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.
Tuesday | 06.06 What: The Cure w/The Twilight Sad When: 5:30 Where: Fiddler’s Green Why: The Cure is of course the foundational post-punk band whose gloomy, darkly melodic songs has exerted a lasting influence not just on what one might presume in the realms of Goth and darkwave but also shoegaze, pop music and even certain corners of hip-hop. Singer Robert Smith’s sensitively and sharply observed lyrics embody poetically a sensibility that takes in the possibilities and harsh realities of the world and casts dreams for the best against the odds. Though the band’s music has a reputation for melancholy sounds and sad songs its rich body of work is quite varied and not short on expressions of joy, amusement, romance and hope. Its music conveys the broad human experience like few popular bands get to with the level of power and nuance The Cure has brought to bear across decades and as a live band there is an uplifting warmth and sense of human solidarity to the performances. Scottish post-punk band The Twilight Sad is cut from a similar artistic cloth with songs that are both vulnerable and ferocious.
Wednesday and Thursday | 06.07 and 06.08 What: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard w/Kamikaze Palm Tree When:6 p.m (06.07) and 12 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (06.08) Where: Red Rocks Why: With a name like King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard you might imagine some acid head RPG nerds making psychedelic metal with lyrics based on an epic fantasy story arc. And other than maybe the RPG part and maybe the doing LSD bit you wouldn’t be wrong in essence. The group from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia has steadily built a large cult following with a prolific career (in both 2017 and 2022 King Gizz released five albums each year with other years yielding at least one if not two records) with sounds from psychedelic pop to prog, to synth pop and groove metal, thrash and psych power metal. With album titles like Flying Microtonal Banana, Nonagon Infinity, Butterfly 3000, Fishing for Fishes and the 2023 album so far PetroDragonic Apocalyp; or Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation you’d expect bizarre concept albums worthy of Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Tarkus or Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway or at least unclassifiable songs like Pink Floyd’s “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict.” And King Gizz delivers just that. The kinds of albums and songs and shows that take you on a mind-bending, genre-bursting musical journey worthy of Hawkwind or Gong at their self-indulgent best.
Thursday | 06.08 What:Alphabet Soup #61: Machu Linea, Dub FX, Savage Bass Goat, Yung Lurch, Furbie Cakes and Skyfloor When: 9 Where: Black Box Why: This monthly showcase of some of the most forward thinking/experimental producers in Denver includes some of the usual suspects like Furbie Cakes and Skyfloor and their brand of glitch and melodic ambient but this time out also Machu Linea whose avant-pop R&B/techno fusion has long crossed over into the realm of the indie scene.
Friday | 06.09 What: Endless, Nameless and Antibroth tour kickoff w/Rose Variety and Polly Urethane When: 7 Where: D3 Arts Why: Antibroth and Endless, Nameless are embarking on a tour to the East Coast and back through the Midwest after which Antibroth and its weirdo, experimental, angular form of post-punk and confrontational surrealism will effectively come to an end though during the tour the trio will release its final EP, Satan and the Dying Baby. This is the band’s final show so don’t miss it. Endless, Nameless is a multi-genre band crossing the boundaries of post-hardcore, death metal, math rock and shoegaze. Rose Variety from Boulder came out of a time in local music that had recovered from that wave of really cookie cutter psychedelic and garage rock but took that raw material and made a pop band out of it with some real punk kick. Polly Urethane always reinvents her show with every performance so maybe you’ll get a gorgeously classical vocal show with some vinyl sampling or backing track or raw noise and signal processing or a pure performance art piece or all of it. Always worth coming to check out.
Friday | 06.09 What: The Sisters of Mercy w/A Primitive Evolution When: 7 Where: Fillmore Auditorium Why: The Sisters of Mercy will probably fill the venue with a thick fog and you’ll get some colored murk in which to experience its foundational political post-punk but maybe this time the fog won’t be so thick and you’ll get to see Andrew Eldtrich and his band clearly delivering the kind anthemic, dark rock that launched a thousand Goth bands without directly being that music itself.
Saturday | 06.10 What:Jerome’s Dream and Elizabeth Colour Wheel and Only Echoes When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Jerome’s Dream is the influential screamo/powerviolence band from Sacramento that started out in the early heyday of that music in the late 90s and early 2000s and during its first run of 1997-2001 the trio made a major impact on the kind of music that would later be associated with modern hardcore and extreme metal and where those two fuse. The band has been reunited since 2018 and its latest album The Gray In Between is a fine example of the kind of cathartic extreme music that is has had a popular resurgence in the last handful of years. Elizabeth Colour Wheel is of similar sound but its fusion of noise rock and shoegaze but delivered like a hardcore band has made it a wonderful musical mutant of the past several years. Only Echoes is an instrumental post-metal band from Denver that has been honing its imaginative soundscapes on the road and around Denver whose 2022 album Sunsickness is both melancholic and fiery, reconciling both musical impulses.
Saturday | 06.10 What: Bayonne w/Mmeadows When: 8 Where: Globe Hall Why: Bayonne is the project of producer and composer Roger Sellers who started off releasing music under his given name but beginning with 2016’s Primitives he adopted his current moniker. The latest Bayonne record Temporary Time (2023) is an entrancing, orchestral electronic pop record of spacious melodies and melancholic yet summery moods. At another time some critic might have lumped Bayonne in with the “hypnogogic pop” of John Maus or even Dean Blunt but his style is more in the vein of downtempo ambient of Tycho but more grounded in texture and strong, organic rhythms.
Thursday | 02.02 What:Almira Gulch, Equine, Witch Baby and Fireball Rose When: 8 Where: The Skylark Lounge Why: The rare all avant-garde show at a club that normally hosts rock, pop and country including performances from musicians in the small free jazz scene in Denver as well as experimental guitar drone and jazz composer Equine.
Friday | 02.03 What:Church Fire w/Elegant Everyone, Velvet Horns and An Antiquated Bluff When: 8 Where: The Skylark Lounge Why: Church Fire brings the weird and the emotionally charged electronic and industrial dance fire to the Skylark sharing the stage with the emo-folk-psychedelic Americana intensity of An Antiquated Bluff and the unabashedly queer emo of power punk trio Velvet Horns.
Friday | 02.03 What:BleakHeart w/Autumn Creatures and Fainting Dreams When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: BleakHeart’s fusion of post-punk/dreampop and doom is not much like any other band in Denver now. Autumn Creatures from the Springs is a good fit on that bill since its own music bridges the worlds of electronic industrial, darkwave, post-metal, post-punk and shoegaze. And Fainting Dreams with its own roots in hardcore and progressive death metal finds a different musical outlet with its own emotionally rich take on dream pop.
Friday | 02.03 What:Voight w/Blackcell and DJ Eli When: 8 Where: HQ Why: Two giants of local post-punk and industrial music that doesn’t fit narrowly into either designation share the bill this night. Voight is more on the shoegaze end but has so thoroughly threaded techno into its mix that it has become its own fusion of styles. Blackcell has been around for around 30 years evolving its own eclectic sound borne out of noise, EBM and psychedelic industrial techno.
Saturday | 02.04 What:VCO, Totem Pocket and Business Cashmere When: 8 Where: The Skylark Lounge Why: Is VCO the band from Glasgow? Who can say. Seems unlikely but if it is, it’s a kind of synth heavy post-punk pop band. But either way opening the show are two of Denver’s more promising prospects in the local underground rocks scene. Totem Pocket is a psychedelic shoegaze band that apparently wasn’t bother to listen when someone said maybe you should mix influences like Dinosaur Jr, Animal Collective and Slowdive. The idea of indie rock has become a bit of a lifestyle marketing joke in recent years but when you hear Business Cashmere it’s like they took the challenge of doing something off center from the standard pop and experimental rock and disparate retro influences formula to craft music that seems to draw on genuine emotions and dream imagery.
Wednesday | 02.08 What:Blink 90210, Reckless Nights and SPELLS When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Garage rock with a touch of soul and blues band Reckless Nights is reuniting at the request of their friend Thomas/Tom Packard who is fighting stage 4 colon cancer and wanted to see one more show. So it’ll be a bit of an extravaganza. Joaquin Liebert has been a fixture of the local music and acting scene as the frontman of The Risk/Hi-Fidelity and various other projects over the years so he’ll bring high entertainment value. And so will SPELLS with their unabashed aiming for the highly attainable and completely acceptable 80% performance level but with higher than 80% songwriting and energy punk pop.
Friday | 02.10 What:Gabriel Albelo & The Midnight Temples, Los Toms, Galleries and DJ Eddie B When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Gabriel Albelo & The Midnight Temples is releasing its new four song EP at this show. The group lead by former Silver Face guitarist and singer Gabriel Albelo is an amalgam of heavy psychedelia and what might be called progressive garage rock. It’s the kind of music that could only really come about from an intentional study of earlier psychedelic and art rock with an aim of wanting to do something with a similar impact but without coming off like a direct imitation. Also on the bill is the like-minded hard rock psych group Galleries.
