Best Shows in Denver 3/22/18 – 03/27/18

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Twin Peaks performs Monday, March 26, 2018 at The Bluebird Theater. Photo by Daniel Topete

 

Thursday | March 22, 2018

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Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, photo by Jess Myers

Who: Moaning and Nnamdi Ogbonnaya w/Curta
When: Thursday, 03.22, 7 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Listening to Nnamdi Ogbonnaya’s 2017 album Drool on Father/Daughter Records it should come as no surprise that the multi-instrumentalist is no stranger to how to employ sounds to their full effect and with a striking level of creativity. Is the music on the album hip-hop? Yes, but in the same sense that one might say the same of Thundercat, Serengeti or even Flying Lotus. It is hip-hop while transcending simple genre. It’s like brightly toned, experimental pop music without trying to be “experimental.” Ogbonnaya’s deft wordplay in the context of the music, each informing the other, gives the songs and their tales of everyday life and its struggles a heightened focus, a high contrast emotional experience to the point where it has a quality of otherworldliness like a Rudy Rucker or Pat Cadigan novel as both writers write about serious subjects in vivid detail but not without a sense of play and natural humor. That Ogbonnaya is sharing the stage with Denver’s dystopian sci-fi hip-hop act Curta and Los Angeles-based post-punk band Moaning and its gritty yet lush melodies just triples the appeal of the bill.

Sunday | March 25, 2018

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Distance Research circa 2012, photo by Tom Murphy

Who: Textures: Distance Research, Offthesky and Paw Paw
When: Sunday, 03.25, 7 p.m.
Where: Mutiny Information Café
Why: This month’s edition of the Textures Ambient Showcase includes some of Colorado’s most interesting sound sculptors. Distance Research is visual artist Sean Faling’s ambient/modular synth project of several years. Seeing as Faling is a bit of a synth collector and connoisseur, he brings something different and intentional in its composition to every performance. Offthesky combines the free flowing aesthetic of ambient and the programmed beats methodology of modern electronic dance music to create the kind of engulfing, atmospheric music that sounds like what it might be like to visit some future, technological society that has managed to develop beyond the sort of mass environmentally destructive industrial society we live in today. Paw Paw blends organic guitar loops and streams with hypnotic electronic beats.

Monday | March 26, 2018

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Panther Martin, photo by Tom Murphy

Who: Twin Peaks and The Districts w/Panther Martin
When: Monday, 03.26, 7 p.m.
Where: The Bluebird Theater
Why: Twin Peaks came up through Chicago’s DIY music scene at a time when the recent garage rock and garage punk revival reinvigorated that circuilt of music with energy and immediately relatable music. Twin Peaks crested that wave by, well, being better songwriters than many of the neo-garage rock bands. Even its debut full-length, 2013’s Sunken, seemed unusually developed and imaginative for a band that many critics described as, let’s face it, yet another modern band copping a 60s vibe in the 2010s. Twin Peaks’ synthesis of Rolling Stones, 70s power pop, T. Rex and The Reatards has so far at least yielded songs that brim with life and attitude of its own rather than merely mimicking an already successful style. The group’s new record Sweet ’17 Singles Series is less raw than, say, 2014’s Wild Onion, but the injection of a little soulfulness into the sound has just given the band’s songwriting a bit of depth to match its aims to write solid rock songs at a time when rock has gotten a little stale all over again.

The Districts from Pennsylvania are more on a folk-rooted end of modern rock music. Which in 2018 could, and often is, so played out. But the contrast between the band’s expansive dynamics and bright tonality is a fascinating contrast with lyrics that dig deep into places in the psyche one would rather forget only to come up with some strikingly wise insights about the complicated emotions we have to tangle with as we age beyond merely becoming an adult. The Districts’ 2017 album Popular Manipulations is brimming with unusually thoughtful songs in that vein.

Panther Martin is a Denver band that sounded initially like it came from similar roots to The Districts and Twin Peaks and like both of those bands found its footing and its own voice in challenging itself to evolve beyond its early influences. On the 2017 EP Drats the group displays more than a post-Strokes aesthetic and certainly many of Panther Martin’s recent live videos point in fascinating directions one might not suspect from listening to its earlier output. A perfect local opener for a bill like this.

Who: Secret Drum Band, Poppet and Sam Humans
When: Monday, 03.26, 8 p.m.
Where: Syntax Physic Opera
Why: Secret Drum Band is a collaborative project between composers Lisa Schonberg, Allan Wilson and Heather Treadway and a variety of musicians attempting to create textured soundscapes with a quality that mimics aspects of the natural world. Its 2017 debut album Dynamics is like an avant-garde, tribal ritual captured for posterity. Pretty different for people like Wilson who was once in Chk Chk Chk, Treadway who was in Explode into Colors and Sara Lund, former drummer of Unwound. Definitely for fans of the more experimental end of prog like Magma and Faust.

