might expect from another era or parallel universe in which Alice Coltrane is a figure in her more New Age period was cited as an influence alongside Magma as much as any classic rock or folk artist. Her 2021 album -io is like a long lost Nico record with shades of Julia Holter and Laurel Halo but of course Fohr’s unique and always boundary pushing style.
Friday | 01.27 What: Haunt Me w/Hex Cassette and Julian St. Nightmare When: 9 Where: The Crypt Why: Haunt Me is a darkwave post-punk band from Austin, Texas that often performs in a nearly choking cloak of fog so that its echoing melodies seem to indeed come through to you in a disembodied manner grounded by hypnotic beats. This swing through Colorado includes two dates, this one at The Crypt with the confrontational and fun occult darkwave dance style of the inimitable Hex Cassette who always breaks the barrier between audience cajoling performer and manic dancer in the audience. Julian St. Nightmare’s songwriting as a post-punk band is consistently pushing the barriers of the musical style with not only superior musicianship and diverse songwriting but great style and stage presence.
Saturday | 01.28 What: Haunt Me w/Hex Cassette and Sunnnner When: 8 Where: Trident Booksellers & Cafe Why: This second Haunt Me show this time in Boulder out back of the Trident book store on the west end of Pearl Street Mall not only includes Hex Cassette but Denver trio Sunnnner whose weirdo post-punk and noise rock is so idiosyncratic in its presentation it is psychedelic rock by default. Meaning the group is much more exciting and interesting than any possible hints of roots in garage rock might be there.
Saturday | 01.28 What:Why Bonnie, Sun June and Porlolo When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Why Bonnie began as a songwriting outlet for singer/guitarist Blair Howerton but by the time of its 2018 debut EP In Water the project had developed into a full band. Howerton’s vivid lyrics and command of loud and quiet dynamics and crafting of warm, evocative melodies has yielded a richly diverse body of work that has been described as shoegaze Americana but the band’s music has more in common with the likes of Rilo Kiley, Soccer Mommy and Julien Baker than Mojave 3. The group’s 2022 album 90 in November is a collection of stories of unromanticized nostalgia. That approach lends the songs an unusual and fascinating aspect of being able to appreciate one’s past as it is and not to over or undervalue how you’ve grown as a person and the ongoing process of personal development. Veteran pop Americana legends Porlolo from Denver opens the show with Erin Roberts’ own insightful takes on personal folly and a life lived without fitting neatly under a subcultural umbrella.
Tuesday | 01.31 What:SunnO))) w/Kali Malone When: 7 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: In its SHOSHIN (初心) Duo configuration SunnO))) returns to its core, original live form with founders and guitarists Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson performing its signature heavy volume ritualistic drones dealing in what they refer to as “profound valve amplification, spectral harmonics, distortion and volume.” From the beginning the duo has crafted primal waves of sound that serve as some of the heaviest ambient music rooted in an abstract rock instrument foundation, warping and mutating both aesthetics in an alchemical synthesis that is transcendent and glacially crushing. Don’t go expecting a doom band, sure it’s not quite the same without long time collaborator, the singular vocalist Attila Csihar, but all configurations of SunnO))) offer a mind-altering live experience unlike any other band in the world of heavy music or really any other. Opening the proceedings is Kali Malone. The composer grew up in Colorado and moved to Stockholm, Sweden in her late teens and has become internationally renowned for her avant-garde works of drone and modern classical music. Anyone that saw Malone performing at house shows and DIY spaces in Colorado got to see an early form of Malone’s gift for meditative, minimalist soundscapes but her 2019 album The Sacrificial Code brought her to wider international audiences. Her new album, the gorgeously layered and transportingly murky Does Spring Hide Its Joy (January 2023) includes contributions from SunnO)))’s Stephen O’Malley and Lucy Railton released on O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ imprint on 3 LPs and 3 CDs.
