What:Tourist w/Matthew Dear and Swim Mountain When: Friday, 12.13, 8 p.m. Where: Globe Hall Why: English electronic musician Tourist aka William Phillips is currently touring in support of his 2019 album Wild. Though known for his production and remixing work for higher profile pop artists, his own music is becoming known for his spacious and emotionally luminous compositions. His mastery of sculpting the sound in the mix and crafting vivid soundscapes that take you out of mundane life into a realm of bright colors and tranquil, uplifting moods is impressive. Also on the bill is aesthetically like-minded musician and producer like Matthew Dear whose 2018 album Bunny is imbued with its own head-space-shifting energy.
What:Lot Lizard w/No Gossip in Braille, Old Soul Dies Young and more When: Saturday, 12.14, 7 p.m. Where: Seventh Circle Music Collective Why: Lot Lizard is a post-punk band from Sioux Falls, South Dakota whose debut full-length released on December 6, 2019 and made it as a late entry into our Year End Best List (to be published over six weeks soon). Rather than take cues from the current darkwave movement, Lot Lizard’s noisy, moody songs have more in common with the likes of Iceage, Pere Ubu and bands on the Amphetamine Reptile imprint than the usual suspects. Yet its songs are accessibly melodic and rooted in songwriting rather than bludgeoning volume while also indulging in plenty of noisescaping when the moment strikes right. Denver-based post-punk band No Gossip In Braille recently released its own album in 2019 called Bend Toward Perfect Light, capturing the overpowering despair and sorrow of the past few years in the American psyche, especially in the realm of underground music and art and among those not favored by a system seeming to only boost the interests of the economic elite. Rather than wallow in despair No Gossip in Braille channeled those feelings into a hopeful energy that honors the hurt.
What:Angel Olsen w/Vagabon When: Saturday, 12.14, 8 p.m. Where: Gothic Theatre Why: Angel Olsen has consistently written fascinating music that pushes her own frontiers as an artist and as a vehicle to challenge cultural norms. Her 2019 album All Mirrors is a “[poignantly] dreamlike examination of identity in an age of universal scrutiny” (from our year end best albums coverage). It is a lush sound environment in which to get lost and rediscover yourself.
What:Harry Tuft w/Rich Moore, Glenn Taylor, Bill Rich, Ed Contreras, John Magnie When: Saturday, 12.14, 7 p.m. Where: Swallow Hill Daniels Hall Why: Harry Tuft is the godfather of all folk from Denver and the Front Range since the early 60s and founding the Denver Folklore Center as well as Swallow Hill Music in the 70s. He’s been performing his own music in the last few years and proving he’s a gifted artist as well as interpreter of the work of others.
What:Plaid w/Nasty Nachos and Xoxford When: Sunday, 12.15, 7 p.m. Where: Larimer Lounge Why: Plaid is one of the foundational projects of IDM and modern experimental electronic music. Since 1991 the group has helped to redefine and evolve beat-driven synthesizer music while mixing in live instruments and samples. Its 2019 album Polymer which has as its subject the examination of the nature of technology and our use of resources and the myriad ways in which they benefit and potentially harm us.
What:Empath w/American Culture and Reposer When: Tuesday, 12.17, 7 p.m. Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Psychedelic noise punk band Empath put out its debut full length in 2019—Active Listening: Night on Earth. But the Philadelphia-based group has been making waves in the underground for the past few years for its creative take on punk as not just as a sound but as an attitude and ethos. And yet its spirited performances are pure punk—a catharsis of emotion and inspiration.
What:The Ocean Blue When: Thursday, 12.5, 7 p.m. Where: Soiled Dove Underground Why: Dream pop band and precursors of modern indie pop, The Ocean Blue, makes a stop in Denver in support of its new album Kings and Queens / Knaves and Thieves. Read our interview with singer/guitarist David Schelzel here.
