Who: Mac Sabbath w/Franks & Deans bluebirdtheater.net/events/detail/359843 When: Thursday, 11.22, 8 p.m. Where: The Bluebird Theater Why: Mac Sabbath performs Black Sabbath covers, with fast food themed lyrics, in the guise of fast food characters from some chain gone dark. Are they really aliens from another dimension like Bizarro or escaped mental patients? Who can say, really. But when Black Sabbath gives you the nod of approval maybe your weirdo cover band has some legitimacy. The group has two official music videos released since its inception in 2014 and a flexi disc for the “Pair-a-Buns” single and nothing else yet since singer Ronald Osborne has declared a complete denial of the existence of technology after the 70s. Why not record or, even more quaint, an 8-track? We may yet see such releases from the mysterious band. But for now, and for purposes of the sheer spectacle of the thing, Mac Sabbath is best seen live.
Sunday | November 25, 2018
Who:Elvis Costello & The Imposters When: Sunday, 11.25, 7 p.m. Where: The Fillmore Auditorium Why: Elvis Costello is probably too famous for any introduction. What he contributed/contributes to music is a gift for perfectly capturing a mood, a moment, a frame of mind with detail and humanity. This doesn’t always mean he’s writing songs that fit in with what some people might think of as the “appropriate” way to think and feel about the subject of the song. You may even listen to one of his songs and think, to put it charitably,“What a jerk!” But that’s the point. Whether a character created for the song or a bit of an abstraction of his actual thoughts, Costello’s songs are compelling because whether or not you share the sentiments the songs are poetic and believable pulling up just shy of being sentimental even if he does often employ a sense of nostalgia. His character sketches are vivid and resonate with an emotive familiarity. Currently the songwriter is touring with his band The Imposters in support of Costello’s 2018 album Look Now.
Who:Centered: Steve Hauschildt, Reighnbeau and J. Hamilton Isaacs When: Sunday, 11.25, 7 p.m. Where: Savoy at Curtis Park Why: Steve Hauschildt probably became first known to a national audience during his 2006-2013 run with experimental electronic trio Emeralds. The group fused ambient music with pop and the minimalist end of Twentieth Century classical music. As a solo artist, Hauschildt has delved further into exploring the possibilities of minimalism in composition and creating an sound environment with depth and texture. His 2018 album Dissolvi is reminiscent of a Squarepusher record with the beautiful level of tonal detail but after any deep house influence. Not an ambient dance record, per se, but it could be considered one of the best. Reighnbeau from Santa Fe, NM is a band that includes Bryce Hample, Colleen Johnson and Madeleine Johnston. So for the uninitiated, heavy hitters in underground ambient and experimental pop. Its sound tends toward an organic tone while employing plenty of sonic material that could only come from a computer or other electronic device. The group has a layered sound suggesting a complex mixture of emotions. J. Hamilton Isaacs has been a fixture of Denver’s experimental music scene for over a decade whether he is often acknowledged for it or not. His own beat-driven electronic experiments blend together sequencing/sampling and modular synthesis. Always different, always interesting.
Who:Textures: Wonderlust, Chromadrift, Crimson Highways When: Sunday, 11.25, 7:30 p.m. Where: Mutiny Information Café Why: This months’ Textures Ambient Showcase features post-rock/ambient soundscape artist Chromadrift whose Drew Miller also composes soundtrack-y music in a more abstract shoegaze vein as Brother Saturn. Also, Daniel Mescher as Crimson Highways uses loops and electronics to compose impressions and textured emotional colorings to transport you away from the tonight’s cold.
Monday | November 26, 2018
Who:Pale Waves w/Kailee Morgue and The Candescents When: Monday, 11.26, 7 p.m. Where: The Bluebird Theater Why: Manchester, UK band Pale Waves doesn’t overtly flout conventional song structure and what makes for solid pop melodies. But the band’s early material, upbeat in tone and pacing, hit some of the same emotional touchstones as artists like CHVRCHES and Lorde. But Pale Waves look like an updated version of a dark post-punk band from the 80s and many of its songs, particularly on the 2018 full-length debut My Mind Makes Noise., explore themes of loss, existential uncertainty and identity with an assurance and sensitivity one might not expect from a pop band with a strong visual aesthetic. About the title, singer Heather Baron-Gracie told us that it is an acknowledgment of how our minds are filled with ideas and emotions and it can sometimes be overwhelming but that we can, to some extent, also choose which noises we amplify and feed. In providing interesting contrasts that challenge assumptions (Goth-ish-presenting band making emotionally rich pop songs, pop songs with deeply melancholic themes), Pale Waves demonstrates to people who care to pay attention that one needn’t adhere to narrow expectations in music or in one’s own life.
Who:Echo & The Bunnymen w/Enation When: Monday, 11.26, 7 p.m. Where: The Paramount Theatre Why: Echo & The Bunnymen didn’t just write that song in Donnie Darko, what was it, “The Killing Moon”? Or for an earlier generation, didn’t just do that Doors cover for the soundtrack to The Lost Boys. “People Are Strange,” though. At any rate, Echo & The Bunnymen for post-punk connoisseurs was one of the most consistently interesting bands of the 80s because until it’s 1987 self-titled album, the one that broke the band to the mainstream, of course, with the hit “Lips Like Sugar,” the group had had a string of fascinating, critically acclaimed records. There was an elegance of sentiment, a poetic sensibility and a deeply imaginative quality to the band’s music. Like it was tapping into the unconscious and creating its own mythology cast in dreamlike detail—shrouded in indigo lights and fog, early morning sunlight and mist. The first four Echo & The Bunnymen records are post-punk canon and for the rest of its career there’s been plenty of strong material, even on 1990’s fan-reviled, Ian McCulloch-less album Reverberation. McCulloch remains an enigmatic, romantic weirdo mystic of rock and roll which some my find confounding at times but, really, don’t we all need someone out there maintaining their own mythology in that way that is not harmful but gives hope to anyone who dared to dream of a more interesting world and had the guts to see making it a reality as an iconic band.
Who:The Body, Author & Punisher and Many Blessings When: Monday, 11.26, 7 p.m. Where: Larimer Lounge Why: Two of the best bands that don’t fit too well into the world of metal or heavy music but don’t really fit into any other realm of music either except for maybe noise are sharing the stage tonight. And with Denver’s Many Blessings, a solo noise project of Primitive Man’s Ethan McCarthy. The Body from Providence, Rhode Island have long blurred any lines between doom, grindcore, hardcore, noise, industrial, electronic pop and ambient music. Just depends on the album. The group has been fairly prolific across its 19 years of existence but perhaps none more so than 2018 when the band produced a split industrial group Uniform as Mental Wounds Not Healing, an early 2018 record I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer (a grinding dirge that never seems to get boring) and the fall release O God who avenges, shine forth. Rise up, Judge of the Earth; pay back to the proud what they deserve. Live, the band unleashes intense energy while keeping it weird. No mean feat and The Body does so brilliantly. Author & Punisher is a one-man industrial band. Tristan Shone is an artist and a mechanical engineer who builds his unique instrumentation. One his early tours he definitely played DIY spaces in Denver but has made a bit of a name for himself outside noisenikdom and recognized for his innovative methods of composition. His latest album, 2018’s Beastland out on Relapse Records, is simultaneously possibly his most accessible and challenging record to date. As a frame of reference, imagine a late 80s Ministry and late 90s Neurosis collaboration album.
Tuesday | November 27, 2018
Who:Street Sects w/Ten Foot Beast When: Tuesday, 11.27, 8 p.m. Where: Streets of London Why: Street Sects fills the room with fog in order to disorient you already before its barrage of sounds, lights, rhythm and, on occasion, a bladeless chainsaw brought forth to make for a performance designed to take you out of your comfort zone. Is it noise? Industrial? Inspired by confrontational punk? Perhaps specifically by tales of Alan Vega swinging that bike chain at early Suicide shows in New York? Who can say. What is certain is that while its live shows are not short on visceral thrills, its records stand on their own as well. Its latest record, 2018’s The Kicking Mule is like a futuristic industrial noir with darkly amusing and hardboiled titles like “269 Soulmates,” “Suicide By Cop,” “Dial Down the Neon” and “Still Between Lovers.”
