King Tuff is the creative moniker of Kyle Thomas who has established himself as an artist whose imaginative and eclectic songwriting has evolved over the course of several imaginative albums. His style might be traced to some roots in psychedelic and garage rock but what shines in his recorded output and performances is Thomas’ craft as a storyteller whose lyrics illuminate aspects of American life and culture through the lens of his own experiences and their grounding details. With his latest record Smalltown Stardust, Thomas reflects on the small town life hailing from Brattleboro, Vermont that shaped him and drawing on warm memories to inform a set of songs that sound like an affectionate exploration of how reconnecting with a past one left behind in pursuit of one’s life goals can enrich an appreciation of where you are now and where you’ve been. Beginning to end it’s an album of uncommonly well crafted pop melodies that feel grounding and comforting after a time of some of the greatest chaos and uncertainty for any musician hoping to share their music with a public in living memory. The record is also a celebration of the community and context of Thomas’ musical life and conceived and recorded while his housemantes Meg Duffy (Hand Habits) and Sasami Ashworth (Sasami) were putting together their own extraordinary records of the past couple of years (Fun House from 2021 and Squeeze from 2022 respectively). Some of that spirit creative spirit and good will seems to have intermingled into Smalltown Stardust as well.
Listen to our interview with King Tuff on Bandcamp and follow the artist at the links below. King Tuff performs at Globe Hall on Saturday, March 11, 2022 with Tchotchke and The Savage Blush, doors 8, show 9.
Wednesday | 03.01 What: Vinyl Williams w/Presentable Corpse and Aaron Dooley https://lost-lake.com/event/vinyl-williams-w-presentable-corpse-jorge-elbrecht-aaron-dooley-dj-reed-fox/lost-lake/denver-colorado/ When: 7 Where: Lost Lake Why: Vinyl Williams is the creative moniker of Lionel Williams based out of Los Angeles whose ethereal “celestial pop” is rooted in a multimedia presentation of the music with the artist often bathed in cinematic, psychedelic visual collage. Opening the show is Presentable Corpse whose lineup will include founder, producer and record mixer of choice in a certain subset of the more hip indie music of recent years Jorge Elbrecht along with Jenna Balfe (Donzii), Bobby Amulet, James Barone (Tennis, Tjutjuna, Beach House) for a unique and certainly unusual performance.
Thursday | 03.02 What:White Reaper w/Militarie Gun and Mamalarky When: 6:30 Where: Summit Music Hall Why: Louisville, Kentucky-based garage punk band White Reaper is touring in support of its 2023 album Asking for a Ride. In addition to its more raw sound showcases the band’s knack for pop hooks without quite crossing over into pop-punk and when it does it’s in the manner of pop-punk as it re-emerged in the 2010s with its emphasis on earnest and vulnerable lyrics in its storytelling. Militarie Gun has been making waves in the modern hardcore scene with its own angular post-punk style akin to the kind of band you’d hear on Dischord in the late 80s and 90s. Mamalarky is a psychedelic pop band whose sound is reminiscent of Deerhoof in its more pop moments and with a similar proclivity for intricate yet playful and loose, layered songwriting.
Thursday | 03.02 What: Paul Cherry w/The Mattson 2 and Donzii When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Paul Cherry’s 2022 album Back on the the Music brings a quirky and whimsical energy to songs about finding fulfillment in the endeavors we think should bring them and in this case art and music but with which we often find out there’s a great deal of quixotic endeavors, repetition, disappointments, mundane necessities, social politics and certainly no guarantee of the traditional trappings of success for your efforts regardless of your talent. Cherry across the albums ten tracks finds glimmerings of hope and the core meaningfulness of the creative life in songs that sound like they wouldn’t be out of place on a weird, feel good comedy from the 80s that was allowed to happen despite its unusual and imaginative script. The Mattson 2 are a surprisingly enjoyable example of what happens when two musicians with jazz chops create chill indie rock like they took in a bit of Beach Fossils and Foxygen and created their own kind of summery vibes. The odd band on this bill is Donzii from Miami who released one of the most focused yet danceable No Wave funk post-punk disco deconstructions of the modern social and political landscape with their new album Fishbowl. Last time Donzii came to Denver was 2021 shortly after shows started happening again and turned the back room at Pon Pon into an inspired performance art zone for the duration of its set. Think Lithics, Pylon and Bush Tetras for touchstones but expect something unusual and ferocious.