Saturday | 02.11 What: The Red Scare w/Sunnnner, Legs. The Band, Cellar Smellar When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: The Red Scare from Fort Collins sounds like it absorbed a great deal of Sonic Youth influence with its tonal and dynamic bends and favoring Lee Ranaldo’s offhand vocal style. But with a guitar palette like something born of the noisier end of The Swirlies and Lilys. Sunnnner is a little more challenging to suss out stylistically but other than a simple weirdo noise rock and scuzzy garage rock its exuberant live performances are simultaneously inviting and confrontational. Legs. The Band is another musical mutant also perfect for this bill with its unlikely and poweful combination of blues rock and punk fronted by the charismatic Marcus Macabre whose stage persona is equal parts Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Bobby Hackney Sr. from Death.
Saturday | 02.11 What:ABANDONS, Only Echoes and Edith Pike When: 8 Where: The Squire Lounge Why: ABANDONS is a trio whose music has roots in post-rock, post-metal, art prog and noisy strangeness generally. Its imaginative soundscapes are arranged in cinematic fashion with figures and moods evolving and figures fading in and out as the music progresses and by the end of a show you feel like you’ve been through something more than just a rock show. Only Echoes is one of Denver’s premier instrumental post-metal bands whose relentless yet modulated flow of melodic sounds suggest epic journeys without crossing over into cheesy pretension. Edith Pike is a band that somehow brings together strands of emo and powerviolence with post-rock like a weird amalgamation of Siege and The For Carnation.
Saturday | 02.11 What:Rubblebucket w/Spaceface When: 8 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: Brooklyn’s Rubblebucket returned in 2022 with its album Earth Worship, the follow up to the triumphantly soulful and heartbreaking 2018 record Sun Machine. This new set of songs find’s the art pop duo taking its mutant jazz, R&B synthpop into seemingly another vista of poetic examination of yearning, identity and saying goodbye to significant chapters and relationships in your life as they are and embracing the vitality of what is already forming and yet to come. Spaceface released one of the more lively retro psych pop records of 2022 with the self-aware Anemoia. When it toured in support of the album in clubs it was like getting to see a band making use of the space like they were both glam rock rock gods and a teenybopper pop band and made it work. It didn’t hurt the songs were also irresistible in their colorfully trippy melodies baked into solid dance rhythms.
Saturday | 02.11 What: The Charlatans and Ride When: 8 Where: Ogden Theatre Why: The Charlatans and Ride both formed in 1988 in time to be a part of exciting movements of music coming out of the UK and across the Atlantic. The Charlatans were creating emotionally rich psychedelic pop songs wedded to some of the aesthetics of acidhouse and got lumped in a bit with the whole Madchester thing but were in many ways an early example of what came to be called Britpop. But these clumsy designations aside, The Chalatans’ songs then and now have a freshness of spirit that has meant its older songs have aged well and its new music as exemplified by its 2017 album Different Days hits with a modern resonance informed by an older person’s sense of nuance and perspective minus the ossified self-congratulation. Ride was certainly one of the flagship bands of shoegaze and its debut album Nowhere (1990) helped to define the subgenre. Its 1992 follow-up Going Blank Again pushed the fidelity of its massive guitar sound further and pointed at where the group would travel further in its songwriting with hints of electronic elements and a more evolved psychedelic pop. Its own latest album 2018’s Tomorrow’s Shore proved the band wasn’t stuck in some phase of trying to recapture old glory and demonstrated a knack for inventive melodic turns of phrase and strong pop hooks. This tour is a perfect match of classic bands who still have something to say rather than merely resting on their laurels as “legendary” acts.
What:Chella and the Charm w/Team Nonexistent and Calamity When: 8 Where: The Skylark Lounge Why: Michelle Caponigro is rebooting her Sweethearts of the Rodeo Valentine’s show for this performance of Chella and the Charm. The band’s music is a beautiful fusion of passionate Americana and rock poetry with uncanny insights into the intricacies and glories and pitfalls of human relationships and one’s own relationship with oneself in a world that can often put challenges that can work to dissolve anything you build. Caponigro’s lyrics in their various ways highlight how navigating these dangerous waters can reveal to you the essence of what makes one’s struggles worthwhile. Team Nonexistent is a band still exploring its sound but its jagged and scrappy energy hits as punk but with a defiant vulnerability that makes its songwriting more interesting than a lot of bands in that vein. Calamity is the brainchild of Kate Hannington and depending on the show you see you might think it’s more noisy indie rock or lushly expansive indiepop. But either way, Hannington’s commanding and expressive vocals deliver literate and imaginative tales of getting through life in challenging times without succumbing to an understanding impulse to despair.
Saturday | 02.11 What:Allison Lorenzen and Midwife When: 7:30/8 Where: Chautauqua Community House Why: Allison Lorenzen and Madeline Johnston (Midwife) have both been putting out some of the most deeply moving music in the realm of indie folk of recent years. Really, both are experimental artists whose body of work is both unpretentiously conceptual and dig deep into places in the psyche that can be challenging to bring to light and articulate in ways that make them accessible. Both recently released a collaborative cover of Bush’s 1994 hit “Glycerine” (video below) but of course make it an affecting and transformative listening experience. This rare collaborative show in a place like Chautauqua Community House will bring something raw yet sophisticated and genuine to a place that usually hosts more commercially established artists.
Tuesday | 02.14 What:Midwife, H Lite, Polly Urethane and Debaser When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Midwife follows up a show in Boulder with like-minded transcendent indie folk experimentalist Allison Lorenzen with this headlining date at the Hi-Dive. The show includes performances from glitch IDM abstract dance electronica artist H Lite, the always surprising and theatrical classical/industrial noise/musique concrète/songwriter Polly Urethane and her shows that seem to be different in fundamental ways from performance to performance and OG DIY Denver Godfather Josh Taylor (Friends Forever, Foot Village, Secret Girls, Monkey Mania, The Smell etc.) performing with his bass and drums (the instruments, not the electronic music style) etc. project Debaser.
Tuesday | 02.14 What:Matt Anderson and Mariel Buckley When: 7 Where: Soiled Dove Underground Why: For over twenty years Juno Award nominated songwriter Matt Andersen brings his tour in support of his 2022 album House to House to Denver. His warm and intimate performances are both passionate and informed by a gentleness of spirit that is immediately commanding and inviting with a musical style that taps into a blues and folk tradition influenced by a heaping of soul and R&B. Also on this tour is Mariel Buckley who released her own latest album in 2022 with Everywhere I Used to Be and its candid and incredibly relatable lyrics. Though known as something of a country artist the new record reveals Buckley to be a much more musically eclectic artist who weaves in sounds and styles in a way that complements well her expressive vocals and richly emotional musical delivery.
Wednesday | 02.15 What:Midwife w/Edith Pike, Viewfinder and Autumn Creatures When: 6/7 Where: Vultures Why: Midwife completes her journey through Colorado with a show in the Springs at Vultures just east of The Black Sheep with noise rock hardcore group Edith Pike and electro-shoegaze band Autumn Creatures.
Thursday and Friday | 02.16 and 02.17 What: Jerry Harrison & Adrian Belew: Remain In Light w/Cool Cool Cool When: 7 Where: Ogden Theatre (02.16) and Boulder Theater (02.17) Why: Jerry Harrison was a founding member of art punk weirdo quartet Talking Heads whose 1980 experimental pop masterpiece Remain in Light was unexpectedly its gateway into the mainstream with the broadcast of the quirky video for “Once in a Lifetime” in regular rotation when MTV launched in 1981. For the support tour of the album former Frank Zappa band guitarist and touring member of David Bowie’s band for the Isolar II Tour Adrian Belew (who went on to a long stint with King Crimson as well as Bowie again and a distinguished solo career) was brought on board for some of Talking Heads’ most memorable live performances as captured on film and live recordings. So the two musicians are performing the iconic album for these performances. While not including the other members of the Talking Heads it should be an interesting execution of the material given the musicians involved.
Friday | 02.17 What: Weird Al Qaida album release When: 8:30-10 Where: Mutiny Information Café Why: Weird Al Qaida got off the ground in 2008/2009 when Eric Peterson and Ingvald Grunder formed the experimental project with the aim of being able to explore whatever musical ideas came to mind. Both had been in bands in and around the Denver music scene for years prior with Peterson having played in power pop/punk pop group The Barrys and Grunder having spent some time in Orbit Service. Weird Al Qaida doesn’t fit nicely into any Denver subscene not being quite noise enough for that world though elements of musique concrète, ambient and noise are elements of its songwriting and not quite psychedelic folk or jazz enough for a more mainstream version of that. But its fascinating body of recorded work including the 2011 seven inch Psychic Wizard, 2016’s Plastic Family and now the 2022 record The Dog & The Deer showcase imaginative soundscaping and arrangements that expand categories of what music can be while remaining essentially accessible.