Who:Sharone (“I Love You, Goodbye” single release) w/Melody In Heart, Blake George, Sean Hennigan When: Tuesday, 11.27, 7:30 p.m. Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective Why: Sharone Borik debuted as a talented singer-songwriter before launching her dark, hard rock band Sharone & The Wind in 2016. For this night, Borik is releasing her new solo single “I Love You, Goodbye.” Given Borik’s gift for songwriting and performing with a theatrical flair it should be interesting to see how she presents her solo work this time around.
Who:Glenn Jones and Janet Feder When: Tuesday, 11.27, 7 p.m. Where: Baur’s Why: Two of guitar’s avant-garde greats on one bill. Glenn Jones has been a member of experimental rock band Cul de Sac since 1990 but he was also a collaborator and friend of John Fahey and he has written a film score for Roger Corman. His solo work is often very much in the folk vein but more elaborate and imaginative than too much of what passes as folk these days. Janet Feder was born in Boulder, raised in Denver, and has been pushing the guitar envelope in a variety of ways with form and composition for decades now. While her work might rightfully fall under the umbrellas of prog, the avant-garde, experimental folk and modern classical music, her actual songwriting is fairly organic and highly imaginative. This is a rare chance to see both artists on the same bill.
Wednesday | November 28, 2018
Who:Blockhead w/Yppah, Arms and Sleepers, Mikey Thunder and Jordan Polvina When: Wednesday, 11.28, 8 p.m. Where: Cervantes’ Other Side Why: Tony Simon has been making some of the most interesting and transporting beats in hip-hop for nearly 20 years including his collaborations with Aesop Rock, Ilogic and Murs. His solo releases on the respected Ninja Tune imprint paint a tapestry of New York daydreams of the Big Apple of myth and journeys far beyond to places exotic to a city dweller. His compositions, part immersed in classic sampling tradition of taking bits of jazz and funk records and recontextualizing them, part weaving in experimental electronic music—his own and those possibly borrowed., are immediately captivating and mostly on the downtempo vibe. Live the music can be a bit like the DJ on a laptop sort of affair but on the sound system at Cervantes’ it’ll have a full sound.
Who:Cult Leader, God Mother, Call of the Void and Kenaima When: Wednesday, 11.28, 8 p.m. Where: Lost Lake Why: Salt Lake City’s sludge-grind band Cult Leader recently released its second album A Patient Man. While some of the material is what you might expect of a highly energized band out of its expected realm of music, the group took some hauntingly introspective turns on the record including the track “To: Achlys,” which sounds more like a dire, metallic, brooding post-punk song akin to a late 80s Swans song with a visually stunning music video depicting a man seeking solace in the arms of a stylized figure that resembles a Kali-esque death goddess. The group has been making waves lately and in December is taking Denver-based organo-industrial legends Echo Beds on a short tour. On the bill for this night is the great Denver death-grind outfit Call of the Void and adrenalized mathrcore band Kenaima.
Who:Screwtape EP release w/Noogy, World Movement, Dox and HYFY When: Wednesday, 11.28, 6 p.m. Where: The Oriental Theater Why: Screwtape, one of Denver’s greatest political hardcore bands, is finally releasing its second EP and celebrating the occasion at this show at The Oriental Theater with some of its like-minded peers. By hardcore don’t take that to mean a young band imitating some earlier era of the music but taking those roots as inspiration for making something vital and of the now.
Who:Fever Dreams, Galleries, Baby Baby, Hair Club When: Friday, 04.13, 9 p.m. Where: Lion’s Lair Why: The psych rock and neo-classic rock wave that energized and later burned out in an underground music world in America and beyond perhaps inadvertently spawned a post-wave of rock bands who took those roots and did something more interesting and original. That’s what this show represents. Fever Dreams is a noisy psychedelic band in a gentle mode. Not dream pop because it’s more gritty than that, but fans of that music will find much to like with Fever Dreams. Galleries came out of some guys who listened to a whole lot of Led Zeppelin and fuzzy 90s rock but through the process chamber of imagination and practice Galleries manages to not really sound like their forebears.
Who:Diva 93 (Minneapolis), 269 Bone (Minneapolis), Merma & Roberta (ABQ), Polyurethane When: Friday, 04.13, 8 p.m. Where: Mutiny Information Cafe Why: Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Diva 93 sounds like a combination voice sampling, tape collage infused minimal synth band. What public access stations were to cable conglomerates in the 80s and 90s, Diva 93 is big, synth pop bands—making a virtue of lo-fi, low budget sounds with sheer creativity.
Who:Big City Drugs, DJ Erin Stereo, Mara Wiles, Louis Johnson and Adam Cayton-Holland, benefit for Corey Rhoads who needs a new kidney When: Friday, 04.13, 10 p.m. Where: Mutiny Information Cafe Why: Some heavy hitters in the local comedy and music world are coming together for this event to benefit Corey Rhoads who needs a kidney transplant. In a sane world, events like this wouldn’t be necessary but we haven’t lived in one for a long while now. So if you show up you get to see Denver-based comedy stars Adam Cayton-Holland, Mara Wiles and Louis Johnson as well as DJ sets from Erin Stereo and a musical performance from Big City Drugs, a band that is comprised of comedians but whose take on punk rock is cathartic and not trying to fit into some subgenre of punk with riveting results.
Saturday | April 14, 2018
Who:Meet the Giant, Plastic Daggers, Dead Orchids When: Saturday, 04.14, 8 p.m. Where: Lion’s Lair Why: Meet the Giant is releasing its “Drive” single this night. The Denver-based post-punk band makes some pretty lush and moody music for a three piece. “Drive” in particular is reminiscent of the criminally overlooked L.A. 80s post-punk world and bands like 3D Picnic and Opal. Except that Meet the Giant doesn’t sound dated or retro. Also on the bill are Plastic Daggers, a punk band with a drop of rockabilly in its sound without sounding like they’re trying to cop some neo-classic rock vibe, and Dead Orchids. The latter has a kind of chamber pop quality except the music sounds more like the members of the band are more than passingly familiar with Crime and the City Solution and its raw emotional quality is enhanced, not tempered, by melancholy melodies and introspective atmospherics.
Who:The Still Tide (EP release) w/Panther Martin and Bluebook When: Saturday, 04.14, 8 p.m. Where: Lost Lake Why: The Still Tide have long been one of the most interesting pop bands in Denver. So it comes as no particular surprise that the band has developed a bit of a following outside the Mile High City as well. Anna Morsett’s voice, seemingly well suited to Americana as well as rock, with her widely expressive intonations is immediately striking but inside the context of well-crafted melodies that balance a sense of yearning and acceptance. The group’s new EP, Each, After is more introspective and sparse than 2017’s Run Out but not short on that EPs energetic quality. Since art-folk band Bluebook is also on the bill, perhaps Julie Davis will join The Still Tide on a number or two.
Who:Amigo the Devil w/Jonny Fritz, Hang Rounders and DJ Brian Buck When: Saturday, 04.14, 8 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive Why: Amigo the Devil took the Gothic Americana thing and focused on the murder ballad tradition of the blues that influenced that music to produce a pleasant-sounding but disturbing body of work about the musings of serial killers and the like. Denver’s Hang Rounders aren’t exactly mining similar thematic territory, it’s just a legit country band from people who aren’t short on a healthy sense of humor and irony. But there’s really no irony here. 2017’s Outta Beer, Outta Here may have an amusing title and maybe the musicians don’t take themselves too seriously but it’s a refreshingly not pop-country or overly retro country offering. Jonny Fritz is to modern country what Ray Stevens was to an earlier era of country. That is to say he takes anecdotes and stories from life most other songwriters among his peers wouldn’t use for fodder for songs. Also, an impeccable sense of melody and the ability to engage the audience with a truly idiosyncratic performance in an established musical style. Turns out Ray Stevens is not just the novelty songsmith for which many may remember him, he’s a talented songwriter with an interesting body of work and the same could be said of Jonny Fritz.
