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.
The intricate guitar work of Paul Spring’s “Beetle on a Blade” fits well with the delicate flute work and the brisk pace of the track. The simple rhythm and percussion feels like the kind of pace one might count out for a campfire song if that campfire crowd included Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The song also has a quality that sounds like something one might expect to hear on a soundtrack to a movie about a medieval minstrel or troubadour. The lyrics seem to be a meditation on the nature of life cycles and cosmological time and how they intersect and influence each other as well as the precious fragility of existence as made poetically real to one by little details that strike one in moments when you have the time to consider deeper meanings beyond surface level experiences. As acoustic and organic as the music sounds its interesting to note that the pulsing beat is likely generated by an 808 rather than a traditional drum suggesting that the mathematical backdrop to the structure of the universe as we experience it interconnects the rhythms of music and the frequency of existence itself. Listen to “Beetle on a Blade” on YouTube and connect with Spring, collaborator with Mary Lattimore, Blackthought, Sasami and Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes as well as serving as lead singer of Holy Hive, at the links below. Spring’s album Thunderhead of which “Beetle on a Blade” released on December 16, 2022.
What:Baroness When: 7 p.m. Where: Globe Hall Why: Savannah, Georgia’s Baroness never got to tour behind its 2019 album Gold & Grey for the reasons most bands didn’t do a lot of touring in 2020 and a good chunk of 2021. But now the group with new guitarist Gina Gleason will get a chance to perform older favorites as well as material from the aforementioned album showcasing a seemingly different approach to songwriting different from the brash, bombastic and playful style of previous records. John Baizley’s vocals still soar with great expressive control but the music seems more tied in with the rhythms and beautiful minor chord progressions so that when the songs engage into expansive choruses they always seem to resolve in ways that feel like the group decided to push themselves to say something different and worthwhile with each song. It’s frankly their best album and it would be simply lazy and clumsy to merely refer to this era of Baroness as sludge metal.
Friday | 04.01 What:Brandon Wald (owner of Black Ring Ritual Records out of ND), Viator, Many Blessings, Maltreatment, Tripp Nasty and MPW When: 7:30 p.m. Where: Mutiny Information Café Why: There aren’t too many noise shows or places to see noise in Denver these days meaning a form of music/sound art is hard to come by in the live setting where it is best experienced. But this show will include local stars like Many Blessings aka Ethan McCarthy of Primitive Man doing his harsh industrial noise project and Tripp Nasty whose body of work is so diverse and broad that some of it is in the realm of noise so who knows how that will manifest for this show so just best to go if you’re so inclined. Brandon Wald runs Black Ring Ritual Records, home to some of the more prime noise records and tapes of the last several years and his own noise is part power electronics, abstract industrial, harsh ambient and musique concrète.
Friday | 04.01 What:The Blue Rider w/Cleaner and Wes Watkins When: 8 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive Why: Psychedelic garage rock band The Blue Rider hasn’t been playing much in recent years since Mark Shusterman has been busy playing in Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. So catch the always surprisingly powerful and brain expanding show with Wes Watkins who has been involved in a variety of projects over the years like Wheel Chair Sports Camp and the aforementioned Night Sweats. But his own music betwixt jazz, R&B and funk is worthwhile in its own right.
Friday and Saturday | 04.01 and 04.02 What: The Goddamn Gallows & Scott H. Biram w/JD Pinkus When: 8 p.m. both nights Where:Larimer Lounge (04.01) and Swing Station (Laporte, CO on 04.02) Why: The Goddamn Gallows sound like something you’d get if you mixed a scuzzy punk band, some murder ballad honky tonk and Black Sabbath. Scott H. Biram plays solo and while many men of his ethnic persuasion have abused the blues and country in ways largely boring and unforgiveable, Biram’s songwriting is so strong, diverse and sincere yet poetic he’ll make you forget those other guys that served as a blight in blues clubs for decades. JD Pinkus is indeed the bass player of Butthole Surfers and member of Honky. But this tour showcases his fragmented, haunted psychedelic country material. His 2021 album Fungus Shui is the peak of that aesthetic as crafted by Pinkus thus far.
Monday | 04.04 What: Spiritualized When: 7 p.m. Where: Ogden Theatre Why: With the 2022 album Everything Was Beautiful expected out on April 22, 2022, Jason Pierce finds yet another way to blend freaky, spooky yet warmly engaging folk with space rock in ways transporting and transcendent. The roller coaster dynamic of late 90s music has long since given way to lush orchestral builds that flow in unpredictable yet satisfying directions so that listening to the album gets your brain to go down a different path than previous records from Pierce. With any luck the live show will reflect this bright aspects of this album without losing the dark cool that has made the songwriter’s material so fascinating since his early days with Spacemen 3.
Tuesday | 04.05 What:SASAMI w/Jigsaw Youth When: 7 p.m. Where: Larimer Lounge Why:Squeeze, the 2022 album from SASAMI, is definitely a departure from the songwriter’s 2019 self-titled debut. Whereas there was a deeply chill energy to the downtempo aspect of that album, there is a more distorted and visceral quality to Squeeze that seems like a mirror image of the wonderfully ethereal quality of that first record. This might seem like too wide a stylistic swing, Sasami Ashworth has had a very eclectic career playing in Cherry Glazerr and contributing to albums by artists as widely different as Vagabon and Wild Nothing. Ashworth explores metallic sounds and much more aggressive song dynamics this time around while pushing the boundaries of her knack for pop songcraft with songs that sound sometimes metal, sometimes industrial, sometimes grunge and all made accessible. Fans of the broad spectrum of St. Vincent’s catalog would appreciate what SASAMI has been doing the past few years and beyond.
Tuesday | 04.05 What:girl in red w/Holly Humberstone When: 7 p.m. Where: Gothic Theatre Why: girl in red is the performance moniker of Marie Ulven Ringheim whose guitar pop has garnered critical acclaim beyond her home country of Norway. Her 2021 debut album if i could make it go quiet found the songwriter expanding beyond the bedroom pop compositions and recordings that brought her to prominence and it charts her struggles with the various ways in which one’s mind can sabotage your life. In addressing these personal demons in such a direct, honest and relatable way with such luminously warm melodies Ringheim doesn’t insult herself or the listener by suggesting something as trite as it’s all going to work out. Her depictions of the head spaces in which you can get stuck seem so vivid and immediate that they seem like something you can overcome or at least survive and dare to want more for yourself and reach for it than you seem to think is possible when you’re in the depths of your own personal hell.
Tuesday | 04.05 What:Hiatus Kaiyote When: 7 p.m. Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Melbourne, Australia’s Hiatus Kaiyote is refreshingly difficult to pin down without sounding like they’re trying too many things. Their unique style of soul and R&B is so idiosyncratic it sounds like the kind of band J. Dilla would have wanted to have started or at least produced because the avant-garde jazz flourishes in the songwriting almost sound like well-produced samples. Its 2021 album Mood Valient is the group’s most coherent offering to date and its organic and evolving rhythms so fresh and unusual it sounds like an improv session developed until the rhythms are tight but never stale.
Wednesday | 04.06 What: Charli XCX w/Baby Tate When: 06:30 p.m. Where: Ogden Theatre Why: This show should probably be at a bigger venue but hey you get a chance to see Baby Tate before word gets out that her sex positive songs aren’t all production in the studio and in music videos. Sure, her mom is Dionne Farris who hopefully most people remember from her time in Arrested Development before branching out into a popular music career under her own name. But Baby Tate’s confidence isn’t just swagger, regardless of subject matter and word choice there is a deft and creative wordplay that syncs her words with the always imaginative beats with a fine ear for the use of bass that one doesn’t hear in enough hip-hop these days. Fans of Kari Faux should probably give Baby Tate a listen. And of course headlining is Charli XCX who is touring in support of her 2022 album Crash. Whether the record is the end of a chapter in the pop star’s career or hinting at a more experimental future direction, the singer sounds as confident as ever and the eclectic influences are on display so that beyond the typically strong vocals the driving bass of post-punk and the expert electronic dance music production allows for all elements to flow freely together in a way divergent from the hyperpop aesthetic of earlier offerings. Of all the pop songwriters in the mainstream, Charli XCX has long been one of the more consistently inventive and fascinating whose lyrics also hit as poignant and poetic.
Thursday | 04.07 What:CELE Presents: Chihei Hatakeyama w/Carl Ritger and Wind Tide When: 7-11 p.m. Where: 860 Vallejo St. (Denver) Why: Chihei Katakeyama is an ambient/experimental electronic/drone artist from Tokyo, Japan whose work has found a home on Kranky but lately largely out of his own White Paddy Mountain imprint which showcases other artists that operate in similar realms of composition and sound design. Carl Ritger has been producing prepared environmental sound experiences under his own name and as Radere and a fixture of Denver’s ambient music scene for more than a decade. Wind Tide is presumably the musique concrète/ambient artist from Littlefield, Texas whose use of field recordings and processed noise captures the essence of the background sounds of civilization that often go ignored unless brought explicitly to your attention though not often as creatively as Wind Tide has done in an extensive Bandcamp catalog.
Thursday and Friday | 04.07 and 04.08 What: Jawbreaker w/Descendents, Face To Face and Samiam When: 6 p.m. Where: Fillmore Auditorium Why: Between 1986 and its break-up in 1996, Jawbreaker helped to shape the aesthetics and sound of what became pop punk and emo during that time and going forward. With albums like 1994’s influential 24 Hour Revenge Therapy and Dear You from 1995, which the group celebrates with this tour, Jawbreaker brought an existential self-examination to the lyrics and a creativity to the dynamics and textures of its songs that transcended the genres it helped to define. The trio has been back together since 2017 with a documentary about the band Don’t Break Down: A Film About Jawbreaker releasing that same year. Listening back to its old albums the fingerprints of that music is clearly evident on a large swath of punk-oriented music of the past 25 years. Also on this bill are pioneering pop punk band The Descendents whose own anthemic songs likely proved an inspiration for Jawbreaker and both Face to Face and Samiam also sharing the stage this night.