Tuesday | March 27, 2018

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Mobley, photo by KUTX Staff

Who: Dark Rooms w/Mobley
When: Tuesday, 03.27, 7 p.m.
Where: Lost Lake
Why: Dark Rooms and its soul-infused downtempo is noteworthy on its own as is the group’s latest record, 2017’s Distraction Sickness. But Daniel Hart may be better known behind the scenes as a musician who has scored several films for director David Lowery whose 2017 movie A Ghost Story garnered no small amount of critical praise in addition to becoming a bit of a cult movie already since its release. The Dark Rooms song “I Get Overwhelmed” appeared in A Ghost Story so here’s a rare chance to see it live. Also on the bill is Austin-based one-man band Mobley. A filmmaker and multi-media artist in his own right, Mobley plays various instruments throughout his set. Mobley refers to his music as “post-genre pop” meaning he conceptualizes his music in the form of pop but utilizing various sounds and strategies to suit the song. On April 27 his new album, Fresh Lies, Vol. 1 drops and its the beginning of a kind of song cycle that explores the complexities of his relationship with America. Soon we will be publishing an interview with Mobley conducted during Treefort Music Fest where more of the story behind what inspired the new album and forthcoming volumes from this imaginative and thoughtful artist.

Who: A Light Among Many (tour finale), Giardia, Church Fire, Feigning
When: Tuesday, 03.27, 7 p.m.
Where: Mutiny Information Café
Why: A Light Among Many is based out of Lyons, Colorado, a town a little off the beaten path but close enough to bigger cities to have access to a place to perform his brand of constructed environment ambient music. Constructed may be the wrong term as it sounds like stuff Franklin Binder imagined walking in forests and canyons well away from human civilizations, the product of taking in the un-orange-hazed midnight sky, raw emotions flowing free unpenned in by interference from the immediate presence of other humans and their urban constructs. Of course there is the aspect of curation in capturing the recordings and putting them out in a coherent manner but it feels like something primal and coming direct from the psyche. Giardia might cross over into the realm of metal but its 2017 album Structure Fire sounds like some kind of cross between black metal, Frank Zappa and jazzy psychedelia. Church Fire may be a little occult for some people with a name like that, but it’s also one of the most interesting bands today with its vital blend of pop, industrial, noise and performance art minus any pretension.

Treefort Music Fest: 25 Great Independent Bands to See

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Mint Field performs Saturday, March 24, at 6:30 p.m. at Boise All-ages Movement. Photo by Maria Fernanda Molins

Treefort Music Fest kicks off tonight in Boise, Idaho. As usual, the festival offers a broad spectrum of indie music with a well-curated selection of headlining acts. Here are some highlights on each night, although you can’t really go wrong with where you end up for the night. Hopefully this listing can serve as a guide to what are some of the most interesting acts each night that maybe not everyone has heard of without bombarding you with too many options. Hopefully you’ll want to explore those other options as you check out various performances. We will also include a guide to the reunion shows and other must-see/legendary stuff you’ll want to catch should you be so inclined as well as a rundown of all the Colorado acts performing throughout the weekend.

Wednesday | March 21, 2018

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Dick Stusso, photo by Cara Robbins

Preakedness – 7:30 p.m. – Linen Building
Bullets Are The Cure – 8:30 p.m. Grainey’s Basement 
Dick Stusso – 10:15 p.m. – The Olympic
Crosss – 11:30 p.m. – Linen Building
Big White – 12:30 – The Olympic

Thursday | March 22, 2018

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Skating Polly, photo by Angel Ceballos

Sun Blood Stories – 8 p.m. – Neurolux
Alien Boy – 8:15 p.m. – Linen Building
Love-Lace – 9 p.m. – Linen Building
Skating Polly – 10 p.m. – Boise All-Ages Movement Project
Kelly Lee Owens – 12:30 a.m. – Neurolux

Friday | March 23, 2018

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Groggy Bikini, photo by Jason Sievers

208 Ensemble – 4:30 p.m. – Boise Contemporary Theater
Twin Peaks – 5:50 p.m. – Main Stage
Groggy Bikini – 6:30 p.m. – The Shredder
Frigs – 9 p.m. – Linen Building
U.S. Girls – 11 p.m. – Linen Building

Saturday | March 24, 2018

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C.J. Boyd circa 2015, photo by Tom Murphy

Prism Bitch – 5 p.m. – Linen Building
Mint Field – 6:30 p.m. – Boise All Ages Movement Project
Moaning – 7:30 p.m. – Boise All-ages Movement Project
C.J. Boyd – 9:40 p.m. – Boise Contemporary Theater
Thunderpussy – 11:30 p.m. – Hannah’s

Sunday | March 25, 2018

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Clarke and the Himselfs, photo by Ellen Rumel

Yardsss – 4:30 p.m. – Neurolux
Spiritual Warfare and the Greasy Shadows – 5:50 p.m. – Linen Building
Clarke and the Himselfs – 7 p.m. – El Korah Shrine
Aan – 9:30 p.m. – Neurolux
Nnamdi Ogbonnaya – 10:4 p.m. – Neurolux