Friday | 02.17 What:Plasma Canvas album release w/Cheap Perfume, SPELLS and WIFF When: 7 Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective Why: Plasma Canvas is celebrating the release of its new album DUSK with a series of shows along the front range in February and March beginning with this show at the long running DIY space Seventh Circle Music Collective. The punk/emo/hard rock band’s heartfelt and cathartic songs has earned it a cult following beyond Colorado with anthemic lyrics and exuberant live performances. The album recorded at The Blasting Room by Andrew Berlin and mixed by Jason Livermore, produced by Bill Stevenson, is the first release to include the four piece lineup of founding members Adrienne Rae Ash (vocals/guitar) and Evalyn Flowers (drums) along with second guitarist Frankie Harlin and bassist Jarod Ford. And if you’ve been able to catch the band in the past year you’ve witnessed the power of the new palette of sounds. For this show and the performance in the Springs there will be the searing and inspirational, unabashedly feminist punk of Cheap Perfume, SPELLS whose workmanlike punk pop songwriting delivered with raw energy is always surprisingly likeable and WIFF whose blend of power pop and punk has a fuzzy tinge of 90s alternative rock.
Friday | 02.17 What: New Ben Franklins w/Jimbo Darville & The Truckadours (15th Annual Waylon Jennings Tribute show) When: 8 Where: Globe Hall Why: Waylon Jennings is one of the most celebrated figures in country music. As a young man he was hired by Buddy Holly to play bass and as fate would have it he gave up his seat on the flight in 1959 that killed Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens. Throughout the 60s he played in his own rockabilly band but transitioned into a more country sound by the end of the decade and in the 1970s he was one of the main pioneers of the outlaw country movement. But throughout his career Jennings innovated in his songwriting craft and musicianship and while one might look askance at some of his autobiographical details his influence on the genre is indisputable up to his death in 2002. So a couple of the heavy hitters of local country and the better end of rockabilly have been doing cover sets in a show around the time of the songwriter’s passing on February 13.
Saturday and Sunday | 02.18 and 02.19 What: Tianna Esperanza (with Mick Flannery both dates) When: 6 (2.18 and 02.19) Where:eTown Hall (02.18) and Swallow Hill (02.19) Why: Tianna Esperanza released her debut album Terror on February 17, 2023. The early singles revealed the singer/songwriter’s knack for fusing jazz, pop and hip-hop into a set of songs imbued with a confidence and soul one would expect from a songwriter a decade older than her 22 years. As the granddaughter of former Slits and Raincoats drummer Paloma “Palmolive” McLardy, Esperanza had a different kind of upbringing in affluent Cape Cod, Massachusetts where there aren’t a lot of people that look like her and how that plays out as you navigate that kind of environment. She lost her younger brother growing up and survived sexual assault and all of that tragedy and misfortune and struggle though not necessary to create valid art gives some context to the melancholic moods and exuberant yet tempered defiant spirit heard throughout the album. She is performing a short run of live shows including two in Colorado opening for acclaimed Irish singer/songwriter Mick Flannery.
Sunday | 02.19 What: nü-age outlaws, Fragrant Blossom, SiLT & Zər03n-A, Matt Robidoux and Kelly Garlick When: 7 Where: D3 Why: This is a showcase for some of the more left field techno, experimental electronic and ambient artists out of Denver and elsewhere now. Includes former Pizza Time and still current Dubble Trouble musician David Castillo in nü-age outlaws, Charles Ballas of Dan’l Boone and Howling Hex and Petite Garçon’s Ben Donehower in Fragrant Blossom, Matt Robidoux from San Francisco with his finely textured soundscapes, SiLT and Zər03n-A’s chill, field recording infused prepared sound designs combined with choreographed movements and Kelly Garlick’s futuristic fusion of pop, glitch and found sound composition.
Sunday | 02.19 What:Harsh Symmetry w/Plague Garden and DJ Niq V When: 7 Where: HQ Why: Julian Sharwarko’s crafts moody and dark electronic post-punk as Harsh Symmetry like a more synth-driven and lo-fi Comsat Angels by way of Boy Harsher with guitar. Denver’s Plague Garden has long offered some of the local scene’s most imaginative and emotionally rich post-punk colored with deeply evocative, New Wave-era-esque electronics.
Monday | 02.20 What:Kristine Leschper w/Duck Turnstone and Alana Mars When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Former Mothers singer Kristine Leschper released her debut solo effort in 2022 with The Opening, Or Closing Of A Door. The album hits like the manifestation of conceptualizing music as a physical presence in the sense of a prepared environment with sound sources occupying their own spaces in the mix with a subtle dynamism in sync with Leschper’s melodious vocals. Like an indie pop Laurie Anderson, Leschper offers a peek into a playfully mysterious storytelling that challenges the standard structures of social power and cognition. For the album the songwriter draws upon the familiarity of everyday objects and and expressions and deconstructs them and anchors them with new resonances.
Friday | 02.24 What:Dressy Bessy w/Waiting Room, Friends of Caesar Romero and Pink Lady Monster When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Indie pop legends Dressy Bessy headline this night at the Hi-Dive with the dream pop-esque stylings of Waiting Room which consists of former members of The Corner Girls and TúLips, garage pop ragers Friends of Caesar Romero and the current iteration of Pink Lady Monster which has evolved from a more ethereal pop sound to one more experimental and jazz-noise-funk-art-damaged.
Friday and Saturday | 02.24 and 02.25 What:Lingua Ignota and Chat Pile When: 6 Where: Stanley Hotel Why: Kristin Hayter has announced she’s retiring the Lingua Ignota project and this is probably the last chance to see the ritualistic industrial noise and classical project. Across a handful of albums Lingua Ignota has subverted the musical idiom of religious music and that steeped in that tradition with the symbols and patriarchal framing of spirituality with a caustic and always thrilling commentary in sound and word and her confrontational yet cathartic live shows feel like the exorcism of collective abuse and oppression the likes of which must have taken a toll with embodying that energy for several years. However Hayter emerges as an artist after this run it will likely be informed by the high level of imagination and craft she has brought to bear with Lingua Ignota. Opening is Chat Pile whose 2022 album God’s Country immediately garnered a cult following and critical acclaim for its especially pointed and poignant noise rock that scorched the notion that modern capitalism has any effect on the environment, society and our lives other than one of erosion, destruction and corruption throughout politics and economy and how that descends into the culture and how people think of their very lives. It’s a deeply provocative and thought provoking record that seems to hit right where it needs to but with a personal note that gives it the force that one doesn’t hear often enough in modern music.
Sunday | 02.26 What:JD Clayton and Tanner Usrey When: Oskar Blues Where: 9 Why: JD Clayton is touring in support of his new record Long Way From Home which dropped on January 27, 2023. The record is a poignant and warm account of navigating becoming a new father and the deep impact the pandemic had on his career and the cascading effects of that on his life and that of so many people around him and his circle of friends. It’s a well crafted set of songs in a style rooted in country but with a strength of songwriting that transcends genre with performances that are rich on small details without detracting from the spare and clear songwriting that Clayton expertly brings to stories of working class life in a time when that seems so precarious yet Clayton finds a way to highlight the joys and dignity that are part of his experience as well.
Sunday | 02.26 What:Suicide Forest, Belltower and Insipidus When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Tucson, Arizona-based Suicide Forest has created the kind of black metal that combines the transcendent with the feral in a way that seems nightmarish even it expresses a vulnerability in the face of a deeply uncertain future and the turmoil of trying to hold on to something of meaning when so many social and ecological forces seem on the verge of washing that all away. Or at least that’s the sound and sentiments heard on its 2021 album Reluctantly.
Monday | 02.27 What:Viagra Boys w/Spiritual Cramp When: 7 Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Over the past eight years Stockholm, Sweden’s Viagra Boys has established itself as one of the most exciting live rock bands with its surrealistic sense of humor and brash, charismatic live performance style. And its songs that take aim with humor and incisive rhetoric at right wing politics and the conspiracy theories that fuel them as well as the cult of masculinity that seems interwoven into alt-right culture and the ways that has poisoned mainstream framing of social issues. And Viagra Boys does all of that with a sense of fun while completely obliterating the lines between post-punk, garage rock and dance music. This reached a particularly high point with its 2022 album Cave World with its front to back art punk bangers including the single “Big Boy” featuring Jason Williamson with the like-minded weirdo punkers Sleaford Mods. Anyone fortunate enough to have caught the tour for Cave Weapons got to see a band in high form with attitude to burn but one that invited you along for the ride in celebrating the dismantling of toxic ideas with creativity and wit.
Tuesday | 02.28 What:The Rural Alberta Advantage w/Georgia Harmer When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Toronto, Ontario’s The Rural Alberta Advantage formed in 2005 during an era when modern indie rock was starting to form an identity in myriad forms but influenced by 90s indiepop, 60s rock and folk and a heart on sleeves approach to writing lyrics. The group’s 2008 debut album Hometowns was a warm fusion of lo-fi sonics and forward thinking nostalgia rooted in stories of life coming from places that maybe one didn’t full appreciate when coming up there but which one can look back on with the fondness you can only have once you’ve outgrown your roots some. The trio of Amy Cole, Nils Edenloff and Paul Banwatt returned in 2022 with EP The Rise, its first release since Cole rejoined the band in 2018 after a roughly two year hiatus. Intact are the lush chamber pop element and Edenloff’s earnest and gritty vocal melodies and a knack for taking an everyday story rendering it into an epic of relatable proportions.