Thursday | 12.01 What: Wild Pink w/Trace Mountains and Knuckle Pups When: 7 Where: Globe Hall Why: Wild Pink’s John Ross wrote one of the great story albums of recent years with 2021’s A Billion Little Lights and its themes of coming to terms with adulthood while staying connected with one’s creative life and navigating the temptations to ditch music as the occupation of adolescence. And how through creative work one can explore an evolving sense of meaning that hits you throughout your thirties and the rest of your life. 2022’s ILYSM (an acronym for “I Love You So Much”) takes that perspective to examine the details of life that deepen one”s bond with the people in your life. Knuckle Pups in from Denver released a deeply self-reflective album with 2022’s TV Ready in which the ambitious pop band fuses radical vulnerability with a compassionate honesty that is not nearly common enough in the realm of indie rock or any form of music today. Sometimes earnestness can seem like a pose but with Knuckle Pups it seems inspirational in its lack of pretension.
Friday | 12.02 What:Cold Cave w/Voight and Hex Cassette When: 7 Where: The Oriental Theater Why: Wesley Eisold of Cold Cave has been mostly been releasing singles and EPs since the most recent full length album Cherish the Light Years came out in 2011. His most recent Fate in Seven Lessons (2021) is well within the realm of modern darkwave post-punk with his usual gift for teasing grit and darkness out of the songwriting although plenty of the music has a beautifully melodic melancholia reminiscent of New Order. Eisold has also been involved in a bit of writing including his work with the late, great Mark Lanegon on the book of poetry Plague Poems (2020). Opening the show are two Denver acts. Hex Cassette’s confrontational industrial dance music challenges notions of the role of artist and audience and breaking that barrier for a collective experience. Voight seems to be making good on its threat of completely injecting techno into its own searing shoegaze-infused post-punk and emotionally intense music.
Friday | 12.02 What:Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest Denver 2022 Day 1: Cannibal Corpse, Dark Funeral, Immolation, Black Anvil, Onyx and In The Company of Serpents When: 5 Where: Summit Music Hall Why: This unique event includes some pretty extensive beer tasting for those so inclined but the real reason is to get to see some of the great extreme metal acts of today. That includes death metal legends Cannibal Corpse whose over the top gory lyrics have been banned in various countries despite how obviously absurd they are in the vein of the most demented horror movies of the 80s but really just more creative than a lot of those films. And the music itself stands up well in upholding the brutality of the lyrics with a technical proficiency worthy of the name of the band. Get there early to catch the bluesy, cinematic doom band from Denver In the Company of Serpents who don’t play Denver as much as they once did these days.
Saturday | 12.03 What:Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest Denver 2022 Day 2: Pig Destroyer, Skinless, Wayfarer, Of Feather and Bone and Wake When: 4 Where: Summit Music Hall Why: Day two of this event includes more noteworthy acts out of the broad world of extreme metal including performances from Denver’s masters of cinematic doom, Wayfarer, the caustic death grind onslaught of Of Feather and Bone, the blackened grind of Calgary’s Wake and grindcore legends Pig Destroyer whose contorted and savagely brutal music is a fitting companion to JR Hayes’ darkly incisive lyrics about human experiences on the edge.
Saturday | 12.03 What: Soccer Mommy w/TOPS When: 7 Where: The Ogden Theatre Why: Sophia Allison has been writing music and performing as Soccer Mommy since she was in college before dropping out and moving back to Nashville to pursue her career as a musician full time. It helped that she had a record deal with Fat Possum which released her debut album Clean in 2018 before she turned twenty-one. The album’s emotional openness and unabashed embrace of unconventional melody and song structure while crafting undeniable hooks garnered the record widespread critical acclaim. The most recent Soccer Mommy album Somtimes, Forever (2022) was produced with Daniel Lopatin aka Oneohtrix Point Never and the team-up brought to Allison’s particularly confessional lyrics and always imaginative guitar work an experimental edge and sound design element for the songwriter’s most musically adventurous recording of her career thus far. Additionally, the lyrics probably startled listeners that expect artists to be vague in their sentiments in a pop song setting but hasn’t Allison been poetically pointed and vivid in her words all along? Opening the show is Montreal’s indie pop band TOPS whose gentle yet passionate compositions seem like they’d be pretty light and airy live as well but at the show the band seems to exude an unexpected vitality.
