What:Day of Jubilee: Sliver and Marcus Church When: Friday, 2.07, 5-9 p.m. Where: The People’s Building Why: Marcus Church is a Denver-based power pop trio. Its gently jangle-y and fuzzy melodies sound like singer/guitarist Dustin Habel spent a whole lot of time obsessively listening to only records produced by Mitch Easter and the complete discographies of Teenage Fanclub and Big Star. That also means there’s a tender earnestness to the songwriting imbued with an uncommon tenderness and humanity. Sliver bypassed the 90s grunge nostalgia wave of recent years by making no bones about its musical roots in its hard driving, explosively emotional guitar rock. Mudhoney influence aside, its aesthetic is most informed by both the self-effacing, sensitive, introspective side of Pacific Northwest noise punk and the wiry, politically conscious end of DC hardcore.
What:Mainland Break w/Panther Martin, Mystic Wool and The New Creep When: Friday, 2.07, 9 p.m. Where: Lost Lake Why: Denver power pop band Mainland Break is releasing its video for “Gun Without Hire” at this show. The five piece band sounds like it listened to a whole lot of bands on the Flying Nun imprint in the 80s, some Swell Maps and The Feelies while forming and distilled that influence into upbeat pop songs.
What: Wolf Parade w/Land of Talk gothictheatre.com/events/detail/386833 When: Saturday, 2.08, 8 p.m. Where: Gothic Theatre Why: CanadianWolf Parade returns touring in support of its new record Thin Mind. Its blend of post-punk and power pop has helped define the aesthetic of modern indie rock as sonically eclectic with thoughtful lyrics.
What:Courtney Barnett When: Saturday, 2.08, 7:30 p.m. Where: The Stanley Hotel Why: Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett has written some of the most personally insightful lyrics of the past two decades paired with emotionally vibrant guitar work and songwriting. She will perform solo for this rare, intimate show at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.
What:Miniature Tigers w/Katzú Oso When: Sunday, 2.09, 7 p.m. Where: Globe Hall Why: Miniature Tigers’ 2019 album Vampires of Daylight is an exploration of singer/songwriter Charlie Brand’s painful breakup and his return to writing and performing music after going through agonizing experiences that had him over the edge and art therapy through painting instead of music. The result is a raw yet tender album of deeply emotional songs about loss and the confused and tortured feelings that run you through the wringer.
What:The Paranoyds w/Spendtime Palace and Princess Dewclaw When: Wednesday, 2.12, 7 p.m. Where: Larimer Lounge Why: The Paranoyds’ psychedelic fuzz pop is a spirited and surreal take on noisy post-punk. Like The Raincoats having come up in Southern California on pop punk and American pop music with a similarly splintery aesthetic and exuberant live performances. Currently touring again in support of its excellent 2019 album Carnage Bargain.
What:Frankie Cosmos w/Stephen Steinbrink and Ashley Koett When: Thursday, 11.7, 7 p.m. Where: Bluebird Theater Why: The latest Frankie Cosmos album is called Close It Quietly (out on Sub Pop) which is a title reflecting the tender, sensitive and utterly sincere quality of Greta Kline’s songwriting and psychologically insightful lyrics. Stephen Steinbrink’s golden voice and talent for inventive soundscapes in his pop songs has been brewing for more than a decade while he toured regularly in the DIY world. His 2018 album Utopia Teased is a pinnacle of his recorded output with a diverse array of moods and textures.
What:Houndmouth w/Kyle Emerson When: Friday, 11.8, 8 p.m. Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Kyle Emerson’s new album Only Coming Down is a thoughtful collection of songs written while the songwriter was splitting his time between his adopted home of Denver and Los Angeles. Emerson is from norther Ohio but moved to Denver in his late teens/early 20s where he fell in with an up and coming psychedelic pop band Plum which made waves before moving to the City of Angels and, as is often the cliché, broke up shortly thereafter. Since then Emerson moved back to the Mile High City where he established himself as a solo artist with the release of his sophisticated and introspective, folk inflected pop album Dorothy Alice. For this set of shows he’s opening for bluesy indie rock band Houndmouth from Indiana.
What:Ultra Metal 2 Night 1 When: Friday, 11.8, 5 p.m. Where: Rhinoceropolis Why: Since Denver Noise Fest isn’t happening this year, Johnathan Cash of Sunk Cost is picking up that slack again with the biggest noise festival in Colorado across two nights at Rhinoceropolis bringing together a wide range of artists from Colorado and well beyond. Go expecting the broad spectrum of noise from the presumed harsh noise, to prepared environment soundscaping, ambient, beat-driven industrial drone, noisy post-punk, glitch, weirdo techno, post-metal, organic sound composition, sound collage, field recording processing and more. Honestly, greater diversity here in purely sonic terms than any other festival in Colorado since the last Ultra Metal. See the schedule below.
5pm – doors open
5:40pm – J. Westerman
6pm – Blarney Mumble
6:20pm – Harms
6:40pm – Kid Mask
7pm – Dragging
7:20pm – Voight
7:40pm – Pat Hopewell
8pm – Genital Stigmata
8:20pm – Culled
8:40pm – John Ingram
9pm – Sounding
9:20pm – Ritual Chair
9:40pm – Developer
10pm – Kiran Arora
10:20pm – Xome
10:40pm – Conscious Summary
11pm – Baby Daddy
11:20pm – PCRV
11:40pm – Scathing
12am – VX Bliss
12:20am – GNO
12:40am – FILTH
1am – H Lite x Techno Allah
1:20am – Clutch Plague
1:40am – J. Hamilton Isaacs
What:Clan of Xymox w/The Bellweather Syndicate and The Siren Project When: Friday, 11.8, 7 p.m. Where: Oriental Theater
Why: Clan of Xymox is a Dutch post-punk band that influenced a generation of second wave Goth bands with its imaginative and bracing sounds and imagery. Adam Wingard featured Xymox tracks in his 2014 action thriller The Guest.
What:Ultra Metal 2 Night 2 When: Saturday, 11.9, 5 p.m. Where: Rhinoceropolis Why: See above regarding Ultra Metal. Schedule for night 2 below.
5pm – doors open
5:40pm – ilind
6pm – French Kettle Station
6:20pm – Goo Age
6:40pm – Earth Control Pill
7pm – Pet Sounds
7:20pm – Rush Falknor
7:40pm – Illicit Relationship
8pm – Sunk Cost
8:20pm – A Fail Association
8:40pm – Primordial Wound
9pm – T.E.F.
9:20pm – Sects
9:40pm – Jackson Pratt
10pm – Sissisters
10:20pm – Blind Date
10:40pm – Circuit Wound
11pm – Ancient, INC.
11:20pm – Tralphaz
11:40pm – Pedestrian Deposit
12am – Dromez
12:20am – Purism
12:40am – Blank Hellscape
1am – Total Mom
1:20am – Many Blessings
1:40am – Page 27
What:Necropanther w/Methane, Incarnit, Draghoria When: Saturday, 11.9, 8 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive Why: Death/thrash metal band Necropanther from Denver is celebrating the release of its latest album The Doomed City although it has those great, distorted vocals that you’d expect from a black metal outfit there’s always been something tuneful and catchy about the band’s output.
What:Pile w/Slow Code and Moon Pussy When: Sunday, 11.10, 8:30 p.m. Where: Fox Theatre Why: Pile formed in 2007, the same year as the Canadian band Women, and has exerted a similarly strong influence on underground guitar rock by going off the map of conventional structure, dynamics and tone. Its new album Green and Gray has all of its signature contorted and noisy angularity. Opening is Denver noise rock Moon Pussy whose Big Black-esque bluster is a revelation.
What:Vincent Comparetto Going Away Party When: Sunday, 11.10, 7 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive Why: Vincent Comparetto has been calling Denver home for over 20 years and is now moving to New York City. He got involved in the skating community in the 90s and discovered the local world’s punk and post-punk communities and has been avidly documenting the music scene and the cityscape for years as can be found in his ‘zines Follow Focus, particulary #2 in which he shared several of his shots of shows and the arts world in Denver. Here’s a public chance to say farewell to one of local cultures most cordial and thoughtful preservers of what has been and advocates for what is going on.
What:Hippo Campus w/The Greeting Committee When: Monday, 11.11, 7:30 p.m. Where: Boulder Theater Why: Hippo Campus released two albums in 2019 as Demos I and Demos II. While they sound a bit like the titles suggest and recorded between 2017 and 2018, the spare, raw quality of the recordings actually serve to highlight the band’s songwriting further. Its 2018 album Bambi showcased its knack for expertly produced pop songs while the new batch of material is almost the polar opposite like the experiments Magnetic Fields have engaged in over the years with its creative and varied use of technology in songwriting and processing sounds. But whatever its approach, Hippo Campus has proven its mastery of dynamics and tone.