What:Dog Basketball and Dry Ice album release When: Thursday, 12.5, 7 p.m. Where: Old Main Chapel CU 1600 Pleasant St. Boulder 80302 Why: Dual album release show from experimental pop band Dog Basketball and “psychedelic dream punk” band Dry Ice from Denver. A rarity to see any show at Old Main much less something this underground and experimental.
What:She Past Away w/Radio Scarlet and WitchHands When: Friday, 12.6, 7 p.m. Where: Marquis Theater Why: She Past Away is the Turkish post-punk band from Bursa that began in 2006 and making them early adopters of the current darkwave movement. Its synth and bass-driven songs have a different quality than its Western European and American counterparts while sharing that dark, introspective quality that is clearly descended from the likes of D.A.F., Depeche Mode and Clan of Xymox with an aesthetic that isn’t so far removed from its punk roots. The group’s third and latest album 2019 Disko Anksiyete saw a dual release on Fabrika Records and Metropolis Record and with a US tour currently under way it’s proof that its music transcends barriers of language.
What:Altas with Tiffany Christopher When: Friday, 12.6, 8 p.m. Where: Denver Open Media Why: Instrumental rock band Altas performs at Denver Open Media for a free show with Tiffany Christopher. Altas released the powerfully cinematic All I Ever Wanted Was in June 2019.
What:May Erlewine w/Dango Rose When: Saturday, 12.7, 7 p.m. Where: Tuft Theatre (Swallow Hill) Why: May Erlewine is a prolific blues folk artist from Big Rapids, Michigan with fifteen albums under her belt since 2003 including 2019’s In the Night. Erlewine cut her teeth as a live performer, according to a piece on MTV.com, while hitch hiking across North America and performing on the streets. For In the Night Erlewine picked herself up from the state of despair that hit many people in the wake of the Trump presidency and use her music as way to address 45’s ignorant and hateful and destructive remarks and behaviors with thoughtful commentary and observations on life and the American culture she and many of us know to be much more authentic than the spewage from a pampered, narcissistic child of privilege. But expect that music to be delivered with Erlewine’s usual warmth, nuance and strength with her dynamic and elegant voice.
What:Lettuce w/Antibalas and Chris Karns When: Saturday, 12.7, 7 p.m. Where: Fillmore Auditorium Why: Lettuce is an experimental funk band that has crossed over into the realm of jam bands and EDM even though its music has ranged far afield of that for years including its 2019 album Elevate. The group freely borrows from styles and sounds to craft its signature synthesis of funk, Afrobeat, jazz and electronic pop.
What:Anamanaguchi w/Default Genders and Nullsleep When: Sunday, 12.8, 7 p.m. Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Mix an anthemic J-pop band with an 8-bit glitchcore project and a progressive rock/jazz fusion band and task it to make dynamic and engrossing video game music with an uncommon sense of space, composition and emotional impact and you have Anamanaguchi. Particularly on its 2019 album [USA]. Seems gimmicky at first but the New York-based band doesn’t get stuck in the hyperactive songwriting that plagues a lot of “Nintendocore” acts or the dull focus on displays of technical prowess and knowledge of theory that is behind a lot of prog. Just well crafted, expansive pop songs that feel like endless possibilities and the positive ghosts of childhood reverie manifested in sound.
What:Alex Cameron w/Jackladder and Emily Panic When: Monday, 12.9, 7 p.m. Where: Bluebird Theater Why: Alex Cameron’s 2019 album Miami Memory is like a set of vignettes about people in crisis. But the take is one of compassion and understanding without trying to underplay or make light of the struggles. At a time when a lot of synth pop is generic, Cameron’s eccentric and psychologically insightful take on songwriting is strikingly different with a knack for changing up the vibe, texture and tone of his songs throughout an album. Just watch the video for “Far From Born Again” for a bit about Cameron’s keen understanding of the human condition.