Saturday | 12.03 What: HaemoGoblin and Fast N Loose at L. Lazer art opening When: 9 Where: The Crypt ($10 cash) Why: HaemoGoblin is an electronic duo that will be performing what it calls a ritualistic invocation. Calling the performance “Inauguration” what you will see is a “mini stage play set to music, designed to disorient, disturb and ‘shake awake’ the audience for a half hour or longer.” What will this look like? Well, veteran carnie frontwoman Ortenzia von Deadworry and S.S.G. her “summoned demon” synth player will definitely bring some theater to an often very predictable local music scene. Also on the bill for this art opening featuring the work of L. Lazer is Fast N Loose is a Motorhead tribute band.
Sunday | 12.04 What:The Soft Moon w/Nuovo Testamento and Kill You Club DJs When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Luis Vasquez was a little ahead of the curve when he launched The Soft Moon in 2009. Originally a solo project, The Soft Moon evolved to become more of a live band that brought Vasquez’s songs of nervy energy and anxiety-purging urgency to life. His most recent album is 2022’s Exister which in the wake of one of the most challenging periods in recent world history on a wide scale is a catharsis of overcoming the enervating influences that come your way and considering the mere continuation of existence a triumph in itself. The songs seem to have leaned more into the industrial side of Vasquez’s songwriting with some real visceral power driving the moody atmospherics. Los Angeles-based darkwave/synth pop band Nuovo Testamento opens the show.
Sunday | 12.04 What:Hembree w/Little Hurt, False Report and Mae Mae When: 7 Where: Larimer Lounge Why: Hembree from Kansas City, Missouri that formed in 2015 and its big break to a national audience was the placement of its single “Holy Water” in an Apple ad during Super Bowl LII. The group’s tight rhythms serve as a foundation for the rest of the songwriting to stretch out whether into focused, unadorned rock songs or expansive, moody pieces and the techno-underpinned indie funk that is at the core of its sound. The group’s new album It’s a Dream! is a record tinged with nostalgic examinations of the roots of current anxieties and insecurities expressed in hazy melodies and resonating tones driven by a hypnotic beat. On the surface it may sound like another current indie rock offering with more than its fair share of more imaginative songwriting but Hembree really charts an internal journey in which one is prepared to exit the gauntlet of lucid dreams trapped in feeling everything until it makes sense and after one is able to move through tangled emotional memories.
Monday | 12.05 What: The Lemonheads w/Bass Drum Of Death and On Being an Angel https://www.bluebirdtheater.net/events/detail/443688 When: 7 Where: The Bluebird Theater Why: The Lemonheads are one of few still extant bands to have come to prominence during the alternative rock era that didn’t quite fit in with the more trendy subgenres that made that era one of the most vibrant in the history of popular music. Its own brand of power pop was a vehicle for the songwriting of only constant member, singer and guitarist Evan Dando. The latter seems to have an ability to look into situations and people and extrapolate poetic insights with a compassionate perspective. The title track of the group’s 1992 breakthrough album It’s A Shame About Ray isn’t just about a troubled person who doesn’t fit in with any school and its politics, it’s about feeling like a perpetual outsider and the rest of the songs on the record are vivid stories about people we all know and might even be in a way that didn’t comport with the tales of desperation one heard in a lot of grunge and too “dark” for more faux posi faire of that era to now. Ever since The Lemonheads went on hiatus in 1997 and returned to operations in 2005, the group hasn’t been prolific with original material but Dando’s interpretations of artists that have influenced him on Varshons (2009) Varshons 2 (2019) have been a peek into what Dando’s brain has latched onto for inspiration and perhaps for this performance we’ll get to hear what the veteran songwriter has been up to in recent years. One thing is for certain his own songs have aged far better than those of many of his contemporaries owing in part to the gentle but raw honesty of the songwriting. Also on this bill is Bass Drum of Death originally from Oxford, Mississippi whose blues tinged noisy garage rock has a refreshing level of grit and menace befitting the name of the project.