What:The Aquabats When: Monday, 11.11, 7 p.m. Where: Gothic Theatre Why: It’s odd to think that The Aquabats has been around for over twenty-five years now. Hailing from Huntington Beach, California, the quintet’s mixture of ska, punk and pop is as surreal as it is playful. Its singer The MC Bat Commander (aka Christian Jacobs) is better known for his involvement with the kids’ show Yo Gabba Gabba! these days but The Aquabats was a good natured send-up of the Orange County punk scene as the opposite of a macho, violent band. Instead The Aquabats have assumed the personae of super heroes and its multi-media presentation through its own TV shows and sillymusic videos has allowed the band to transcend not just genre appeal but appeal beyond the realm of punk and ska, which the group has long since left behind in favor of greater musical diversity in its songwriting. Go expecting more than just a musical performance, expect the full integration of that with theater and comedy routines and special guest performers along with its usual incorporation of the audience into the proceedings as well.
What:Elephant Stone w/Frankie and the Witch Fingers and Emerald Siam When: Tuesday, 11.12, 7 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive Why: Elephant Stone’s psychedelic pop songs have weathered the glut of wannabe psychedelic rock of the past several years by going beyond the tropes and creating transcendent melodies incorporating traditional Indian musical styles and methods for a sound that seems to drift in from some brighter realm than our own. Frankie and the Witch Fingers is a little more traditionally garage psyche but the sheer momentum of its performances elevates it beyond the languid pace and laid back style we’ve come to expect all while maintaining a delicacy of feeling. Emerald Siam from Denver has some of that psychedelic garage rock in its musical DNA but is more like a moody, dark, post-punk band that discovered that musical catharsis comes from overcoming one’s personal momentum rather than sinking deeper into it.
What:FKA Twigs When: Tuesday, 11.12, 7 p.m. Where: Mission Ballroom Why: FKA Twigs brilliantly fuses downtempo with experimental electronic music. Her new album Magdalene is basically an environmental noise record with elements of R&B and soul in a pop format in the foreground.
What:Big Freedia w/Low Cut Connie When: Tuesday, 11.12, 7 p.m. Where: Gothic Theatre Why: Big Freedia’s “sissy bounce” is like some hip-hop performance art spell-casting that is disorienting yet utterly riveting.
What: At the Heart of the World w/Lowfaith and Polyurethane When: Tuesday, 11.12, 7 p.m. Where: Rhinoceropolis
Wednesday | November 13
What:The Coathangers w/Control Top and Rocket Dust When: Wednesday, 11.13, 7 p.m. Where: Lost Lake Why: The Coathangers have evolved a lot since the incendiary and thrilling chaos of their earlier punk rock without losing any of that raw power. Now touring for The Devil You Know, The Coathangers have completely integrated its instinct for tearing down convention with sharply focused songwriting.
What:Sun Seeker w/Duncan Fellows When: Wednesday, 11.13, 7 p.m. Where: Larimer Lounge Why: Duncan Fellows from Austin unexpectedly makes a blend of Americana, psychedelic pop and 2000s indie rock work through creative layering of instrumentation and vocals giving its songs great dynamic range and an element of unpredictability. There’s a lot of imitation in music at the moment and while Duncan Fellows may not strike some as incredibly original, give them a good listen and it becomes obvious they’re at least following their musical instincts where the mood flows rather than where pre-existing style suggests. In that way the group is a bit like Foxygen and Unknown Mortal Orchestra without sounding like either. Its use of synths as a full compositional element sets it apart from most of its peers as well as heard put to full effect on the group’s latest release the Eyelids Shut EP.
What:2X4 Duo Fest: Smashy Claw, Sugar Skulls and Marigolds, Gold Trash and Gort Vs. Goom When: Thursday, 09.27, 7:30 p.m. Where: Syntax Physic Opera Why: This second annual edition of 2X4 Duo Fest features four duo bands (thus the name, of course). For this edition, as with the 2017 event, organizer Logan Rainard of Gort Vs. Goom assembled a genre-diverse bill. His own band, Gort Vs. Goom would have been considered punk 40 years ago before what that was supposed to sound like got more or less settled by some codification of the genre. Bass, drums, vocals and raw power with some nods to prog and art rock. Gold Trash is part noise, part electroclash and general pop chaos. Sugar Skulls and Marigolds would probably fit easily into a broadly metal world except the band’s musical range includes their “acoustic” set which sounds more like ghostly post-punk. Smashy Claw is what would happen if a couple of very self-aware geeks decided to get into writing eccentric alternative pop songs. Only if those geeks weren’t wasting our time with filking and had a real knack for good songwriting.
Who:Too Many Zooz w/Honeycomb When: Thursday, 09.27, 7 p.m. Where: The Bluebird Theater Why: Too Many Zooz is a percussion and horns-driven jazz band that performs a style of music it calls “brass house” in that it employs acoustic instruments to make sounds that are like the use of samples in an electronic hip-hop beat. The group has performed with Beyoncé on the strength of its chops and creativity and its own albums and shows are an impressive display of what one can do with instruments you’re using to seeing in other contexts once you engage your imagination to see their possibilities in others. The group recently released a video for the single “Car Alarm” in which the trio brilliantly plays around, yes, a car alarm and makes it work.
Who:Slothrust w/Summer Cannibals and Iress When: Thursday, 09.27, 8 p.m. Where: Lost Lake Why: Boston’s Slothrust combines a kind of jazz-inflected R&B mixed with fuzzy rock. It’s sound has been compared to the 90s revival of the past few years but the structure of its songs often have more in common with hip-hop than grunge and its quieter more introspective side with soulful folk. Its new record, 2018’s The Pact, brings these sides together well in a well-sequenced album that has the eclectic musicality and depth of expression in its thoughtful lyrics that we’ve come to expect from the band.
Also on this tour is Summer Cannibals from Portland, Oregon. The band’s sound defies easy categorization beyond hard rock but it has some loose around the edges wildness akin to Babes in Toyland and L7. Except Jessica Boudreaux’s voice is both melodic while cutting through the fuzzy sparks of the band’s driving forward momentum. Some might call Summer Cannibals garage punk but it’s guitar work is much more compelling than most of that wave of music and its musical vision more coherent as well.
Who:Gary Numan w/Nightmare Air and DJ Slave 1 When: Friday, 09.28, 8 p.m. Where: Gothic Theatre Why: For those somehow not familiar, Gary Numan beyond his 1979/1980 Top 40 hit “Cars,” was a pioneer of the use of synthesizer as a compositional element in pop music. His old band Tubeway Army was a post-punk project and that sort of moody, brooding element continued on into Numan’s career under his own name. Throughout the 80s, Numan explored themes of alienation, the impact of technology on human civilization and psychology and the ways technology could be used to write and produce music. Numan also experimented with integrating other styles of music outside his perceived repertoire and his body of work and through the 90s were an obvious influence on industrial music generally and industrial rock specifically. In the 2000s Numan has delved further into conceptual work in his songwriting especially his two most recent albums, 2013’s Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind) and 2017’s Savage (Songs from a Broken World). Numan is no stranger to using dystopian science fiction ideas or even simply examination of possible futures extrapolated from the present in his music but Savage is one wherein he posits a near future where global warming has caused a worldwide desert. In seeking answers what remains of humanity seeks answers in ancient religion rather than trying to deal with the world as it is with disastrous results. As with most science fiction a warning with some uncomfortable truths about humans contained within it and a suggestion to seek creative solutions rather than what we think is tried and true.
Who:Guerilla Toss w/Black Belt Eagle Scout and H Lite When: Friday, 09.28, 8 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive Why: Guerilla Toss came up through the underground/DIY music world of Boston and New York where it experimented with musical ideas and concepts, developing what might be described as weirdo electro No Wave funk. Except that wouldn’t encompass completely a sound and performance style that includes the threads of punk fury and wiry energy, noise, prog and the avant-garde. The group recently released its latest album Twisted Crystal, an album that seems to transform some of the band’s frantic, nervous energy into dense yet beautifully expansive atmospheres while using its angular dynamics straight into those more fluid. It’s a fascinating mixture of ideas and sounds that is both alien and comforting in a way that a surreal cartoon or live action show from your youth can be.
Who:Modern Goon, Luxury Hearse, A Light Among Many, New Standards Men album release When: Friday, 09.28, 9 p.m. Where: Denver Distillery Why: New Standards Men released it’s new album People Wonder digitally on September 24. But it’s celebrating the release of the record with this show with like-minded peers at Denver Distillery. The Denver-based band has been releasing some of the more interesting experimental heavy guitar music of recent years in the Mile High City but the material on the new album has as much in common with 90s, dark math rock legends like A Minor Forest and Don Caballero as it does with even an adventurous doom band of today though some of that style of deep droning is present on the songs “Tanned Womb” and “Thirteen Alaskan Islands/Pacific Blood.” But it’s the sparkle and drift over the driving fuzz that makes the music breathe and invites the imagination to project onto its soundscape.