Saturday | 04.09 What:Sarah Shook & The Disarmers w/Lillian When: 8 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive Why: Sarah Shook could have had a perfectly fine and successful career sticking to the modern country sound of their excellent first two records Sidelong and Years. Shook’s expressive vocals and finely crafted songs have always been informed by a thoughtful sensitivity with some grit underlying the delivery. The new album, 2022’s Nightroamer, produced by Dwight Yoakam collaborator Peter Anderson, has touches of effects on Shook’s voice which might strike some longtime fans as odd but overall those sonic details and a more expansive quality to the sound in general on the album feels like it opened up the singer’s songwriting a bit and lends it a quality that sounds more full and the musical equivalent of a color photo versus a black and white. Both have their appeal but more hues in emotion are emphasized. Lillian is a Denver-based singer-songwriter whose luminous songs in an Americana vein are difficult to pigeonhole. Her new album Chasing Shadows will be released at a show at The Skylark Lounge Bobcat Club on April 21.
Saturday | 04.09 What:Abandons, Brother Saturn, Equine and Denizens of the Deep When: 7 p.m. Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective Why: Brother Saturn will celebrate the release of his latest album Dreams of Sand at this show. As per usual, ethereal soundscapes that are both subtle and transporting and fans of the Hearts of Space program will find a lot to like with his material in general. Abandons is a heavier post-rock band. Denizens of the Deep also produces ambient/noise/modern classical music in a variety of modes but the latest album End Times is a good deal of distorted synth drone over mournful, melancholic compositions and moody piano. Equine is avant-garde prog informed by modal jazz and cosmic mathematics.
Saturday | 04.09 What:Fern Roberts, Vampire Squids From Hell and Mossgatherers When: 8-11 p.m. Where: Enigma Bazaar Why: Fern Roberts is a band that isn’t easy to classify and its latest album I’ll Do It Again Tomorrow occupies a musical space between late 80s Talk Talk, Animal Collective and Beach Fossils. Vampire Squids From Hell are an instrumental, psychedelic surf rock band.
Sunday | 04.10 What:Ministry w/Melvins and Corrosion of Conformity When: 6 p.m. Where: Mission Ballroom Why: For this tour Ministry is mainly tapping into its songs from Psalm 69 and earlier and even playing”Supernaut” which leader Al Jourgensen covered for an EP by his side project 1000 Homo DJs. So maybe some other early material is in store for the rest of the tour as well. Corrosion of Conformity wasn’t explicitly a crossover band but one whose hardcore bridged the worlds of punk and thrash almost from the beginning. And of course Melvins are always a reliably entertaining live act that has pushed its own envelope since its early days in the 80s when it inspired a great swath of the grunge scene including guitarist/vocalist Buzz Osbourne teaching Kurt Cobain to play guitar and drummer Dale Crover having been a member of Nirvana for a time in the early days. The trio’s impact on modern rock music is often underrated but indelible. In 2021 Melvins released two albums, Working with God, a record more in line with its always compelling noise rock, and Five Legged Dog, an acoustic album. You never have to worry about a rote Melvins show so get there early and see one of the truly great bands of the last 40 years in a place that sounds as great as Mission Ballroom.
Monday | 04.11 What:Girl Talk w/Hugh Augustine When: 7 p.m. Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Gregg Gillis as Girl Talk took the mashup to new levels in the 2000s as a DJ who, inspired by 90s IDM, alternative artists and noise, created surprisingly unique blends of sounds, rhythms and musical concepts. In 2022 Girl Talk released a collaborative album with Wiz Khalifa, Big K.R.I.T. And Smoke DZA called Full Court Press in which Gillis was able to use his production expertise to weave together the contributions of three hip-hop artists not short on personality and idiosyncratic styles. The album represents Gillis’ first full record since 2010’s All Day but also one of the higher points of an already interesting and genre bending career.
Tuesday | 04.12 What: Bootblacks w/Plague Garden and DJ Kilgore When: 7 p.m. Where: HQ Why: Bootblacks started in New York City in 2010 around the early stage of the current wave of darkwave and post-punk. Its intricate rhythms and brooding atmospherics sync well with what feels like a visceral intensity, especially live, that brings an urgency and forcefulness to the music that is missing from the music of some later bands tapping into similar sources of inspiration. Bootblacks didn’t get to tour on its 2020 album Thin Skies for reasons with which we’re all too entirely familiar so this tour will find the band able to give the material its proper presentation. Fans of Chameleons will appreciate Bootblacks dusky take on dreamlike, observational nightlife anthems. Plague Garden is a similarly-minded post-punk band from Denver with roots in punk and EBM.
Tuesday | 04.12 What:Brian Jonestown Massacre w/Mercury Rev When: 7 p.m. Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Brian Jonestown Massacre and Mercury Rev started around the same time around the beginning of the 90s on opposite sides of the country. But both incorporated elements of folk, psychedelic rock and experimental soundscaping into their respective mix of sounds. BJM became an influential band in the American and international underground with a fiercely DIY spirit that went from making records to touring and promoting its music. Singer Anton Newcombe’s thoughtful and poetic lyrics and ever evolving songwriting injected the expansive and imaginative spirit of late 60s psychedelic rock and art rock into a the zeitgeist of the often anemic late-90s post-alternative rock musical landscape and culture with ample personality and unpredictable live shows, some going sideways, mostly striking a chord with disaffected creative people wherever the band toured. Since that time Newcombe has tried his hand at a variety of musical styles while maintaining a subversive and forward thinking creative vision channeled into prolific output. In late spring we can expect to see the release of the new BJM record Fire Doesn’t Grow On Trees and its the result of Newcombe’s active experiments in composition and production over the past few years in his Berlin studio. Of course live the group is reliably vital. Mercury Rev from upstate New York was started by former Flaming Lips guitarist Jonathan Donohue and with longtime guitarist Grasshopper, Mercury Rev too has been on a creative arc that has taken them to fascinating places from early, warped psychedelia and space rock to the deeply affecting dream pop of breakthrough album Deserter’s Songs (1998) and explorations of personal mythology and the ways our inner lives manifest in how we make sense of the world on every album since. Live, Mercury Rev is transcendent, inspirational and just the thing you need to fill up after a long time being hollowed out by the less fun aspects of life.
Tuesday | 04.12 What:Bill Frisell Trio When: 6 p.m. Where: MCA Denver’s Holiday Theater Why: Bill Frisell is one of the great living jazz guitarists. From Baltimore, Frisell spent many of his formative years in Denver and Colorado as a graduate of East High School. Going to Berklee took him back to the east coast and he was a studio musician for the prestigious jazz label ECM and when he was living in Hoboken, New Jersey he became a fixture in the NYC jazz scene where he came to collaborate with multiple luminaries of the era including John Zorn, going on to become a member of Naked City, the wildly experimental jazz band. By the late 80s Frisell had relocated to Seattle and continued his already noteworthy solo career but also continuing to collaborate with the likes of Ryuichi Sakamoto and on film and television scores. Frisell maintains his connections to the Denver avant-garde and occasionally plays locally including this rare chance to see his trio at the MCA Denver’s Holiday Theater.
Friday | 04.15 What:The Velveteers w/Dry Ice and Rose Variety When: 7 p.m. Where: Fox Theatre Why: The Velveteers released its most recent album Nightmare Daydream in 2021 and demonstrated a great leap forward in terms of songwriting for anyone that hadn’t been keeping up with the band in its live performances. Produced by Dan Auerbach of Black Keys fame, Nightmare Daydream is a blues rock record informed by imaginative songwriting with lyrics that reveal an astute assessment of relationships, the social scene around the world of music and the nuances of human psychology but channeled into bombastic songs that in the live setting have proven to be forceful and captivating. Anyone that saw the Gothic Theatre album release show got to witness a band in full command of its powers with a fiery performance that felt like you were getting to see a famous rock band on the verge of reaching a far wider audience. With upcoming dates with Rival Sons and Greta Van Fleet it’s likely the trio’s star will be rising so catch The Velveteers for a hometown show at The Fox Theatre before it breaks through to a mainstream audience.
Friday | 04.15 What:Mogwai w/Nina Nastasia When: 7:30 p.m. Where: Gothic Theatre Why: Scottish post-rock band Mogwai has consistently delivered cinematic guitar music across the breadth of its career going back nearly three decades. But even at that its 2021 album As the Love Continues comes as a bit of a surprise as it includes even more evocative vocals in no way buried in the mix as well as those more processed and a finely nuanced soundscaping with electronic elements and rock instrumentation working in perfect sync to at times remind one of a Wendy Carlos composition (i.e. “Fuck Off Money”). There are no mediocre Mogwai albums but it is one that goes to wider vistas musical vistas than to which the band has traveled in some time.
Saturday | 04.16 What:Actors w/Scifidelic, Weathered Statues and DJ Sin When: 7 p.m. Where: HQ Why: Canadian post-punk band Actors have been crafting New Wave-inflected darkwave for around a decade now and its 2021 album Acts of Worship sounds like a dance club soundtrack from a forgotten, 1980’s transcendental science fiction movie. Like maybe if the club Tech Noir from The Terminator got its own movie after being re-opened in 2020. The album’s echoing guitar riffs, melodically brooding vocals, hazy synth lines accented with crystalline tones are reminiscent of early 80s Human League had the league fully incorporated guitars and taken some inspiration from Fad Gadget. And the warping, upbeat, melancholic melodies of songs like “Killing Time (Is Over)” is thoroughly captivating with its unconventional dynamics like something you’d hear on an early Brian Eno “solo” album.
Saturday | 04.16 What: Calm./Time w/Wilt to Live and Lucy Freedom at Mutiny Information Café 8 p.m. When: 7 p.m. Where: HQ Why: Calm./Time is one of the great hip-hop projects of Denver music with sharp, political lyrics infused with an incisive and playful sense of humor. With some of the most creative beats steeped in not only classic alternative hip-hop but experimental music and art pop, Calm. (comprised of rapper Time and producer Awareness) always seems to make high concept social commentary accessible and engaging.