Friday | 03.03 What:Otoboke Beaver w/Cheap Perfume When: 8 Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Otoboke Beaver from Kyoto, Japan takes cultural references, tropes and frustrations and shreds them and reassembles them in a surrealistic yet cathartic bursts of mutant punk rock fury. That this process is set to hypermanic melodies that are undeniably catchy and even infectious is a testament to their deep resonance with anyone that has had to tangle with the alienation of modern hypercapitalism and the way it warps culture and consciousness unless you make a break with it and turn it in on itself the way Otoboke Beaver has done not just with that particular brand of psychological conditioning but also with the baked in misogyny of Japanese and Western culture. But this band makes it seem fun and revolutionary by virtue of making that critique seem exciting. None more so than on its 2022 album Super Champon. It’ll be in good company with the radical yet immediately relatable subject matter and the energy of Colorado Springs punk band Cheap Perfume who mince no words in their deconstruction and dismantling of sexist tropes.
Friday | 03.03 What: Duck Turnstone album release w/American Culture, Bobby Amulet and Bloodsports When: 7 Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective Why: Duck Turnstone seems to have helped resurrect a 90s indiepop vibe in its songwriting with no apparent connection to that musical world or scene and is celebrating the release of its debut album Duck Tells A Story. Also on the bill are indiepop legends American Culture who lately seem to be exploring far afield of its roots in indiepop and post-punk so who can say what this show will sound like now that Chris Adolf has also been playing with Easy Ease and former lead guitarist Michael Stein had to take a sabbatical. Or has he? You’ll have to go to find out.
Saturday | 03.04 What: Street Fever w/Polly Urethane, Ani Christ and K129 When: 9 Where: Glob Why: Street Fever has been an acclaimed artist for years from Boise, Idaho for his visually arresting performances and inventive industrial dance style that isn’t really much like anyone else. Polly Urethane always brings an unpredictable element to her performances that completely blur the line between performance art, classical music, art pop and noise. Difficult to say what this show will be like at Glob but there will probably be some element of the confrontational or at least breaking the barrier between performer and audience.
Sunday | 03.05 What:Munly & The Lupercalians w/Ryan Wong & His Country Sounds and Voight When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Jaysun Munley is perhaps best known for his membership in Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. But as an advanced practitioner of unusual folk music he has created a rich body of work under his own name and in various projects including that with The Lupercalians, named after an ancient Roman fertility festival. Imagine if The Wicker Man or Kill List were bands but no one had to die, just the drawing on primal, ancient folk imagery that perhaps goes beyond the Americana mythology invoked by the Auto Club. This will be the debut performance of Supreme Joy’s Ryan Wong & His Country Sounds. Voight will probably confuse people with their mashup of noisy shoegaze and techno and the show will be all the better for it.
Tuesday | 03.07 What:PUP & Joyce Manor w/Pool Kids When: 7 Where: Mission Ballroom Why: If you were to pick two bands that really helped put pop-punk back into vogue in the underground but in a way that wasn’t corny but retained all the fun and anthemic music with words that come right from the heart with actual persona insight, PUP and Joyce Manor both really helped to pave that road. PUP’s 2022 album, The Unraveling of PUPTheBand was so self-aware it was almost a try hard gimmick but PUP made the concept work and offered a new vista for bands to creatively work earnestness and self-deprecating humor into songwriting without feeling like a retread of what has already been way beyond done. Joyce Manor’s own 2022 record 40 oz. To Fresno is a succinct modern power pop classic that begins with a cover of O.M.D.’s “Souvenir” and then cuts to the chase with a distilled run of songs that waste no time in delivering with great energy poignant sentiments and incredible economy of songwriting.
Wednesday | 03.08 What:Chiiild w/Isaiah Huron When: 7 Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Yonatan Ayal aka Chiiild is touring in support of his new record Better Luck in the Next Life. Early singles from the record solidify Ayal’s reputation for genre bending pop songcraft. His vocal processing borders on the realm of hyperpop at times but that serves to reinforce a sense of hazy introspection that seems to run through the album. There is a great sense of space one hears in the music like you’re invited into Ayal’s private space to contemplate and feel the moods as gentle percussion and sweeps of textural atmospherics swirl and spare guitar melodies trace the songwriter’s soulful singing.