Who:Flahoola, To Be Astronauts, Denver Meatpacking Company When: Friday, 09.28, 8 p.m. Where: The Skylark Lounge Why: Denver Meatpacking Company may hearken back to early alternative rock in the grunge vein but it does so with a charming self-consciousness that transcends any mere nostalgic kick. Flahoola as well but their sound is more like an early 2000s melodic stoner rock band that injects more energy into the rhythm.
Who:Weaponizer and Necropanther When: Friday, 09.28, 9 p.m. Where: Tooey’s Off Colfax Why: Two of the best bands from Denver that in another era would have been considered thrash but thrash already happened and today’s metal bands that aren’t going for pure throwback cachet have been influenced by a broad spectrum of music, heavy and otherwise. Weaponizer’s more gritty style is like a more menacing, grind-esque, speed metal. Necropanther’s sound is closer to melodic death metal but a little too animalistic in the vocals for all of that.
Saturday | September 29, 2018
What:Whaaat!? A Festival for Games and Experimental Interaction When: Saturday, 09.29, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Where: ATLAS Institute at CU Boulder Why: This is a one day event dedicated to experimental games (arcade/video, tabletop et. al.) with featured speakers on the subject of gaming and development. Mattie Brice is not just a game designer but an activist in the games industry whose work includes Mainichi, in which players take on the role of the daily life of a transgender person. Her work has also been important on the subject of diversity in the gaming world generally. Pippin Barr, like Brice, is a game designer and educator who teaches game design and programming. Barr’s games are often unconventional and challenge traditional notions of what computer games can be including The Artist is Present, inspired by and involving performance artist Marina Abramović’s piece of the same name. The event gives attendees a chance to witness and participate in cutting edge games and interact with some of the minds behind them. Those interested should register at www.whaaat.io.
Who:Ned Garthe Explosion, Oxeye Daisy and Church Fire When: Saturday, 09.29, 8 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive Why: Ned Garthe Explosion makes a good case for why modern psychedelic rock isn’t dead. Even from early on, the show itself has been chaotic and colorful enough to be worthy of the term psychedelic in not only sound, content and presentation. And yet, the songwriting has always been solid and interesting. Oxeye Daisy has seemingly leapt past 90s alt-rock nostalgia into a musical zone that, sure, bears the influences of that era, that is more energized atmospheric pop than anything throwback. Its sound is very much of the present and fans of Wye Oak and Japanese Breakfast should take note. Church Fire has secretly and not so secretly been one of Denver’s most engaging live bands for not just its irresistible dance beats but its willingness to go beyond the map of middle-of-the-road accessibility mixing in noise, industrial dynamic edge and Shannon Webber’s impassioned vocal delivery.
What:Industrial Music For the Masses Vol. 2: DJ Ed Gein and eHpH When: Saturday, 09.29, 9 p.m. Where: Milk Bar Green Room Why: Denver EBM/industrial rock band eHpH has been hitting a strong creative vein of late crafting vibrant and engrossing atmospheric electronic music shot through with a palpable emotional power. Always interesting, the duo is now starting to hit its stride as a band.
Who:Belly Eater, Curt Oren, Real Dom, $addy, Oxygen Thief and Dr. Hamburger When: Saturday, 09.29, 8 p.m. Where: Thought//Forms Gallery Why: Fairly broad spectrum of noise and related music at this show. Belly Eater from Ohio is sort of a noisy, Atari Teenage Riot-esque breakcore punk band. Chicago’s Curt Oren does avant-garde audio-acoustic music including processed saxophone. Real Dom from Iowa threads together synthwave and noise. $addy makes bizarro video game music for stuff way more interesting and haunting than Sad Satan and without the disturbing baggage of the latter. Oxygen Thief is true bedroom techno dungeonwave, or something. Dr. Hamburger has landed in Denver from Rochester, New York to share his processed real time environment noise. Somehow none of these acts sound anything alike and the bill is better for it.
Who:Chelsea Wolfe w/Russian Circles When: Friday, 09.28, 8 p.m. Where: Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom Why: Chelsea Wolfe’s knack for making deep, dark, loud music was built on a foundation of the dynamics and sonics of acoustic, old world folk music. Along with her channeling her experiences with sleep paralysis, anxiety and other psychological trauma into her art, Wolfe’s music has an unexpected depth and emotional intensity beyond anyone trying to pen her music in as doom or Goth or neofolk or anything so narrowly defined. For this tour she’s sharing dates with instrumental metal group Russian Circles whose own music seems to come from a primordial place from which all ancient religions and rituals find their root. Although associated with metal, Russian Circles sounds like its music origins are steeped in posthardcore and, like Wolfe, ancient, certainly pre-Christian, folk music.
Who:Lyrics Born w/Indigenous Peoples, AG Flux and Bukue One When: Saturday, 09.29, 8 p.m. Where: Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom Why: Tsutomu Shimura used to call himself Asia Born because he was actually born in Tokyo. But early in his career he changed his hip-hop moniker to Lyrics Born so that the perception of his work would be a product of its own merit rather than through some essentialist filter. To his credit, Lyrics Born’s fluid delivery and vocal centered, funk-driven, songs bring an experimental dimension to a style of hip-hop that sounds like something from a classic 80s era rather than something that is pushing stylistic boundaries. Lyrics Born is now touring on his first album in a few years, Quite a Life.
Who:Cuckoo, Magpies (MT), Grave Moss and Surrender Signal When: Saturday, 09.29, 9 p.m. Where: The Skylark Lounge Why: Magpies got started in Havre, Montana, close to the Canadian border, in 2006 and given its bright, introspective indie rock probably didn’t find too big an audience at home before moving to Missoula in 2012 where, like most bands that don’t have some kind of marketing budget or an influential PR team, it plays to small rooms regularly. But the band did what not every group does, it went on tour and has released multiple albums including 2017’s Annex. Brooding, fuzzy and anthemic, it’s something for fans of Rainer Maria and Eleventh Dream Day.
Rounding out the bill are three Denver bands that resist pat classification. Cuckoo may have at one point sounded a little like a math rock version of a hardcore band but now that math-y side has become more dominant with intricate guitar work in the context of a spare and simple songwriting context. Grave Moss is sort of like a death rock band if that band wasn’t brooding so much as burning with nervous energy and dynamics. Surrender Signal’s mixture of introspective moods, cool melodies peppered with atonal highlights and emotional urgency is reminiscent of acts on the Teenbeat imprint and early Merge Records.
Who:Courtney Barnett w/Waxahatchee When: Saturday, 09.29, 8 p.m. Where: The Ogden Theatre Why: Courtney Barnett’s witty, self-effacing songwriting goes beyond merely clever wordplay and a poignant observation here and there. It’s often as though she’s tapping into a modern contemporary zeitgeist or able to express her experiences, feelings and imagined scenarios in a way that is immediately relatable to anyone that has taken some time to ponder what life is all about or at least be amused by circumstances that resist immediate interpretation. Throughout her career, Barnett has been especially adept at humanizing anxiety as experienced. Barnett doesn’t treat the experience as simply a condition to be treated in a clinical fashion, rather she articulates with telling details and humor how that emotional wrecking ball affects one’s life in a myriad of ways, shining a compassionate light on its several darkened corners of in the psyche. You can pick up anywhere in Barnett’s catalog and get a record worth taking the time to delve into but her 2018 album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, is a seemingly more subdued affair sonically speaking if not so much in the words. When you call songs “I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch” and “Crippling Self-Doubt and a General Lack of Confidence” you’re not mincing words and on the new record Barnett spares us the niceties in favor of personal truth.
Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee is no stranger to laying bare a powerful vulnerability in her own songwriting and performances. Her own storytelling has a warmth and intimacy that when coupled with the spacious, expansive quality of the music an impact that lingers with you long after the song is over. Crutchfield transmogrifies the fear, uncertainty and anxiety at the heart of the experiences of most people living today in this crumbling and increasingly demanding civilization into anthems of to soothe and comfort without sugarcoating the way things are. Waxahatchee released the Great Thunder EP in 2018.
Sunday | September 30, 2018
Who:Courtney Barnett w/Waxahatchee When: Sunday, 09.30, 7 p.m. Where: The Ogden Theatre Why: For Waxahatchee and Courtney Barnett see above for 09.29.
Who:Earthless w/Mad Alchemy and Green Druid When: Sunday, 09.30, 7 p.m. Where: The Marquis Theater Why: San Diego’s Earthless is on a surface level a sort of bluesy psychedelic rock band akin to Mountain or Uriah Heep. Except with a modern sensibility like its members have already heard and been imprinted a bit by peers like Dead Meadow and Sleep. But Earthless’ embrace of the imagery of natural mysticism and the aesthetics of kosmische musik gives its music an air of otherworldliness even as it employs rock and roll sounds and rhythms that may be familiar to many of its listeners. Its new album, 2018’s Black Heaven, has the band following the rabbit hole of its musical intuition down paths it might not have taken if the songwriting was consciously crafted with standard song structure.