Tuesday | 02.28 What:American Authors w/Billy Raffoul When: 7 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: American Authors has been carving a bit of a following for itself for its upbeat, sunny, posi folk pop songs since 2006 when it called itself The Blue Pages. It’s 2023 album Best Night of My Life is a bit like the brighter side of a modern update of Friday Night Lights without the football and after the weirdness of high school is left behind and you are on to building and achieving the life you want. It’s definitely the kind of thing that’ll probably find its way onto the Indie 102.3 play list if it hasn’t already. Billy Raffoul’s own brand of indie folk pop is more self-effacing and self-aware, vulnerable and delivered with his gently gritty voice that ranges widely between nearly whispered intimate moments and a paradoxically full throated introspection. His singles since the 2021 release of Olympus have revealed that Raffoul is capable of even broader vistas of vocal performance and finely nuanced songcraft.
Tuesday | 02.28 What:Cafuné w/Bathe When: 7 Where: Globe Hall Why: Indie pop duo Cafuné met in the early 2010s while attending the Clive Davis Institute of NYC and it began as a side project that over the course of a few years became a more full time concern. Throughout the 2020 phase of the COVID-19 pandemic Noah Yoo and Sedona Schat wrote the material for their album Running which was initially released on their own imprint Aurelians Club before being picked up by Elektra in 2022 after which their ebullient single “Tek It” became something of a viral hit with its fetching blend of more classic pop and hyperpop.
Friday and Saturday | 09.02 and 09.03 What: Nine Inch Nails w/Yves Tumor When: 7 Where: Red Rocks Why: Nine Inch Nails is too famous and for too long and rightfully so to bother to get detailed about its significance in popularizing industrial and electronic music and even ambient. The band’s shows are always innovative and pushing the performance envelope in some way whether that be in the visual presentation, with the sound production end, with sets that change throughout the show or playing with how the band itself presents its music as a live act. Nine Inch Nails doesn’t skimp on putting on probably the best show you’ll see this year or among the top tier at the least. And Trent Reznor or someone in the NIN camp always finds one of the coolest, up-and-coming, genre boundary challenging, innovative musical project going and for these two shows it’s Yves Tumor the experimental electronic and R&B artist whose shows are part Prince, part HEALTH, part Janelle Monáe but very much his own glorious earth alien charismatic psychedelia.
The concept for the event was born of Barnett’s love of curation. As the owner of Milk! Records for the past decade Barnett has championed and released music by artists from her home town of Melbourne, Australia as well as US artists like Sleater-Kinney, Chastity Belt, Hand Habits and others.
Over the course of the tour from August through September, lineups will include all of the following artists: Alvvays, Arooj Aftab, Bartees Strange, Bedouine, Caroline Rose, Chicano Batman, Courtney Barnett, Ethel Cain, Faye Webster, Fred Armisen, Hana Vu, Indigo De Souza, Japanese Breakfast, Julia Jacklin, Leith Ross, Lido Pimienta, Lucy Dacus, Quinn Christopherson, Sleater Kinney, Snail Mail, The Beths, Waxahatchee and Wet Leg.
Barnett quickly went from a beloved and critically acclaimed indie artist known for her masterful use of the English language and powerful and imaginative guitar work and songwriting when her early EPs released 2012-2013 to widely celebrated singer-songwriter of no small cachet by the time of the 2015 release of her debut full length album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. With each record Barnett has distinguished herself as a songwriter able to expose her vulnerabilities and anxieties in a way that conveys a solidarity with other people and their own struggles.
Sharing the bill is Japanese Breakfast, the band lead by Michelle Zauner whose own trajectory as an artist parallels that of Barnett going from playing all the small clubs on the same circuits a little under a decade ago and delivering emotionally arresting pop songs that aren’t short on musicianly artistry. In 2021 she released her memoir Crying in H Mart to great acclaim in its poignant and loving depiction of her life coming up with a Korean mom, coming into playing music and the passing of her mother from pancreatic cancer in 2014. Her own pop music has as much in common with art rock in its creative ambition and songwriting with her songs easily fitting into the categories of dream pop, shoegaze, psychedelia, indie rock and R&B.
Arooj Aftab is the US-based Pakistani singer and songwriter who is the first person of Pakistani origin to be awarded a Grammy for Best Global Music Performance for her song “Mohabbat.” Her style is a hybrid of experimental folk, jazz and more traditional Pakistani music with elements of her 2021 album Vulture Prince reminiscent of Qawwali, the devotional music of Sufism. But her orchestral arrangements and powerfully tranquil yet emotionally rich vocal delivery defies easy categorization.
Bedouine aka Azniv Korkejian is a Syrian-American musician who grew up with both mainstream music via MTV and traditional Armenian and Arabic music. Her third album Waysides (2021) is a masterful evocation of loss, isolation, yearning and introspective insight cast in the sounds of Laurel Canyon era folk.
Sunday | 09.04 What:The Get Up Kids w/Sparta When: 7 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: The Get Up Kids from Kansas City were one of the defining bands of 90s emo but stylistically never quite trapped in the tropes of the genre and its songwriting came to include keyboards and more focused pop songcraft without sacrificing the energy and intensity of its early music. Like Jawbreaker, The Get Up Kids made music in a style that isn’t cringey decades later unlike that of some of their peers. For this tour the band will perform its debut full length album Four Minute Mile as well as the Woodson EP in their entirety. Jim Ward of Sparta came up through similar circles of 90s underground punk and post-hardcore as a member of the influential and incendiary At The Drive In. But when the latter split in 2001 and part of the group went on to form The Mars Volta making music of a very different style, Ward continued to refine the style of music he’d helped develop in ATDI. The angular punk with searing emotional energy and intellect informing the lyrics. The group went on hiatus in 2008 and outside of a brief reunion in the early 2010s didn’t fully come back together until 2017. During the interceding years wrote and released music under his own name and with Sleepercar and honed his songwriting so that when Sparta returned to write and release 2020’s Trust the River the artistic growth was obvious and what has been put out from the forthcoming self-titled Sparta album is like a fusion of that fiery sonics of early Sparta and a more refined focus in the dynamics and structure of the songs to hit with emotional precision.
Sunday | 09.04 What:Echo & The Bunnymen w/Cayucas When: 7 Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Echo & The Bunnymen were and are one of the classic bands out of the second wave of UK post-punk with a rooting in the first. The Bunnymen brought a romantic sensibility to the lyrics and a sense of mystery and tenderness to the music that has made its songs age exceedingly well apparently having formed outside immediate and obvious influences rather drawing inspiration from across decades of music and aiming to craft their own creative mythmaking. You’ll hear the hits, probably, but also deep cuts that will please true fans of the group’s deep well of great material.
Monday | 09.05 What:An Evening With Peter Hook & The Light – Joy Division: A Celebration When: 7 Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Peter Hook is of course one of the founding members of influential post-punk band Joy Division. For this occasion Hook will make an evening of a broad spectrum of that band’s songs. Anyone that has seen Peter Hook & The Light knows that Hook isn’t phoning in some greatest hits set. The band conjures the spirit of the original music and Hook’s own bass lines are iconic and foundational the sound, the mood, the cadences of post-punk and by extension through New Order pop and dance music. He brings a commanding presence and no small amount of his own fire to the performances though he shares bass duties with his son Jack who some may have seen play in The Smashing Punpkins. Hook’s three books The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club (2010), Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division (2012) and Substance: Inside New Order (2016) are essential reading for not just entertainment value but for the perspective and sense of history and culture that Hook was there to witness and in some ways shape.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday | 09.05, 09.06, 09.07 What: Flume ( w/Pospa, Sega Bodega at Mission on 9.05 – w/TSHA, Porspa and Oklou on 09.06 – w/Eprom, Shlomo and Oklou on 09.07 When: 7 p.m. for 09.05 and 5 p.m. for 09.06-09.07 Where: Mission Ballroom (09.05) and Red Rocks (09.06-09.07) Why: Harley Streten has come a long way since learning basic production from a DJ and mixing program CD he got from a box of Nutrigrain. From early smaller club shows far afield from his home home town of Sydney, Australia, Streten as Flume steadily but fairly rapidly established himself as one of the more innovative ED artists of the 2010s whose facility with sculpting atmosphere and melody and merging it seamlessly with unconventional beats to make for music that has been able to evolve, absorb and move beyond micro-stylistic shift in the world of electronic dance music and today he’s one of the most popular artists in a realm of music that has remained important but seemingly plateaued in its cultural impact. But Streten’s musical imagination and skills have consistently kept him ahead of the curve and in mentoring newer artists in an organic way his shows are not just a showcase for his own work but that of potential future stars already doing interesting work.