Who:Trevor Green When: Saturday, 04.14, 12-4 p.m. Where: Mile High Spirits Why: Trevor Green is a multi-instrumentalist solo songwriter who performs with a brace of guitars, some didgeridoos and various other instruments that he brings into the mix as he performs. He looks like a guy who wandered into town from looking for the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine but got mixed up with Native American mystics in the desert and decided to seek his fortune in making music that reflected the sounds and ideas he learned there rather than delusions of some modern day quest for Cibola. All fanciful references aside, Green’s 2016 album Voice of the Wind is a rewarding hybrid of New Age world music and Americana-inflected rock. That Green can pull this music off live with some creative stage set-up is impressive in itself.
Sunday | April 15, 2018
Who:Trevor Green When: Sunday, 04.15, 10 p.m. Where: Mountain Sun Why: See above for 4.14.
Who:The Jinjas, JINMO (Tokyo) and Gothsta When: Sunday, 04.15, 8:30 p.m. Where: Lion’s Lair Why: JINMO is a prolific avant-garde guitar and synth composer from Tokyo who is currently touring throughout the US with musical performances and demonstrations of the methods and technology he uses to make his often ambient and soundtrack-y songs. Denver’s The Jinjas is a synth/dance rock duo. Who even knows what exactly to call Gothsta except anti-climate and environmental destruction and how she more or less describes herself as “Depression melodica, polka Euroamericana.” Which tells you you’re in for something different than any one of those singly could completely encompass.
Monday | April 16, 2018
Who:Cradle of Filth w/Jinjer and Uncured When: Monday, 04.16, 6:30 p.m. Where: Summit Music Hall Why: Cradle of Filth has been placed in various heavy metal subgenre buckets. But it doesn’t really fit the black metal mode because Dani Filth has never taken the Satanic imagery itself too seriously—it’s part of the theater and it’s amusing to somehow still rankle stuffy, conservative religious folk without really trying. Maybe Cradle of Filth was in the beginning and certainly now more akin to the kind of Gothenburg death metal sound. Except Cradle of Filth is from England and not tapping into that whole “viking metal” thing either. Is it Goth metal? What does that even really mean? Cradle of Filth is also part punk and the political subtext of much of the band’s music along with its embrace of the feminine in spirituality from its 1994 debut album The Principle of Evil Made Flesh to its most recent record, Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay from 2017. But whatever one might think of the music, Cradle of Filth brings theater to all its shows in a way that some of its more commercially successful peers don’t.
Wednesday | April 18, 2018
Who:The Breeders w/Flasher When: Wednesday, 04.18, 7 p.m. Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Kim Deal of Pixies started The Breeders in the wake of the release of Surfer Rosa as an outlet for releasing music she wrote. Early on she recruited Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses and various other musicians to record the first album, 1990’s Pod, and the follow up EP, 1992’s Safari. While the records found an audience on college radio it wasn’t until the 1993 post-Pixies album that The Breeders found a wide audience with the release of Last Splash and its hit single “Cannonball.” While, in terms of publically-released music, The Breeders haven’t been the most prolific band all of its albums have been imbued with a swagger, honesty and sense of humor along with finely crafted, fuzzy rock songs that have a warmth and relatability that many rock bands lack. All Nerve, the group’s 2018 release, its first in a decade, is surprisingly vital and a showcase for Kim Deal’s ear for expressive nuance in tone and creative song dynamics. It’s a mature record without sounding like Deal is toning things down.
On Friday, April 13, Denver based hard rock band Sharone & The Wind releases its sophomore album, Enchiridion of Nightmares. That the record is coming out on Friday the Thirteenth is fitting given the horror themes as metaphors for life’s horrors contained within. The album is all but formally structured as a kind of horror anthology, literary or cinematic. The project fronted by Sharone has come a long way from a rock band borne out of Sharone’s 2016 solo EP to the current lineup which has turned a promising early version of the band to a confident outfit with theatrical live shows that might remind some of a much smaller scale sort of thing Alice Cooper does with his own concerts.
The band’s 2017 debut album, Storm, sounded like a songwriter speaking her truth for the first time in a way that got her out of the solo, sort of singer-songwriter presentation of the music. Though, to be fair, Sharone’s 2016 solo EP and performances of those songs struck a chord with people that got to see those shows at Seventh Circle Music Collective and other places Sharone found to perform. And the incarnations of the band that existed during the writing, recording and performing of the songs from that album helped establish Sharone as a performer who not only sang but played keyboards and guitar until she was able to recruit musicians to play those instruments toward the end of that phase of the band’s life.
By early 2017, Sharone & The Wind, as it had been, was no more and the suddeness of that loss and the way in which bands often dissolve left Sharone feeling angry, sad and fearful of the future of her ability to keep doing music. But the split ended up forcing Sharone to move forward as an artist and finding a new lineup of people who believed in her vision. The result was a darker, more confident sound with Sharone’s vocal range expanding in pitch and dynamism, which manifested strikingly on the new record. It also meant live shows that more closely reflected what Sharone had been imagining for her band from early on.
“As soon as the lineup change happened I felt more creatively free and open to express myself artistically,” says Sharone. “I’ve always had these ridiculous ideas like bringing a lifesize coffin on stage and have demons dance on stage with us like we did at the Halloween show [in 2017]. I was never in a situation before to bring those ideas to life, I always felt judged. I just feel very comfortable with the current lineup and any crazy idea that comes to mind they’re all about it.”
While the band was coming together, Sharone kept writing music and the emotions haunting her paralled her interest in old horror movies and horror fiction. “Basically all the emotions people get from reading horror books or watch a horror movie or go to a haunted house,” says Sharone. “Because I was going through those feelings in my life and because I was interested in horror at the time it fit very well together [because] I was as afraid of what was going to happen in the future as I was afraid of what was going to happen to the little kid in the house in a story.
The writing and recording of the record with a new band was “like one, long therapy session” that Sharone desperately needed. It also lead to a cooperative transformation of the band to have a genuine image to present to fans to stir the imagination and for Sharone it freed her from her early inhibitions as a songwriter of promise to one comfortable in her own body and abilities.
“[Writing and recording Enchiridion of Nightmares] let me step from this very timid, vulnerable place with Storm and come to the other end of the spectrum with all these angry feelings and horror themes,” says Sharone. “Personally having done these two extremes I’m figuring out where I stand with what The Wind is and the direction I want to go from here. The last few weeks I’ve been writing new stuff that’s very open, raw and wearing no disguise of any theme, just honest.”
In March the band released a video, produced by photography, Nic Smith, for the song “Demons” in which each personal demon portrayed as taunting the various band members, “represent mental illness and how people express them.”
“I think it’s a song a lot of people can relate to in a lot of different ways because we all have internal demons with which we struggle,” says Sharone.
For the show at The Marquis the band will debut live the songs “Cursed,” “Exorcist” and “Death of a Clown” and you are invited in to share the catharsis the music brings to Sharone & The Wind.