What:Textures: Chromadrift, Blank Human and Ancient Inc. When: Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Where: Mutiny Information Café Why: This latest edition of the Textures ambient showcase features dream pop/guitar drone artist Chromadrift, Blank Human’s modular synth compositions (Blank Human’s Dan Coleman is also in experimental electronic/industrial duo Luxury Hearse) and Ancient Inc., a project that uses field recordings, ancient acoustic instruments and production to create its textured sonic atmospheres.
Who: Brighter Death Now w/Theologian, Echo Beds, Page 27 and Gruesome Relics When: Sunday, 9 p.m. Where: TBA Why: As Brighter Death Now, Roger Karmanik has been a prolific and influential maker of forbidding industrial soundscapes and noise. His now defunct record label Cold Meat Industry introduced the world to some of the most innovative and challenging music of its time from 1987 to 2013. This is a rare chance to see the Swedish artist live in Denver with a handful of like-minded local acts.
Monday | October 1, 2018
Who:The Presets w/Blood Red Shoes When: Monday, 10.01, 7 p.m. Where: The Bluebird Theater Why: The Presets from Sydney, Australia is a duo making the kind of electronic pop that on the surface is fun, high energy dance music. But their latest album, 2018’s Hi Viz makes it more obvious the depth of influence and innovation going on underneath what seems obvious. “Beethoven” and other tracks are reminiscent of the dark, cavernous, mysterious club vibe that was an aspect of the music of Underworld in the 90s—a calming tone amid urgent rhythms. Along with fellow Sydney electronic artist Flume, The Presets helped to bring Australia’s dance music world to a global audience. Even though Hi Viz, as the name suggests, was aimed at broadening the duo’s potential fan base with a diversity of musical ideas loaded into the tracks, the experiments also made for one of the more interesting electronic albums of this year thus far.
Who:The Breeders w/Sasami and Boyhollow When: Monday, 10.01, 7 p.m.
Where: The Bluebird Theater Why: Alternative rock band The Breeders came through Colorado in the spring touring in support of its 2018 album All Nerve. While one of the band’s stronger efforts of the past twenty years it also includes an interesting pick of a cover song with “Archangel’s Thunderbird” by classic psychedelic prog band Amon Duul II. The band is also bringing along Sasami as in Sasami Ashworth, former member of Cherry Glazerrr, on her solo tour in the wake of the release of a couple of acclaimed singles.
Who:Lucy Spraggan w/The Dollhouse Thieves, Sarah Slaton When: Monday, 10.01.18 7 p.m. Where: Lost Lake Why: Lucy Spraggan is a singer/songwriter from the UK who was already making a name for herself as an artist of note before auditioning for The X Factor and, in fact, had already signed to Columbia before any episode in which she appeared aired to the public. Spraggan is an LGBTQ activist in the UK and she and her partner foster disadvantaged children and that points to the compassion and and emotional strength of her songwriting. 2017’s I Hope You Don’t Mind Me Writing is brimming with the aforementioned along with an irreverent and sometimes self-deprecating sense of humor. Spraggan’s new album is set for release in 2019 but for this tour you may get to hear some of that material.
Who:IDLES w/Bambara When: Monday, 10.01.18, 7 p.m. Where: Larimer Lounge Why: IDLES from Bristol, UK put out an album in 2018 called Joy as an Act of Resistance. A bold title and one the band was able to live up to at a time when too much of punk is fairly traditionalist in most ways. Musically it’s more experimental than a lot of punk and could be considered post-punk but the vibe is there and the critique of cultural distraction as aspirational reward, fake do-gooders, self-destruction and toxic masculinity is refreshing. Also on the tour is Brooklyn, New York’s Bambara. There’s a lot of darkwave-inspired bands and a new post-punk revival that’s been going on for nearly a decade but Bambara manages to stand out with some genuinely deep personal darkness in the vocals and sonics reminiscent of Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and The Birthday Party in post-come down mode. It’s own 2018 album, Shadow On Everything, delivers on the promise of that title.
Tuesday | October 2, 2018
Who:<PIG>, eHpH, Offerings to Odin, and DJ n810 When: Tuesday, 10.02, 7 p.m. Where: 3 Kings Tavern Why: Raymond Watts of <PIG> has been an influential figure on the sound and aesthetics of industrial music going back to the early-to-mid 80s as a producer, an artist and a sound engineer. While touring with Einsturzende Neubauten he had to tangle with a challenging live sound situation with that band’s use of large art pieces and experiments as noisemakers as well as more conventional instrumentation. He contributed to some of KMFDM’s most interesting work and with <PIG> he was an innovator in both industrial rock and finely sculpted ambient music. For this tour it’s mostly going to industrial rock but Watts’ stage performance draws on the antics of Freddie Mercury and Rob Halford and the aesthetics of a Kenneth Anger’s 1963 film Scorpio Rising. Or if not, that’s what it looked like while he was touring with Ohgr over the summer of 2018.
Who:Vase Vide w/Patrick Hale Coyle and Housekeys When: Tuesday, 10.02, 8 p.m. Where: Thought//Forms Gallery Why: Vase Vide is yet more proof that Colorado Springs is “hiding” some of Colorado’s most interesting bands. Sure, synth pop, but too weird and inherently experimental for just that. Daniel Oglesby’s and Kellie Palmblad’s vocal layers and treatments are certainly accessible but challenge conventional notions of what forms pop music can take. Along with the music and visual presentation of the band, Vase Vide may not be so well-known in Denver but the quality of the imagination going into its music and concept should garner the group national and international attention.
Wednesday | October 3, 2018
What:Weird Wednesday: Enji, Dr. Hamburger and Gothsta When: Wednesday, 10.03, 9 p.m. doors/9:15 show Where: 3 Kings Tavern Why: October’s Weird Wednesday will be extra weird with video game electronics/guitar looping from Enji who will probably perform in an unusual mask. Gothsta is Weird Wednesday host Claudia Woodman’s keytar band and so a bit of glam presentation and the odd but on point cover. Dr. Hamburger is Cameron Farrash from Rochester, New York whose layers of textured beats, drone, harsh noise and ambient tones creates a surreal, even otherworldly ambiance.
Who:Blood Orphans, Cuckoo, Kali.Krone and You Beside Me While I Have a Heart Attack When: Thursday, 07.19, 7 p.m. Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective Why: Most of the bands on this bill are either dream pop/ambient/math rock/experimental guitar bands including Blood Orphans from Olympia, Washington. Their 2017 album you’re dead is reminiscent of some of the post-rock/slowcore bands of the early to mid 90s and partly in that the band goes from spacious minimalism to standing waves of distorted melody. Think something like a modern version of Codeine. Kali.Krone is in the slowcore vein with expertly bent string modulation in its gentle atmospheric riffs. Cuckoo has been more punk but all along the band has had some jazz/math rock underpinnings that have basically taken over at this point.
Who:Glasss Presents: Lady of Sorrows and eHpH When: Thursday, 07.19, 7 p.m. Where: Hooked On Colfax Why: This edition of the Speakeasy Series Season 2 at Hooked On Colfax features dark downtempo artist Lady of Sorrows and the only local EBM-inflected band outside of Velvet Acid Christ worth listening to for someone that isn’t enamored with the 90s incarnation of that sort of thing: eHpH. The Denver-based duo blends EBM, industrial rock, deathrock and punk into a cohesive whole.
Friday | July 20, 2018
Who:J.J. Grey & Mofro with String Cheese Incident When: Friday, 07.20, 6 p.m. Where: Red Rocks Why: Blues rock and soul can be the justifiable butt end of a joke these days since so many people who shouldn’t do it have tried their hand at it. J.J. Grey, though, and his band are drawing on the milieu and culture that produced the blues as musicians from Jacksonville, Florida. It’s not the Mississippi delta, New Orleans, Kansas City or Chicago but the vibe is similar and it’s something Mofro seems to have absorbed and learned to interpret it through their own musical lens. Harmonica can often sound pretty wack but Grey brings to it a soulful expressiveness that not every players not to mention the rasp that gives his vocals some character. The band has been embraced by the jam band world, and thus this gig with String Cheese Incident, but its own songs, even when the band jams out a little, are brimming with passion and come off more like the bluesier, more fiery end of Jeff Buckley more so than perhaps some of its putative musical peers.
Who:Jason Boland & The Stragglers When: Friday, 07.20, 8:30 p.m. [see other Colorado dates below through Monday 07.23.18] Where: Grizzly Rose Why: In an era when a lot of people’s idea of country music is the purely pop variety, Jason Boland & The Stragglers seem like the kind of hard touring band that had it existed 40 years ago might have come to open for Charlie Rich or George Strait at the Zanzibar in Aurora, Colorado. And like those artists, Boland writes the kind of storytelling honky tonk-esque country that reflects a life and a perspective that is either not seen in popular entertainment or treated with a kind of curiously fetishistic celebration/mythologizing as to be off-putting. Rather than indulge in that sort of thing, Jason Boland & The Stragglers are living it as one can these days playing towns and venues off and on the beaten music tourinc circuit. In Colorado the band is playing tonight at The Grizzly Rose in Denver, Saturday July 21 at the Chaffee County Fair & Rodeo in Salida, then back up north to play Moxi Theater in Greeley on Sunday, July 22 and southwest to Crested Butte at Crested Butte Center For the Arts on Monday July 23.