Monday | 12.05 What:W.A.S.P. w/Armored Saint When: 7 Where: The Oriental Theater Why: W.A.S.P. is the kind of band out of the glam metal era in Los Angeles of the 1980s that more than any other group out of that world that courted controversy. Its music was and is a spirited, melodic hard rock with a strong sense of theater even in the songwriting. Sure its cover art for its debut single “Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)” with the circular saw codpiece offended people that took it more literally than could even remotely be intended. Certainly former guitarist Chris Holmes looked the buffoon drunk in a pool with his mother sitting by in the 1988 documentary The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years seemed to affirm the extreme and self-destructive hedonism associated with the band. But at its best W.A.S.P. were avatars of a music scene that could be cartoonish, bombastic and puerile while offering an alternative to a conformist puritanical culture with its lurid and triumphant storytelling. Perhaps co-headlining though less notorious is Armored Saint who also started in 1982 in Los Angeles and also pre-dated glam metal though often associated with that world of music due to the big hair and knack for solid melodic hooks. But like W.A.S.P. there was something with more edge than most of its glam rock contemporaries. While never quite having any mainstream breakthrough hits, Armored Saint was a staple of 1980s metal that has held up better than much of the music out of the 1980s Los Angeles heavy metal scene has.
Tuesday | 12.06 What: Palm w/Water From Your Eyes When: 7 Where: Larimer Lounge Why: As Water From Your Eyes, Nate Amos and Rachel Brown have made a career of using an eclectic and ever evolving palette of sounds to explore ideas and concepts through what could be considered dance pop. That is if your frame of reference might be the experimental electronic and punk out of New York and Los Angeles of the last fifteen years. Its 2020 album 33:44 is something you’d expect more out of a band on the Northern Spy label with its beautifully dire, ambient and modern classical soundscapes that are almost an homage to Penderecki’s “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” crossed with Howard Shore’s work for the films of David Cronenberg. But the duo’s most recent album Structure at times sounds like what might have happened if Aphex Twin in writing Selected Ambient Works Volume II had decided to turn those into pop songs. Except that Water From Your Eyes inserts enigmatic spoken word elements that serve as a a meta narrative that re-configures traditional album structure and gives the whole album a non-linear quality made cohesive by reimagining the nature of how creative work is structured. Fitting that this arty yet incredibly accessible group is sharing the stage with Philadelphia’s art rock weirdos Palm touring in support of Nicks and Grazes, an album that sounds like the band challenged its members to go on separate retreats to clear their minds of contemporary influences and to immerse themselves in non-musical art forms and come back to make the kind of psychedelic rock record that comes across like a collage of playful daydreams and arranged in a way that brushes aside conventional structure itself.
Thursday and Friday | 12.08 and 12.09 What: OFF! w/Zulu When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: OFF! is of course the newer hardcore project fronted by legendary vocalist Keith Morris formerly of Black Flag and of Circle Jerks. The current lineup includes founding member Dmitri Coats of Burning Brides on guitar and as of 2021 Autry Fulbright II on bass and Justin Brown on drums. After an eight year hiatus on releases, OFF! released Free LSD in 2022. It’s still the searing hardcore sound you’d expect from the group but there are some clear differences with what sounds like synth and other ambient sounds giving the songs a psychedelic feel that wasn’t so much a part of its earlier sound. A refreshing update for a band that still maintains the intensity and edge without being stuck in a stylistic rut. Opening both dates at the Hi-Dive is anti-racist powerviolence band Zulu which injects its music with R&B samples and eschews the tough guy stance of hardcore.