Who:Black Rebel Motorcycle Club w/Night Beats When: Thursday, 02.15, 7 p.m. Where: The Ogden Theatre Why: B.R.M.C. has tried out different sounds and ideas across its career. From its 2001 post-punk/shoegaze debut album, to the bluesy 2005 record Howl and now the refined, gritty depth of sound field of 2018’s Wrong Creatures. What is most noteworthy with the album is that the band has managed to make a rock and roll record without obviously ripping off some worn out classic rock tropes. The trio also incorporated industrial soundscaping and noise without ever sounding like one of those forgettable 90s industrial rock bands. An achievement in itself. Opening is Seattle’s mutant psychedelic rock quartet Night Beats. On its latest album, 2016’s Who Sold My Generation, it sounded like the band had shed the garage rock elements of its earlier sound in favor of noisier, stranger music like guys had gone on a spiritual journey into the wilds of the Cascades accompanied by the music of Chrome, Spacemen 3 and Silver Apples and come back into the welcoming arms of 13th Floor Elevators before writing their new material. When a lot of modern rock bands are playing it safe at least it seems as though B.R.M.C. And Night Beats don’t want to bore themselves or us.
Who:Eventually It Will Kill You Vol. III: Many Blessings cassette release w/Natural Violence, Prison Glue and Law of the Night When: Thursday, 02.15, 9 p.m. Where: The Meadowlark Bar Why: If you’re just dropping into the Meadowlark after your rigorous parkour and yoga workout tonight, just go elsewhere. This is a noise show and a celebration of the release of the latest Many Blessings tape, Ripe Earth. The album, released on Brian Castillo’s new Kill You Club imprint, is nearly seventy minutes of deep cavern soundscapes that sometimes come off like the decayed transmissions of a broken broadcasting A.I. of the future that generates otherworldly true crime style fiction, the likes of which regular humans would never come up with on our own. Prison Glue is Kevin Wesley, formerly of local noise rock legends Hot White, and every set is different but always some interesting noise experiment and never quite in the same format. Also on the bill is Natural Violence, a project of Homebody’s Michael Stein. Not really noise per se and more like a synth-driven soundtrack to a crime drama written by Paul Reubens. The 2017 EP Synthetic Peace was one of the more interesting releases of last year.
Who:Voight, Breakdancing Ronald Reagan, Anime Love Hotel and Dream Hike When: Thursday, 02.15, 8 p.m. Where: Syntax Physic Opera Why: A different kind of noise show tonight at Syntax. Voight isn’t a noise band though both Nick Salmon and Adam Rojo both more than merely dabble in their solo npose projects, Stye and Diffuser respectively. Its own noisy post-punk songs are somehow both moody and confrontational, haunting yet visceral. Breakdancing Ronald Reagan put out the Harsh Noise cassette on Self Sabotage Records at the end of January, a collection of pieces that live up to the name of the album but also proof that even harsh noise can have nuance, composition and musicality even if it’s put together to push buttons, assault the ears and otherwise transform expectations of experience for something coming out of a P.A. anywhere. Dream, Hike is more in the world of experimental, electronic dance music but Dean Inman is no stranger to his chosen format of expression with sound to challenge what purpose the music serves as something to experience by making beats that aren’t purely for people to chill out and passively dance. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just that Dream Hike is more than the times when he makes music designed for that sort of thing as well.
Friday | February 16, 2018
Who:Atomga Aga EP release w/The Dendrites and Jericho Son of None When: Friday, 02.16, 8 p.m. Where: Ophelia’s Electric Soap Box Why: Atomga is one of a few Afrobeat artists in Denver with the sprawling lineup to manifest the mixture of jazz, funk, Ghanaian highlight the polyrhythmic music of West Africa that was pioneered by composer/musician and political figure Fela Kuti in the 60s and 70s. The band’s new EP Aga is four songs and it sounds like the band has delved into more Middle Eastern musical ideas. In the live setting, Atomga has a forceful and celebratory presence. Also on the bill, one of the few great Denver ska bands, The Dendrites. Great because they don’t sound third wave or overly two-tone revival or trying to be some other band. There’s a lot of imitation in ska but The Dendrites are originals.
Who:Hands of Midnight, Roger Green and Church Fire When: Friday, 02.16, 8 p.m. Where: BarFly Why: Hands of Midnight is an electronic project that seems to be operating at the intersection of dub, psychedelia and deep house. Half of the group is Bill Murphy, former guitarist with the late, great Denver post-punk band The Swayback. Roger Green has been all over the place musically having perhaps first come to prominence in Denver with space rock/pop band Idle Mind. Though likely more well-known for having been a member of dream pop band The Czars, Roger Green’s avant-garde and experimental music like his typewriter orchestra is some of the most interesting sonic art the guy has been up to. He has also written some fine singer-songwriter music and a long-time lecturer on the psychedelic experience and the associated music. For this bill, who knows? Maybe Green has a secret electronic dance music set up his sleeve. Whatever it is, it’ll be worth witnessing. To call Church Fire an intense electronic dance/dream pop band would be like saying Alejandro Jodorowsky made the original midnight movie.
Who:Murs w/Stay Tuned, ItsEvi and ROOKE5 When: Friday, 02.16, 8 p.m. Where: Cervantes’ Other Side Why: Murs more or less got his big break, if such can be said without overstating the point, as a member of influential underground hip-hop collective Living Legends. But since then he has more than made a name for himself as a solo artist for his literate, perceptive and vibrantly emotional lyrics. These days, as back in his early days, Murs’ voice is refreshingly out of step with hip-hop trends. He raps and speaks his words while rendering his vocals musical without singing. It’s a bit of an older approach but one that Murs has successfully creatively evolved across his long career. His new album, A Strange Journey Into The Unimaginable on March 16, 2018. One of the opening acts for this bill is Stay Tuned which includes one of Denver’s best producers, DJ Awhat, and two of its most charismatic MCs, Ichiban and Mane Rok. Their shows are an audio-visual experience that puts a clever and incisive spin on personal experiences as well as some of the most on point social commentary out of Denver.
Who:Zavala, Mux Mool, Big J. Beats When: Friday, 02.16, 8 p.m. Where: Fort Greene Why: Zavala is a Chicago-based artist whose beats and modular synths puts him in league with the better IDM and dub techno artists. His latest album is Fantasmas. Mux Mool is originally from Minneapolis but he’s been working with Michael Menert of Pretty Lights on Club Scout and has relocated to Denver. His brand of IDM is a kind of brighter and more playful hip-hop beat making. Big J. Beats may be known locally as a hip-hop artist but his beats are in the realm of 90s and 2000s alternative hip-hop with his creative use of noise, sounds and atmosphere, like he’s crafting soundtracks to chill, fantastical realms you’d really want to visit.
Who:Judge w/faim, Screwtape and Fortune’s Fool When: Friday, 02.16, 7 p.m. Where: The Marquis Theater Why: Judge formed in 1987 as hardcore was well on its way to splintering as a subculture. But in presenting a more militant than ever straight edge image and adopting a harder sound, Judge had the kind of desperation, immediacy and pointedly political messaging of the newly grindcore Napalm Death whose own 1987 album created a blueprint for a different style of extreme music. So it only seems fitting that local heavy hitters in the hardcore realm, faim and Screwtape, are two of the opening bands because both bands are pushing hardcore into interesting directions at a time when that music could really use some innovation that doesn’t water down its essential appeal.
Saturday | February 17, 2008
Who:The Hits album release show w/Love Stallion, Hot Apostles, Sharone & The Wind When: Saturday, 02.17, 7 p.m. Where: The Marquis Theater Why: Denver’s The Hits is releasing its second full-length album BreakThrough tonight. The album is fourteen tracks of gritty, melodic rock songs that balance energetic drive with an unpretentious poetic sensibility. Yes, the songs are about love, life’s frustrations and conflicted emotions. But the latter is what gives the band’s songs a subtle complexity that far too many rock bands either try to avoid or are incapable of in the first place. Hot Apostles is a like-minded band but with more of a bluesy, hard rock flavor. And, again, Hot Apostles bring to the songwriting not just the passion but a mature person’s perspective on relationships and life in general. Likely opening the show is Sharone & The Wind. Since the band’s inception in the Spring and Summer of 2016 it has quickly evolved from a piano-centered hard rock band to a darker, more metallic without being metal, project with a surprising level of emotional intensity coursing through the music. The band has gone through a significant lineup change since the release of 2017’s excellent Storm and apparently we’ll see another record from the band this year.