Saturday | 04.16 What: Pile (Rick Maguire solo) When: 7 p.m. Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective Why: From the Facebook event page because I can’t do better: “While the band is known for its dynamic and bombastic live performances, Maguire recontextualizes the material by performing on his own, something he has continued to do throughout the project’s history. 2021 saw documentation of this aspect of Pile in Songs Known Together, Alone, a solo re-imagining of 15 songs across Pile’s catalog.”
Sunday | 04.17 What:Snail Mail w/Joy Again When: 7 p.m. Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Lindsey Jordan seems to have packed more than a lifetime of heartbreak and pain into her 2021 Snail Mail album Valentine. The title track alone so vividly captures what it feels like to be in the worst throes of a bad breakup and is kind of an inverted Valentine expressing feelings of love and affection that have no direction because of the split and how that can churn inside you leaving you in agonized confusion. Which is a tricky feeling to get across. “Ben Franklin” is apparently about Jordan’s time in a rehab facility, a place for which there all sorts of reasons to end up in for a time, and in the music video for the song she moves about with an energetic playfulness the way many people do with words and actions until they’re ready to have the breakthroughs that are necessary to move on. But the whole record is a brilliantly poetic pop exploration of the various phases of being in some of life’s lowest places set to lush arrangements and inventive guitar compositions that are reminiscent of the more interesting late 90s emo bands that blurred genre lines like Rainer Maria and Milemarker except that Jordan’s sounds reflect the gentleness better suited to expressing wounded feelings and lingering hurt. And yet there is a sense that these songs helped Jordan to crawl through the most vivid memories of their inspirations.
Sunday | 04.17 What:Radolescents w/The Haji, Noogy and Egoista– canceled When: 7 p.m. Where: HQ Why: Radolescents is Rikk Agnew and Casey Royer of the Adolescents along with original Adolescents guitarist Frank Agnew’s son Frank Agnew Jr on vocals, Dan O’Donovan on guitar and Dan Colburn on bass performing the Adolescents’ 1981 self-titled record aka The Blue Album in its entirety. Rikk Agnew has been responsible for some of the most inventive and memorable guitar tones out of punk rock including his performance on the 1982 deathrock classic Only Theatre of Pain while a member of Christian Death. Live performance video out there for this lineup has been pretty solid so here’s a chance to see one of the most iconic bands out of punk of the last 40+ years.
Sunday | 04.17 What: mssv aka Main Steam Stop Valve (Mike Bagg, Stephen Hodges and Mike Watt) When: 9 p.m. Where: Lion’s Lair Why: mssv has quite a pedigree including obvious master bass player Mike Watt of Minutemen, fIREHOSE and Stooges fame but also Stephen Hodges who played drums on Tom Waits records like Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs and Mule Variations. He also played on various soundtracks including those for Until the end of the World and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. No big deal. But with Mike Bagg whose own performance resume is respective for his work with distinguished jazz artists and avant-garde musicians like Nels Cline. Together they make what might be described as a mutant type of free jazz and surf rock.
Monday | 04.18 What: Sleep w/Superwolves (Matthew Sweeney and Bonnie Prince Billy) When: 7 p.m. Where: Mission Ballroom Why: The right people are going to appreciate this strange folk and blues band Superwolves comprised of Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Chavez guitarist/singer Matthew Sweeney opening for psychedelic sludgerocks’s heaviest of the heavy, Sleep. Some people are going to be so put off and angry that will be amusing on its own. Too bad for those people though because two great bands on one bill with this stylistic swing should happen more often. Will Oldham (Bonnie “Prince” Billy) has influenced a generation of musician though his various bands over the years and his solo records as well for inventive and intricate guitar work and heartfelt, tender, poetic and witty lyrics and Sleep has perhaps more than any other single band outside of Black Sabbath spawned the doom metal genre as we know it but few have equaled their sonic grandeur and imaginative songwriting.
Monday and Tuesday | 04.18 and 04.19 What:The Airborne Toxic Event w/Mondo Cozmo — Rescheduled, date TBD When: 7 p.m. Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Joshua Ostrander aka Mondo Cozmo made a name for himself as the frontman for Laguardia in the the first half of the 2000s and then for a decade as the lead singer for Eastern Conference Champions. But since 2015 he has been recording and performing under the Mondo Cozmo moniker and crafting heartfelt and genre eclectic music. His new album, 2022’s This Is For The Barbarians takes Ostrander deep into his roots in rebellious folk artists like Bob Dylan and his more experimental electronic interests at the same time. The album is like a Radiohead album but more informed by folk and more overtly pop but with the appropriately rough around the edges quality to suit the times that surrounded the process of writing the songs with Ostrander commenting on the highs and very low depths of the world in the past half decade and his insight into personal psychology and the American zeitgeist is as cathartic as it is inspirational. And yes, opening for Toxic Airborne Event whose own long career of luminously gritty alternative rock has garnered a bit of a cult following. Its 2020 album Hollywood Park, sharing the title with singer Mikel Jollett’s memoir of the same name from the same year, was unsurprisingly as literarily as musically as poignant album as any in the group’s career to date and certainly seemingly its most personal.
Tuesday | 04.19 What:IDLES w/Automatic When: 7 p.m. Where: Mission Ballroom Why: IDLES first came to the attention of a wider international audience with the 2017 release of its debut full length album Brutalism. Its exhilaratingly spirited live shows and the poetic intensity and social consciousness and deep self-examination reflected in the lyrics had an immediately appeal that seemed another high point in the then relatively recent resurgence of punk and post-punk that made that style of music seem relevant and exciting again. The 2018 second album Joy As An Act of Resistance in title alone sounded like a call to action for putting energy and will into the world around you that engages people in a positive and compassionate yet passionate manner. Since then 2020’s Ultra Mono took some knocks by various critics as a creative plateau if not a dip in the exciting potential of the band’s previous work but Crawler (2021) proved IDLES is not out of ideas and certainly not out of the incredible energy that is clearly behind its live performances. When IDLES performed at Larimer Lounge 2018 it was unlike most club shows of late with lead singer Joe Talbot ranging far into the crowd to break down the performer and audience barrier the way the songs often do, like they’re speaking directly from your life. Opener Automatic is a trio from Los Angeles whose own flavor of rhythm-and-synth-driven post-punk is reminiscent of early OMD. Its forthcoming and second album Excess releases on June 24, 2022 with retrofuturist music videos that compliment its aesthetic so well. In commenting on the song “New Beginning” the band references the Swedish science fiction film Aniara which is one of the better neo-dystopian films of recent years.
Tuesday | 04.19 What:Soft Kill w/Alien Boy, Topographies, Candy Apple and Destiny Bond When: 7:30 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive Why: Soft Kill was one of the earliest of the current wave of darkwave/post-punk bands with a decent string of releases with its 2020 album Dead Kids R.I.P. City being its finest and a poignant commentary on the confluence of the growth of Portland, Oregon both organically and through the poisonously mutant manner that the tech industry and other moneyed interests have initiated globally and the ways in which underground music scenes and cultures have been all but washed out of larger and perceivedly hip cities. The music was a little predictable in that obviously influenced by The Cure and The Chameleons way early on but that latest record has some more inventive songwriting and what comes across as a sincere and tender, melancholic observational lament on people lost and a way of life for creative people and others involved in vital subcultures essentially made a thing of the past or at least a shadow of its former self. Alien Boy is also from Portland and its own melancholic blend of punk, emo and atmospheric guitar rock is imbued with its own melancholic spirit inspired by the struggle with the usual everyday stuff that can be a drag if you’re at all sensitive and thoughtful but also with a culture that in too many quarters is hostile to the very existence of certain sectors of society. Candy Apple from Denver perfectly combines spirited hardcore and Hüsker Dü and The Jesus And Mary Chain-esque noise rock. Destiny Bond also from Denver comes from a similar realm of music but one closer to emo but more aggressive in its expression of vulnerability.
Tuesday | 04.19 What:10 Years w/Black Map and VRSTY Where: The Oriental Theater Why: Black Map is a post-hardcore band from San Francisco comprised of members of Far, Dredg and Trophy Fire. Though supporting alternative metal band 10 Years on this tour its 2022 album Melodoria is the kind of melodic heavy music that bends toward emo and definitely in your wheelhouse if you’re a fan of Circa Survive as its not on the screamo or pop punk end of post-hardcore.
Tuesday | 04.19 What:Jon Spencer & The HITmakers w/Quasi When: 7 p.m. Where: Globe Hall Why: Jon Spencer has been giving us gloriously demented and exciting psychedelic blues and garage rock since at least his time in Pussy Galore. But with his new band he collides together all of the stuff you might expect with industrial music production and willingness to introduce non-musical sounds and concepts into the mix. The group’s new album Spencer Gets It Lit is like a retrofuturist science fiction movie as imagined through the lens of an unlikely Suicide and the Cramps team-up and then turned into wonderfully strange and sometimes unsettling songs, which has been Spencer’s modus operandi through various projects for decades. Anything to weird out the squares and honestly the world has been in desperate need for such creative gestures in increasing amounts over the last several years. On the record you can hear the synth and vocal stylings of Sam Coomes of opening band Quasi which is no experimental rock slouch project either with drummer Janet Weiss who in rock and roll right now has to be considered one of the top tier talents. Most people probably know her from her long stint in Sleater-Kinney but anyone lucky enough to have seen her with Quasi or Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks has seen a different facet of her considerable talent.