What:Mile High Parley 4 Day 1 When: Friday, 07.20, 8 p.m. Where: Mutiny Information Café, Hi-Dive and Gary Lee’s Why: Not so long ago Mile High Parley was a kind of rebellious parallel event to the UMS at the same time as the UMS smack in the middle of the whole event but featuring bands that weren’t likely to play the bigger, more commercial festival. Since the event has returned for 2018 it’s simply a great cross section of Denver music, comedy, culture and crafts that you may not get to see in such a short time frame in close proximity. While any of the artists would be worth checking out, on Saturday night, at Gary Lee’s at 10:45 p.m., the great Denver garage/punk band Boss 302 reunites for one of two shows this summer. The other being at The Oriental Theater on August 24. The lineup for these shows will be that of the band’s 1997-1998 period during which it recorded arguably its best record, Whatever Happened to Fun? That means former The Fluid bassist Matt Bischoff will bring his masterful playing to the show. Below is the schedule for Friday night.
Mutiny Information Café
8 The Enigma / Opening Ceremony
9:15 Luke Schmaltz
10:15 High On the Mountain
11:15 New Standards Men
12:15 Negative Trace
1:15 After Party w/Starjammer
9 Modern Goon
10 Brother Sister Hex
11 Hot Apostles
Who:Angry Hand of God, Sea of Flame and Ora When: Friday, 07.20, 6 p.m.
Where: 3 Kings Tavern
Why: Sort of a sludge rock show but one that includes former Skivies guitar wizard Zahari Tsigularov in Ora and a reunion of one of Denver’s best sludge metal bands, Angry Hand of God, who haven’t graced Denver stages in close to half a decade. Its 2014 EP Just The Tip is a good introduction to the dark and menacing universe of Angry Hand Of God’s dystopian science fiction repertoire shot through with Sabbath-esque riffs.
Saturday | July 21, 2018
What:Mile High Parley 4 Day 2 When: Saturday, 07.21, 8 p.m. Where: Various South Broadway Venues near Ellsworth and Broadway Why: See Friday’s listing for Mile High Parley. Below is the schedule by venue. The great Denver garage rock/punk band Boss 302 plays this night at Gary Lee’s 10:45 p.m.. All times p.m. unless otherwise made obvious.
Mutiny Information Café
1:15 Violet’s Gun
2:15 Ghost Towners
3:15 Hangman’s Hymnal
4:15 It’s Just Bugs
7:15 Jane Doe
8:15 Green Druid
10:15 Git Some
11:15 After Party – Can Tribute
Sportique Scooters Outdoor Stage – 160 South Broadway
1 – Smith’s Grove Band
1:45 Hail Satan
2:30 Meet the Giant
3:15 Blue Kings
4 Dangerous Friends
4:45 Haley and the Crushers
5:30 Granny Tweed
7 Ryan Chrys and the Rough Cuts
8 Bud Bronson and the Good Timers
9 MF Ruckus
6 Sleep Union
9:45 Sixes and Sevens
10:45 Boss 302
What:Ashe w/Hobo Johnson & The Lovemakers When: Saturday, 07.21, 8 p.m. Where: Cervantes’ Other Side Why: According to an interview Ashe did with PopCrush in 2018, when she was a student at Berklee didn’t have the confidence in her abilities to become an artist per se, beyond being a songwriter. But once she connected with electronic pop artists Whethan and Louis the Child Ashe and the underground world of music out of which they came, Ashe realized she could do something viable of her own beyond being a featured artist on someone else’s tracks. In June 2018 Ashe released her debut EP, The Rabbit Hole, through Mom + Pop. The EP’s seven tracks sound like an update on late 90s electronic pop as heard through a filter of youthful nostalgia. You know, as if Ashe took threads of modern, throwback psychedelic pop and interpreted it through EDM production methods. The result is a pleasant, summer set of melodic gems. “Real Love” is the lead single with its timeless, dreamlike quality.
What:Sorted 9: Hodge (Bristol), Lone Dancer When: Saturday, 07.21, 11 p.m. Where: TBA Why: Bristol-based producer/ambient artist Hodge will do a four-hour, late night set at a venue to be announced (details in link above). Hodge’s music blends organic, live instrument samples with textured atmospheres and lushly, downtempo beats. Also for this edition of Sorted, the long-running curated electronic dance night, is Denver’s Lone Dancer whose own blend of experimental electronic dance music and ambient will fit in perfectly with the event.
Sunday | July 22, 2018
What:Mile High Parley 4 Day 3 When: Sunday, 07.21, 12 p.m. Where: Various South Broadway Venues near Ellsworth and Broadway Why: Final day of Mile High Parley with the schedule below.
Mutiny Information Café
12 – 1 Yellow Rake/Suspect Press Showcase
2 – 3:30 Ground Zero Comedy featuring Nathan Lund, Allison Rose, Preston Tomkins, Andres Becerril and Shanae Ross
4:30 – 6 Punch Drunk Press – Punketry
Who:S. Carey w/H.C. McEntire When: Sunday, 07.22, 9 p.m. Where: Larimer Lounge Why: For his 2018 album Hundred Acres, S. Carey pared back the instrumentation to the bare essentials. In doing so, the songwriter took the already delicate, intimate quality of his songwriting and pushed the possibilities of the aesthetic and form further. The subtle layers of sound that provided the beautifully shifting backdrop of his earlier albums are largely gone replaced with space that function similarly as a device to bring the listener’s imagination to bear. But rather than suggest a mood, a color or sounds that conjure visuals, S. Carey’s songwriting this time around invite the listener to project and engage in an informal conversation outside the explicit songs themselves.
Tuesday | July 24, 2018
Who:Foreigner w/Whitesnake and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening When: Tuesday, 07.24, 5:30 p.m. Where: Pepsi Center Why: It’s easy to dismiss Foreigner as being a product of its time and of oversaturation of decades of being on mainstream and classic rock radio. Foreigner is also one of the few hard rock bands that emerged in the 70s that was able to make the transition to being a viable pop band in the 80s and one that can still command large audiences today when many of its peers are basically stuck only on the nostalgia circuit playing small clubs and county fairs. Likely the group has had its share of those experiences at some point but for this tour of large venues Foreigner is the clear headliner over the likes of Whitesnake (whose own roots in 70s hard rock are respectable enough) and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening (though Bonham played in Foreigner for a few years). Even though iconic Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm has long been out of the band, former Hurrican vocalist has been ably singing the Foreigner classics since 2005. A few of the older bands that have been touring of late are a good reminder that even if you’re skeptical of their music the live show speaks for itself and Foreigner is one of those.
Who:Covet (Yvette Young) w/Vasudeva and Quentin When: Tuesday, 07.24, 7 p.m. Where: Lost Lake Why: Yvette Young made a name for herself with her use of Facebook, YouTube and other online services to share her sketches of songs with friends and other fans of math rock and Midwest emo. For the past four years, Young has been performing with her band Covet. With the release of 2018’s Effloresce, Young and her bandmates have pushed their music well beyond the creative and sonic limitations of math rock. Young’s songs have always suggested fantastical storytelling and in going beyond genre stylistic canon, her music has an appeal beyond her vaunted abilities as a guitar shredder. Read our interview with Young here.
Wednesday | July 25, 2018
Who:Animal Collective performing Sung Tongs w/Lonnie Holley When: Wednesday, 07.25, 7 p.m. Where: The Ogden Theatre Why: In September 2003, Animal Collective sequestered themselves to a house in Lamar, Colorado to record in a house on a property where Avey Tare’s parents lived (not in the same house). Working with their friend Rusty Santos, Animal Collective released Sung Tongs the following year. The album garnered critical accolades and has long been a favorite among fans. It featured acoustic instruments used in a way that suggested an electronic music aesthetic and a collage approach to making pop music with unconventional rhythms, drones and layers of sound. At times freak folk, at times pure, abstract soundscaping as a kind of musical story/experience. In that way, Animal Collective tapped into a similar space as Microphones on he Glow Pt. 2 and Mount Eerie. But not as dark, more playful, but as fearless in seeing where the music could go separate from having to write anything resembling a conventional pop song while writing an essentially pop album. The group will perform the album in its entirety on the current tour and likely with songs from across its discography.