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:Empath, Shiii Whaaa and Surrender Signal When: Thursday, 07.05, 7 p.m. Where: Lost Lake Why: Empath’s 2018 EP Liberating Guilt and Fear (on Philadelphia-based queer DIY label Get Better Records) is a good reminder that not every younger band disappeared into any kind of boring and creatively stultifying/ossifying morass of subgenre aspirational adherence. Some of its closest sonic cousins of a decade ago might be No Age and Ponytail for the sheer enthusiasm and willingness to embrace raw noise as part of its songwriting. Don’t expect the band’s songs to fit comfortably within the box of noise rock either. Empath doesn’t worry over boundaries like that and you can bet part of its show will be a float into organic sounds, ambient aesthetics and an environmental approach to composition well outside rock-ist and pop-ist aesthetics. Angular noise rock outfit Surrender Signal from Denver is on the bill as well as post-Reatards/noise surf weirdos Shiii Whaaa from Colorado Springs.
Who:Jeremy Enigk w/Chris Staples When: Thursday, 07.05, 7 p.m. Where: Larimer Lounge Why: Jeremy Enigk is the singer/guitarist for Sunny Day Real Estate, the Seattle band that in the early 90s helped to establish the aesthetic and sensibilities of emo before it morphed into the version most people came to know in the early 2000s. When Sunny Day broke up in 1995, Enigk embarked upon a distinguished solo career beginning with his 1996 album Return of the Frog Queen. Its sound, while a logical next step from SDRE, was even more meditative and introspective. Sonically it had more in common with the pop-songcraft and sound experimentation heard in artists affiliated with the Elephant 6 collective than anything else going on around that time. Not psychedelic so much as emotionally tender and not hiding behind loud sounds to mask genuine feelings, rather, an embrace of them. For this tour Enigk is celebrating the twenty-second anniversary of that debut solo record so expect to hear all or most of it at this show.
Who:The Rememberables, Blacksage, Pearls & Perils, Zealot and Broken Record When: Thursday, 07.05, 9 p.m. Where: Mutiny Information Café Why: Baltimore’s Blacksage paired the singing chops of folk vocalist Josephine Olivia with the electronic music compositional and technical prowess of producer Drew Scott to make the kind of minimal synth dance pop that should be dominant in mainstream music since Lorde, Grimes and Purity Ring have already made inroads that way. But for now, the band bridges the shortening chasm between modern darkwave and indie pop. Currently the duo is on tour with Washington D.C.’s The Rememberables. Sure, the guys look like they are in some kind of hip motorcycle gang that maybe listen to Catherine Wheel and Smashing Pumpkins instead of only Skynyrd and the Nuge. And its huge, fuzzy riffs bear that out a bit as evidenced by its self-titled 2017 album rememberables.bandcamp.com. However, the vibe is more self-aware and melancholic in a way that makes one wonder how members of noteworthy DC hardcore band Coke Bust went from that blistering, noisy discharge of anger and outrage to this more nuanced music and yet liking the change all the same. Also on the bill is Denver rock band Zealot which deserves a longer mention as it includes former members of The Don’ts And Be Carefuls and Ideal Fathers. And Pearls & Perils is the best solo soul/downtempo project in Denver with the mighty Olivia Perez who used to front the experimental prog/hard rock band Gloam a decade ago. Her music is as soothing as it is hypnotic and riveting.
Friday | July 6, 2018
Who:Slim Cessna’s Auto Club w/Strange Americans When: Friday, 07.06, 6 p.m. Where: Levitt Pavilion Why: Slim Cessna’s Auto Club will bring its curiously bright and lively yet haunted cowboy punk/Gothic Americana glam show to the outdoor theater Levitt Pavillion tonight. In an Auto Club show you will experience the broad spectrum of the human emotional drama with a triumphant energy born of knowing life’s low points. Without the hokey-ness, SCAC’s musical output is an acceptance and embrace of life as it is.
Who:Roka Hueka w/Los Mocochetes and Blue Kings When: Friday, 07.06, 8 p.m. Where: Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox Why: Fortunately the Afrobeat and Latin funk bands in Denver tend to be pretty legit. Granted, Roka Hueka is a ska band it’s style is more in line with the world of jazz and Los Mocochetes may be a funk band but it isn’t just about the party and a good time, though that is certainly part of its appeal, its songs integrate so many styles of art and music into presenting vibrant ideas that challenge the dominant paradigm.