Wednesday | 04.20 What: Blushing, Letting Up Despite Great Faults, Old Soul Dies Young and Moodlighting When: 7 p.m. Where: Lost Lake Why: This is pretty much the shoegaze or shoegaze adjacent show of the year with Blushing touring in support of its new album Possessions. Its hazy and urgent melodies are enveloping and hypnotic. Letting Up Despite Great Faults also based in Austin weaves in a bit more twee pop stylings into its gorgeous soundscapes. Its own new album, IV, is back to back entrancing material about the more subtle sides of life and daily struggles and in “She Spins” one of the great melodic guitar progressions of the past two decades. Old Soul Dies Young from Denver mixes expansive guitar atmospheres with an almost black metal grit and lo-fi aesthetic seemingly inspired in part by anime and manga, or so its releases on the group’s Bandcamp suggests. Moodlighting like Letting Up Despite Great Faults puts the pop songcraft at the center of its own amalgam of indiepop and dream pop.
Wednesday | 04.20 What:Parquet Courts w/Tim Kinsella and Jenny Pulse When: 7 p.m. Where: Ogden Theatre Why: If you were to name the top ten post-punk bands now that are pushing that form of music forward with creativity and ambitious songwriting while putting out some of the most sharp critiques of modern politics and society, Parquet Courts would be near the top of that list. Its 2021 album Sympathy For Life has an almost mystical album art design and its songs combine the use of mythical storytelling with stories of the folly of human civilization, especially late stage capitalism, and our often flawed ways of coping in the face of a deeply uncertain future.
Friday | 04.22 What: Waxahatchee w/Madi Diaz When: 8 p.m. Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Katie Crutchfield has been releasing deeply personal and insightful folk pop albums as Waxahatchee since her 2012 solo debut album American Weekend. Crutchfield’s gift for articulating existential uncertainty, personal devastation and yearning has imbued her recorded output with a underlying but always present spirit of compassion for self and others. Her 2021 album Saint Cloud expands her sound palette further with synths and programming serving as a backdrop, a context for songs that speak directly to a world of accelerating sources of anxiety and by grounding her songs in directly relatable experiences rather than contemplative theoreticals. The songs come off like a great country record informed by imaginative songwriting that pairs grit with poetic observations as ingredients in keeping present when so many things drive us to dissociate.
Friday | 04.22 What:Emerald Siam, Weathered Statues and We Are Not a Glum Lot Where: Enigma Bazaar Why: Emerald Siam has long been fusing a dark and melancholic sound with a brightness of spirit that rises through the psychological murk that can bog everyone down so easily these days. Its membership includes former members of bands like Twice Wilted, Tarmints, The Bedsit Infamy and Wild Call and its alchemical use of rhythm tied to dynamic rhythms plus frontman Kurt Ottaway’s passionate vocals is hard to beat. Weathered Statues is a post-punk band from Denver whose sound is rooted in the classics of that subgenre but there is something so upbeat and spirited about its sound and performance that associating the music with something gloomy seems inaccurate as its moody atmospherics have an expansive energy. We Are Not A Glum Lot all but suggests it’s going to be a an emo band of some kind and that wouldn’t be too far off the mark as its intricate guitar melodies and wiry rhythms have a leg in 2000s emo but also one in shoegaze and gritty post-punk. Think something like Sunny Day Real Estate mixed with Jawbox and you have some idea of what you’re in for.
Saturday | 04.23 What:Ho99o9 w/N8NOFACE When: 7 p.m. Where: The Marquis Theater Why: Ho99o9 from Newark, NJ have somehow managed to completely fold together industrial music, hip-hop, hyperpop, hardcore and noise for one of the most immediately riveting sounds around. The live show is as visceral and as confrontational as you might imagine but also brimming with a sense of joy at shattering the conventions of established genre music-making.
Saturday and Sunday | 04.23 and 04.24 What: Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs w/Sammy Brue When: 7 p.m. Where: Fox Theatre and Bluebird Theater Why: Mike Campbell is indeed the influential guitarist who was once a member of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and a co-writer of many of the band’s hit songs across decades. This is his new band and they’re touring small venues in support of the band’s lively new album External Combustion. So go expecting an arena rock level show at these small theaters. Less polished than the Heartbreakers, this project from Campbell showcases the musician consistently cutting loose a little more than he has in his long and storied career.
Sunday and Monday | 04.24 and 04.25 What: PUP w/Sheer Mag, Pink Shift When: 7 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Where:Ogden Theatre and Boulder Theater Why: PUP is one great bands to have emerged out of the 2010s as purveyors of the kind of heartfelt pop punk that seemed to revitalize that style of music and bring to it a healthy sense of self-deprecation and introspection expressed in spirited, anthemic songs that feel less like refurbished angst and more like catharsis in camaraderie. Its new album The Unraveling of PUPTheBand has more than its fair share of tasty hooks but also of lyrics that vividly capture the frustrations of the average person trying to navigate the vicissitudes of life in the modern world seemingly on the brink of some kind of disaster. Sheer Mag is the punk band that sounds like it grew up listening to a ton of AC/DC and Slade but ended up discovering working class punk and decided not to see why those sounds and ideas should be separate. Its 2019 album A Distant Call has the visual aesthetics of a Judas Priest record but lyrics that were a sharp critique of plain old American greed and political corruption and the immediate and deleterious impacts on every aspect of life.
Monday | 04.25 What:The Flaming Lips w/Particle Kid When: 7 p.m. Where: Mission Ballroom Why: The Flaming Lips will forever be to some people the scrappy weirdo band from Oklahoma that made strange, psychedelic music with vivid lyrics about life’s challenging and colorful moments before and after a brief flirtation with mainstream popularity in the mid-90s before circumstances within the band and a crisis of creativity sent the group back to the drawing boards. After the parking lot experiments in performance, the perhaps ill-considered yet brilliant Zaireeka released on four CDs meant to be played simultaneously for the full effect of the music and then deep diving into alternative methods of recording with its creative high point then thus far with 1999’s The Soft Bulletin. In the 2000s the band’s star ascended further than most people might have expected with its various stylistic experiments and becoming the kind of band that seemed to be playing every festival and embraced by fans of unusual rock music and jam band types. And then the Lips would put out some of its most daring and deeply introspective and insightful albums like 2013’s The Terror and American Head from 2020. If history seems correct for the Lips, this would be a tour to see. Opening the show is Particle Kid and his eclectic, countrified, psychedelic new record TIME CAPSULE includes collaborations with J Mascis and Willie Nelson. Which sounds like it could be a trainwreck but instead it’s an unusually touching set of contemplative, observational songs on American culture and our trying to make sense of it all. It is somehow both nostalgic and imbued with a paradoxically chill immediacy.
Monday | 04.25 What:Yumi Zouma w/Mini Trees When: 7 p.m. Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Yumi Zouma from Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand have spent the last eight years or so crafting tender dream pop imbued with a buoyant energy tempered by hazy, introspective tones. It’s 2022 album Present Tense explores the nuances of love and romance in the current period with a poetic sensibility and music that flows with a smoothly cinematic quality lending each song feel like a short film with all the drama of the story coming together poignantly in under four minutes. Jazz-like structures and strings throughout the album renders it like a new take on chamber pop without any of the pretentiousness.
Monday | 04.25 What:Deftones w/Gojira and VOWWS When: 6 p.m. Where: Ball Arena Why: Deftones are arguably the most influential of the newer style of metal band that came to prominence in the 1990s. The ability of the band to not just tap into a hybrid metal aesthetic but to weave in an always interesting and evolving atmospheric element that has been a part of its songwriting since early on. 2000’s White Pony was like a dream pop album written with the sound palette of a brooding metal group in search of a sound that better expressed the breadth and depth of emotions of its content with the tonal nuance to hit the ears with something more creative and interesting than the usual bludgeoning edginess of much of 90s metal. The combination gave the anger and pain in the album a raw accessibility than it might have had otherwise. The group’s 2020 album Ohms pushed the songwriting further into a more soundscape-y mode that had more in common with the likes of Failure and at times Swervedriver than metal. But that record came out in the middle of the first wave of the pandemic and of course the veteran band didn’t have a way to tour in support of what might be its finest set of songs until this run of shows with support from French death metal band Gojira and prominent darkwave duo VOWWS.
Tuesday | 04.26 What: Deserta w/Little Trips and Mon Cher When: 7 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive Why: Deserta is a Los Angeles-based shoegaze band whose songs sound like a more benevolent side of a Nicolas Winding Refn movie. The project’s new album Every Moment, Everything You Need has whispery vocals that fit right in with the languid builds and grainy melodies and insular mood. Its previous album 2020’s Black Aura My Sun was reminiscent of a more summery Slowdive if influenced by bedroom pop and the new record like a modern take on 80s New Wave but with sultry guitar atmospherics that trail off into the middle distance. Little Trips is a lo-fi dream pop outfit from Denver with a knack for subtle synth melodies that integrate well with chill beats and Mon Cher, also from the Mile High City, is a synth and piano-driven dream pop trio whose melancholic spaciousness is refreshingly not in some trendy mold of that style of music broadly speaking.
Tuesday | 04.26 What:Bloody Knives w/Twin Image and Juliet Mission When: 9 p.m. Where: Lion’s Lair Why: Austin’s Bloody Knives sound like what might be called an industrial shoegaze band with fairly strong electronic and electric musical components in its sound and seeming inspiration from 90s experimental electronic pop. Twin Image is the latest project from former Fell frontman and songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Josh Wambeke and this time it’s more like a shoegaze/slowcore hybrid which is roughly the lane in which Fell existed but Twin Image is even more introspective and somehow more brash. Juliet Mission includes former members of alternative rock/shoegaze band Sympathy F and this long-running project truly captures and expresses the dark, moody vibe of Denver from back when downtown at night was both a perilous and magical place, evoking the specific melancholic flavor that is one of the hallmarks of the city no matter how much shine Nü Denver projects try to gloss over the top.