Who:Harry Tuft – Shady Grove Picnic series When: Wednesday, 07.25, 6:30 p.m. Where: Four Mile Historic Park 715 S. Forest Why: Harry Tuft is one of the godfathers of the folk and Americana scene in Denver. Tuft’s involvement in the Denver Folklore Center and Swallow Hill Music created a place to acquire and learn traditional acoustic instruments, to see the music live and to foster a local culture around that music. While not unique in the nation by a long shot, the members of bluegrass band Hot Rize met through those connections and in their way helped to rekindle a folk and Americana revival from the 80s onward by popularizing the musical forms and updating them slightly for the modern era. Tuft finally started to perform his own music in his late 70s and early 80s and to release his own music. He also retains a mind open to new musical forms and that openness of spirit can be heard in his originals. Tuft is a true OG hero of underground music from Colorado.
Who:Flasher w/Eternal and Hot Trash When: Wednesday, 07.25, 7 0op.m. Where: Larimer Lounge Why: DC’s Flasher put out one of the best rock albums of 2018 so far with Constant Image. The band’s full length debut with Domino is a blend of post-punk and synth pop-esque electronics in a tasty counterpoint to its nuanced social critique and self-examination. Not didactic so much as holistic. Not unlike Parquet Courts’ own 2018 release Wide Awake!!, Constant Image minces no words but does so with imaginative wordplay and music that is couched in both an 80s New Wave flavor and a modern blurring of musical timeframes hinting that the dystopian 80s are not so different from the often nightmarish political climate of today. Heady stuff for what could be enjoyed as simply incredibly well-crafted pop songs. But Flasher’s genius is in making music that isn’t inherently alienating to lay out some stark truths that aren’t so abstract from most people’s lives struggling to get by as rents, home prices and daily necessities rise in price and increase in scarcity with no clear solution in sight.
Who:Post Animal w/Slow Pulp and Serpentfoot When: Thursday, 06.28, 8 p.m. Where: Lost Lake Why: Chicago’s Post Animal sounds like a power pop band that has adopted some sludge rock edginess and a lot of psychedelia to warp those edges into interesting directions. Its new album When I Think Of You In a Castle makes you wonder what would have happened had The Sweet and ELO merged because the exquisitely tuneful melodies rock with an earnestness out of step in this decade where many try and fail miserably at projecting that authenticity much less at sustaining the quality songwriting across an entire record. The changes of pace, dynamics, tone and atmosphere throughout the album also proves the band cares enough about its own art and potential listeners to not brand its career with a same-y aesthetic. Post Animal is a rock band but one that isn’t stuck in rock-ist clichés as its sonics are as transporting as they are riveting.
Who:Pretty Mouth video release w/Archipelaghost and Oxeye Daisy When: Thursday, 06.28, 8 p.m. Where: Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox Why: Pretty Mouth is debuting its video for “This Poison Loves You” at this show at Ophelia’s. The Denver-based quartet combines the drawn out pacing and dynamics of alt-country with windswept dream pop, singer Marie Litton seemingly channeling the energy of ancestral spirits to effect a an emotional catharsis throughout the performance. Joining Pretty Mouth for the occasion is avant-garde pop outfit Archipelaghost and like-minded neo-alternative rock band Oxeye Daisy, which recently released an excellent self-titled debut engineered by Male Blonding frontman Noah Simons.
Friday | June 29, 2018
Who:Froth: A Rhinoceropolis fundraiser w/Superstar & Star, Cop Circles, Lux Hearse, J. Hamilton Isaacs, Mirror Fears, Data Rainbow, French Kettle Station When: Friday, 06.29, 7 p.m. Where: Redline Gallery Why: Denver DIY space Rhinoceropolis, which was closed in December 2016 in the wake of the Ghost Ship tragedy in Oakland, California, for supposed fire code violations, has had multiple hurdles to overcome to re-open including paying rent on the building while it couldn’t be utilized and remodeling to bring the space to code. So this event is happening to help move that along to the final phase before the re-open. The usual suspects of former Rhino inhabitants and those who made the space what it was will be performing but the night will include a special appearance from Neville Lawrence who performs as Superstar & Star, who now lives in Omaha, Nebraska and claims to be the “undisputed king of home-disco.” Watch any of his videos and that’s pretty much impossible to dispute as his VCR 80s era home video aesthetic is much more likeable than one might expect in this age when many things are overproduced and essentially unrelatable.
Who:Strange Goo feat: Pheel, Mirror Fears and PterrorFractyl When: Friday, 06.29, 8:30 p.m. Where: Fort Greene Why: This is the latest edition of Strange Goo which includes some of the most forward thinking experimental electronic artists in Denver. Tonight’s show includes dream noise/industrial pop artist Mirror Fears and post-dub techno soundsculptor PterrorFractyl.
Who:Sliver w/Parking With Planets, The Swamp Rats, Bailout, Theoretic When: Friday, 06.29, 8 p.m. Where: Moe’s Original BBQ
Why: It would be enough to go see sludge/surf punkers The Swamp Rats. But it would also be worth your time to check out grunge punks Sliver. That despite singer Chris Mercer dropping the bomb on his own band and admitting that his own take on his own band’s style of punk: “Post hardcore that came out in the early 00’s and beyond is just the poppy emo shit with a lot of screaming.” We beg to differ and declare Sliver a refreshingly emotionally raw and honest rock band with a leg in both DC hardcore and NW proto-alternative rock. Sure, Mercer doesn’t do a great job of ripping off Bad Brains and Wipers but he tries and that has to count for something.
Who:Electric Funeral Fest III Day 1 When: Friday, 06.29, 3 p.m. Where: 3 Kings Tavern, Hi-Dive and Mutiny Information Café
Why: This two day festival showcases some of the underground’s best extreme music bands from Denver and elsewhere including Spirit Adrift, Eagle Twin, R.I.P., Aseethe, Amplified Heat, Forming the Void, Love Gang, Urn., Loom, Necropanther, Smokey Mirror, Twingiant, Echo Beds, Augur, Green Druid, Keef Duster and The Rare Breed. Someone also convinced Denver thrash punks Speedwolf to reunite for tonight’s line up. Kudos.
Saturday | June 30, 2018
Who:Rubedo w/Holophrase, R A R E B Y R D $, Picture the Waves and Mace Windu When: Saturday, 06.30, 7 p.m. Where: The Bluebird Theater Why: In what has become at least a semi-annual tradition, Rubedo headlines The Bluebird Theater in early summer. The Denver band, parts prog, psychedelic rock, noise rock and avant funk, has been at the forefront of one wing of the local DIY scene for years. For these events Rubedo brings together some of the more interesting bands out of the underground like experimental electro-downtempo band Holophrase and the soulful and lush hip-hop of visionaries of a utopian yet grounded, loving and compassionate future, R A R E B Y R D $.
Who:Electric Funeral Fest III Day 2 When: Saturday, 06.30, 3 p.m. Where: 3 Kings Tavern, Hi-Dive and Mutiny Information Café Why: This second day of heavy and extreme music includes sets from bands across the front range and beyond: Weedeater, Primitive Man, Zeke, Sierra, Duel, Grey Gallows, Cloud Catcher, The Munsens, Communion, Crud, Space in Time, White Dog, Vexing, Pink Fuzz, Wizzerd, Smolder & Burn, Alone and Still Valley
Who:Machinefest w/16Volt, Machinewerx and Society Burning
When: Saturday, 06.30, 6 p.m.
Where: Outdoor location in Wellington, CO
Why: Tempting to call this an event linked to the local Burning Man community and maybe ultimately it is, but in truth it’s an industrial music and sculpture performance event in the middle of nowehere (map on the event page). Coming out for the occasion is infamous/legendary industrial rock band 16 Volt.
Who:Magic Sword w/Church Fire and EVP When: Saturday, 06.30, 7 p.m. Where: The Marquis Theater Why: This show would be worth attending for Denver bands Church Fire and EVP alone because they’re both pushing forward the aesthetics of dance music and electronic pop with energetic and emotionally stirring performances. But Boise, Idaho’s Magic Sword doesn’t make it here nearly enough with their space knight stage personae and one-would-think-wack-but-never-is combination of 80s prog metal guitar and sweeping science fiction movie soundtrack synthscapes. Camp is pretty played out these days but Magic Sword has taken it to another level that makes it endearing like you’re in on the camp so it’s no longer a joke but just fun.
Sunday | July 1, 2018
Who:Immersion w/Brother Saturn When: Sunday, 07.01, 7 p.m. Where: Larimer Lounge Why: Immersion is the ambient project comprised of Malka Spigel of Israeli/Belgian experimental post-punk band Minimal Compact and her husband Colin Newman who more than a few people may know as being in Wire. In the 80s their respective bands surely rubbed shoulders in the UK and the rest of Europe and in the early 90s when the duo created Immersion as a way to further explore beat-driven, non-rock music it entered a realm of sound and atmosphere that might have been associated with minimalist IDM and ambient/abstract atmospheric artists of the day like Seefeel and Future Sound of London. The group’s recent albums, including 2018’s Sleepless, have shown a willingness for more overt use of guitar to create texture and tone.