Saturday | July 7, 2018
Who:Brother Dege When: Saturday, 07.07, 6 p.m. Where: Broken Shovels Farm Why: At first blush Brother Dege can seem like any other modern blues artist but give the guy’s songs a chance to work and ride with him a little and you’ll discover he’s someone that actually takes the form and the sounds of blues and does something affecting and magical with them. This could be that he’s from rural Louisiana and went through his own real life travails long before, you know, writing “Too Old To Die Young” for his 2010 album Folksongs of the American Longhair, which was included on the soundtrack for Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 film Django Unchained. But Brother Dege’s tonal shifts and song dynamics elevate his music to the mythical level at which the most interesting blues artists have always operated. Brother Dege is now touring in support of his thought-provoking 2018 album Farmer’s Almanac. This show is at Broken Shovels Farm on the edge of Denver metro yet still in city limits but it’s going to feel like you’re seeing this music in the rural west and given the weather in Denver of late, with a lightning backdrop.
Who: Sailor Records 7 Year Anniversary
When: Saturday, 07.07, 2 p.m.
Where: 3 Kings Tavern
Why: Heavy music imprint Sailor Records is celebrating its seventh year with a showcase of many of its artists at this event. On tap for the occasion will be Native Daughters, Dreadnought, Muscle Beach, Greenbeard, Fathers, Joy Subtraction, Abrams, Plastic Daggers, Sugar Skulls and Marigolds, Low Gravity, Unicorn Pussy, It’s Just Bugs and Oscar Ross
Sunday | July 8, 2018
Who:Cowboy Junkies When: Saturday, 07.08, 1 p.m. Where: Twist & Shout Why: Cowboy Junkies formed in 1986 in Toronto, Canada and quickly recorded its first album, a collection of mostly covers, called Whites Off Earth Now!! In the era, the band struck a chord on the college rock circuit where it remained a staple of college radio for over a decade. For the 1988 album The Trinity Session the group recorded, as with its first record, live with a stereo mic to a 2 t-track RDAT as a reaction against the humanity seemingly having been produced out of then commercial music. And that’s been the band’s consistent appeal—moody, sometimes brooding music, a mixture of blues, country and folk but rendered into a form and style that didn’t sound like it was adhering too much to the past. In that way, what Cowboy Junkies and like-minded bands of the era were doing is not unlike what many modern avant-bluegrass and mutant Americana bands have been doing for the past two decades and putting the human element to the forefront as a means of immediate connection. This show at Twist & Shout can be attended in its full glory can be attended with a wristband you can get with a pre-purchase new album at the store. The band will perform its full set with full sonic definition this night in Boulder.
Who:An Evening With Cowboy Junkies When: Sunday, 07.08, 7 p.m. Where: Boulder Theater Why: See above for why this show might be of interest to you. Also, Boulder Theater, a beautiful room with solid acoustics and the full set from this noteworthy band.
Who:Carry Illinois w/Brianna Straut When: Sunday, 07.08, 8:30 p.m. Where: Lion’s Lair Why: See our interview with Lizzy Lehman here. But otherwise, Carry Illinois is an Austin-based pop band whose emotionally stirring, sometimes harrow, always healing songs tap into Lehman’s specific struggles with mental health issues and loss but whose expression renders those struggles into a vivid sonic experience that anyone with any sense of self-awareness will find relatable and illuminating.
Tuesday | July 10, 2018
Who:Carry Illinois When: Tuesday, 07.10, 8 p.m. Where: Magic Rat Why: See above for Carry Illinois and our interview with singer Lizzy Lehman here. This is the band’s only other show in Colorado.