Saturday | 03.11 What:King Tuff w/Tchotchke and The Savage Blush When: 8 Where: Globe Hall Why: King Tuff is the creaive moniker of Kyle Thomas who has established himself as an artist whose imaginative and eclectic songwriting has evolved over the course of several imaginative albums. His style might be traced to some roots in psychedelic and garage rock but what shines in his recorded output and performances is Thomas’ craft as a storyteller whose lyrics illuminate aspects of American life and culture through the lens of his own experiences and their grounding details. With his latest record Smalltown Stardust, Thomas reflects on the small town life hailing from Brattleboro, Vermont that shaped him and drawing on warm memories to inform a set of songs that sound like an affectionate exploration of how reconnecting with a past one left behind in pursuit of one’s life goals can enrich an appreciation of where you are now and where you’ve been. Beginning to end it’s an album of uncommonly well crafted pop melodies that feel grounding and comforting after a time of some of the greatest chaos and uncertainty for any musician hoping to share their music with a public in living memory. The record is also a celebration of the community and context of Thomas’ musical life and conceived and recorded while his housemantes Meg Duffy (Hand Habits) and Sasami Ashworth (Sasami) were putting together their own extraordinary records of the past couple of years (Fun House from 2021 and Squeeze from 2022 respectively). Some of that spirit creative spirit and good will seems to have intermingled into Smalltown Stardust as well.
Saturday | 03.11 What: Down Time with The Mañanas and Barbara When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Down Time now calls Los Angeles home but the indie pop trio has its origins in Denver where it honed its tender and vulnerable songwriting including the tracks on its 2022 album Spirit. That latest record revealed that the group had developed its electronic component to new heights and lent the songs brewed and recorded during the phase of the pandemic when no one was touring and not many playing actual live shows. So the songs have an uncommonly introspective mood but buoyed by the group’s warmth of expression. The band recorded and produced the album itself but got a mix done by Patrick Riley of Tennis fame. Across the arc of the album it sounds like we’re getting a peak into hopes and dreams that spent some time incubating and set adrift on their own in the subconscious before being reclaimed and re-examined and given musical form and interconnected with beautifully hazy edges.
Sunday | 03.12 What: Show Me The Body w/Jesus Piece, Scowl and ZULU https://www.gothictheatre.com/events/detail/?event_id=453875 When: 7 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: Clearly the big show of the year featuring artists pushing the boundaries of punk. Show Me The Body from NYC through its thorough fusion of noise rock, hardcore and hip-hop production and lyricism has produced a body of work that doesn’t just challenge genre convention but also provides a poignant and insightful critique of society and culture through personal narratives that hit hard even when the band is employing its acoustic side. Philly’s Jesus Piece likewise bucks expectation in its own metalcore-esque sound that threads in hardcore intensity and conviction but there is something so caustic and focused in its bursts of sound that recall artists that blur the line between death metal and grindcore like Napalm Death and Ethan McCarthy’s old band Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire. It’s new album …So Unknown is filled with concise exorcisms of modern angst and anxiety through amplifying those feelings to burn them out. Scowl from Santa Cruz, California sound a little like Betty Blowtorch if that band had come up through hardcore with magnetic frontwoman Kat Moss channeling the music’s aggression. And Zulu the self-styled “soul-infused power violence” band toured with OFF! This past fall and garnered a widening fanbase for its caustic and relentless style of noisy hardcore informed by a decidedly anti-racist messaging and a presentation of the music that challenges hardcore orthodoxy.