Who:Real Estate w/Bedouine When: Sunday, 02.18, 8:30 p.m. Where: Fox Theatre Why: The first three Real Estate albums garnered a sizeable fan base and critical acclaim for its tasty jangle rock riffs and spare but evocative lyrics. But something about it felt a bit one dimensional and, well, tame yet promising. Seven years after forming, in 2016, long time friend of the band Julian Lynch steps in to replace Matthew Mondanile. Rather than merely stepping in as a lead guitarist to play like Mondanile, Lynch was encouraged to bring his innovative, much more experimental, guitar style to the next record, 2017’s In Mind. The well composed songwriting is still in place but there’s an added dimension to the songs that give space for experiments in atmosphere and texture. It’s rarely overt and obvious, which makes it all the more interesting an intentional choice than if the band had scrapped it’s older sound completely. At times the songs are reminiscent of Paracosm-period Washed Out or The War on Drugs, but the intersection of gently rippling rhythm and Courtney’s sparkly, melodic guitar and Lynch’s expansive sensibilities instantly made Real Estate an interesting band rather than one merely noteworthy because it touched many people’s nostalgia centers.
Monday | February 19, 2018
Who:Bahamas and The Weather Station When: Monday, 02.19, 7 p.m. Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Afie Jurvanen is the main force behind Toronto’s Bahamas. Though designated as folk, if you listen to Jurvanen’s records his compositions may have that kind of simple, immediately accessible structure and his presentation of the music has the feel of being included in an intimate performance, but his layering of sounds combines a full sound like a chamber pop band with a stripped down quality. It’s not for everyone but it does set him apart from many other indie folksters. The Weather Station got started around the same time as Bahamas, also in and around Toronto, with similar roots in folk music. But Tamara Lindeman’s vibrant voice is reminiscent of Joni Mitchell and Chrissie Hynde. A similar cadence and tonality. Lindeman’s guitar style is composed almost as sketches of the scenes and experiences she describes in her vivid lyrics. The nuanced thinking and penetrating observational quality of Lindeman’s words matched with her moody and warm compositions, smoothly yet evocatively dynamic, make for some compelling listening. The latest release from The Weather Station is the band’s self-titled 2017 album.
Tuesday | February 20, 2018
Who:Walk the Moon w/Company of Thieves When: Tuesday, 02.20, 7 p.m. Where: Ogden Theatre Why: If you look at Company of Thieves’ discography it’s not sprawling with artifacts of their development as a band. If you got to see the band come up in its hometown of Chicago maybe you got a hold of some tracks, homemade CDs and cassettes. As many bands have done since Company of Thieves got going in 2007. With, according to singer Genevieve Schatz, eight line-up changes (all including band co-founder Marc Walloch) that one might expect in a band that has been around that long without breakthrough commercial success. And Company of Thieves itself went on hiatus for a for a few years during which Schatz released a solo EP and Walloch played bass in AWOLNATION. But in 2017 the band announced it was back together with a short batch of songs ready to release in the new year with lead single, “Treasure.” Though obviously a pop band, with “Treasure,” COT includes political samples as one might expect to hear in an industrial or hip-hop song and uses the sample as a jumping off point to say something when it would be easier to just have written an incredibly catchy song.
Who:Mac Sabbath w/Galactic Empire When: Tuesday, 02.20, 7 p.m. Where: The Marquis Theater Why: Yes, it is indeed that terrifying, McDonald’s-themed heavy metal band. The show is surreal and yet disturbing as only truly committed performance artists can be while putting on a show that can still be appropriate for an all-ages audience.
Wednesday | February 21, 2018
Who:Snarky Puppy w/Sirintip When: Wednesday, 02.21, 7 p.m. Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Snarky Puppy managed to bring together jazz fusion, funk, jam band free flowing, spontaneous songwriting and non-Western music without it coming off like they’re trying too hard. There is a clarity to its maximalist compositions and Bernie Worrell-esque keyboard work that suggest more than one person in the band studied pop music without being chained to its sometimes limiting conventions. Jazz may be the root but Snarky Puppy has thankfully abandoned the ossified instincts of much modern jazz as well. The band is sprawling in membership, totally coincidentally perhaps with it being from Denton from which hail The Polyphonic Spree, but the music has a coherence and focus that you’d expect from a chamber orchestra. The project’s latest record is 2016’s Grammy winning Culcha Vulcha but it looks like there’s a new record in the works with a tentative 2018 release.
Who:The Black Angels w/Ron Gallo When: Thursday, 10.26, 7 p.m. Where: The Ogden Theatre Why: The cover of The Black Angels’ new record, Death Song, itself is a commentary on what’s going on in American culture now and its ripple effect beyond the nation’s borders. Red, white and blue in repeating, circles within larger circles, hypnotic and disorienting, an image suggesting chaos but one that also hints at the possibility of a return to some semblance of coherence and peace. The image, designed by guitarist Christian Bland, is part graphic design style and part minimalist art, much like his work on previous Black Angels albums, but one that suggests movement and confused stasis.
The album’s music bears out those qualities with some of the group’s heaviest and most politically pointed, but never preachy, material to date. The Black Angels were one of the bands that pre-dated the relatively recent wave of psychedelic rock having begun life in 2004 and its own career helped to influence and shape the sound of modern psych with its own music and direct advocacy through Levitation (formerly Austin Psych Fest) and The Reverberation Appreciaion Society. While one of the bigger acts out of psychedelic rock today, The Black Angels and other psych acts make the kind of music that resists full commercial co-optation.
As a live act The Black Angels has always been one that integrates the visual presentation of the music with the sounds so that the experience of the show is one that reflects the experience intended with the creation of the music. This time out the urgency, the heaviness, the fear, anxiety and the catharsis that we all hope comes about on the other end of the current national and international nightmare unfolding as we speak.
Who:Me Me Monster, Gort Vs. Goom and Television Generation When: Thursday, 10.26, 9 p.m. Where: Your Mom’s House Why: Gort Vs. Goom is a bass and drums duo who perform a kind of eccentric punk and jazz hybrid that may remind some listeners of Primus but it’s weirdness has as much to do with one of that band’s influences, The Residents, as with any post-Mr. Bungle art rock band. GvG (for MMO nerds even if not fully intentional on the part of the band) also often perform in costume or some sort of get-up. And Me Me Monster and its commitment to theater and spectacle is a good fit but its own warped hard rock sounds like what might happen if Neil Young got into making psychedelic prog but went through a weirdo jazz phase teaming up with Robin Trower. Television Generation isn’t overtly weird. It’s brand of fuzzy punk, psychedelic garage rock and pop bears some comparison to Love Battery but there is even more of a sardonic sense of humor informing its songwriting and presentation.
Who:Perry Weissman 3, Roger Green and Andy Monley When: Thursday, 10.26, 9 p.m. Where: Syntax Physic Opera Why: Perry Weissman 3 is a long-running avant-garde jazz and rock band that was perhaps most active in the 90s and earl 2000s. Roger Green is the genius guitarist and avant-garde composer who may be best known for his stint in local slowcore band The Czars, which included experimental pop songwriter John Grant. And hey, while we’re talking about former members of The Czars, the band’s other guitarist and vocalist, Andy Monley, is on this bill as well. Monley, however, has plenty of respectable music outside The Czars including his still going tenure with alternative rock band/country punk weirdos, Jux County and his exquisitely written and thoughtful solo material.