Who:Invertebrate, Grimy and Berated When: Tuesday, 07.10, 6 p.m. Where: Chain Reaction Records Why: It’s not so common to find a grindcore show in Denver these days outside of Mutiny Information Café and Seventh Circle Music Collective. This one will include Oakland’s grind-powerviolence trio Invertebrate, Denver’s Grimy (which includes former members of Doperunner) and Denver-based power violence act Berated.
Who:Das Ich w/The Midnight Marionettes, DJ Katastrophy When: Tuesday, 07.10, 8:30 p.m. Where: 3 Kings Tavern Why: Germany’s Das Ich brings together the aesthetics of electro-industrial dance music, cabaret theater and an occult horror movie down to the demonic stage personae of Bruno Kramm and Stefan Ackermann. It’s the kind of music and show you’ll either love for the camp or find silly. But Kramm has been an active participant in humanist leftist politics in Germany and Das Ich’s music often reflects this perspective with 2002 album Anti’christ a pointed critique of world politics of the time.
Wednesday | July 11, 2018
Who:Quicksand w/Glassjaw and Spotlights When: Wednesday, 07.11, 6:30 p.m. Where: The Ogden Theatre Why: Quicksand and Glassjaw are two of the giants of 90s New York post-hardcore. Both established a hard-edged, emotionally harrowing sound delivered with an expert use of a song dynamic that utilized a hovering/hanging delay of the most crushing and driving aspects of the songs. Quicksand, which formed earlier in 1990, have an elastic groove in its specific style, a sinewy rhythm the likes of which some later nü metal bands used with often less interesting results. That because with Quicksand while the lyrics are a discharge of anger and anxiety it’s about a place in life and not a celebration of that anger aimed squarely at someone the singer believes wronged him. After splitting in the 90s, Quicksand returned in 2012 seemingly better than ever with a new album, Interiors, released in 2017.
Glassjaw’s sound by comparison wasn’t a groove so much as a steady, relentless burn with a pause for breath between layers of blistering guitars, echoing yet urgent vocals balanced by drums providing a relatively fluid and nuanced flow of percussion intertwined with fast and dub-like bass lines. Often enough the guitars are used in a way that sound more like musical sound effects giving the band a broad range of sounds and moods for a group playing heavier music. Glassjaw, too, released a 2017 album, Material Control, its first in fifteen years.
Who:Neko Case w/The Space Lady When: Wednesday, 07.11, 7 p.m. Where: The Gothic Theatre Why: Neko Case has lead quite a storied life as a musician and hopefully a book is coming out someday. Most people rightfully know her as a writer of poetic, emotionally nuanced and powerful pop songs the likes of which can be sampled well on her new album, 2018’s Hell-On. But early in her life in music, Case was a drummer for several punk bands as an art student in Vancouver, British Columbia. She also played in various other projects and perhaps most notably with indie rock band The New Pornographers (with whom Case still occasionally records). As a solo artist, Case has shown an uncommon arc of personal growth and artistic development across her whole career as someone who seems to want to explore beyond previous parameters. While it would be inaccurate to say her body of work is avant-garde it is illuminating and inventive. On this date of the tour Colorado-based outsider musician The Space Lady is opening with her otherworldly synthesizer pop including her unique group of covers of classic songs.
Who:Erica Brown w/The Movers & Shakers When: Thursday, 01.11, 2 shows doors 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Where: Dazzle Why: Powerhouse blues singer Erica Brown has been a staple of Denver music for decades at this point. Sure, she has shared the stage with numerous noteworthy blues and R&B musicians including Al Green, B.B. King and the like and that’s cool. But more importantly, Brown’s powerful voice has been present not just in her own bands and solo efforts but also in Denver music in general. She has done vocals for Dan Treanor’s Afrosippi Band and weird funk group Cherry Bomb Club (which later meant joining Warlock Pinchers on stage for their 2010 reunion shows). She has contributed to albums from Slim Cessna’s Auto Club and Xiren. Erica Brown is a multifaceted talent who has done things on her own terms and established a reputation for excellence that is all but unique in Denver.