Tuesday | 03.14 What: Wallice w/Jawny When: 7 Where: Meow Wolf Convergence Station Perplexiplex Why: Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Wallice began releasing her witty and well-crafted pop songs in 2017 but really caught the attention of a wider audience with her 2020 single “Punching Bag” and its very of the moment sentiments commenting about online culture and dating including the amusing, no budget music video. Since then Wallice has honed her skills in writing solid pop hooks as evidenced by songs like “Hey Michael” and “Off the Rails” and her two EPs thus far (2021’s Off the Rails and 90s American Superstar from 2022). With the release of the heartfelt and tender folk-inflected “Japan” about visiting her father’s hometown in central Japan Wallice revealed that the sensitivity and emotional insight that was at the core of even a fairly sassy diss track like “Hey Michael” could sit with complete vulnerability. A commanding performer, Wallice shares the stage with one of the other stars of modern indie pop, Jawny, whose work with Doja Cat and Beck highlight his eclectic style with roots in hip-hop and R&B as well as psychedelic pop. His new single “fall in love” is much more melancholic than much of his earlier output but the lush soundscape of the song is in keeping with his ear for an immersive approach to songwriting and production.
Tuesday | 03.14 What:The Acacia Strain, Fit For An Autopsy, Full of Hell and Primitive Man When: 6 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: The Acacia Strain has rightfully become one of the most well known of the bands out of death metal that emerged at the beginning of the 2000s with its savage rhythms and caustic vocals. But show up early and catch the some of the heaviest death grind around with Primitive Man and the relentless and chilling drive of Full of Hell’s particular brand of powerviolence.
Tuesday | 03.14 What:Deaf Club w/Only Echoes and Ukko’s Hammer When: 7 Where: Globe Hall Why: Deaf Club is the hyperkinetic, noisy hardcore band fronted by Justin Pearson of The Locust fame. Weirder than the typical hardcore band with a definitely electronic music aesthetic built into its DNA, Deaf Club’s music sounds as unhinged yet as precise as its member’s earlier projects (the aforementioned as well as AcxDC, Weak Flesh and Run With the Hunted etc.). Opening are metallic post-rock juggernauts only Echoes from Denver and hardcore outfit Ukko’s Hammer also from the Mile High.
Friday | 03.17 What:Plack Blague w/Ms. BOAN and Kill You Club DJs When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Plack Blague is the industrial dub/techno noise fetish performance art act from Lincoln, Nebraska that has established itself over the past decade and more as one of the most entertaining and unforgettable acts to have become part of the modern darkwave movement. The now duo has a handful of seven inches and other releases out there but no full album as yet and really the live show is one of the main attractions of the project because it doesn’t fully translate to the purely audio experience. BOAN is another darkwave duo but one whose music is more melodic electronic post-punk dance music. But this show will feature vocalist Mariana Saldaña solo as Ms. BOAN. In 2022 Saldaña guested on Boy Harsher’s song “Machina” from that band’s album and short horror feature The Runner showcasing the singer’s strong vocals and stage presence in a mode reminiscent of electroclash with industrial dance flavor.
Friday | 03.17 What: Weyes Blood w/Vagabon When: 7 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: Depending on where you checked in on the musical development of Natalie Mering you might have heard her early forays into noise and as a bassist for experimental rock band Jackie-O Motherfucker. But these days she’s most rightfully known for her ambitious and orchestral pop music as Weyes Blood. Her 2022 album And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow is the second of a trilogy of albums beginning with Titanic Rising (2019). The arrangements on the album are not the typical stuff and it seems as though Mering has really keyed into a kind of musical narration that yields rich layers and a willingness to experiment with movements within a song and across the album. Its lush production hearkens back to some art pop record of the 70s without being hemmed in by instincts to recreating the past.
Friday and Saturday | 03.17 and 03.18 What: The Magnetic Fields When: 8 Where: Swallow Hill Why: These shows probably should have happened at a larger venue because these performances sold out weeks ago. But the intimate setting of Swallow Hill is probably the best environment to take in Stephin Merritt’s raw vulnerability in the current incarnation of his long running band The Magnetic Fields. This isn’t the band of Get Lost or Distortion, but likely of Quickies on which Merritt stripped things down to a compelling minimum of acoustic guitar and spare electronics and his own highly expressive voice. But maybe you can find a ticket or find one of those egregiously price gouging after market tickets if you didn’t already get one.