Wednesday | 04.27 What:Knocked Loose w/Movements, Kublai Khan and Koyo When: 6 p.m. Where: Ogden Theatre Why: While metalcore battered itself into self-parody as a movement sometime in the 2000s its leading lights and adjacent artists of note like Poison the Well, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge and others have endured as an influence on hardcore and heavy music for their ability to express a furious kind of outrage through cathartic live performances and having a more imaginative take on that hybrid musical style that can seem monolithic. Since the 2010s metalcore has experienced a kind of renaissance with Knocked Loose from Oldham County, Kentucky being one of the most prominent bands out of that new wave. In 2021 Knocked Loose released its latest EP A Tear In The Fabric of Life with an full animation of the EP by Swedish filmmaker Magnus Jonsson from a story by Knocked Loose frontman Bryan Garris. This time out the band seems to be drawing out its grindcore influence a bit while expanding its dynamic range.
Thursday | 04.28 What:MONO w/Bing & Ruth When: 7 p.m. Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Japanese post-rock band MONO has been quite prolific in its 23 years of existence releasing creatively ambitious, mostly instrumental rock albums that speak more eloquently to emotions and ideas in a nuanced and eloquent way than many standard issue rock bands that spell out what they have to say more explicitly. This has mean the group’s music takes on rendering its meaning beyond specific cultural context. The music is rock but also extends to a modern version of classical music with elegant structure and formal composition tempered by an organic spontaneity. Live this quality translates perhaps most directly.
Thursday | 04.28 What:Vahco Before Horses, Polly Urethane, Pearls and Perils, Blank Human, Esu the Illest, Space Pirate, Morpgorp and Joohs Uhp When: 7 p.m. Where: Globe Hall Why: Vahco Before Horses is moving to the Netherlands soon and this is going to be his last show as a resident of Denver. The producer/singer/musician has run a local record label called Glasss and now Glass Melts which focused on more experimental music in the local underground and beyond. Vahco spent some time on both coasts in the music industry at various levels and brought some of that sensibility to his work in music in Denver. His own music is a surprisingly soulful form of electronic pop music with powerful vocals and vivid emotional portraits of life. Also on this bill is experimental downtempo artist Pearls and Perils, the weirdo techno of Blank Human, avant-garde mashup hip-hop hooligans Joohs Uhp, transcendent industrial pop soundscaper Polly Urethane, forward thinking rapper-producer Esu the Illest and others. Though kind of a farewell show to Vahco it’s also a fairly solid showcase of one important branch of left field underground music from the Mile High City.
Friday | 04.29 What:VR Sex w/Lunacy When: 8 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive Why: VR Sex is the more punk alias of Andrew Clinco of Drab Majesty fame. This project is more gritty in tone, noisier and more brash. Adopting the performance moniker of Noel Skum (an irreverent anagram of Elon Musk which is pretty on point), Clinco’s songwriting for VR Sex is ordered around clashing dynamics that sound like the kinds of songs a futuristic biker gang might listen to when getting up to some crimes aimed at yet another attempt at authoritarian control of all things in an asymmetrical warfare approach to taking down the man. The new record Rough Dimension with its cover clearly a nod to The Blair Witch Project all too poignantly encapsulates in sound the static, urgency and chaos that we face every day but blasting it apart with buzz saw riffs and attitude. Lunacy from Pennsylvania recently released Echo In The Memory is a bracing, ghostly industrial post-punk record that sounds like life after humans per the History Channel series but for real—gorgeously stark soundscapes with firm rhythm lines and washes of ethereally caustic atmospheres.
Friday | 04.29 What: Big Thief w/Kara-Lis Coverdale When: 8 p.m. Where: Mission Ballroom Why: Big Thief became so popular so quickly you might be excused for dismissing it out of hand as a buzz band of the moment. But its particular brand of indie folk rock strikes deep chords, comes off as deeply honest and personal and its use of space expertly rendered so that it feels like Adrianne Lenker is singing directly to you about your own life. Its 2022 album Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You seems so developed and practiced yet also unvarnished and vulnerable. If there is a popular style of indie folk that has been plaguing playlists and the airwaves and watering down the impact of the music, Big Thief here is the opposite of that by embracing what might be considered flaws as simply an essential aspect of our analog humanity and the way we live and exist in a world where not everything is streamlined for easy consumption and the band takes many sonic chances on the record that many artists on a similar level of popularity would not and that makes what Big Thief is doing now seem incredibly refreshing.
Saturday | 04.30 What:Tempers w/Lesser Care, Julian St. Nightmare and Kill You Club DJs When: 8 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive Why: Tempers from NYC has been developing its dusky darkwave synth pop for the last several years with albums that seem to draw on a hazy 80s post-punk aesthetic for inspiration but also rooted in modern techno. Its 2022 album New Meaning is arguably its most coherent effort yet with songs about coming to terms with living in a time of great uncertainty and needing to create meaning where it might be eroding in meaningful ways in various areas of life and in the world around you. The cover image of the staircase to nowhere that is a part of contemporary creepy pasta culture as manifested so powerfully in Butcher’s Block, the third season of prematurely canceled horror anthology series Channel Zero. As a symbol for the album it works too as an enigmatic image that requires us to imagine where we might make the staircase take us and the peril of not building something beyond the great unknown that seems to be paralyzing the psyches of so many and otherwise sowing insecurity and desperation in a social environment that wasn’t already short on such things.
Saturday | 04.30 What:LEAF w/Negativland and SUE-C When: 7 p.m. Where: The Arts Hub Why: Lafayette Electronic Arts Festvial returns with a set from legendary performance art/avant-garde electronic/sound collage project Negativland and live cinema artist SUE-C collaborating on a performance that comments on the dystopian tech environment that is plaguing so much of life in the 21st century thus far.
Who:Muscle Beach, A Deer A Horse and Flesh Buzzard When: Thursday, 10.04, 9: p.m. Where: Syntax Physic Opera Why: Brooklyn’s A Deer A Horse is often referred to as sludge and doom and yeah, those sorts of sounds are in there. But the noise punk trio has great melodies and dynamic momentum amid the heaviness reminiscent of the likes of KARP, Melvins and Unwound. Its new 7” for “Double Wide”/”Cold Shoulder” is an abrasive, menacing, harrowing listen—a haunted, dangerous, fuzzy, psychedelic doomy blues. The New York band is paired with one of Denver’s best, equally impossible to pigeonhole punk/post-hardcore band Muscle Beach who are due for their next album to drop any time now. Flesh Buzzard, the harsh noise bludgeoners from Fort Collins, round out the bill with their own brand of sonic brutality.
Who:Lord Huron w/Cut Worms When: Thursday, 10.04, 7: p.m. Where: The Ogden Theatre Why: Lord Huron’s luminous indie pop has manifested in interesting forms across its career suggesting an unspoken goal within the band to give the era of a band represented by the albums a unified aesthetic visually and sonically. The effect being like that of a novel where images, themes and moods tie together into a whole experience rather than simply disconnected vignettes. Lonesome Dreams evoked the 70s Westerns vibe, Strange Trails has the sound of Wim Wenders’ mythical imagining of the American West in Paris, Texas. The group’s 2018 record Vide Noir is like an alternative soundtrack to an unlikely P.T. Anderson and Nicolas Winding Refn collaboration on a story of doomed romance and redemption. The imagery may be science fiction-esque this time around but the moods still grounded in heightened emotional colorings.
Friday | October 5, 2018
Who:Scream Screen: Invasion of the Body Snatchers with musical guests Little Fyodor & Babushka Band When: Friday, 10.05, 9 p.m. Where: Sie Film Center Why: Little Fyodor & Babushka Band might be succinctly described as an avant-garde punk band but its songs are as catchy and well-crafted as the best of them. The 1970s version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a weird science fiction classic but Little Fyodor & Babushka Band is even weirder than that. If you’re treated to a rendition of “Dance of the Salted Slug” during its short opening set, consider yourself getting the double bonus strangeness for the evening.
Who:Starjammer w/Hot Apostles, Joshua Trinidad Trio and The Noise Gallery When: Friday, 10.05, 9 p.m. Where: Goosetown Tavern Why: Squidds Madden is perhaps best known for his turns playing in Denver area ska and funk bands like Action Shot and, more recently, The Dendrites, Champagne Charlie and currently with Roka Hueka. Over the past handful of years he has developed a solo “avant-garde/dub reggae” project called Starjammer. His instruments set up in a rig (the USEV, see below) making them accessible to Squidds all have science fiction concept names and the music itself rooted in Madden’s extensive experience with improvisational composition. Until now the project’s recordings have been under wraps captured in live sessions and relatively unedited. But tonight Starjammer unveils the debut album at an event including some of Madden’s favorite musicians and peers. Witness the Universal Sound Exploration Vehicle yourself tonight or wherever the USEV lands next. If Jodorowsky ever does a futuristic epic as he had planned with Dune, the new Starjammer record should be kept in mind for part of the soundtrack.
Who:Suicidal Tendencies w/Madball and Clusterfux When: Friday, 10.05, 8: p.m. Where: The Summit Music Hall Why: Suicidal Tendencies has created pioneering music in whatever realm it’s found itself since it began in the 1980. Everyone familiar with the early, hardcore era of the band knows “Institutionalized” and its being featured in the film Repo Man. But Suicidal evolved in a more skate punk/thrash direction by the middle of the decade and its transitional album, 1987’s Join the Army, helped make punk accessible to hardcore metalheads. 1992’s The Art of Rebellion brought the band into the mainstream with Top 40 Hits “Nobody Hears” and “I’ll Hate You Better.” Since then the group has become something of a cult phenomenon when some of its members aren’t playing in the hard funk other project Infectious Grooves. These days Suicidal Tendencies don’t write as many songs about personal darkness and alienation but the anti-authoritarian messaging remains strong as does the sense of struggle that most people, whatever one’s background, feel and which founding vocalist Mike Muir seems to be able to articulate in new, relevant ways. The group’s 2018 full-length Still Cyco Punk After All These Years is basically a re-recording of Muir’s 1996 solo album as Cyco Miko Lost My Brain! (Once Again) and while energized, anthemic, uplifting punk, addresses mental illness and emotional trauma with a surprising level of sensitivity that may not be obvious at first listen.