Who:Infernal Coil, Inoculated Life, Augur and Heathen Burial When: Thursday, 01.11, 7:30 p.m. Where: Mutiny Information Café Why: Could be described as the industrial grind show since it involves Boise, Idaho’s Infernal Coil, Colorado’s own Heathen Burial, the hanging buzzsaw atmospherics of Denver’s Inoculated Life and the ritualistic vibe of black metal band Augur from Denver as well. It’ll be at Mutiny so it’ll be intimate in the back area for such a show with such abrasively gloomy music. Perfect.
Who:Musical Mayhem: Bonnie Weimer, FULL BLEED, Lepidoptera When: Thursday, 01.11, 9 p.m. Where: Skylark Lounge Why: It’s Musical Mayhem, the monthly (or is it bi-monthly?) showcase hosted by Claudia Woodman and simulcast by Hypnotic Turtle Radio. You never quite know what you’re going to get except that it’ll be a little different, as it were, and worthwhile. Full Bleed says “Droney psychedelic stoner metal shoegaze instrumental improv RöCK from Denver.” Lepidoptera is meditative guitar, field recording and keyboard-y soundscapes. Bonnie Weimer, though, has been in various projects in Denver over the years including her solo project. “Banjo Bonnie” may play some traditional banjo stuff in her set but mostly its originals that take a familiar sound in unfamiliar directions.
Friday | January 12, 2018
Who:Ice Troll, New Standards Men, Paperbark, Venereal Crush and visuals by Orchidz3ro When: Friday, 01.12, 7 p.m. Where: Mutiny Information Café Why: Ice Troll is a sprawling psychedelic, doom prog band. Paperbark uses modular synths to create deeply textured ambient drones. Venereal Crush from Dubuque, Iowa is probably well within the realm of noise but its compositions feel like ambient music or composed sound environments using organic/live instruments alongside incredibly minimal synths. Is New Standards Men post-rock? Maybe so but it is also reminiscent of a doomier, more melodic Laddio Bolocko or Dazzling Killmen. Fortunately bands like this and some others playing venues up and down South Broadway are helping to keep the neighborhood a little weird in the face of Nü Denver tourist culture.
Who:Deer Creek w/Still Valley, Piojos and Drune When: Friday, 01.12, 7 p.m. Where: Moon Room at Summit Music Hall Why: The doom/sludge rock thing kinda died off in Colorado around a decade ago but mutated and turned into something maybe even better. Deer Creek has its roots back to the older sludge scene and remains one of the heaviest bands in Denver. Piojos includes former members of various heavy acts from Denver and Pueblo including Black Lamb. But pedigree aside, the sharply irreverent humor of Piojos can be heard all over its excellent 2016 album Fuck Everyone in Pueblo. Need it be mentioned they’re based in Pueblo and some people didn’t get the humor? Still Valley from Colorado Springs is classic sludge doom in the vein of Sleep, Acid Bath and Grief.
Who:Surrender Signal, Laurium and Old Sport When: Friday, 01.12, 9 p.m. Where: BarFly (Alamo Drafthouse, West 4255 W. Colfax location) Why: Surrender Signal’s gritty melodies and fluid dynamics are reminiscent of Lungfish and East Coast post-punk/post-hardcore bands of the early 90s. Maybe a little Jawbox, Slint and Quicksand are in there too. Old Sport blurs the line between post-hardcore and melodic math rock and doesn’t skimp on the raw energy and passion in its performance.
Who: I’m A Boy, Grammar School and Teacup Gorilla facebook.com/events/136041710495512 When: Friday, 01.12, 9 p.m. Where: Lion’s Lair Why: I’m A Boy is one of the few straight ahead rock and roll bands that doesn’t seem like it’s trying too hard to tap into the realm of classic rock. That’s because singer/guitarist Jimmi Nasi is a gifted songwriter in his own right who has a knack for knowing when a song works rather than lean on someone else’s music as a prop. Bassist Whitney Reher and drummer Jeffrey Mince provide a simple but dynamic jumping board for Nasi’s melodic gyrations, Nasi and Rehr striking poses because it’s more fun for them and more enjoyable as someone there for the show. Teacup Gorilla manages to write glam rock with inventive atmospheres and a theatrical flair of their own. Apparently Grammar School is bringing ragtime back.