Friday | 12.09 What:Pond w/Cryogeyser — rescheduled to April 16, 2023 When: 8 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: Pond has shared membership with Tame Impala over the years with lead singer Nick Albrook being involved with both bands for a few years and Kevin Parker serving as drummer in earlier years and as a producer until 2020. The polished psychedelic pop of its first eight albums was helped in no small part due to Parker’s influence in the production department but with the 2021 album 9, Pond has given us its most interesting record to date with more grit in its overall sound, some edge to its funk elements and a willingness to embrace some rawness in its sound as well as take its atmospherics into a realm flirting with space rock. Los Angeles-based jangle fuzz trio Cryogeyser opens the show with its melancholic, lo-fi dream pop.
Friday | 12.09 What:Obituary w/Amon Amarth, Carcass and Cattle Decapitation When: 5:30 Where: The Fillmore Auditorium Why: Obituary is touring ahead of the 2023 release of its new album Dying of Everything. After nearly 40 years as a band exploring the outer edges of the death metal format and pioneering some of that aesthetic it can be challenging to have something new to say with your music and a return to form can be tedious. But Obituary this time decided to stick to writing a strong set of material worthy of its pre-1997 split output. The dire messaging delivered with still convincingly brutal vocals but without cartoonish lyrics. Rounding out the bill are Seattle grindcore outfit Cattle Decapitation who are somehow both keenly aware of the absurdity and cruelty of modern human civilization and the need to ridicule the hubris of our species without making light of the situation in which we and other animals find ourselves due to a tolerance for savage forms of economic and social organization. And yes, grindcore/death metal legends/pioneers Carcass and Swedish, melodic death metal group Amon Amarth and its proclivity for lyrics about the Viking Age and a time before the Christian domination of Nordic culture.
Saturday and Sunday | 12.10 and 12.11 What: The Smile w/Robert Stillman When: 7 Where: Mission Ballroom Why: The Smile is Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead fame with drummer Tom Skinner of Sons of Kemet. The trio made its debut at Glastonbury Festival in 2021 and its music produced during the limitations of association and collaboration during the COVID-19 lockdown emerged as an intimate and spacious, lonely set of melodies and fragile emotional expressions. In 2022 the group released its debut album A Light for Attracting Attention. The record is contemplative as one might expect with the musicians involved but also vulnerable and open in sentiments embracing a massive level of uncertainty and peril that continues to flow seemingly unchecked in a world beyond the ongoing pandemic and perpetuating a sustained anxiety that will have untold impacts for decades to come and written about in history books or their equivalent in some future time should such indulgences be permitted in a post-authoritarian era. The Smile seems to have written a record from the perspective of people keenly attuned to these concerns and not knowing if they’ll live long enough to see better days but not being attached to a sinking spirit of despair.
Wednesday | 12.14 What:Bartees Strange w/Pom Pom Squad and They Hate Change When: 7 Where: The Bluebird Theater Why: Bartees Leon Cox Jr. has worn various hats in his career both musical and otherwise. But he is perhaps best known for his music under the moniker Bartees Strange following his stint in in the post-hardcore band Stay Inside. With the release of his 2020 debut Live Forever, Cox has proven himself a master of writing emotionally nuanced and vulnerable pop songs that incorporate elements of indie folk and, synth pop and hip-hop but with a production element that seems to make the music and its complex arrangements hit with a stirring immediacy. Fans of Twin Shadow will hear some similar sonic touchstones and the sophomore album Farm to Table (2022) revealed more of Cox’s gift for genre bending to great effect in delivering songs that are at once deeply personal and politically charged.
Thursday | 12.15 What: Twin Tribes w/Dancing Plague and Plague Garden When: 7 Where: HQ Why: Twin Tribes from Brownsville, TX have garnered no small amount of buzz for its blend of minimal synth and post-punk and a kind of vitality amid melancholic tones. Its most recent studio album Ceremony (2019) sounds like songs written during a flurry of peak emotions and capturing the urgency and desperation of a recent breakup. In most cities of size, Twin Tribes is performing in medium sized clubs but in Denver we’re fortunate to be able to catch the popular band in a small club like HQ. Dancing Plague is a darkwave solo act from Portland, OR whose dusky synth pop is like a darker OMD with some touches of influence from John Maus. In the interest of full transparency, the author of this blurb is in Plague Garden, a noteworthy post-punk/New Wave band from Denver.