Who:Lord Huron w/Misty Boyce When: Friday, 10.05, 8: p.m. Where: The Ogden Theatre Why: For Lord Huron see above for 10.04.
Saturday | October 6, 2018
What: Noise Vs. Doom Day 1 facebook.com/events/1717241811677244 When: Saturday, 10.06, 4 p.m. Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective Why: This two day event showcases that is a fairly comprehensive sampling of artists from the doom and noise music worlds where there is often overlap in membership and playing of bills. Over the course of the two days are veterans like Colorado Springs-based project Clark Nova and Herpes’ Hideaway’s more dark ambient take on the same, Denver’s longest-running and active noise group Page 27, more pop-oriented acts like Mirror Fears and Church Fire, noisy guitar drone experimental metal bands such as New Standards Men, avant-garde noise punks Yardsss from Portland, Oregon and newer harsh noise auteurs like Flesh Buzzard. Not to mention whatever one might call Snails and Oysters and Night Grinder whose own music is impossible to fully categorize but who weave the aesthetics of noise into their soundscapes. Go one or both days and expect to see artists very different from one another no matter when you choose to check in.
4:30-4:50 Clark Nova (opens)
5:30-6pm Heathen Burial
6:10-6:30 Flesh Buzzard
6:40 – 7:10 Snails And Oysters
7:20:-7:35 DJ Zombie
7:40-8pm Floating Cave
8:10-8:40 New Standards Men
8:50- 9:20 Clutch Plague
9:25-9:45 Mirror Fears
10:30-10:50 Herpes Hideaway
11pm Text ESP
Who:Zealot, Jacob T. Skeen and Rat Bites When: Saturday, 10.06, 9 p.m. Where: Lion’s Lair Why: Luke Hunter James-Erickson has left his imprint on Denver’s indie rock world with his stints in various projects like The Don’ts And Be Carefuls and Violent Summer. For a short while he said he was going to start a band called The Devil. Which was funny considering the guy doesn’t seem particularly diabolical or sinister or offensive, really, unless you count his noise projects. But no, instead he started a fuzzed out indie rock project more in the vein of noisier garage rock bands and The Mountain Goats. Joining him has been former The Outfit and Ideal Fathers bass phenom Michael Jeffrey King on drums rather than the instrument for which he’s mos well known, Nathan Brazil former singer/guitarist in Fingers of the Sun and The Pseudo Dates and Kitty Vincent, former singer and guitarist for Violent Summer. Also on the line up is Rat Bites, a like-minded band that is more punk than garage rock and includes former Sin Desires Marie and Rainbow Sugar drummer Germaine Baca.
Sunday | October 7, 2018
What:Noise Vs. Doom Day 2 When: Sunday, 10.07, 4 p.m. Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective Why: For Noise Vs. Doom see above for 10.6. Today’s/tonight’s schedule below.
5:00 – 5:20 Ice Troll
6:00-6:20 Night Grinder
6:30 – 7:00 Still Valley
7:10 -7:30 Red Side
7:45 – 8:15 Deer Creek
8:20 – 8:40 Page 27
9:50 -10:20 Yardsss
10:30 Church Fire
What:Primus w/Crown Lands When: Sunday, 10.07, 7 p.m. Where: The Ogden Theatre Why: Leave it to Les Claypool to take the genuinely populist left and environmentalist message of Ul de Rico’s 1978 children’s book The Rainbow Goblin and turn it into The Desaturating Seven a surrealistic album with relevance for the current era. The book is about a group of seven evil goblins who plot to travel around the world to steal the color from rainbows. Its critique of greed and environmental degradation is on par with that of Dr. Seuss’ 1971 classic The Lorax. The album sounds almost like an audiobook rendition of the original text but with the chapters evolving into Primus’ usual, beautifully eccentric experimental funk. So chances are the show will have a special presentation different from its usual already strange enough performances as well as selections from across the group’s career, and all the more reason to check this tour out if you’re a fan or if you just want to see something a little or a lot different.
Monday | October 8, 2018
What:Primus w/Crown Lands When: Monday, 10.07, 7 p.m. Where: The Ogden Theatre Why: For Primus see above for 10.07.
What:Fickle Friends w/Bulow and Rumours Follow When: Monday, 10.08, 7 p.m. Where: Globe Hall Why: Fickle Friends are a British pop band that apparently paid attention to what CHVRCHES and Purity Ring have been doing for the last several years. The latter two have made innovative use of electronics and production as part of their songwriting process and the 2018 debut album by Fickle Friends, You Are Someone Else has a similar level of lushness synthesizing synth pop, R&B and rock. The album title, taken from the song “Brooklyn,” not unlike the name of the band, suggests, amid bright and upbeat songs, an alienation from what should be one’s community and from oneself in society that seems to push everyone to present a manufactured and commodified version of identity as one’s genuine self—the fake it ’til you make it quasi-ethos that has grossly manifested itself in the politicians that lead too many governments and the impact of corporate culture on real culture. Not that the band is aiming all or any of its songs that way but the lyrics accompanying fun music certainly seems to point out how things aren’t alright even if we often have to pretend they are to get through life.
What:Against Me! w/Ted Leo and the Pharmacists and A Giant Dog When: Monday, 10.08, 7 p.m. Where: Summit Music Hall Why: Against Me! Is performing a pair of shows in Denver this week, each night focusing on a particular album. This night the band will be performing 2003’s As The Eternal Cowboy. Something of a country/folk punk album, As The Eternal Cowboy is certainly not what was in step with much of what was coming out on Fat Wreck Chords at the time. “Cliche Guevara” sounds something like a mixture of Mission of Burma and acoustic Misfits. Whatever influences went into the music, the record holds up better than most anything by the band’s peers. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists and A Giant Dog being on the bill for both nights alone would make the shows worth attending.
What:The Vaccines w/Jesse Jo Stark When: Monday, 10.08, 7 p.m. Where: Larimer Lounge Why: The Vaccines new album Combat Sports seems apt enough considering the conflict and artistic self-questioning and self-ruthlessness that went into its making. Supposedly the songs were to sound like 70s and 80s power pop but even after switching producers partway through recording, the band ditched most of the songs and wrote new material for the new record. Nevertheless the band succeeded in capturing the mood and dynamics they were aiming for in the beginning. Additionally, singer Justin Young told the NME in 2016 that he’d listened to much more Leonard Cohen in the wake of the legendary songwriter’s death and found too much of his output lacking by comparison. Likely many songwriters feel that way but it did result in more sophisticated lyrics and musical phrasing. And yet, The Vaccines didn’t mellow out, their sound palette expanded in more interesting directions rather than getting stuck in a rut many bands get caught in when they get a taste of success.
Tuesday | October 9, 2018
Who:The National w/Sharon Van Etten When: Tuesday, 10.09, 6:30 p.m. Where: Red Rocks Why: The National is most often associated with 2000s indie rock but the band has its roots in the 90s when lead singer Matt Berninger and bassist/guitarist Scott Devendorf met as graphic design students at the University of Cincinnati. A few bands and a move to Brooklyn later, the two formed The National in 1999 with some friends from same musical circles in Ohio. Hardly an overnight success, The National nevertheless garnered critical acclaim and a fairly large national and international audience by the time of its 2005 album Alligator. Berninger’s smoothly melodic vocals punctuated by raw emotional passages alongside the group’s almost orchestrated melodies and melancholic yet expansive songs have since early on offered a coherent and ambitious artistic vision rendered with an ear for emotional subtleties and in rich sonic detail. 2017’s Sleep Well Beast may be an “adult” album but one that taps into the modern zeitgeist without succumbing to the temptation of going overtly topical. The group’s signature cool shimmer crackling, luminous melodies that would be paired well with a Matthew Frost short.
Who:Against Me! w/Ted Leo and the Pharmacists and A Giant Dog When: Tuesday, 10.09, 7 p.m. Where: Summit Music Hall Why: The second night of Against Me! performing albums (plus generous bonus material, as it were) will focus on the 2007 album New Wave. It was the group’s first record on a major label, a move inspiring some fans to cry “sellout.” As if that wasn’t a tired narrative two decades on hence aimed at bands that weren’t really changing their sound, the content of their lyrics and their ethos. Against Me!, it should be noted, never really entered the pop mainstream. But not for lack of writing some of the best power pop of the 2000s.
What:Soccer Mommy w/Sasami When: Tuesday, 10.09, 7 p.m. Where: Globe Hall Why: Sophie Allison has had a big year in 2018 with the release of her debut full-length Clean on Fat Possum in March followed by a summer tour with Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks. Kind of a steep upward arc for a musician who played her first show as Soccer Mommy at DIY venue Silent Barn at its Bushwick location . Allison’s songs are about the usual struggles and angst of a person in their 20s but her sound seems to be some parts 70s folk rock and the edgy, color-out-side the lines guitar music of the 90s without really coming off throwback—no mean feat in modern music.
Who:Slugger, Origami Ghosts and Eyebeams When: Tuesday, 10.09, 8 p.m. Where: Lion’s Lair Why: Former Silver Face guitarist/singer Gabriel Albelo started what became Slugger as a vehicle for his solitary songwriting endeavors. Now it’s a full-fledged rock band. Seeing as Albelo grew up in Puerto Rico and had limited access to live music but not so limited access to hearing music from across decades rather than having a lot of pressure from peers imagining themselves hip but largely into music of the moment. Thus his own songwriting is fairly richly informed even if at first blush it might come off as garage rock had it spawned in the immediate wake of 1970s glam rock. But the songwriting isn’t imitative so much as evocative and sounds like some retrofuturist band that should be in an unlikely sequel to the 1983 film Rock & Rule. Eyebeams shouldn’t be a well-kept secret in Denver or elsewhere but for now the psychedelic pop band has been a little under many people’s radar despite the fact that former Fingers of the Sun and Pseudo Dates singer/guitarist Suzi Allegra is at the songwriting helm. Rather than simply an indie pop band that discovered psychedelic music in the last decade, Allegra’s sonic palette is much broader as she grew up on a lot of that music throughout the 80s and 90s. And her lyrics are incisive, poignant and thought-provoking if you choose to listen beyond the exquisite melodies. Indie psych folk band Origami Ghosts is on tour from Seattle.