Saturday | 03.18 What:Big Dopes, Modern Leisure and Frail Talk When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Big Dopes released its most recent album Destination Wedding in November 2021 and are now finally set to release the vinyl edition of the record at this release show. The group fronted by Eddie Schmid has a knack for telling stories in its songs that put you in a distinct place sonically and emotionally and the aforementioned album in particular has sound elements in the music that convey the impression of physically being in the setting of the lyrics. Modern Leisure hasn’t played shows in awhile and the band that is a vehicle for the songwriting of Casey Banker offers its own emotionally resonant musical insight into modern life.
Saturday | 03.18 What:Underoath w/Periphery and Loathe When: 6 Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Underoath emerged from its early metalcore and screamo period to integrate and evolve those creative impulses to craft a body of work that seems to have culminated in its 2022 album Voyeurist. It has the honestly poignant and feral screaming vocal style and angular guitar progressions and driving percussion that has been part of its core sound since early on. The band also tackles in a more mature and philosophical fashion existential issues and the place of faith in their lives. But there is an imaginative creation of mood and atmosphere and layered songwriting that one doesn’t often hear in heavy music of this ilk and if footage of recent performances are any indicated, delivered with a spirited conviction that is undeniably compelling.
Saturday | 03.18 What: Kimbra w/Tei Shi When: 6 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: Kimbra’s soulful vocals and quietly lush, subtle production has made her one of the more acclaimed songwriters in the more creative, arty end of modern alternative pop. In January 2023 she released her new album A Reckoning and its raw and confessional yet tender lyricism and emotionally expansive presentation. Sharing the bill this night is Tei Shi who releases her new EP Bad Premonition on 3/17/2023. The title track offers an inventive rhythm and production that fans of Goldfrapp and Charli XCX will appreciate for its pure fusion of R&B and an experimental electronic soundscaping.
Sunday | 03.19 What:Orions Belte w/Alex Siegel When: 7 Where: Marquis Theater Why: Norwegian band Orions Belte has been seemingly conjuring unique music for several years that sounds like an impossible but always somehow appealing and flowing blend of psych, indiepop, prog, library music, Bossa Nova, jazz and whatever seems to make this music that sounds like it was recorded high fidelity onto cassette but with the lo-fi aesthetics intact. The group just released a new single called “Silhouettes” that is vintage Orions Belte in that it sounds like it could have come out 50 years ago in the same scene you’d find Os Mutantes or W.I.T.C.H. or today.
Monday | 03.20 What:Laveda, Isadora Eden and Autumnal When: 7 Where: The Skylark Lounge Why: Albany, New York’s dream pop band Laveda is touring in advance of the release of its new album A Place You Grew Up In, the released singles from which hint at an album that is both tender and vulnerable in its lush melodies and melancholic moods but not without pointed commentary. Laveda’s lyrics offer insight about the likely future facing us all and the current social and economic climate that many if not most of us have had to navigate even though it seems obvious the powers that be are steering the world into disaster. It’s an album very much of this moment and crafted with a poignancy and delicacy of feeling that honors the anxiety, pain, disappointment, disillusionment and anger with a rare grace.
Monday | 03.20 What:KEN Mode w/Frail Body, Abrams and Fathers When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: KEN Mode delivered a reliably cathartic set of songs with its new record NULL. Is it “extreme noise rock” or “extreme metal”? Yes, but with its caustic sonic powers used for scorching and purging some of the amplified despair and repressed frustration and desperation underlying the mood in much of the world as governments careen into fascism, an ideology completely inadequate to addressing global climate change, corruption, fiscal malfeasance and income inequality. Joined on the bill by a couple of prominent bands in the realm of extreme metal and noisy hardcore in Abrams and Fathers.
Monday | 03.20 What: PROBLEMS w/Heligoats, Kelly Garlick and Mr. Pacman When: 8 Where: Glob Why: PROBLEMS is experimental electronic and performance art legend Darren Keen whose finely crafted electronic music in a modern techno vein is pared well with his unusual, always entertaining, performance style that challenges the conventions of the format with also being directly relatable. Mr. Pacman will bring the mutant synth pop/rock costumed post-futurist performance that will be a great complement to Keen’s own musical and aesthetic subversion.