Who:Jerkagram, The Uglys, Chromadrift, Sleeping Bears and December Eleventh When: Thursday, 10.26, 8 p.m. Where: Bar Bar (Carioca Café) Why: Jerkagram from Los Angeles is one of those bands that didn’t really fit in a single genre of music so its styles can be all over the place and all at once. But loosely more on the heavier and math-y end of things. In some ways the band is reminiscent of former Denver art rock weirdoes Action Friend who now live and play in L.A.. The Uglys get dubbed this and that and probably haven’t fully decided what they are themselves. How a band can remind you of both Mudhoney, At the Drive-In and Fu Manchu all at once I don’t know but that’s The Uglys for you. Some screamy stoner rock, if you will. Chromadrift? As in Drew Miller? The IDM/ambient artist whose music is so ethereally beautiful it immediately transports you to a better place? Indeed. Filling out the bill are Sleeping Bears and December Eleventh, progressive metal bands from Georgia.
Friday: October 27, 2017
Who:Brujeria w/Powerflo and Piñata Protest When: Friday, 10.27, 8 p.m. Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Brujeria is almost pure schtick as a North Mexico drug cartel/national liberation group/band. Death metal, grindcore, unabashed takedowns of questionable politicians like Donald Trump (pre/post-presidency) and lots of cartoonishly dark humor. But the music to some extent transcends the joke because the musicians are members of other well-known heavy acts like Napalm Death, Carcass, Cradle of Filth, Criminal and others. Opening act Piñata Protest is a highly entertaining hybrid of ska punk and Norteño.
Who:Chelsea Wolfe and Youth Code When: Friday, 10.27, 8 p.m. Where: Gothic Theatre Why: Chelsea Wolfe has spent her career writing in a variety of musical styles but all of it has been a vehicle for her stark rendering of emotional turmoil and channeling that into challenging yet entrancing works of art. Wolfe’s last few records have brought forth in explicable form the subconscious ghosts that have long haunted the songwriter. Her latest, 2017’s Hiss Spun, is the heaviest set of songs Wolfe has yet released. Heavy but also heady and sonically expansive. If some of Wolfe’s previous records could feel and sound claustrophobic as a reflection of an insular creative vision, Hiss Spun is that vision opened up and shared more fully with anyone who might want to share in that experience as someone well-acquainted with personal demons and/or as someone that appreciates an authentic emotional experience so intensely realized.
Youth Code while a different animal musically, is a great fit for this tour because Sarah Taylor’s own unrelenting emotional intensity on stage is something to witness. The band’s dark, industrial bursts of tones and rhythm have evolved considerably since its earliest recordings and 2016’s Commitment to Complications revealed a band that is more than a thrilling jackhammer of aggressive music. There is a moody underbelly and a catharsis of internalized melancholy alongside the desperation you’d expect.
Who:Church Fire and Motion Trap When: Friday, 10.27, 9 p.m. Where: Black Shirt Brewery Why: It could be argued that both of the bands on the bill are electronic dance bands of the highest order because they are. Motion Trap, though, is tends toward bright tones and more keyed into the kind of aesthetic for dance clubs because it is very upbeat. But its music is way too steeped in strong pop songwriting to fully fit in that world. One of the few bands it does seem to fit in with is Church Fire whose dark undertones, politically-charged, noisy synth pop is one of the most exciting bands in Denver or anywhere right now. It’s own unabashed embrace of hip-hop beat production and industrial and dance music isn’t necessarily obvious. This will be an outdoor show starting at 8 p.m. so bring warm clothing.
Who:Mux Mool, atruc, RUMTUM and Brotherhood of Machines When: Friday, 10.27, 8 p.m. Where: Fort Greene Why: Kind of a more leftfield live dance music/hip-hop night with progressive beat maker Mux Mool, alternative hip-hop duo Curta playing as atruc, electro-guitar-based ambient solo act RUMTUM and Brotherhood of Machines. The latter’s combination of ambient, IDM and dubtechno-flavored beats is always very different from many of the acts in whose company he finds himself. The 2016 album III Pillars was a triptych of hypnotic noise and textured atmospheres that established a sense of place. Except that place wasn’t in normal reality.
Who:Rot Congress Night 1: Loanword, Boat Drinks, Jobless, The Far Stairs, Fake Awake When: Friday, 10.27, 9 p.m. Where: The Skylark Lounge Why: Hot Congress, the long-running indie rock collective, has been hosting this Halloween-themed event for years with some of the best bands out of that corner of the Denver music scene. This first night includes ambient project Loanword is on tap as is lo-fi band Jobless and former Hindershot keyboardist Jesse Livingston’s experimental synth pop band The Far Stairs.
Saturday: October 28, 2017
Who:Cults w/Cullen Omori and Hideout When: Saturday, 10.28, 8 p.m. Where: Globe Hall Why: Cults made a bit of a splash with its debut EP and “Go Outside” single in 2010. Its evocation of upbeat, breezy 60s pop mixed with a sense of the otherworldly. Like an alternative history science fiction story born out of heartbreak, personal trauma or simply plain wanting to recast a drab and depressing present with something more romantic and meaningful without the cheese factor that often accompanies such impulses and creative work that comes out of them. Cults latest record, 2017’s Offering, finds the band maintaining that Julee Cruise-esque, dreamlike, nostalgic tone but this time with a broader palette of sounds and rhythms. Where some of the earlier music sounded like it was tapping into some of Phil Spector’s Gold Star Studios years’ vibe, Offering sounds more present and immediate. Opener Cullen Omori was once a member of up-and-coming pop/rock band Smith Westerns. When that band split in 2014, Omori continued writing and performing under his own name. The music wasn’t radically different but the tone seemed to shift. Smith Westerns was very rooted in 70s rock. Omori’s solo output is more reminiscent of a modern version of a New Wave band with a gently psychedelic overtone. More synth, more lush sounds overall. His 2016 album, New Misery, sounded like an artist who wasn’t creatively cutting all ties with his old band so much as reinventing it and, um, culling the elements that didn’t work for him the first time around.
Who:TR/ST When: Saturday, 10.28, 8 p.m. Where: Bar Standard Why: Robert Alfons doesn’t yet have a new record out but TR/ST released a new single, “Bicep,” over the summer. The new track sounds like Alfons is wending more in the direction of EBM than the synth/dance pop of his first two records. TR/ST was one of the few bands that Goth DJs in Denver would play out of the wave of dark electro music that has been very much part of the indie underground since the second half of the 2000s. No, it didn’t sound like Depeche Mode or even Erasure but Alfons’ songs were as dark and moody as anything the former has ever released and as celebratory yet thoughtful as the latter’s best material. When TR/ST recently played Denver it was a well-attended show at The Bluebird so here’s a chance to see the project at a much smaller venue.
Who:Mehvana (as Nirvana), Denver Meatpacking Company (as Hüsker Dü) and Lawsuit Models (as Jimmy Eat World) When: Saturday, 10.28, 9 p.m. Where: 3 Kings Tavern Why: Bands performing covers sets for Halloween isn’t the most original thing in the world but all the bands on the bill for this show are at least trying out something different with grunge-esque band Denver Meatpacking Company doing a set of Hüsker Dü songs probably focusing on the middle era. It’s not a huge leap for pop punk band Lawsuit Models to a Jimmy Eat World set but putting yourself in someone else’s creative head space even if you’re influenced by their work takes some effort when you’re not some session musician or someone that generally plays in cover bands.
Who:Sharone & The Wind (“Night of Terror”) w/Black July, 21 Taras and Married a Dead Man When: Saturday, 10.28, 8 p.m. Where: Moe’s Original Bar B Que Why: It’s a Halloween show that Sharone & The Wind is advertizing as their “Night of Terror” so expect some theatrical shenanigans from the Denver hard rock band. In recent months the band has reinvented itself in a direction more like a cross between a proto-death rock band and a blues-inflected emo group. Sounds like it shouldn’t work but it does. Married a Dead Man is a Goth/death rock band that came out of people who played in the punk and hardcore scene beforehand. Sonically, sort of reminiscent of Sunshine Blind but rougher around the edges at the moment—you know, that ethereal synth with some metallic guitar with a female vocalist who sounds like she is no stranger to belting it a little.