Who:Janelle Monáe w/St. Beauty When: Sunday, 07.01, 6:30 p.m. Where: Paramount Theatre Why: Janelle Monáe’s new album Dirty Computer spent a decade percolating and incubating in her rich imagination. Apparently she felt as though she had to present an image safe for public consumption, as it were. The album is even more a concept album than any of her other excellent offerings over the past several years and it tells a story of personal evolution and self-acceptance in the face of a world that tries to define you and impose meaning on you especially if you’re an “entertainer” and black and a woman. The short film Monáe released in the wake of the album gives vivid life to the story with Monáe as an android named Jane 57821 struggling against a dystopian society toward a more open and compassionate future. While her music has always been sonically rich and evocative, with Dirty Computer, Monáe has pushed her art beyond previous boundaries by revisiting some of her perennial themes in creative new ways.
Who:Canyon of the Skull, Giant of the Mountain, Voideater, A Light Among Many When: Sunday, 07.01, 8 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive
Why: If you made it to Electric Funeral Fest III but just want one more night of the heavy, this show will more than do with deep, atmospheric doom act Canyon of the Skull from Austin alongside the more experimental, ambient metal of A Light Among Many.
Who:Nevayda Gunn (last show), Horns and Spyderland When: Sunday, 07.01, 5 – 8 p.m. Where: Goosetown Tavern Why: When a lot of rock bands were riding the psych bandwagon and making fairly mundane music that was essentially pop or straight ahead rock with some reverb and yelping, Nevayda Gunn were pushing boundaries of what the music could be and left us one great statement of where it was and where it could have gone with its 2016 album Glitchkraft; A Human Experience. Maybe a slightly art-pretentious title but very much worth a listen. This is their last show. Catch members in Archipelaghost.
Monday | July 2, 2018
Who:Dirty Few 7” release w/Wyldlife, The Bad Engrish, The Born Readies, DJ Ross Taylor Murphy When: Monday, 07.02, 7 p.m. Where: Larimer Lounge Why: Dirty Few is releasing its new 7” EP, Volcom Sessions out on Snappy Little Numbers (you can order the 7” here). While the band has a deserved reputation for being a rowdy party band one thing that is often overlooked is the songwriting. Somewhere between power pop and post-Reatards garage punk, Dirty Few’s fuzz pop has never sounded more focused and and tuneful. It sounds like someone in the band has been listening to a lot of Thin Lizzy but that’s no bad thing. The vocal harmonies really make the songs this time around and this new record represents the band at its current peak.
Tuesday | July 3, 2018
Who:Michael Rault w/Pale Sun and Bear and the Beasts When: Tuesday, 07.03, 8 p.m. Where: Globe Hall Why: Michael Rault, though Canadian, sounds like he spent some time hanging out in Laurel Canyon in the mid-1970s—gently psychedelic pop compositions with a twinge of country rock running through them are the hallmarks of his sound. We’ve heard a lot of that sort of thing in recent years but Rault happens to be better at the songwriting end than most other people mining similar territory. Also on the bill is Denver-based shoegaze band Pale Sun whose cosmic soundscaping has some edge to its hypnotic melodies.
Wednesday | July 4, 2018
Who:Spectral Voice, Superstition, Flowering Blade, Many Blessings When: Wednesday, 07.04, 8 p.m. Where: Meadowlark Bar Why: Spectral Voice is a Denver-based death metal band whose instincts wend toward a more stark sound. And it’s in good company for this show with Many Blessings, the ambient/noise project of Primitive Man vocalist/guitarist Ethan McCarthy, and Aaron Miller of Cadaver Dog doing his solo noise act Flowering Blade. So, musically speaking, all the negative vibes with none of the negative consequences.
What:Jane/Eyre – Grapefruit Lab and Teacup Gorilla w/Dameon Merkl on vocals When: Friday, 02.23, 7 p.m. Where: The Bakery Why: This is a queer adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s classic 1847 coming-of-age novel. So it’ll be storytelling and songs provided by the Grapefruit Lab collective and Teacup Gorilla who are bringing in noted local frontman and raconteur extraordinaire, Dameon Merkl who some may know as one of the vocalists in Lost Walks as well as his turns in 90s punk band Random Victim and noir rock phenoms Bad Luck City. Because it’s Teacup Gorilla, a band that has long developed a relationship with theater and writing experimental rock music that can only loosely be defined as post-punk or glam rock because its imaginative songwriting and musicianship is much broader than a single genre. The run of this production spans six performances starting Friday and Saturday evening of February 23 and 24 with a 2 p.m. matinee show on Sundays. On February 23, the opening band is Denver’s dream pop duo Plume Varia. February 24 has indie pop group The Green Typewriters on board. March 2 will include a performance from Ersatz Robots and the final evening show will have a surprise guest on March 3.
Who:The Kinky Fingers album release w/Don Chicharron and Godchild When: Friday, 02.23, 7 p.m. Where: Tooey’s Off Colfax Why: The Kinky Fingers have always been a band that made a virtue of simple, clean melodies. At a time when it seemed there was entire too much surf rock and neo-psychedelic rock, The Kinky Fingers shined with the strength of its songwriting. With its new album, Garbage Plate, the band has expanded its sound and boosted its emotional range. The album has been a long time coming. Recorded in the summer of 2016 in Rochester, New York, Garbage Plate is a surprisingly thoughtful set of songs that sound like party anthems. Regarding the meaning of the album title, the band says “[a] Garbage Plate is a plate of fried potatoes, baked beans, hot dogs, onions, mustard, and a chili-like meat sauce. Intense. As the name suggests, the music rings through so many genres, textures and tastes it feels a perfect fit for the deteriorating American dream, which once tasted so sweet and now feels more like a bellyache.” Expect the usual sharply observant songs about the vicissitudes of life with some poignant, and creatively rendered, social commentary mixed in. The Kinky Fingers will also play at the Treefort Music Festival in Boise, Idaho on Friday, March 23 at Ha Penny at 11:20 p.m.
Who:Slow Caves 7” release w/Gleemer and Panther Martin When: Friday, 02.23, 8 p.m. Where: Lost Lake Why: On its new 7”, Fort Collins’ Slow Caves seems to have evolved well beyond the more languid pace and sound of its earlier pop songs. “Poser” has some of the structure and dynamics of the band’s surf rock leanings but there is more grit and drive to its winningly polished melodies. Joining Slow Caves for the occasion of releasing its new record are noisy math rockers Gleemer and Panther Martin, a band that may have started out in the realm of garage and psych rock but its intricate yet uncluttered musicianship reveals a knack for writing songs of often surprising emotional complexity.
Who:Necropanther CD release w/The Munsens, and Abrams When: Saturday, 02.24, 8:30 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive Why: Denver death thrashers Necropanther are releasing a new album tonight with Eyes Of Blue Light. Imagine what it would sound like if a melodic death metal band Gothenburg style wrote a Dune-themed record inspired in part by Municipal Waste and Thrash Zone-period D.R.I.. Well, Necropanther recorded the album in Denver but got it mastered in Gothenburg, Sweden with Fredrik Nordström who has put his sonic fingerprints on the broad spectrum of that city’s melodic death metal scene. Also on stage this night are sludgy doom-sters The Munsens and the equally menacing Abrams whose own version of sludge/doom is energetically dynamic and otherworldly in the vein of bands like Neurosis and Isis.
What:Textures featuring Cpt. Howdy, Brother Saturn, MYTHirst When: Sunday, 02.25, 7 p.m. Where: Mutiny Information Café Why: This is the latest edition of the Textures ambient showcase. This time the return of heavy synth duo (trio), Cpt. Howdy, the super chill, abstract ambient of Drew Miller (of Chromadrift) as Brother Saturn (he calls it a shoegaze band and yeah, if you’re thinking more like Seefeel rather than the more rock-oriented stuff) and MYTHist’s electro-acoustic take on IDM.
Monday | February 26, 2018
What:Decibel Magazine Tour: Enslaved, Wolves in the Throne Room, Myrkur and Khemmis When: Monday, 02.26, 6 p.m. Where: The Gothic Theatre Why: Decibel Magazine, one of the major magazines that focuses on metal and heavy music in general, has been on this tour for several years now and this time out the even is headlined by Norway’s Enslaved. The band has always had melodic elements to its brutally majestic sound. But with it’s 2017 album E, the group seems to have written the music with a cinematic presentation in mind like they were composing a soundtrack for the next Thor movie. In a similar vein of invoking indigenous spirits and associated imagery in the music are the opening bands on this leg of the tour. Denver’s Khemmis is often described as a doom band but its songs far more melodic than such designations suggest. The hanging chords and sludgy flourishes are there but so is an apparent dedication to fairly traditional songcraft giving the band an appeal beyond what one might assume to be its audience. Myrkur, from Denmark, is the black metal project of Amalie Bruun. Her expansive, lush songs bring together the gritty and the sublime and transcendent matched by her seemingly effortless transition between. Mareidt, the project’s 2017 release, included a guest vocal from the like-minded Chelsea Wolfe on the track “Funeral.” Wolves in the Throne Room from Olympia, Washington all but retired from any active touring several years back so this is a rare chance to catch the band’s Cascadian black metal in Denver. The group performed in Colorado Springs in October 2017 in the wake of the release of its most recent album, 2017’s Thrice Woven. A WITTR show is fairly tribal in presentation with visuals invoking meeting at a communal fire to share stories and to participate in a collective ritual and the music is a manifestation of that spirit.