Tuesday | 03.21 What:The Church When: 7 Where: Gothic Theatre Why: The Church is the respected Australian rock band whose music falls into multiple categories like New Wave, post-punk, psychedelic rock, dream pop, art and alternative rock. But always on its own creative terms and with a body of work that is both thoughtful and passionate. Even from the beginning The Church’s lyrics have gone beyond rock and roll tropes to offer insight into human relationships and culture in a way that gets to the essence of the human condition resulting in an uncanny ability to reinvent and offer new vistas of songwriting across its entire career including its remarkable 2023 album Hypnogogue. It’s pretty much an evening of The Church but that just means a well orchestrated set of richly emotional music and a performance that establishes and sustains a shared mystique of exploring and feeling the core resonances of living.
Tuesday | 03.21 What:The Residents When: 7 Where: Bluebird Theater Why: The Residents are the long running and beloved art pop band whose membership has long been obscured with elaborate costumes and theatrical stage sets that allow for its always inspired storytelling and social commentary. The group has been noted for its innovations in multimedia live shows and albums as early adopters of new technology and formats in engaging a potential audience. Its latest offering is the Triple Trouble film which will drop via Night Flight’s new platform The Movie Store. The film is the story of Randall “Junior” Rose who becomes to believe that a fungus is a threat to the human race and in typical conspiracy theory fashion, heads to the realms of the unhinged. Perhaps some of the music for the film will be performed on this night.
Tuesday | 03.21 What:¿Téo? Sol & Luna Tour w/Maesu When: 7 Where: Larimer Lounge Why: ¿Téo? Is an LA-based songwriter who spent a stretch of 2022 opening for Justin Bieber. But his lushly imaginative production and soulful vocals sound like a new incarnation of neo soul. The lead singles from his forthcoming album Luna, the companion tot he 2021 record Sol and as the name of the tour indicates, the set list will likely comprise choice selections from each record. A fusion of reggaeton, hip-hop and one might even point to the aesthetics of chillwave, ¿Téo?’s warmly intimate songs will probably find a larger audience in the near future so catch him at a small club if it sounds like it’s your thing.
Wednesday | 03.22 What: Kiss the Tiger w/Blankslate and Dead Boyfriend When: 8 Where: The Squire Lounge Why: Kiss the Tiger is a rock band from Minneapolis whose sound draws on some Americana flavor but fueled by a driven energy channeled ably by singer Meghan Kreidler. Though its vibe is very much of the present time its songwriting is reminiscent of some of the better early 80s power pop New Wave bands like The Plimsouls with a gritty soulfulness and a scrappy spirit that lends the music an upbeat immediacy. Denver’s Blankslate is likeminded in sound with its own core of confessional, moody pop. Dead Boyfriend’s recently released album battle of carthage is a concept album about licing in a New York village as a fourteen-year-old young person navigating and exploring a sense of self and of identity. Musically it’s like a true mashup of dream pop, emo and whatever confessionally poetic and insightful post-folk pop songcraft Elliott Smith was getting up to in his late 90s development as a songwriter.
Wednesday | 03.22 What: Disco Doom w/Taleen Kali and Pleasure Prince https://www.skylarklounge.com/schedule/disco-doomtaleen-kalipleasure-prince When: 7 Where: The Skylark Lounge Why: Disco Doom is an avant-garde post-punk band from Zurich, Switzerland whose left field rhythms and off melodic tones and extensive experiments in texture are like a fusion of Sonic Youth and Pavement but somehow noisier and weirder. Its recent album Mt. Surreal is like the mutant offspring of musique concrète and noise rock. Taleen Kali with its newest album Flower of Life is an example of where shoegaze could have gone had it taken more the route of Medicine and Curve with soulful melodies and a more bold use of rhythm and more crisp songwriting. Pleasure Prince is a Denver band whose exquisite synth work and vocal melodies sit at a gorgeous nexus of jazz, IDM, dream pop and R&B.
Friday | 03.24 What: Palehorse/Palerider w/Git Some, Ghosts of Glaciers and Despair Jordan When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Palehorse/Palerider returns with its new lineup after the tragic passing of founding drummer Nate Marcy in 2021. The tribal doomgaze group recently reissued its 2017 album Burial Songs and its vast, sweeping soundscapes capturing the stark beauty of the desert and high plains of the western United States and its pockets of ghost towns. Sludge rock legends Git Some reconvened in 2022 to play shows with These Arms Are Snakes and now on a short run of gigs in Colorado including this night, 3.25 at Six-Two in Colorado Springs (also with Palehorse/Palerider) and an early evening show at Mutiny Information Café on 3.26.