Thursday | 09.08 What: Alphabet Soup #52: Felix Fast4ward, Reed Fox, Furbie Cakes, Sky Floor and Green Leader https://blackboxdenver.co/events/alphabeat-soup-sep8 When: 9 Where: Black Box Why: Long-running experimental electronic dance-oriented music showcase Alphabet Soup returns with some of the local scenes more daring producers and imaginative soundscapers.
Friday | 09.09 What:Kal Marks – My Name is Hell Tour w/Moon Pussy and Cherished When: 9 Where: Lion’s Lair Why: Boston’s Kal Marks recently released its new album My Name Is Hell. The record out on NYC label Exploding In Sound is a further development of the group’s hybrid of emo, noise rock, pop collage and post-punk. The live band brings a visceral energy that takes the core of the recorded material and transforms it into cathartic performances that seem simultaneously passionate and vulnerable. Also playing this show is the crackling ball of nervous energy and roiling angular dynamics that is Moon Pussy whose fractured soundscapes and raw power transforms anxiety and amused outrage into inspiration. Cherished has become one of the most emotionally charged, melancholic shoegaze bands in Denver and elsewhere and the melodically gloomy counterpart to the other bands you’ll get to witness at this show.
Friday | 09.09 What: Gary Numan w/I Speak Machine and DJ Slave1 When: 8 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: Gary Numan probably needs no introduction and this is a show rescheduled from the spring for the foundational synth pop and industrial rock songwriter and musician. Maybe you only know “Cars” or “Down In the Park” but Gary Numan has had a long and consistently boundary pushing career and whose body of music is like a distinguished career in the kind of science fiction as song that puts the human experience at the center and thus it has aged well and his intense and riveting live shows are proof positive of the enduring vitality of his creative genius.
Friday | 09.09 What:Flogging Molly & The Interrupters w/Tiger Army and The Skints When: 5 Where: Mission Ballroom Why: Celtic punk can be a bit niche for many but Flogging Molly’s songwriting transcends that niche partly due to the exceptionally powerful vocals courtesy actually Irish lead singer Dave King. Though often lumped in with the pop punk world in which its spirited performances seem to find a natural home, there is a charming nuance of sound and style in the group’s music that lend its tales of poverty, love, death, revelry and struggle an artfulness to its clearly authentic sentiments. The band’s latest album Anthem includes “A Song Of Liberty” that starts out, at least in the music video and in the lyrics, to be a show of solidarity for the people of Ukraine against Russia but extends that solidarity with struggles for national liberation across decades and across continents. There’s nothing performative or phony about that messaging in the music nor in the band’s general, internationalist working class solidarity born out of basic compassion for other humans.
Friday | 09.09 What:Munly & The Lupercalians w/Church Fire and Emerald Siam When: 7 Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Munly & The Lupercalians, longtime project of Jay Munly of Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, is celebrating the release of its latest album Kinnery Of Lupercalia; Undelivered Legion with this show at the Bluebird. This band is also an Americana band in a dark vein akin to that of some of SCAC’s own style but generally darker, more overtly literary and conceptual and in the live setting often accompanied by an element of the ritualistic. Breaking with local scene custom, and all the better for that, the opening bands aren’t going to be Americana at all except in the larger sense that political, darkwave industrial band Church Fire wouldn’t emerge anywhere but America where its incisive critique of the perils of patriarchy and religion as infused into the culture and politics as a lived experience perhaps has the greatest impact, or that Emerald Siam’s own moody, garage rock noir flavored post-punk would seem like an odd affectation coming from anyone but people who have breathed deep in what it’s like to live and struggle in the fractious society that is the USA.
Friday | 09.09 What:Westword Music Showcase Part 1 When: 7 Where: Various Venues in RiNO Why: This is the first night of the Westword Music Showcase and it’s free. So some best bets no explanations given because there’s a lot going on this night. 7pm: Honey Blazer 8 pm: Bellhoss, Plasma Canvas or Kayla Marque 9 pm: Endless Nameless, Ritmo Cascabel, Bluebook 10 pm: Julian St. Nightmare 11 pm: Despair Jordan 12:20 am: Pink Fuzz or Citra
Friday and Saturday | 09.09 and 09.10 What: Brandi Carlise ( w/ Lucius and Allison Russell on 09.09 and w/Indigo Girls and Allison Russell on 09.10) When: 6 Where: Red Rocks Why: Brandi Carlisle is rightfully an incredibly famous and commercially successful singer-songwriter for her broad stylistic and emotional range as an artist with a powerful and expressive voice. Her latest album is In The Canyon Haze. Opener Allison Russell is a Canadian multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter whose debut solo album Outside Child released in 2021 on respected jazz, folk and Americana label Fantasy. Her orchestral yet spare arrangements bring her powerfully soulful vocals together in a style that might be described as Appalachian jazz R&B yet it works because Russell’s commanding presence and facility in playing multiple roles in performance is riveting for both its instrumental virtuosity and emotional resonance. See her band’s performance on KEXP below.
Saturday | 09.10 What: Westword Music Showcase Day 2 When: 12 Where: Various Venues Around Mission Ballroom Why: This is the Westword Music Showcase day where you need to buy a ticket and here are some recommendations with no details. 2 pm: The Mañanas 2:35: Cannons 3:20: Ramakhandra 4:05: Wet Leg – canceled 5: Don Chicharrón 8:40 N3PTUNE 9:30: The Flaming Lips
Monday | 09.12 What:The National w/Lucy Dacus When: 6:30 Where: Red Rocks Why: The National rose to prominence in the 2000s and its brooding, atmospheric pop songs has certainly been one of the templates of modern indie music. Even early on its lush production and layered, orchestral arrangements felt like a natural successor to 90s indiepop and its contemplative lyrics can’t help but strike a chord with anyone that actually takes them in. Matt Berninger’s vocal delivery always seems to come across like he’s reading from a memoir from some future decade and having a poignant memory to relate, the kind that takes you back vividly to that time in a way that makes it possible to articulate with the benefit of life experience—something not everyone can do as well as Berninger does. After a eight acclaimed albums The National has returned with material for the upcoming ninth album and performing some of that at its 2022 live shows. Opening the proceedings is accomplished songwriter Lucy Dacus. Some may know Dacus more for her membership in supergroup boygenius with Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker. But Dacus’ records under her name are a body of personally insightful and emotionally fortifying songs that the songwriter delivers with an understated cool that nevertheless doesn’t mask the feelings and examinations thereof that went into distilling them into musical poetry. Even on her first album No Burden (2016), Dacus displayed a sophistication of songwriting at twenty one that can take many more years to attain. 2021’s Home Video has moments of almost uncomfortable rawness and honesty that aren’t made easier to hear with the gentle performances. Rather the songs are a vivid trip through psychological spaces perhaps we all experience but sometimes try to forget and Dacus makes it seem okay to think and feel these things because emotional self-honesty can be as healing as it can be searingly painful and haunting. Dacus brings that kind of compassionate energy and sense of mystery to her live performances as well so clearly a fine match for the headliner.
Tuesday | 09.13 What:Stereolab w/Fievel is Glauque When: 7 Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Stereolab is the long-running experimental rock and electronic band formed in 1990 in London with former members of leftist political pop band McCarthy, Tim Gane and Laetitia Sadier. The new group would adopt lo-fi pop aesthetics, Krautrock, avant-garde electronic and musique concrète into its ever evolving sound so that the “groop” could never get fully stuck in its own stylistic rut. Stereolab has become one of the most respected and beloved cult bands of the 90s that endured through the late 2000s before going on hiatus for a decade until 2019. Its most recent release is the 2022 compilation album Pulse of the Early Brain: Switched On, Vol. 5 which brings together tracks from across its career including a 1997 collaboration with arch experimentalists Nurse With Wound and other non official album tracks that have formerly been hard to come by including the 1992 Low Fi EP that marked the first appearance with the group of the late Mary Hansen and longtime and current member Andy Ramsay. The live shows are a combination of impassioned performance and sultry cool.
Tuesday | 09.13 What:Full of Hell & Blood Incantation w/Vermin Womb, Mortuous and God is War When: 6 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: Might be the noisy heavy show of the month. Death grind legends Full of Hell whose 2021 album Garden of Burning Apparitions is as relentless as it is unsettling in its haunting vibes co-headlines with progressive death metal weirdos Blood Incantation from Denver who recently released an entire synth album though you probably won’t hear much of that for this show. Vermin Womb just release the blistering and thrillingly punishing Retaliation EP and will probably hit the stage hard with economical precision in its sonic brutality and exit before you’re full aware of what hit you.