Thursday | 12.15 What:ABANDONS w/Old Soul Dies Young, Almanac Man and Fainting Dreams When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: This show is a nice split of experimental noise rock and shoegaze. ABANDONS might at another time be considered a post-rock band but in its mix one hears bits of post-metal, noise rock and ambient and it live shows have a visceral quality with music that one might more expect to be performed in a more meditative spirit. Old Soul Dies Young is the kind of band that happens when guys who were way into post-hardcore and doom drop that sound palette for something more melodic and atmospheric but with the same level of sonic bombast. Almanac Man is like a collision of doom and borderline aggressive, Chicago style noise rock. Fainting Dreams is the kind of dream pop band that comes about when its members maybe came up through hardcore and death metal and are shedding the aggression and mathematical precision and heaviness for radical vulnerability and dreamlike tones.
Friday | 12.16 What: Sounds for Charity: Avarice, Organ, No More Cheering, Gabriel Albelo When: 7 Where: Glob Why: Proceeds from this show go to Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. Warm weather gear and hand warmers also accepted. For your donation you can catch the glitch industrial dance stylings of Organ, Gabriel Albelo’s solo performance of his heavy psychedelic rock, Avarice’s dark, menacing industrial techno and the prepared noise environment soundscapes of No More Cheering.
Saturday | 12.17 What:Love Stallion w/Shanghai Metro Temple and Meet the Giant When: 8 Where: Lost Lake Why: Love Stallion is basically an 80s style glam metal band and if that’s your thing they’re definitely on the better end of the modern version of that with of course stage antics and style and the level of musicianship you’d expect. Shanghai Metro Temple is a fairly straight ahead indie rock band that sounds like it is heavily influenced by late 90s alternative and hard rock. Meet the Giant fuse downtempo electronic pop with post-punk, heavy shoegaze and imaginative soundscapes on the production end.
Saturday | 12.17 What:Bluebook w/Wave Decay and Mon Cher When: 8 Where: Globe Hall Why: Bluebook these days isn’t the experimental indie folk jazz band of its early days. Instead there is a darkness and not so buttoned downed, controlled intensity to the performances. Seems like Julie Davis is letting her flaws, anxieties and dreams hang more loosely with this version of the band and that has just meant its music has blossomed more and its sound palette greatly expanded with the inclusion of formery Monofog and Snake Rattle Rattle Snake singer Hayley Helmericks on drums and backing vocals, Jess Parsons on keys and other instrumentation and maybe even Anna Morsett on guitar. Wave Decay is the kind of band that sounds like it took the door through psych garage into more shoegaze sounds and all the better for it. Mon Cher’s music is a particularly transporting and lies somewhere between dream pop and downtempo jazz.
Saturday | 12.17 What:Milk Blossoms w/Meek and Knuckle Pups When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Knuckle Pups write radically vulnerable and thoughtful indie pop in the classic mold and its 2022 album TV Ready is both heartbreaking and uplifting. Milk Blossoms play a rare show with Michelle Rocquet now that she spends much of her time in New York City for professional and academic pursuits. So with this configuration of the band you’ll get the full dual vocal effect of powerfully rendered, tender pop songs that are irresistibly twee and cathartic.
Sunday | 12.18 What:Never Kenezzard w/Zingaro, Sea of Flame and Master Ferocious When: 3 Where: Globe Hall Why: Never Kenezzard don’t really fit in with the metal scene so much though its blend of progressive rock sensibilities, doom and psychedelia finds it in a particularly more interesting corner of that realm of music. Sea of Flame are a sludge rock/doom band whose epic arrangements are not the rote edition of what doom has become. Master Ferocious somehow mix classic power metal with glam rock without seeming corny because the musicianship is so strong and the performance bordering on theatrical.