Who:Bob Log III w/Colfax Speed Queen When: Saturday, 10.28, 8 p.m. Where: Lost Lake
Why: Bob Log III used to freak people out as the confrontational frontman of Doo Rag. The Crash Worship crowds for whom the duo played probably got it but the Lollapalooza crowd probably wasn’t used to seeing weirdo blues quite that raw and primal. As a solo artist, Bob Log III has only pushed the theatrical side of his act further with strange costumes like a carnie, blues punk Dex Romweber. Denver’s Colfax Speed Queen won’t be quite as stripped down but it’s own psychedelic garage rock is surprisingly forceful and disorienting in its own way.
Who:Lee “Scratch” Perry + Subatomic Sound System w/Gracie Bassie, TNERTLE (solo) When: Saturday, 10.28, 8 p.m. Where: Cervantes’ Other Side Why: Lee “Scratch” Perry is one of the architects of modern music as we know it. As the producer at the now defunct Black Ark in Jamaica, Perry was one of the pioneers of dub, which is a radical remixing and reproduction of existing music and represents one of the earliest forms of electronic music and a creative use of an early version of sampling. Directly or indirectly, as an engineer, producer or musician, Perry shaped the sound of much of reggae music and through that of punk, hip-hop and electronic music from the 70s forward. In recent years, Perry has collaborated with house/experimental electronic band The Orb on original material. His live show is a masterful delivery of his imaginative soundscaping and hypnotic rhythms.
Sunday: October 29, 2017
Who:Ministry w/Death Grips When: Sunday, 10.29, 8 p.m. Where: The Fillmore Auditorium Why: Ministry somehow made the crossover from synth pop (With Sympathy) to EBM (Twitch and to some extent The Land of Rape and Honey) to industrial rock (by the time of The Mind Is A Terrible Thing to Taste) in the course of seven years. It’s a remarkable transformation and at each stage Ministry was one of the very best bands in those respective genres. Since then Ministry’s newer material has been on the heavier end of music though arguably more difficult to neatly classify. The current touring incarnation of Ministry is focusing on material post-1988. If you’ve been switched off for 30 years and are expecting tracks from the EBM era and would be disappointed not to see it live, don’t go. But if you appreciate Al Jourgensen’s mutant heavy music from The Mind forward, it’ll be a worthy selection of material. Death Grips is an industrial hip-hop band with a charismatic frontman in MC Ride and one of modern popular music’s greatest drummers in Zach Hill. Even if you’re not into hip-hop for some reason Death Grips is really more of an experimental band that doesn’t really bother with splitting hairs between the aesthetics of hip-hop, noise, industrial music or whatever its own style might be that comes out of that.
Who:Haunted Sound Laboratory, Unbridled Sonic Anarchy, Chris Sessions, Jonathan Cash When: Sunday, 10.29, 7 p.m. Where: Mutiny Information Café Why: Textures is an ambient showcase that happens at Mutiny the final Sunday of every month. This time, host Wesley Davis’ own Unbridled Sonic Anarchy will be performing alongside Jonathan Cash who some may know more for his noise project Break Dancing Ronald Reagan.
Who:Vanilla Milkshakes, Denver Meatpacking Company and Uncle Bad Touch When: Sunday, 10.29, 8 p.m. Where: Lion’s Lair Why: This is another Halloween-themed show and apparently grunge/punk band Vanilla Milkshakes will treat those in attendance with its take on The Ramones and DMC will reprise its Hüsker Dü cover set from the night before.
Who:2Mex, Onry Ozzborn, Early Adopted and Curta When: Sunday, 10.29, 8 p.m. Where: Larimer Lounge Why: 2Mex may not be a household name but in the alternative hip-hop scene of the 1990s (and now for that matter) he has long been a star. His witty and imaginative wordplay was honed at the open mic nights at Good Life Café in South Central Los Angeles and he has been willing to couch it in beats that reflect popular music of the time. More importantly his raps criticize his own music culture, American culture in general and himself with humorously poetic sensibility. Onry Ozzborn is a respected alternative hip-hop artist in his own right whose music seems to favor darker tones and downtempo beats. As a member of Grayskul and Dark Time Sunshine Ozzborn’s gritty stories were reminiscent of Aesop Rock’s literary output, and of course the two rappers have collaborated. Opening act, Denver’s Curta, incorporates a more industrial and psychedelic/experimental electronic flavor into its beats. Apparently this will be the last show with founding keyboardist/guitarist Brent Larsen, aka 4Digit who is moving out of town.
Who:Governor Mortimer Leech (Widow’s Bane) undead and unplugged When: Sunday, 10.29, 6 p.m. Where: Ophelia’s Electric Soap Box Why: Widow’s Bane is the undead pirate band from Boulder. They do interviews in character and perform in character. Is it “character”? Anyway, Governor Mortimer Leech will be performing a rare acoustic show early at Ophelia’s and it’s free.
Monday: October 30, 2017
Who:Cobalt, Worry and Fathers When: Monday, 10.30, 7:30 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive Why: Greeley-based black metal band Cobalt didn’t play much in the first decade or so of its existence and nevertheless garnered a bit of an international following. Founding member Phil McSorley left the project in 2014 but Erik Wunder (who also plays in one of Jarboe’s bands) and Charlie Fell (formerly of Lord Mantis, Nachtmystium and Abigail Williams) have kept the band going and completed its best album to day, 2016’s Slow Forever. The band’s previous records were boundary pushing in what can be an insular musical style and Slow Forever‘s expansive dynamism sacrificing none of the bleakness and brutality was something of a new chapter for the band. Colorado Springs-based deathgrind band Worry and Denver’s heavy band super group (with members of Native Daughters, Cult of the Lost Cause and Lords of Fuzz) round out the bill.
Who:Ghoulfriend, Corner Girls, Page 27, art by Katherine Louise, Jesse Nickell and poetry by Kelsey Carolyn Bowe When: Monday, 10.30, 7:30 p.m. Where: Syntax Physic Opera Why: Ghouloween 2017 will be held in the basement of Syntax for extra spookiness. It’ll be a night of art, music and poetry. Chances are you won’t see the bands on the same bill again any time soon. Ghoulfriend is weirdo guitar project of Trey Tafoya of Ancient Elk and déCollage. Some bands play psychedelic rock, Ghoulfriend takes the concept of using guitar to expand sound palettes to a higher and more original level while still making it accessible. Page 27 is one of Denver’s, and the world’s, longest-running noise bands. Now, P27’s soundscape has included harsh noise and sometimes still does but it’s more like a hypnotic, modulated drone that pulls in sounds that one does not often associate with the genre called drone. Corner Girls is an excellent surf rock/punk band whose lyrics are often enough an irreverent take-down of patriarchal cultural features that should have been weeded out of our collective unconscious decades ago but somehow still linger and affect people’s everyday lives. Addressing it with music is simply a peaceful and creative way to discuss the issues.
Tuesday: October 31, 2017
Who: Alvvays w/Jay Som bluebirdtheater.net/events/detail/337225 When: Tuesday, 10.31, 7 p.m. Where: The Bluebird Theater Why: Alvvays’ self-deprecating pop songs could be glum but Molly Rankin and company seem to realize that wallowing in despair rather than finding the humor in life’s downstrokes is more boring than transforming those moments of intense emotions into something creative. The Toronto band’s promising 2014 debut sounded like a band fully formed and tapping a bit into the pop music that came out of the C86 era in its sophisticated simplicity and unabashed embrace of bright and breezy, catchy melodies. The 2017 album, Antisocialites is highlighted with neon-sounding synths like someone in the band has started listening more closely to Missing Persons including the flourishes of tastefully intricate micro guitar solos. The subtle details make it a consistently rewarding listen. Along for this leg of the Alvvays tour is Jay Som whose lo-fi anthems about identity, self-discovery, self-definition and personal liberation seem very relevant in a time when the boorish, hateful and oppressive side of modern American culture has reared its ugly head in a big way. 2017’s Everybody Works is a bracing antidote to all of that even if it may sound like a gentle indie rock record to many.