Wednesday | 09.14 What:Boris w/Nothing When: 7 Where: Bluebird Theater Why: For the past thirty years Japanese rock band Boris has truly explored so many different styles of heavy and experimental across its prolific career that one would have to be hesitant to try to define the group’s aesthetic because from album to album it’s always been an exploration of the trio’s interests at the time from gear to songwriting to genre. In addition to the impressive and influential body of work under its own name, Boris has multiple collaborative albums with noise legend Merzbow, albums with Michio Kurihara of psych legends Ghost (not to be confused with the Swedish heavy metal band) and an album with respected Japanese avant-garde musician Keiji Haino. Its most recent album is its 2022 and second album titled Heavy Rocks. And as advertized it’s a rock album that is heavy but this time more in the vein of a strange and fascinating hybrid of punk, glam rock and heavy psychedelia. Live Boris has a mystique that renders all of its music strange and alluring rendered with a forceful intensity. Also on this tour is post-hardcore/noise rock band turned heavy shoegaze outfit Nothing whose 2020 album The Great Dismal is a great exercise in mood sculpting through hazy melodies and introspective vocals making observations on the decay of society and a fragile hope for things in the world to flow toward the better.
Wednesday and Thursday | 09.14 and 09.15 What: Kikagaku Moyo When: 7:30 (09.14) and 7 (09.15) Where:Fox Theatre (09.14) and Ogden Theatre (09.15) Why: Legendary psychedelic folk prog band Kikagaku Moyo from Tokyo is taking its live show on the road one last time with two shows in Colorado. In May 2022 the group released its latest and likely final album Kumoyo Island and revealed the influence of cosmic funk on its sound in addition to the fusion of Japanese folk and Krautrock.
Wednesday | 09.14 What:Wilco w/Margo Price When: 6:30 Where: Red Rocks Why: Wilco is of course one of the most critically acclaimed indie rock bands going on three decades now and deservedly so. There isn’t a Wilco record that isn’t worth an earnest listen. Its 2022 album Cruel Country isn’t just brimming with solid songwriting and performances but the social commentary is poignant and personal in a way worthy of early Bob Dylan. The title track addresses youthful misconceptions about the country of one’s birth and the evolution of one’s nuanced understanding not just of countries but one’s own place in them. Perhaps unintentionally but one hears a touch of the Grateful Dead’s American Beauty on this record but that just gives it a cultural resonance across decades that is probably warranted in making meaningful and creative statements about society in the times we’re in now rather than hit issues of national identity on the nose. Of course the show will include material well beyond the new album and Wilco is reliably delivers a lively and highly entertaining performance. Opener Margo Price is one of the rising stars of modern country music but of course this means she’s not just a charismatic performer but her own songwriting expands the boundaries of what that music can be. Her new single “Been To The Mountain” borders on the psychedelic and is reminiscent of more adventurous country artists of the past like Lone Justice and Green on Red.
Wednesday and Thursday | 09.14 and 09.15 What: The Head and the Heart w/Hiss Golden Messenger When: 6:30 Where:Mission Ballroom (09.14) and Red Rocks (09.15) Why: The Head and the Heart has established itself as one of the definitive artists of indie rock of the past decade and more. Earnest vocals and spacious arrangements and expansive melodies are components of its sound from early on but the Seattle based sextet has a knack for crafting pop hooks and imaginative arrangements that easily get stuck in your head but you don’t mind because it’s not repetitive or insipid, just heartfelt and memorable. Its 2022 album Every Shade of Blue seems to have pared its usual sonic mode to a spare minimalism that may not be what some fans are expecting from The Head and the Heart but within each one hears an experiment with where the group will go with its next album. Coming out of the pandemic every band can probably be excused for indulging a wide range of songwriting ideas that can make their new album sound like a transitional effort and maybe that’s what the sound of this record may come across as being yet there are undeniable gems on the record including the title track. At the very least at the show you’ll get to see old favorites live and see how The Head and the Heart pulls off material from the new record.
Thursday | 09.15 What:HEALTH w/Perturbator and Street Sects When: 6 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: This tour features some of the most inventive modern electronic industrial artists going. HEALTH got its break as one of the most prominent bands to come out of the DIY music scene around the non-profit venue The Smell in the mid-2000s. Weaving together noise, electronic dance music and darkly urgent post-punk, HEALTH has garnered a global audience with its ferocious live shows and idiosyncratically stylish aesthetics. Perturbator is more in the vein of blending industrial rock with 1980s horror movie synth soundtracks but delivered with a confrontational energy. James Kent aka Perturbator has a background in black metal and brings that attitude to his compositions and performance. 2021’s Lustful Sacraments turns down the aggression of Perturbator’s sound a little in favor of a touch of ethereal guitar melody and creative use of space in the mix lending the overall sound a haunting undercurrent. Street Sects is an industrial punk duo from Austin, Texas whose use of drastic dynamic shifts and spiky rhythms in a cloak of fog and metallic percussion that has been a flagship band of the experimental music label The Flenser. Its shows can have an unhinged intensity with a sense of danger to them though lately they haven’t as often brought out the bladeless chainsaw to change out into the crowd.
Thursday | 09.15 What:Pink Turns Blue, Radio Scarlet, Redwing Blackbird When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Pink Turns Blue is the influential post-punk/darkwave band from Berlin, Germany that made waves in the 1980s through the mid-1990s for its moody yet triumphant songs imbued with a political awareness and sense of urgency within its gloomy melodies and dynamically measured paces. The group got back together in 2003 after the so-called post-punk revival that happened shortly after it broke up the first time and prior to the development of the modern darkwave scene yet clearly, directly or otherwise, exerted a bit of influence on artists in both periods. TAINTED is the 2021 record by the band and contains some of its most poetic and poignant political material of its career in challenging the world’s mishandling or really ignoring of the climate crisis and the rise of authoritarianism and income inequality—all seemingly so pressing now.
Thursday | 09.15 What:Alice Glass w/Uffie When: 7 Where: Meow Wolf Why: Alice Glass is perhaps most widely known for her work in electronic duo Crystal Castles where her expressive and otherworldly yet intimate vocals were a large part of the appeal of the project. After parting ways with Crystal Castles in 2014 later accusing her bandmate of assault and sexual misconduct, Alice Glass has emerged a solo artist whose work has a unique emotional resonance and vulnerable intensity that vibes perfectly with the inventive and mysterious beats in a style that sounds like it’s taken elements of hyper pop and the 8-bit electronic production of her earlier music and pushed it in a direction that suited the likely painful subject matter of her songs. After a 2017 debut EP Glass had some conflict with her label and parted ways but released her debut full length PREY//IV in February 2022 and she’s still putting out some honest words that speak truth about the kind of struggle and pain a lot of people go through every day especially people that have experienced abuse and in doing so provides maybe a tiny bit of catharsis with the music and with her powerful live show.
Friday | 09.16 What:Melvins w/We Are The Asteroid and Taipei Houston When: 7 Where: Fox Theatre Why: Melvins are one of the foundational bands of the heavy punk scene out of the Pacific Northwest and one of the primary influences on the bands that became the first wave of grunge. But Melvins never got stuck there or with that legacy even as it evolved its early sound and went on to explore a multitude of ideas in the music they made and how it was presented and where they would play and the kinds of tours they would tackle including the time they played every U.S. State in fifty days. All along the way Melvins have left us an impressive body of albums that push the boundaries of what heavy music can be and with every album Melvins offer something very different from the one that came before. This time around for the newly released 2022 album Bad Moon Rising there has been little advance promotion or videos or really much of a peak into what it sounds like. Making it a good excuse to go see one of the most entertaining and consistently impressive live rock bands of the modern era.
Friday | 09.16 What:George Cessna & His Band perform Lucky Rider w/Rose Variety, Fainting Dreams and DBUK When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: George Cessna & His Band will perform the 2021 album Lucky Rider in its entirety. The existential and haunting, lo-fi record distills the essence and spirit of being a creative and thoughtful person in the current time dealing with a multitude of challenges from those of the pandemic, to an increasingly neglectful media environment for the arts especially those local, trying to navigate personal challenges while reaching deep into self to find a reason to keep doing creative work when all sensible arrows point elsewhere. It is one of the most poignant personal music statements in the last few years and worth getting to witness in the live setting.
Friday | 09.16 What:Grace Ives w/Super Bummer When: 8 Where: Lost Lake Why: Grace Ives’ 2022 album Janky Star has likely snuck onto the year end best lists of more than a few music critics because not only are her eccentric pop songs imaginative crafted but speak to the current cultural moment. There is a meta self-awareness that is employed to make earnest commentary on mental health and seeking out deeper meanings in a cultural environment where so much is thrown your way often decoupled from context. All the songs on the album are short and to the point but rich with ideas. Ives says a great deal in a small space without overwhelming the listener. Somewhere between synth pop, hip-hop and even some bit of progressive rock Ives’ music has obviously absorbed a lot of modern music and come out more surprisingly original for it.
Friday | 09.16 What: Wild Rivers w/Violet Skies When: 7 Where: Summit Music Hall Why: Toronto-based indie folk trio Wild Rivers released its sophomore album Sidelines in 2022, the follow up to its 2016 self-titled debut. Like most bands Wild River basically had to take a couple of years off from performing live and maybe rediscover and reimagine its sound some but in this case Wild Rivers leaned into its superb use of space and minimal instrumentation for a good deal of the material to allow for the gentle, warm and expressive touch of the vocals to sit center but also in allowing the percussion and rhythm to guide the music subtly but firmly, a feature of music one doesn’t often hear so clearly in folk-oriented music.