Sunday | 12.18 What:Alaska Thunderfuck Presents: The Red 4 Filth Tour When: 7 Where: The Bluebird Theater Why: Alaska Thunderfuck is perhaps best known for her competing in RuPaul’s Drag Race but over the last several years she has cultivated a pop music career. Steeped in modern electronic pop and a showcase for her outsize stage persona. Her latest album Red 4 Filth leaves behind some of the camp and humor of previous releases with a more obviously sincere set of pop songs that bring together sounds from hip-hop and classic modern pop including a cover of “All That She Wants” by Ace of Base.
Thursday | 12.22 What:FaceMan Western Jupiter vinyl release, Tivoli Club Brass Band and Anthony Ruptak When: 7 Where: The Skylark Lounge/Bobcat Club Why: Faceman celebrates the release of its latest album on vinyl as well as making available on vinyl for the first time its 2016 album Wild and Hunting. The band fronted by Steve Faceman has long offered finely crafted pop Americana with an experimental edge though its new album Western Jupiter shows an embrace of a more straightforward approach to songcraft. But every release is fulled with songs that have heartfelt and sharply observed lyrics in stories about life that feel like they’re part of your life because Steve has honed in on an aspect of culture and social reality that seems to be in the air in that moment. In years past Faceman has put on theatrical performances with set pieces and costumes that help to illustrate the music in dramatic fashion in collaboration with local visual artists who have helped to make these outfits and elaborate sets and pieces of artwork like the stage Megalodon of several years ago or the huge tornado of paper made for the epic Faceman’s 100 Year Storm event of 2016 at The Oriental Theater in which Faceman invited 100 bands to perform. So there’s a bit of community involvement and creative vision behind what drives the band even if it’s not necessarily abundantly obvious from listening to its excellent songs on their own.
Friday | 12.23 What:Baby Baby, Gila Teen, SORROWS and Ray Diess When: 7 Where: Enigma Bazaar Why: Baby Baby is the indie dream pop project of Lily Conrad. Reminiscent of bedroom pop artists of the late 90s and 2000s and has the aesthetics of lo-fi but with better sound production than much of that stuff often had. Gila Teen is the genre defying emo-shoegaze-post-punk band whose eccentric songs nevertheless always seem to be a direct line into the anxieties and affections coursing through the cosmos at the given moment of the performance. SORROWS is an emotionally charged downtempo band comprised of vibrant vocals, elegantly crafted rhythms and electronic production. Ray Diess is one of the Denver scene’s most compelling darkwave pop artists operating today.
Friday | 12.23 What: Fast Eddy, Julian Street Nightmare and Morning Oil When: 8 Where: Globe Hall (free) Why: When garage punk and the more mundane end of psychedelic rock collapsed under the weight of its own hubris and fake excitement some of the people who were on one end of that broader scene with any talent or imagination had to do something different and Fast Eddy came out of that milieu as a solid power pop band. Julian Street Nightmare create music from a thrilling nexus of post-punk, surf rock and art rock. Morning Oil sounds like it took some bit of inspiration from the better part of 80s glam metal and The Dead Boys.
Tuesday | 12.27 What:The Roots and BIG K.R.I.T. When: 7 Where: Mission Ballroom Why: The Roots are the influential, jazz rooted hip-hop band from Philadelphia that many may also know for serving as the house band on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Its use of live musical instrumentation has always set The Roots apart from most hip-hop groups whose use of samples is most often used to craft the beat and thus its live performances have a powerful physical presence that is impossible to duplicate otherwise. Big K.R.I.T. is the acclaimed rapper and producer from Mississippi whose eclectic production and socially conscious lyrics seem to hit at a very grassroots level of appeal with an accessible sound and a way of presenting heady ideas in a way that is both creative and personally relatable.