Friday | 03.24 What:Solar Fake w/Voight, eHpH and DJ Nitrogen When: 8 Where: HQ Why: Berlin’s Solar Fake is one of the few futurepop bands of recent years that doesn’t sound like a pale imitation of Covenant, VNV Nation and Assemblage 23. Its 2021 album Enjoy Dystopia is more like a solid synthpop record with an electronic industrial sound palette and an upbeat if melancholic take on modern existential dread. Denver’s eHpH (pronounced “eff”) is similarly rooted in classic EBM but its presentation is more confrontational and even punk though its production is enveloping and expertly rendered. Voight might be the only band bringing guitars to execute its own shoegaze-inflected industrial darkwave akin to acts like A Place to Bury Strangers and The Soft Moon in terms of aesthetic and emotional intensity.
Friday | 03.24 What:SORROWS w/Lanx Borealis and Baby Baby When: 7 Where: Enigma Bazaar Why: SORROWS is the latest project from vocalist Glynnis Braan and drummer Lawrence Snell. Both are talented producers of electronic music in their own right and this band’s downtempo, sultry, nearly operatic music is like a modern update on trip-hop. Lanx Borealis is an ambient artist from Denver whose ethereal compositions demonstrate the influence of the more tranquil Krautrock and progressive New Age music. Baby Baby is Lily Conrad’s electronic-based indiepop band that fans of The Blow may enjoy.
Monday | 03.27 What:John Mellencamp When: 7 Where: Ellie Caulkins Opera House Why: Few artists of the stature of John Mellencamp are touring 76 dates but that’s what Mellencamp is doing now. The songwriter’s rock and pop hits of the 80s and 90s are part of the canon of American music culture beginning really with his sixth album, 1982’s American Fool and radio hits “Hurts So Good” and “Jack & Diane.” For his entire career Mellencamp has offered a poignant and poetic portrait into everyday life in a way relatable to most people with a particularly keen insight into working class life in a way that resonates broadly and garnering him prestigious acclaim like the John Steinbeck Award, The Woody Guthrie Award and the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Nevertheless Mellencamp has continued to be a prolific songwriter and visual artist. Expect the artist’s typically engaging and witty performance in a venue that feels like getting to see a show in a large, particularly well-appointed high school recital hall, lending any concert there a touch of intimacy not present over other rooms in town of comparable size.
Monday | 03.27 What:HIDE w/HARPY and BENT (updated HARPY had to cancel and 00.AUR is now performing) When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: HIDE is an industrial noise duo from Chicago whose sample-based compositions offer a harrowing and cathartic commentary on the identities imposed by traditional culture, misogyny, environmental destruction and a sonic expression of liberation from oppression from without and internalized and imposed from within. All of its albums are a fascinating exploration of these themes and others but 2021’s Interior Terror decidedly goes off the map of conventional songwriting style or structure (not that HIDE every really made many concessions to that kind of accessibility) and going for the rhythms and frequencies in establishing a powerful, confrontational mood. Seems as though Providence, Rhode Island’s HARPY is having to cancel this date due to COVID but fans of industrial drone and, frankly, HIDE, should check out the band’s music on Bandcamp. BENT is a like-minded project from Colorado Springs that fuses harrowing industrial noise with glitch and breakcore.
Monday | 03.27 What: Airiel w/Wave Decay and Shadows Tranquil When: 7 Where: The Skylark Lounge Why: Airiel is a long-running shoegaze band from Chicago that’s been popular among connoisseurs of the genre despite the band not having a copious, readily available recorded output. Its particular flavor of the music incorporates electronic sounds and musical sensibilities giving its songs an especially tonally rich and immersive quality. Sharing the stage are two of the best Denver shoegaze practitioners with the more Krautrock-inflected Wave Decay and the darker moodier yet uplifting soundscapes of Shadows Tranquil.