Who:Itchy-O w/Altas When: Tuesday, 10.31, 8 p.m. Where: Summit Music Hall Why: For the uninitiated, Itchy-O is a roughly 32 member avant-garde music performance troupe that plays its shows entirely in costume like mariachi mystics. The band has a full drum corps and other percussion, a taiko section, bass, guitar, synths, processed vocals and other noises and “dancers” that creep about the crowd during the show. It’s a real spectacle and really unlike other bands in every way. That it can release albums that could be worthy of the live show seems implausible but the band recently released its second full-length album, From the Overflowing, on Alternative Tentacles. The records are no replacement for the experience of the band but fascinating listening nevertheless. Instrumental rock band Altas opens the show with its dynamic, cinematic compositions.
Who: Space In Time, Keef Duster, Colfax Speed Queen and Wild Call When: Tuesday, 10.31, 8 p.m. Where: Hi-Dive Why: Space in Time is a hard rock band whose sound harkens to a time when early metal and psychedelic rock were not at all far apart. Obvious touchstones for Space in Time would be Deep Purple, Captain Beyond (which included ex-members of Deep Purple and Iron Butterfly) and Uriah Heep with both bands’ gift for writing melodic heavy rock with a fluidly trippy groove. Keef Duster’s music draws on similar inspirations but wends more toward the doom end of the heavy spectrum. Fronted by Kim Phat, who some may know from garage rock punks Dirty Few, Keef Duster is more than a clever name even though it recently released a song called “Hash Hive.” The latter was mixed and produced by Matt Loui of psychedelic garage rock band Colfax Speed Queen, also on the bill.
Who:Captured! By Robots w/908, Bewitcher and Night of the Living Shred When: Tuesday, 10.31, 9 p.m. Where: 3 Kings Tavern Why: Captured! By Robots at this point is a great metal band, bordering on death metal and industrial. Most of the band is comprised of robots constructed by JBOT but a lot of the kitsch factor of the earlier part of the project’s life are gone and the performance is much more focused on doing something that isn’t a complete gimmick. Internationally known deathgrind band 908, from Colorado Springs, shares the bill as does skate thrash band Night of the Living Shred. So basically Bryan Ostrow will be doing throat destroying vocals for two bands this night because he’s the Nivek Ogre of extreme metal.
Who: Bronze, Terminals, Master Ferocious, The Pollution and The Stunning Cuntz When: Tuesday, 10.31, 9 p.m. Where: Mutiny Information Café Why: Three of the handful of good sludge metal bands from Denver at Mutiny? We’ll have to assume some books will fall off shelves at some point. Bronze is named in reference to Mad Max and its heavy music is more tied to bands from the 70s and early 80s with strong songwriting and good vocals rather than the 90s and 2000s stoner rock bands it may sound like. When there seemed to be way too many stoner rock bands in Denver from roughly 2000-2010, Bronze stood out. Members of Master Ferocious came out of some of the better bands of that era too like The Angry Hand of God. Out of the latter, guitarist Mark Pilloud and bassist Brian Kennedy were involved in the founding of Master Ferocious in 2014 and the newer band still seems to write dystopian songs about the present with guitar work that demonstrates an interesting co-influence from, of course, Black Sabbath and late 70s Judas Priest.
Wednesday: November 1, 2017
Who:Slowdive w/Cherry Glazerr When: Wednesday, 11.01, 7 p.m. Where: Ogden Theatre Why: Of all the shoegaze bands of the late 80s and early 90s, Slowdive was an early adopter of an ambient and electronic music aesthetic. When the group started as a kind of indie pop band called Pumpkin Fairies, its songwriting, inspired in part by atmospheric post-punk bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees (the song of whom the fledgling band borrowed its then new name), The Cure and Cocteau Twins. For the 1991 debut full-length, Just For A Day, the ethereal vocals that one now associates with the shoegaze genre was very much in place and so were the expansive, towering guitar drones that the band had developed on its previous EPs.
By the time of the 1993 follow-up, Souvlaki, Slowdive was working with ambient music godfather Brian Eno and had all but abandoned conventional rhythm structure in favor of more organic rhythms giving songs like “Sing” and “Souvlaki Space Station” a quality that melds the tone and the atmosphere into what might later be described as a beat-driven approach to the songwriting. Those musical instincts reached their peak with Slowdive on what might have been its final, and in some ways most daring and interesting album, 1995’s Pygmalion. The latter came out at a time when the alternative music world had long gone down the rockist path with a set of songs based in what seemed like a sonic recreation of pure emotion cast in minimalist textures. It was like a post-rock album seemingly inspired by and synthesizing IDM, abstract dub and ambient house music. The innovative record lost the band their label contract with Creation records and the members of Slowdive went on to other musical concerns over the years including Mojave 3, Monster Movie and The Sight Below.
Perhaps inevitably, Slowdive reunited in 2014 but under its own terms and with the aim of recreating its heart and imagination-stirring music authentically. And its subsequent tours have borne that goal out. Making no promises until the possibility was a bit of a concrete reality, the band didn’t announce new material until Spring 2016. The forthcoming self-titled album, released in May 2017, was not a rehash of the band’s past. It was not an attempt to outdo the sheer experimentalism of Pygmalion. Rather, it was a strong set of songs worthy of all of its earlier music. The music doesn’t feel like nostalgia, it feels like the band knew it had to do something that wouldn’t reject the past but also not be yoked to expectations of any lack of artistic growth on the part of the musicians over the previous twenty-two years. So if you go to the show, and you should if you’re a fan of highly emotionally stimulating music that is an unexpectedly visceral experience, no need to dread any newer, inferior material because the most recent Slowdive songs are far from subpar.
Who: Robot Peanut Butter & The Shooting Stars, Ice Troll, Dear Rabbit and Open to the Hound When: Wednesday, 11.01, 9 p.m. Where: 3 Kings Tavern Why: This might be the deluxe edition of Claudia Woodman’s Weird Wednesday series for the first half of the month. Robot Peanut Butter & The Shooting Stars is “Electronica Glam Rock” that includes contributions from Never Kenezzard’s Ryan Peru. Ice Troll is a sort of doom rock orchestra. Dear Rabbit is lo-fi avant-garde folk. Open to the Hound is what might happen if Lloyd Cole formed a band that took some cues from The The and Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. It’s just that weird but grounded in classic songwriting sensibilities.
Who:Chicano Batman w/Khruangbin and The Shacks When: Wednesday, 11.01, 7 p.m. Where: Gothic Theatre Why: To say Chicano Batman is sort of a psychedelic soul band doesn’t quite do it justice because its music comes out of tropicalia, old timey rock and roll and funk without sounding like it’s trying too hard to please everyone. Live, the group presents a unified visual image with matching outfits as one might expect from 60s and 70s Chicano rock bands like Thee Midnighters and Sunny & The Sunglows. Early on championed by the late, great, Ikey Owens, Chicano Batman got a leg up reaching a wider audience through a 2015 tour with Jack White, with whom Owens had been playing before his untimely death in October 2014. The group’s 2017 album, Freedom is Free, is a bracing antidote to the climate of chaos, desperation and despair that many people have been experiencing with the Trump administration by offering an alternative vision for a better America and a world.
Houston’s Khruangbin is a Thai surf-funk-soul band so it and Chicano Batman are a perfect compliment to one another as Kruangbin’s music isn’t grounded in the same influences even if the music it’s music is also not inspired by music from just one place and one time. Inspired initially by Thai funk cassettes from the 60s and 70s, Khruangbin has found fuel for its creativity in the music that influenced those bands and the music that resulted from those roots that manifested in various ways. Dub, Afrobeat, reggae and hip-hop, among others.