Saturday | January 13, 2018
Who:Choosey Mothers When: Saturday, 01.13, 7 p.m. Where: Mutiny Information Café
Why: The Choosey Mothers came out of Denver’s 80s punk scene with former members of bands that are even difficult to find online like the Trontils and Malice in Wonderland. But the Mothers established themselves as a raw punk band of note in the 90s at a time when the Dead Silence, Burnt Fase and, of course, The Fluid were exerting a strong influence on Colorado punk generally. This reunion show is to celebrate the 50th birthday of Sam Grampsas of The Mothers so it’s only fitting the show, which is free, is happening at Mutiny Information Café which is run by other smart, old school Denver punkers.
Who:Mr. Atomic, Television Generation and Meet the Giant When: Saturday, 01.13, 9 p.m. Where: Skylark Lounge Why: When a lot of 90s fuzz rock gets co-opted by a new generation of wannabes a watering down of what made that older music worthwhile is inevitable. Fortunately, these bands pushed that kind of rock and roll into more interesting territories and actually rock rather than playing AT it. Television Generation, sure, sounds like they got put into a deep freeze in 1993 Seattle and woken up in recent years. But its songwriting is strong and they’ve absorbed influences that have come along since grunge imploded in the mid-90s. Meet the Giant sounds like what happens when people who may have tried to make sludge rock got bored and wanted to write dynamic songs that would be fun to play instead of living up to a stoner rock cliché in their garage.
Who:Sgt. D’s List (S.O.D. Tribute), Hallowed Screams (Slayer tribute) and FUBAR When: Saturday, 01.13, 9 p.m. Where: Black Sky Brewery Why: Normally tribute bands are kinda wack. But Sgt. D’s List is comprised of veterans of Denver’s grind, death metal and thrash scenes who bring to life the music of a S.O.D., one of the early crossover bands and tongue in cheek in a way that no one would do these days for obvious reasons. That band included members of Anthrax and Nuclear Assault and became an influence on metal and hardcore from its 1985 inception.
Who:Hot Rize 40th Anniversary When: Saturday, 01.13, 7 p.m. Where: Boulder Theater Why: A gala celebration of one of Colorado’s most influential bands, Hot Rize, who helped to make modern bluegrass accessible to a wide audience without watering down the virtues of the music through attaching it directly to other genres of music. Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of bluegrass, go check out Hot Rize and see an engaging live act whose musicianship and songwriting speaks for itself beyond genre. For this event, the band will bring in friends/guests Del McCoury, Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan, Jerry Douglas and more
Who: St. Vincent: Fear the Future Tour When: Monday, 01.15, 7 p.m. Where: The Fillmore Auditorium Why: Annie Clark was once a member of Polyphonic Spree but as St. Vincent she has long since distinguished herself as one of the most interesting songwriters and musicians of the past decade with a string of albums that explore the nature of identity, the complexities of dreams and aspirations and the way unexamined social norms warp our natural growth. Her latest album, 2017’s Masseduction, seemed more personal than previous offerings and hit with the emotional nuance and finely crafted dramatics of a J.G. Ballard novel.
Tuesday and Wednesday | January 16 and 17, 2018
Who: Diane Schuur
When: Tuesday, 01.16 and Wednesday 01.17, two shows each night, doors 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Why: Diane Schuur is cooler than most of us because her mentors include Stan Getz and Frank Sinatra. She has collaborated with Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Quincy Joes, Dizzy Gillespie and BB King. Among others. Her emotive vocals and expressive pianowork has garnered the admiration of her peers and a fanbase appreciative of an artist that doesn’t just have chops but the soul and poetic, lyrical sensibility to guide her songcraft. She’s playing four shows in Denver, early and mid-evening shows, on both Tuesday 1/16 and Wednesday 1/17.