Saturday | 09.17 What:Porridge Radio w/Blondshell and Moodlighting When: 8 Where: Lost Lake Why: Porridge Radio is a post-punk band from Brighton, UK formed after songwriter and lead vocalist Dana Margolin realized she needed a band to fully bring to life the songs she had been crafting and mainly performing at open mics and her own bedroom. There is a grittiness to the atmospheric music that can be found rooted in Margolin’s raw and tenderly honest lyrics and the way the band manifests the layered the contrasting emotions the singer/guitarist brings to bear and let out in often unexpected and engulfing outbursts that make it obvious you’re not listening to a conventional indie band because Porridge Radio doesn’t try to smooth over the rough edges. Its new album Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky (2022, Secretly Canadian) is rich with poetic metaphors for relationships fracturing and the struggles of one’s inner life that are too often kept bottled up and never addressed. Porridge Radio lets that anxiety out in a gripping sustained catharsis. Tourmate Blondshell aka Sabrina Teitelbaum is a songwriter based in Los Angeles whose own vulnerabilities and insecurities are also laid out in exuberant pop songs. Blondshell’s sound, though, is more akin to 90s alternative rock in its liberal use of fuzz and bombastic song structures to give some sonic and emotional boost to songs about the kinds of thoughts and experiences that can make us feel like we’re falling apart and failing ourselves yet finding some redemption and positive transformation in being willing to own the feelings and work through them. Moodlighting is a dream pop band from Denver whose fragile and winsome melodies are charged with an ethereal melancholy that lends the music more depth than seems obvious on first encounter.
Saturday | 09.17 What:Sick of It All and Agnostic Front w/Crown of Thornz When: 7 Where: Oriental Theater Why: Agnostic Front may predate the existence of Sick Of It All by six years and technically part of the first wave of hardcore, but New York City hardcore didn’t really get its due or hit its stride until later in the eighties and these two bands were a couple of the leaders of that punk milieu along with Cro-Mags, Murphy’s Law and others.
Saturday | 09.17 What:Colin James When: 7 p.m. Where: Soiled Dove Underground Why: Colin James is a Canadian blues and rock guitarist/vocalist who got his big break into a national and international music world when his band was tapped to open last minute for Stevie Ray Vaughan in 1984 when another opening act was no longer available. Since then James has expanded upon his electric and acoustic blues style and was an early adopter of swing in the early 90s when straight ahead blues wasn’t as much in favor for a number of years and his Colin James and the Little Big Band project enjoyed some success when the swing revival was under way throughout the 90s. But in the 2000s and 2010s it seemed as though blues enjoyed a bit of a renaissance including the popular Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise and numerous blues festivals that have come about since the turn of the century. James’ most recent album, 2021’s Open Road, is a collection of interpretation of blues classics and original material that showcases the musician’s masterful command of the musical idiom and ability to innovate within it.
Sunday | 09.18 What:Bob Mould Solo Electric: Distortion and Blue Hearts! When: 7 Where: Oriental Theater Why: Bob Mould is of course the co-founder of Hüsker Dü and Sugar but his solo albums have provided some of his best and most refined songwriting to date. This tour will be a chance to see Mould perform from across his solo catalog including the 2020 Blue Hearts album which included Jon Wurster of Superchunk fame and Jason Narducy also of Superchunk filling in for Laura Ballance. So this performance will probably include both of those guys and Mould’s own lively presence.
Sunday | 09.18 What:Snotty Nose Rez Kids w/Freedom Move… When: 7 Where: Moon Room at Summit Music Hall Why: Snotty Nose Rez Kids are a First Nations hip-hop duo from Kitamaat Village, BC but now based in Vancouver. Darren “Young D” Metz and Quinton “Yung Trybez” Nyce have a style that people that appreciate trap and hyper pop would appreciate including the meta self-awareness required to pull that off with creativity and artistry. So of course there is a deep sense of play and humor in the music but so many of its songs hit as poignant and as powerfully as the best hip-hop especially in painting a portrait of life in their First Nations community and the unique struggles attendant with that experience.
Monday | 09.19 What: Pavement w/Annalibera When: 6:30 Where: Paramount Theatre Why: Almost all indie bands of any originality worth listening to can trace their roots to the idiosyncratic and masterful guitar rock of Pavement. The group long made a virtue of unconventional song structure, Stephen Malkmus’ unusual vocal style and an almost free associating lyrics. Its loosely arranged guitar jangle both loping and angular leaves room for truly creative improvisation that have yet to be fully appreciated by many fans who might be put off by how much Pavement’s music resonates with free jazz and a psychedelic blues jam. Live Pavement has remained a brilliant head scratcher which is really the reason to see them live if you can afford the exorbitant ticket price because even though the influence on modern music is obvious no one has really been able to quite mimic the idiosyncratic melodies and bizarre observational lyrics.
Wednesday | 09.21 What:of Montreal w/Locate S, 1 and Duck Turnstone When: 7 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: of Montreal is one of the longest running bands that emerged out of the 90s indiepop milieu with roots in the Elephant6 collective (i.e. Apples in Stereo, The Olivia Tremor Control and Neutral Milk Hotel). Its colorful album cover imagery and borderline performance art stage personae come from a real place of genuine eccentric creativity informed by an experimental literary approach to lyrics and not just conceptual album arcs but individual songs as well. There is a deep imagination discernible on any of its albums including the 2022 offering Freewave Lucifer F<ck F^ck F>ck. This new music sounds even more like a collage of psychedelic pop and space rock glam.
Wednesday | 09.21 What: PROBLEMS w/Goo Age, Andy Loebs, DJ Arman and DJ Fresh Kill When: 8 Where: Glob Why: Daren Keen has been responsible for some of the most creative electronic and noise music of the past several years and with his project PROBLEMS it’s like he is mixing techno with surreal spoken word, hip-hop and electronic dance music as a vehicle for what might be musical autobiography as exposure of neuroses and insecurities inverted bravado.
Thursday | 09.22 What:Dan Deacon w/PROBLEMS When: 7 Where: Meow Wolf Why: Dan Deacon is one of the most prominent experimental electronic pop artists to have emerged from the American DIY underground whose graduate degree in electro-acoustic and computer music he has put to direct use as a composer and songwriter whose work can be found across a long career of high concept albums and film scores. The former also serving as sage commentary on modern American culture. His shows tend to be incredibly interactive involving audience participation which may make the stage at Meow Wolf more conducive to such adventures than more traditional concert venues. Also on the bill is PROBLEMS mentioned above for that date at Glob.
Friday | 09.23 What:Built to Spill w/The French Tips and ORUA When: 8 Where: The Bluebird Theater Why: Boise, Idaho’s Built to Spill needs no real introduction as one of the bands to emerge in the 1990s that embraced a noisy punk sound and jammy psychedelia at once to craft a body of work that could express deeply personal contemplations on life as well as commentary on the nature of existence. Its new record When The Wind Forgets Your Name is one of its most gritty and bracing in years with Neil Young-esque guitar leads and Doug Martsch’s signature, haunted, playful mystic vocals offering more of the band’s unique creative vision that never seems trapped by an era or style of music thus its continued vitality.
Friday | 09.23 What:…And The Black Feathers EP release w/The Trujillo Company, Jaguar Stevens and Bootleg Baldwins When: 8 Where: Lost Lake Why: …And The Black Feathers is a band that somehow grinds out bluesy garage rock without sounding like its trying to be some other artist. It’s tempting to compare it to John Spencer Blues Explosion but it’s not that bizarre yet there is something otherworldly to its performances and air of having come to us from the same parallel dimension that gave us Tav Falco and Kid Congo Powers. The group is releasing its first EP in a few years.
Friday | 09.23 What:Dehd w/Exum When: 8 Where: Summit Music Hall Why: Dehd is a trio from Chicago that is somehow able to be funny and incredibly poignant and powerful at the same time with an eclectic body of work that blurs the line between blues, punk, garage rock and dream pop. Its 2022 album Blue Skies is one of its more melancholic and contemplative records but as per usual there is a defiant spirit running through the music that directly translates to the live show where Dehd take minimalist elements and turn it into something that seems so gloriously bombastic and celebratory it exorcises some of the pain and disappointment that went into making the writing of the songs possible.
Friday | 09.23 What:Divide and Dissolve w/Matriarch and Vulgarian When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Divide and Dissolve is an instrumental doom band from Melbourne, Australia. And yes, instrumental but its songs crafted from saxophone, guitar and percussion are a commentary on colonialism and its corrosive effects not just on indigenous culture but on itself as an extension of a racist economic system that ultimately commodifies all things and all people and devalues life, the earth and inspires so many to rationalize its predation because they benefit from its narrow vision of sharing resources and the “proper” use of our time in what little of it we have on the earth. The music sounds like a deconstruction of that system and the 2021 album Gas Lit leaves no question about how “the legacy of greed has grown from its seed to infiltrate every place, every face, releasing a suffering recorded in stone and in bone, so old that language can’t console it.”