Wednesday | October 10, 2018
What:Soccer Mommy w/Sasami When: Wednesday, 10.10, 7 p.m.
Where: Downtown Artery
Why: For Soccer Mommy see above for 10/9 at Globe Hall.
What:Natalie Prass w/Stella Donnelly When: Wednesday, 10.10, 7 p.m. Where: Larimer Lounge Why: Stella Donnelly told Fact in March 2018 that she had been in a punk/thrash band when the humorous title of her debut solo full length Thrush Metal suggested itself to her. The album that is simply Donnelly finger-picking her guitar and singing is beautifully sparse and spacious but powerful and heartbreakingly poignant in its depictions of the struggles of women today. “Boys Will Be Boys” seems particularly relevant in the wake of the appointment of alleged sexual abuser Brett Kavanaugh to the bench in the Supreme Court not to mention the fact that the president of the United States garnered any votes despite his despicable comments regarding his own self-avowed sexual assaults. For starters. Thrush Metal is a starkly beautiful portrait of terrible things and speaks with a poetic honesty to the experience of them. Headliner Natalie Prass was once a touring keyboard player who in June 2018 released her sophomore full-length, a chill but soulful R&B inflected pop record called The Future and the Past.
What:Stones Throw Records Presents: Jerry Paper, Keifer and Stimulator Jones When: Wednesday, 10.10, 7 p.m. Where: Lost Lake Why: Jerry Paper is coming to hip-hop from many different angles having been influenced by, according to a 2017 interview with The Blaaahg, the likes of noise/drone project Growing and krautrock. His own beats are like reading what it looked like in the 1970s and 1980s and watching movies from the era with the sound turned off and making music to provide all the audio content. Paper has used all the usual technologies and methods to create music from various synthesizers and Acid to get to where he is now in his mastery of production and the intentionality of the lo-fi sound in creating a realm of soundscaping that might be best compared to indie pop lo-fi geniuses like Owen Ashworth and Karl Blau.
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:Glasss Presents The Speakeasy Series Season 2: Left Handed Electronics, Grrrl, Bianca Mikahn When: Thursday, 05.24, 7 p.m. Where: Hooked On Colfax Why: Bianca Mikahn’s combination of almost free verse poetry and beats should be well within the canon of hip-hop and ultimately is. But her delivery and her crafting of her songs has as much in common with the kind of hippie-ish, open mic, slam poetry world as it does with any hip-hop context. Mikahn’s ability to critique society at large while speaking to those issues with a compassion and positive spirit minus any note of insincerity sets her apart from most other artists. That her beats contains elements of noise and melodic ambient music makes her immediately accessible music an otherworldly dimension even as the songs are grounded in fairly earthbound experiences.
Who:High Plains Honky 7” release w/Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angels Band and Danny Dodge & The Dodge Gang When: Thursday, 05.24, 8 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive Why: If Ronnie Milsap had gone a little more honky tonk with a grittier voice, the results might sound a bit like High Plains Honky. The group is releasing its latest seven inch record tonight at the Hi-Dive joined by a couple of other bands who are no slouches in the local country scene. Maybe comparing a Denver band to a best selling artist like Milsap seems like a bit much to some but what made him such a compelling songwriter beyond the masterful combination of musicianship and an ear for catchy and evocative melodies is the vivid storytelling. High Plains Honky have both qualities as well as no holding up of the nose at pop conventions used in a country context. “Goin’ All The Way” and “I Know Where You Go,” the two sides of the record, seem so relatable even if country music isn’t your thing. A tastefully tiny hint of psychedelia haunts the edges of the music and the aspirational, anthemic quality of the stories suggest a deep knowledge of personal reality but needing to write the songs to escape being too bogged down by current circumstances to go after what you really want while also honoring the emotions subsequent to the potential disappointment, pain and lack of resolution that is a part of everyday life. High Plains Honky invites its listeners to dream just a little bit and to embrace their heartsickness.
Who:DOA and MDC When: Thursday, 05.24, 8 p.m. Where: Streets of London Why: In the annals of hardcore outside of American coastal cities, DOA and MDC have to be considered two of the most important acts out of that movement. DOA from Vancouver, British Columbia, was one of the hardest touring bands for years, spreading the gospel of hardcore across the continent and whose album Hardcore ’81 is, perhaps apocryphally, is often cited as the first use of the term in connection to the musical movement. DOA’s political songs struck personal tones in Joe Keithley’s deft songwriting allowing the band’s music to have an appeal beyond agreeing with every iota of the band’s politics. MDC started in Austin, Texas as The Stains with similarly political punk songs that were more left than most of its peers at the time. It didn’t hurt that singer Dave Dictor seemed to havea personal agenda to push the envelope with fans in his stage persona as the ultimate freak and always with the aim of challenging reductive notions of animal and human rights. Listen to that first MDC album and it’s clear that Dictor was an unabashed critic of police brutality and creeping fascism in a way that makes those songs and their specific anti-authoritarian tone even more relevant now.
Who:The Blackouts w/Adrian Conner (Hell’s Belles) and We Are Invisible and Wild Call When: Thursday, 05.24, 8 p.m. Where: 3 Kings Tavern Why: The Blackouts are an all female rock band that really shows how you can have a fairly straightforward hard rock band and not fall to the boring tropes that happen with too many bands with roots in punk and metal. Adrian Conner from the great all-female AC/DC cover band Hell’s Bells is also playing this show as well as Wild Call, a band whose forthcoming album is reminiscent of White Hills and Medicine.
Who: Amy Shark and Tomi globehall.com/event/1663566-amy-shark-denver When: Thursday, 05.24, 7 p.m. Where: Globe Hall Why: Amy Shark is a pop songwriter from Australia whose 2016 single “Adore” caught the attention of tastemakers in Australia and the song was reissued by Sony Music Australia. That Shark was either in her late 20s or 30 when the song came out explains a bit how her voice and the perspective present in the song had a bit of depth and more of the weight of experience than would be the case of a pop artist a decade or more younger. Shark’s debut full-length, Love Monster, will drop in July 2018 so you can catch her live tonight at Globe Hall before everyone has heard of her.
Friday | May 25, 2018
Who:Amber Mark w/Demo Taped and Adiel Mitchell When: Friday, 05.25, 8 p.m.
Where: Marquis Theater Why: Amber Mark seemed to come out of nowhere when she uploaded her song “S P A C E” to Soundcloud in February 2016. Her voice strong and assured, drawing immediate comparisons to Sade for those qualities and a soulfulness one rarely hears in someone just twenty-two years old. But Mark had something to say and in subsequent singles like “Monsoon,” Mark revealed herself to be a brilliantly poetic songwriter. The 3:33 a.m. EP followed in 2017 and in 2018 Mark released the EP Conexão. Joining her on the Denver date of the tour is Adam Alexander, aka Demo Taped. His electronic pop songs are bright and upbeat but the subject matter of his songs run a broad range of subjects including struggles with anxiety and insecurity. His nuanced and layered songwriting manifested especially strongly on his 2018 EP Momentary.
Who:Orbit Service, Church Fire, The Drood and DJ Mudwulf When: Friday, 05.25, 9 p.m. Where: Lion’s Lair Why: Denver ambient/space rock legends Orbit Service don’t play many shows these days and even less often at a dive bar like Lion’s Lair. The project’s primary figure, Randall Frazier, has been responsible for maintaining and putting together some of the best live sound in Denver rooms like Walnut Room and Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox as well as championing experimental music in the local scene and collaborating with Edward Ka-Spel of Legendary Pink Dots fame. And that would be reason enough to go to this show but also on the bill are Church Fire, a band one might describe as industrial synth pop but its inspired and emotionally fiery performances elevates what could be considered excellent dance music to a higher level. Also, The Drood, a dark, psychedelic, avant-garde prog band.
Who:How To Measure the Weather: Tobias Fike, Ryan Wade Ruehlen, Kari Treadwell, Scott Ferguson When: Friday, 05.25, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Where: Emmanuel Gallery Why: This show has been described as a “migratory sound installation” meaning the performers, members of the Flinching Eye Collective, will move their respective sound-making rigs to take advantage of the Emmanuel Gallery on Auraria campus, one of the oldest buildings in Denver, and its architecture to provide a truly unique, one-off environmental sonic experience.
Who:Muscle Beach w/Colfax Speed Queen, Kenaima and Voight When: Friday, 05.25, 8 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive Why: Confrontational, arty hardcore. Furious post-psych garage punk. Crushing, post-hardcore noise rock. Emotionally-charged, industrial post-punk. Also, four of Denver’s best, most interesting and always compelling and entertaining live bands.
Who:Super Bummer album release w/Eye and the Arrow and King Eddie When: Friday, 05.25, 8 p.m. Where: Syntax Physic Opera Why: Super Bummer may be both one of the most ironic and yet accurate names in Denver underground music. The band’s melancholy compositions sure do articulate life’s downbeats with sincerity and self-deprecating humor—a rare combination. Its new album, Big Ambition, out on GROUPHUG, comes out tonight at Syntax where the band will share the stage with the broodingly melodic Americana band Eye and the Arrow and King Eddie, whose 2017 album Holographic Universe is a rabbit hole of beautifully enigmatic sounds and ideas to get lost in across its nine tracks.