Tuesday | 03.28 What:Protomartyr w/Immortal Nightbody When: 7 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Detroit post-punk band has been on quite a trajectory since forming in 2010. When the group first played in Denver at a basement show in 2014 and similar situations on that early national tour it had garnered some critical acclaim for its then new album Under Color of Official Right on Hardly Art. But it quickly garnered high profile fans like Iggy Pop, Greg Dulli, David Bazan and Kelley Deal (who joined Protomartyr for a 2020 tour) for its stream of consciousness lyrics, its highly evocative and dramatic blend of introspective moods and gritty dynamism combining garage rock roots with artier ambitions. As well as its live shows that seem to teeter on the edge of coming off the rails in a loosely controlled release of tension in cathartic bursts. On June 2, 2023 the band will release its new album Formal Growth in the Desert on Domino.
Tuesday | 03.28 What:Morbid Angel w/Revocation, Skeletal Remains and Crypta When: 6 Where: The Oriental Theater Why: Morbid Angel is one of the foundational bands of death metal having formed in 1983 as more of a thrash band. But by the time of its highly influential 1989 debut album Altars of Madness. The record admittedly offered themes of supernatural horror that one heard in the darker corners of extreme metal of the time and since but its threading together of fast and brutal guitar rhythms and leads in a fashion taking what Slayer, Celtic Frost and Venom had already done and pushing that in an even more extreme direction along with truly sepulchral vocals became a template for much of death metal and perhaps black metal since.
Wednesday | 03.29 What:Sell Farm, Sky Creature, French Kettle Station and Pink Lady Monster When: 7 Where: Globe Hall Why: Sell Farm has been exploring an unusual but fascinating creative trajectory for the past few years seeming to create an unlikely combination of indiepop, dub and industrial music. New York City’s Sky Creature is an eclectic fusion of punk energy, dream pop and art rock. French Kettle Station has often defied easy categorization but might be loosely be considered to make music expanding beyond a brilliant nexus of dub, glitchcore, New Age music and ambient. Pink Lady Monster might once have been considered a “dream pop” band and there are elements of that there but the trio and maybe quartet at this point has moved more into the realm of post-psychedelic rock free jazz prog while having become one of Denver’s best bands not yet widely acknowledged as such.
Wednesday and Thursday | 03.29 and 03.30 What: Hermanos Gutiérrez When: 7 Where: Washingon’s (03.29) and Boulder Theater (03.30) Why: Hermanos Gutiérrez, as the name suggests, is brothers Alejandro and Estevan Gutiérrez who have an Ecuadorian mother and Swiss father. With frequent trips to Playas, Ecuador growing up the brothers absorbed the culture and music of both family backgrounds. The duo formed its current project in 2015 in a jam session that apparently created an evocative sound that had roots in surf rock and Latin musical styles. By 2020 a sound more akin to Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack work became an element of the band’s style expanding its emotional or at least tonal range and lending its already compelling instrumental music even more nuance and emotional shading. The brothers Gutiérrez seem to play as one instrument with their various elements on guitar and percussion in perfect sync and working toward telling introspective and thoughtful stories without lyrics and operating on pure mood and the poetry of their shared expression through sound. Hermanos Gutiérrez toured in Fall 2022 in support of its then new album El Bueno y el Malo produced by Dan Auerbach for his label Easy Eye Sound and for this tour one can expect a reprise of that set of music for the shows at Washington’s in Fort Collins and Boulder Theater.
Friday | 03.31 What:Muscle Beach, Endless Nameless and Limbwrecker When: 8 Where: Hi-Dive Why: Endless Nameless released its debut album Living Without via Silent Pendulum Records on March 24, 2023. The Denver-based band has been establishing its reputation for a uniquely creative sound that is math rock, emo, progressive metal and punk and for its cathartically energetic live shows that feel like an extended flow of enthusiasm and emotional upswing. Sharing the bill this night are hybrid hardcore-extreme metal legends Muscle Beach and grind/hardcore/thrash group Limbwrecker.
Friday | 03.31 What:N3PTUNE w/Rusty Steve, Neon the Bishop and Cain Culto When: 7 Where: Bluebird Theater Why: N3PTUNE has against the odds turned his inspired R&B, glam rock, futuristic funk and dream pop inclinations into a band that seems unbound by narrow genres. The live show is theatrical, dramatic and powerful in a way that one doesn’t often see in local music like the offspring of Prince and David Bowie.
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