Who:Palm w/Spirit of the Beehive and Plague Survivor When: Monday, 02.26, 8 p.m. Where: Lost Lake Why: Palm was originally from Philadelphia but calls New York City it’s home base these days. It’s flavor of neo-math rock is less focused on actual technique and more on what you can do with technique and dynamics if you inject some imagination into the playing and writing. If you’re a fan of groups like US Weekly, Laddio Bolocko, Don Caballero and A Minor Forest you’ll probably appreciate what Palm is doing. Its new album, 2018’s Rock Island, expands on the band’s previous, beautifully claustrophobic structures without losing its masterful ability to create tension and release at the perfect moments.
Who:Haunted Summer w/Tyto Alba, Ghostpulse and Magic Cyclops When: Monday, 02.26, 7 p.m. Where: Globe Hall Why: Haunted Summer could be broadbrushed as a post-chillwave dream pop project reminiscent of Devotion-period Beach House because its entrancing melodies are possessed of a similarly gorgeous emotional afterglow. But its Robin-Guthrie-circa-Mysterious-Skin-soundtrack guitar textures and drifty dynamics akin to those of Former Selves or Candy Claws. Whatever went into inspiring the band’s sound, it’s excellent 2017 album, Spirit Guides has a warmth and intimacy that propels the songs into having an immediacy that isn’t always the purvey of bands attempting a similar style of music. Tyto Alba, like Haunted Summer, is a band that is great at working in the realm of the edges of your memory to invoke something that isn’t nostalgia but has an emotional resonance that stimulates the feelings that normally coalesce into comforting reverie.
Who:Eraserhead Fuckers, Juniordeer, Ultraviolet, Morlox and Brkn Jwbne Tape Manipulator When: Monday, 02.26, 7 p.m. Where: Mutiny Information Café Why: Just reading the list of band names should give you some idea of the strangeness you’re in for if you make it to this show. Morlox should be a well-known artist in Denver because his influence on the local industrial and noise scene is undeniable but he has also had an impact on experimental pop band Church Fire and their facility in weaving together industrial music and hip-hop production ideas into their own songwriting. He rarely performs live so if that’s your thing, be there. Also, Eraserhead Fuckers is technically hip-hop but so confrontational, abrasive and surreal that most hip-hop fans aren’t going to be into it unless maybe they didn’t have a difficult time getting into something like Death Grips, .clipping, Earl Sweatshirt or Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy.
Tuesday | February 27, 2018
Who:Talib Kweli w/Niko Is, DJ Spintelect and Time When: Tuesday, 02.27, 8:30 p.m. Where: Fox Theatre Why: Talib Kweli Greene would have secured his place in hip-hop history with Black Star, his collaborative project with Mos Def. But Kweli’s talent, intellect and curiosity has brought him to various efforts as a rapper, producer and activist. Rather than make more than a brief list of the people he’s worked with like Dave Chappelle, Kanye West and Dead Prez, it would be more worthwhile to note how Kweli’s albums have long been filled with thoughtful and creative social critiques alongside solid beats and music so that his albums never come off feeling didactic or preachy even as he minces no words—because his stories and words are also not short on humanity. Kweli can be pointed but he clearly takes in the bigger picture beyond any topical content. Along on the tour is Niko Is, a likeminded artist whose own imaginative wordplay sketches vivid images of aspirational daydreams and everyday life rendered into poetry. Opening the show is Denver’s Time, a rapper whose literary lyrics display a gift for surreal stories and political analysis grounded in his own experiences growing up in “the nutty.” Meaning North Denver, of course. Sometime in 2018 it’s anticipated that we’ll see a new album from Calm., Time’s hip-hop duo with longtime collaborator, the producer Awareness.
Wednesday | February 28, 2018
Who:Why? w/The Florist When: Wednesday, 02.28, 7 p.m. Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Yoni Wolf aka Why? was once in influential, experimental hip hop group Clouddead but when that outfit split in 2004 he formed an indie rock band called Why? with his brother Josiah and friends. And yet calling Why? indie rock is a bit imprecise because the band is far more experimental with its use of sound, the poetry of its lyrics and the the visual presentation of the music as well. At times Why? can be a multimedia experience with interaction between performers and video as well as making a theater sized show seem like something more suited to a stadium. Whatever the experience of the show might be it’s something the group has evolved for years and rooted in a music that is pushing and challenging the kind of complacency of being so in love with one’s established sound by making music that can never rest easy in a staid formula. The latest Why? record, 2017’s Moh Lhean, is typically impossible to adequately characterize and yet has all the unique wordplay and imagery that has made Why? a consistently interesting project from the beginning.
Who:Rachael Yamagata w/Hemming When: Tuesday, 02.27, 7 p.m. Where: Globe Hall Why: Rachael Yamagata has been at her solo career since 2001. Likely often broadbrushed as a singer-songwriter, Yamagata’s music transcends stereotypes that have crept up about singer-songwriter artists even though, obviously, artists like Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and plenty of others are good examples of singer-writers. Like Ray LaMontagne (with whom Yamagata has worked) and Greg Laswell, Yamagata writes songs about life that provides a unique insight and illumination into subjects well-worn by artists since time immemorial. Yamagata’s voice is calming yet not short on evoking peak emotional moments with a gift for articulating complexity of feeling. Her music, richly detailed and textured, provide the perfect backdrop to her honest storytelling. Her 2016 album Tightrope Walker in particular minced few words about life challenges but did so in a lushly poetic fashion.
Who:John Maus w/LKDLX When: Friday, 01.19, 8 p.m. Where: The Marquis Theater Why: John Maus may be known to some as a former keyboardist in Ariel Pink’s band but his early solo albums, 2006’s Songs and 2007’s Love is Real became a kind of blueprint for the chillwave/hypnogogic pop movement. Using vintage synth sounds and the pop aesthetics of many 80s New Wave bands and a hazy lo-fi production style, likely of necessity given limitations of available equipment as well as a conscious effort in that direction. With 2011’s We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves, Maus cleaned up some of his soundscapes without losing a focus on using echoing melodies to convey a sense of a recreation of a memory of a sound and a place while giving it an emotional intimacy and immediacy. With 2017’s Screen Memories injects even greater clarity and stronger musical lines in his production, giving a listening experience not unlike finding an especially clean print of a forgotten, unlikely, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Kenneth Anger collab epic science fiction road film.
Who:Screwtape EP release w/Sysco Yola, Raw Breed and Fat Chance When: Friday, 01.19, 7 p.m. Where: Larimer Lounge Why: Screwtape is a Denver punk band that seems to perfectly balance the explosive aggression of post-hardcore with a driving energy and pointed political commentary. And one of the most impressively visceral live bands out of anywhere right now. For this show the group is releasing a limited run EP in an edition of 25.
Who:Necropanther w/Bodies We’ve Buried and Morgue Whore When: Friday, 01.19, 9 p.m. Where: Streets of London Why: This is a show featuring what might be described as “extreme” metal bands that didn’t forget that good songwriting makes them more effective. Necropanther is on the more thrash end of that spectrum while Morgue Whore more in the death metal vein.
Who: Bluebook, Porlolo and Whipporwill When: Saturday, 01.20, 7 p.m. Where: Leon Gallery Why: Bluebook has generally been the solo project of Julie Davis (Seven Hats, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats) and a perfect blend of downtempo, jazz and avant-folk with Davis on upright bass and layers of sound. She regularly has collaborators drawn from various ends of the Denver music scene. Porlolo is a showcase for the songwriting of Erin Roberts whose songs, while seemingly playful, have a thoughtfulness and insight and dry humor that can take you by surprise with its intensity in a way you probably need.
Who:Emily Wells w/The Milk Blossoms When: Sunday, 01.21, 7 p.m. Where: Larimer Lounge Why: The concept of the one person band has been done many times well. An Emily Wells performance is like seeing a one person orchestra. The level of planning and logistics involved were probably a product of necessity in not depending on other musicians to provide any of the components of the music and years in the making. But it also doesn’t come off like a gimmick as Wells conveys a sense of being immersed in her own songs. Using cello, viola, drums, synths, samples and her own voice, which cuts through the soundscape so vividly, Wells tells stories imbued with a sense of the mythical and the deeply personal cloaked in an American noir. Her latest album is 2017’s In the Hot. Opening he show is Denver’s The Milk Blossoms, a band that also uses what could be seen as disparate elements inventively to compose heartfelt yet dreamlike songs. Michelle Rocque and Harmony Rose have very different but powerfully complimentary voices that are about to articulate a richness of emotion that enhances the band’s already imaginative lyrics.