Friday | 09.23 What:F-ether tour kickoff w/UaZit, FOANS, Knife Band and Causer When: 7:30 Where: Glob Why: F-ether is one of the few producers in Denver who is steeped in both the noise, electronic dance and rock scenes who seems adept at navigating these musical concepts in crafting his own playful and imaginative tracks. He’s setting off on his latest tour and celebrating with likeminded, creative electronic artists for this show including the always powerful and engrossing Causer.
Saturday | 09.24 What: Foreign Air w/Anna Shoemaker and Ghostpulse When: 8 Where: Globe Hall Why: Foreign Air got together when Jacob Michael’s former rock band U.S. Royalty split in 2017 and he came to work with Jesse Clasen whose own rock bands The Bear Romantic and HRVRD had played shows with U.S. Royalty. For their band together the duo tapped into a more electronic music production approach to crafting lush pop songs. The sound is can range from lo-fi, spare but energetic post-punk flavored pop to enveloping melodic haze given solidity with organic instrumentation. The advance tracks from the new Foreign Air album Hello Sunshine finds the band using the sound palette of modern indie pop and funk with an ear toward more unconventional arrangements and rapid adding and dropping of layers to convey not just gradations of sonic saturation but in doing so the emotional as well. Anna Shoemaker’s 2022 debut album Everything is Fine (I’m Only on Fire) is a collection of sharply observed sketches of lived experience expressed through gritty guitar pop and quiet-loud dynamics akin to 90s alternative rock. But as with lyrics like on her new single “I’m Your Guy” Shoemaker’s songwriting subverts convention by threading her songs with modern electronic details that give the music some unexpected turns of phrase in parallel with her taking relationship, gender and sexuality norms in pop music and turning them over in a way that is both rebellious and gives those normally not in the usual power structure of culture another way of imagining how things can be and dispensing with othering.
Saturday | 09.24 What:Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends w/Almanac Man and An Antiquated Bluff When: 8:30 Where: Goosetown Tavern Why: To the casual listener Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends may sound like they listened to a lot of stoner rock and Monster Magnet before forming this band but there is something subversive in the way the group has used its music to challenge transphobia and hideously lazy and destructive thinking in general. Its 2022 split with The Erratic Retaliator Strategy is part noise rock and part philosophical exploration of social phenomena with titles like “Competitive Grief” and “The Misplaced Optimism of the Doomed.” That’s keeping it real. Also on the bill is Denver-based experimental noise rock band Almanac Man and emo Americana math rock phenom An Antiquated Bluff whose own songs examine and attempt to exorcise the anguish of external and internalized oppression.
Sunday | 09.25 What:Trentemøller w/TOM & his Computer When: 7 Where: The Bluebird Theater Why: Anders Trentemøller has been perfecting his particular fusion of moody rock and the electronic under the project moniker of his surname since 2006. The tonally cool downtempo of his earlier albums seemed to anticipate and transcend the forthcoming darkwave movement of the 2010s as his own minimalist compositions organically unfolded to enhance the nuanced melancholy of the song lyrics. In 2022 the songwriter released his latest album Memoria which features the usual reconciliation of thematic and musical contrasts with gritty, saturated synth and ethereal melodic drift over steady beats all conspiring to produce a dynamic that seems aimed at raising spirits against the gloom of the album’s subject matter of acceptance of when things feel off or aren’t going how one might prefer. It gives an element of complexity that feels like a process you’d need to go to shed deep seated regret and process bittersweet memories without forgetting what made them significant.
Sunday | 09.25 What:Laveda w/Isadora Eden, Nina De Freitas and Alana Mars When: 7 Where: Lost Lake Why: Laveda from Albany, NY is a dream pop/shoegaze band whose gorgeously lush melodies and warmly evocative singing never masks its all too real and bracing assessments of the world as it is and the challenges we face and the feelings we go through as we try to navigate a culture and society that isn’t giving an adequate response to the specter of climate disaster, fiscal malfeasance from the top, legislative and judicial corruption and all the ways the powerful are making life more difficult for those not in positions of power on a granular level. Sure, ethereal, heavy guitars but as a kind of ambient catharsis and path to staying out of the pits of despair even while giving voice to the concerns that when they hit you at once can paralyze your psyche. But also enjoyable as one of the best new shoegaze bands operating in America.
Monday | 09.26 What: Julia Jacklin w/Katy Kirby When: 7 Where: The Bluebird Theater Why: On her new album Pre Pleasure, Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin makes uncertainty seem so comforting and reassuring. Like her 2019 album Crushing, this new album has concepts guiding its exploration of themes one does not often hear in music written in a way that sounds like something that landed in the Twenty-First Century from the 1960s with the wash of melody accomplished with spare, organic musical elements in miniature orchestral fashion and Jacklin’s introspective vocal style that seems to draw out the nuances of emotion and psychological details of how we feel that can often be brushed under in the push of the raw, face fronting emotional experience. Jacklin emphasizes the whole picture in its lived experience. On Pre Pleasure she makes acceptance of unresolved feelings and situations seem as satisfying as we’re going to get out of so many circumstances in life.
Monday | 09.26 What:Rein w/DJ Eli and Niq V When: 8 Where: HQ Why: Swedish darkwave/industrial artist Rein makes a stop in Denver after her performance at the Coldwaves festival in Chicago. Her blend of synth pop and a gritty and stylized delivery that balances aggression and grace like a more Goth-y Youth Code and more steeped in 90s EBM but with the same sort of punk style and spirited performance.
Tuesday | 09.27 What:The Foreign Resort, Hapax and Plague Garden When: 8 Where: HQ Why: Also fresh off their performances at Coldwaves X in Chicago are Depeche Mod-esque, Danish post-punk band The Foreign Resort and the urgent and almost strident melancholic sound of HAPAX from Naples, Italy. Local support from Plague Garden’s whose emotionally charged, electronically infused post-punk is well outside the cookie cutter trendiness that can be heard in too much modern post-punk and darkwave.
Tuesday | 09.27 What:The Nakatani Gong Orchestra w/Ryan McRyhew and Ben Donehower When: 7:30 Where: Scorpio Palace Why: Master percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani brings his 10-piece gong orchestra for an intimate performance at Scorpio Palace (formerly known as Rhinoceropolis). Nakatani will conduct the ensemble in performance with bowed gong. Prior to the 10-person performance there will be a trio comprised of Nakatani and local improvisors Ryan McRyhew, aka Ntrancer who will utilize a Hordijk system, and multi-instrumentalist Ben Donehower who some may know for his avant-pop project Petite Garçon. Seating is limited for this unique performance and doors are 7:30 p.m. with the show starting promptly at 8 p.m.
Tuesday | 09.27 What:Khruangbin w/Tennis, Vieux Farka Touré and Genesis Owusu When: 5 Where: Civic Center Park Why: Houston’s Khruangbin has emerged as one of the most popular bands to have emerged from modern American psychedelic rock. It’s sound has trended more toward a upbeat funk and soul sound like the kind of music you’d expect to hear as a regular guest on a modern incarnation of Soul Train. On its 2020 album Mordechai it certain seems to tape into the energy and style of later P-Funk and the kind of mutant funk of early 99 Records bands. But whatever the exact aesthetic one might try to push on Khruangbin its music defies easy pigeonholing and has as much in common with the aforementioned as it does with W.I.T.C.H. and Afrobeat. Opener Owusu Genesis is a Ghanaian-Australian artist who doesn’t just make music but designs his own fashion and those impulses seem to inform each other in an asymmetrical way in that he mixes and matches styles and aesthetics to create something uniquely his own. With rich synth work and polyrhythms his music might be considered hip-hop but his vocal style is decidedly different and playful and imaginative the way one might hear an analog of in Thundercat’s solo material where it would be difficult to pigeonhole him as well. His 2021 debut album Smiling with No Teeth is a genre busting delight of experimental hip-hop and electronic pop.
Wednesday | 09.28 What:Pale Waves w/Gatlin When: 7 Where: Marquis Theater Why: Underneath Pale Waves’ effervescent energy and infectious melodies are lyrics that directly and sensitively deal with issues of anxiety, depression and class. Its 2018 debut EP All the Things I Never Said delivered on the promise of early singles like “Television Romance” and “There’s a Honey.” Employing a palette of wonderfully melodramatic pop punk and straight ahead pop, Pale Waves delivers music that is immediately and thrillingly accessible for anyone not looking to be alienated by catchy music but with deftly crafted, meaningful content. Pale Waves recently released its third album Unwanted on August 12, 2022.
Friday | 09.30 What: The Luka State w/Micky James When: 8 Where: Lost Lake Why: The Luka State from Winsford, Cheshire brings its tour to Denver ahead of the release of its sophomore full length The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same. If its new single “Stick Around” is any indication the group isn’t short on the anthemic melodies that drove its earlier releases. Its live show looks more fiery and intense than one might expect from songs coming from a place of seeming thoughtful vulnerability.
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