Who:La Luz w/Savila and The Kinky Fingers When: Friday, 05.25, 8:30 p.m. Where: Larimer Lounge Why: La Luz may have originally been (and continue to be) inspired by 60s surf rock giants and the great girl groups of the era. But the Los Angeles-based group have long since made their own mark in music, especially with its 2018 album Floating Features, out on Hardly Art. Spooky and soulful, La Luz have mastered the art of nuanced emotional textures and mood so that its songs can be urgent and spend passages of sound swirling in the sweeping heat of a memory that unexpectedly rushes back into your consciousness triggered some moment or detail you encounter in the present. Denver’s The Kinky Fingers possess similar powers of evoking vivid emotions and imagery with their own surf-rooted rock songs.
Saturday | May 26, 2018
Who:Victoria Lundy, Snails and Oysters, Sporehive, Denizens of the Deep and Floating Cave, DJ sets by Franklin Bell and visuals by Orchidz3ro When: Saturday, 05.26, 2:30 p.m. Where: Mutiny Information Café Why: An entire afternoon of some of Denver’s most interesting experimental and avant-garde bands. For instance, Snails and Oysters used to be just Joe Mills but is now a duo creating organic ambient music using rock instruments in unconventional ways. A project that cites psych folk legend Sandy Bull, the artist that did an arrangement of Carl Orff’s symphonic opera masterpiece “Carmina Burana” for five-string banjo and released it on a debut album in 1963, is definitely not coming from predictable places. While every act on the bill is worth checking out and nothing really much like each other, the star of the show is Victoria Lundy who at one time people might have said is better known for being the Theremin player in The Inactivists. But by now she has established herself locally as a gifted composer of electronic and ambient music with the Theremin and synth. One thing that sets Lundy apart is that her music tends to be free of transient, modern culture reference tropes and is rooted in 20th century classical and the first wave electronic music avant-garde. And yet, Lundy makes her music accessible and emotionally engaging. There is plenty of intellect going into the making of the music and the craft and technology but the art comes from the heart.
Who:102 Wires When: Saturday, 05.26, 5 p.m. Where: Bar Max Why: This is a celebration of the possibilities of guitar in music beyond the typical use of the instrument in popular or even experimental music. Read our interview with organizer Kevin Richards here.
Sunday | May 27, 2018
What:A Life Celebration For Steve Gordon When: Sunday, 05.27, 1 – 4 p.m. Where: Mercury Café Why: This will be an event honoring the late, great, Steve Gordon. Steve was a visual artist, sculptor and musician who contributed greatly to the local avant-garde improvisational and ambient music scenes in Denver. Steve passed away in early May following a prolonged battle with cancer but as a widely admired figure, his legacy of excellence, originality, humanity and humor will continue to have an impact in the Denver art world for years to come. For the event friends and collaborators will share stories, music, poetry, food and drink. Read Lauri Lynnxe Murphy’s excellent piece on Steve for Westword here and our own interview with the artist from November 2017 here.
Who:Textures featuring Tunica Externa, paperbark, Lepidoptera When: Sunday, 05.27, 7 p.m. Where: Mutiny Information Café Why: This will be John Mulville’s last show in Denver for a while as he’s moving back to Minneapolis for the duration. His ambient project paperbark has brought some of the most compelling, textured to grace Denver spaces in recent years. Generating sounds with treated modular synth tones, Mulville’s compositions suggest natural spaces with a physicality suggested by the earlier reference to texture. It’s like you experience a tactile sensation through a creative crafting of atmosphere. Though Mulville will be back through town, we won’t have the luxury of catching any of his soothingly hypnotic sets regularly.
Who:ManifestiV, Bloodied, eHpH and Keldari Station When: Sunday, 05.27, 7 p.m. Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective Why: ManifestiV from Vallejo, California sounds like it came out of the intersection of the burner community that embraces both industrial music, electronic dance and New Age concepts in the use of sound. But it works though at times you expect it to be the soundtrack to some kind of hippie-esque cyberpunk video game. But who wouldn’t want to play that game? Denver’s Keldari Station sounds like it’s coming from a similar place but its own music is more pop, has more elements of dub and old school glam rock. eHpH, like the other bands on this bill, is a duo with a penchant for dark, atmospheric music. Except this duo has managed to combine EBM with industrial rock without sounding like they’re trying to fit in with the tired old Goth scene sound of the 90s and 2000s. The band’s music is more experimental, more nuanced in its emotional expressions, than bands who really want to be a new version of Suicide Commando.
Tuesday | May 29, 2018
Who:King Tuff w/Cut Worms and Sasami When: Tuesday, 05.29, 7 p.m. Where: Globe Hall Why: At the end of his last tour, Kyle Thomas was sick of the party monster persona he had cultivated for years as King Tuff. The pressure to live up to something you’re not because it benefits you professionally and to some extent artistically erodes you more than a little on the inside and Thomas was feeling it. “I was a lost soul,” Thomas posted on his website regarding the release of his 2018 album The Other. “I didn’t know who I was anymore.” The new record is certainly a bit of a departure for Thomas. Any trace of the garage rock that informed his earlier releases is pretty much gone. There is a soulfulness and an overt spirit of experimentation running through all the songs for the release. In moments its tinge of futuristic funk and glam prog are reminiscent of I Robot period The Alan Parsons Project.
Also playing this show is Cut Worms. The band’s main creative force is Max Clarke who seems tapped into a mid-60s pop sort of sound and aesthetic. There is a simplicity and clarity of melody and songwriting that we’ve heard plenty of, likely, in this era of mining past decades for artistic inspiration. But especially on Clarke’s 2018 album Hollow Ground the subject matter isn’t so clean and tidy and his songs, like the era it perhaps sonically echoes, reflect a self-aware sense of social anxiety, a painful yearning but struggling with real or endlessly imagined inability to not fuck things up somehow and a willingness to stumble and scrape through even if life doesn’t always, or never does, turn out as planned or hoped. The brilliance comes in striking that balance—being real alongside the sounds of a time many romanticize in spite of the dark and grisly underbelly of people’s lives and the culture itself.
Who:Broncho w/The Paranoyds and Valen When: Tuesday, 05.29, 8:30 p.m. Where: Lost Lake Why: Broncho formed in 2010 in the wake of the dissolution of indie pop weirdos Starlight Mints. Ryan Lindsey of the latter, went on to play guitars, keys and perform lead vocal duties in Broncho. The four-piece has always been kind of an outsider in the music world in that it never really fit in with any emerging trend and was probably too weird to hit it big time in the mainstream. But Lindsey knows he doesn’t belong there. At this point, Lindsay has already done his time deconstructing pop in Starlight Mints and it’s obvious that subverting the tropes of indie, garage and psych rock this past decade isn’t as interesting as it might have been a few years ago. 2016’s Double Vanity found Broncho excavating and exploring some of the sonic ideas that Phil Elverum was onto on those final two The Microphones records, 2001’s The Glow Pt. 2 and 2003’s Mount Eerie. But without imitating Elverum’s richly imaginative and innovative soundscaping. With any luck, this version of Broncho will represent the band’s next phase of its injecting the pop format with expansive ideas and sounds.
Wednesday | May 30, 2018
Who:Gang of Youths w/Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones When: Wednesday, 05.29, 7 p.m. Where: Globe Hall Why: Gang of Youths’ 2017 sophomore album Go Farther in Lightness garnered near universal acclaim in the band’s home country of Australia. Rightfully so. It has the poetic insight and depth of early Bruce Springsteen and more recent from Titus Andronicus. Like both of those artists, Gang of Youths has a gift for taking the mythical/universal aspect of everyday experiences and giving it a poignantly personal expression. There’s a song called “What Can I Do If the Fire Goes Out?” that goes beyond that whole rediscovering your bliss and your passion nonsense. But it’s a whole record of songs that might seem like a collection of trite platitudes but in the end are the exact opposite. It’s highly energetic indie rock but the emotional and intellectual content run a lot deeper with Gang of Youths.
Who:Nunofyrbeeswax w/Open to the Hound, Claudzilla and Rat Bites When: Wednesday, 05.30, 8 p.m. Where: 3 Kings Tavern Why: Berlin’s Nunofyrbeeswax brings together aspects of indie pop, naïve lo-fi rock and outsider pop in its music. Good thing its on a bill with local weirdos in keytar punk Claudzilla, gritty indie pop outfit Open to the Hound and Germs-esque noise punkers Rat Bites.
Who:Ufomammut w/White Hills and Tjutjuna When: Wednesday, 05.30, 8 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive Why: Saying Ufomammut is a doom metal band from Italy is a bit like saying that Neurosis is a post-hardcore band from the Bay Area. Clearly Neurosis found some kinship with the trio from Tortona, Italy because Neurot Recordings issued the group’s most recent four records in the USA. Ufomammut’s music has elements of doom and sludge metal but its psychedelic drones and industrial sounds have more in common with the other bands on the bill than a straightforward doom band.
New York City’s White Hills has been exploring past settled territories of modern psychedelic rock since its 2003 inception. The duo of Dave W and Ego Sensation use drum machins and sampled rhythms to set a frame in which each can weave a mind-altering and hypnotic soundscape of vivid tones and dark atmospheres. The band’s storytelling and Dave’s vocals are reminiscent of what one might hear on a Legendary Pink Dots or Skinny Puppy album in which there’s no rockist self-aggrandizement or empty calories rhetoric. Dave has something to say, observations to make and narratives to give in his songs that are frankly worth listening to in themselves but couched in an immersive experience in the listening and especially so in the live setting. The group’s 2017 album Stop Mute Defeat, out on Thrill Jockey, is a major leap forward in terms of capturing the band’s masterful use of mood, texture and atmosphere to craft psychological experiences in the form of song.
Denver’s Tjutjuna rarely plays live shows these days, but the band and its talent for krautrock-inspired mind-expanding drones and percussion was always ahead of the curve of so-called “psychedelic rock” bands in the Mile High City. Like White Hills, Tjutjuna is no stranger to employing motorik beats except with a live drummer and the clear melding of the aesthetics of psych, noise and the avant-garde sets the group galaxies ahead of indie rockers who recently discovered how to maybe use reverb pedals with chorus. Quaint. Tjutjuna? Not so much.
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