Thursday | 12.29 What: Watch Yourself Die, Voight, Sell Farm https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sell-farm-voight-wyd-at-the-mercury-cafe-tickets-481076160747?aff=ebdshpsearchautocomplete When: 8 Where: Mercury Café Why: Watch Yourself Die is kind of a post-punk supergroup comprised of members of Hex Cassette, Ray Diess and Julian Street Nightmare. Voight has long blurred the line between shoegaze, post-punk, darkwave and techno and infused it with emotionally intense live performances. Sell Farm might be an indiepop band but one that doesn’t see a reason why heavy dub and industrial music can’t be a part of the overall wheelhouse of sounds going into the project’s eclectic but always interesting songwriting.
Thursday | 12.29 What:Discomfort Creature w/Curious Things, Nightfishing When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Discomfort Creature is a punk band from Denver whose lineup includes current and former members of Gamits and Uphollow and this show signals the vinyl release of its 2021 self-titled debut on Snappy Little Numbers now that Chris Fogal is back in town for the occasion from his current residence in Switzerland. The record is an energetic fusion of pop punk and the more angular, Dischord-esque variety of punk.
Friday | 12.30 What:FOANS, Brotherhood of Machines (album release) and Luxury Hearse When: 9 Where: Broadway Roxy Why: FOANS is the brainchild of producer Andrew Dahabrah whose melancholic house and techno music has been at the center of Denver’s underground dance music world for several years. Luxury Hearse is the project of Dan Coleman (Blank Human) and Rin Howell (Psychic Secretary) that breaks the barrier between techno, ambient and musique concrète. Brotherhood of Machines is apparently returning with its first new release and album in over six years. The project live has been a mysterious and sonically rich example of where ambient, abstract industrial, techno and noise converge to produce a sound that establishes a deep sense of mood and place.
Seraphim Shock has been spinning its tales of the dark side of American society informed by themes of the occult, Satanism, hedonism and resistance to a puritanical culture that often causes the trauma and neuroses that drive dysfunction. Seraphim Shock’s music is an expression of solidarity with living with that legacy and purging it. It’s second full length album Red Silk Vow released in 1997 to great local fanfare in the local Goth scene with shows in which lead singer Charles Edward garbed as a Victorian Vampire, top hat and all, orchestrated a stage show with bandmates in corpse paint. Whether one was fully into the music or not the spectacle was undeniably compelling to the point where it helped to elevate the music in its Goth-industrial aesthetic. Generally snubbed by the local press and a good deal of the local scene in Denver, Seraphim Shock has forged a path as a band untethered to the usual local scene politics and its limitations. The group’s second ever show in 1994 was in Phoenix and most of its Denver shows since the mid-90s have been at larger venues like The Aztlan Theater, The Ogden Theatre and The Gothic Theatre rather than the gauntlet of dive bars and small clubs in no small part due to Edward not seeing his group as simply a local outfit. As the years went on the band’s style adopted a more hard rock sound and Edward’s stage appearance evolving into that of more a sinister yet benevolent glam rock professional wrestler look than a lord of the undead, think a body sculpted Goth super hero. In 2022 Edward and Seraphim Shock celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of Red Silk Vow as a continuation of Edward’s creative vision as he ushers in the next chapter of the band with its impending release of the second chapter of The Fairmount Chronicles which launched in 2020. The stage show is back to being as theatrical as the early days with Edward exuding the undeniable charisma and commanding presence that has been a feature of the live show for decades.
Listen to our interview with Charles Edward on Bandcamp and go witness Seraphim Shock’s Twenty-Fifth Anniversary celebration of the iconic album Red Silk Vow at the Oriental Theater on Saturday, November 26, 2022 (doors 7 p.m.) with Dead on a Sunday, Whorticulture and DJ Celebrytie as hosted by the always enteraining, sardonic raconteur Sid Pink For more information on Seraphim Shock and to find music and merch, please visit the links below.
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