This weekend's best live bets: Avett Brothers, Thurston Moore, Chuck Prophet and more

Categories: Concerts

Welcome to the weekend! Tonight at Red Rocks, the Avett Brothers kick off a two-night stand with City and Colour opening tonight and DeVotchKa opening tomorrow night. Also tonight, Thurston Moore visits the Larimer Lounge with his new quartet Chelsea Light Moving. Cory Branan at the Lion's Lair, Eric McFadden at Quixote's, and the Diamond Boiz at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, Hawthorne Heights at the hi-dive and more. Page down for a full rundown of the weekend's best bets for live music.


The country is awash in Americana fever as scores of rock-radio favorites dabble in the sounds of yore. It's part of a search for authenticity when so much pop is heavily synthesized, and partially a need for the warm, fuzzy blanket of an imagined yesteryear. Though it might be cute, many of the current banjo-picking types fail to elevate their style beyond gimmick. A huge exception is the Avett Brothers, a North Carolina act helmed by, yes, brothers Scott and Seth. Sure, they're nominally folk-influenced, with their relatively stripped-down, deeply earnest sound and penchant for things like harmonicas. But what sets the Avetts apart is a serious, genre-defying talent for songwriting. Their melodies soar and stick, regardless of the folksy window dressing.

Thurston Moore has used the electric guitar in more interesting ways than most anyone else you could name in terms of using and abusing and expanding and transcending the traditional limitations of the instrument. As one of the founding members of Sonic Youth, Moore took what he had been learning with Glenn Branca and Swans and helped forge one of the most enduringly original sounds in rock music over the past three decades. Combining dissonance and outright noise with timeless melodies, Moore made the true underground more accessible. His latest album, Demolished Thoughts, a more or less solo effort, reveals in no uncertain terms Moore's ability to write solid pop songs gilded with introspective poetry and a lush melancholia -- a halo of intimacy perfect for this small club appearance.

All too often, contemporary performers who wave the Americana banner squeeze the juice from the music they venerate, presenting dry, academic variations on rootsy styles as if fearful that having fun with them might appear disrespectful. Fortunately, Mississippi-bred singer-songwriter Cory Branan knows better. On 2006's 12 Songs, he cuts loose throughout raucous raveups such as "The Prettiest Waitress in Memphis" and "Hell-bent and Heart-first," not to mention the rollicking "Muhammad Ali," which finds him declaring, "It ain't braggin' if it's true/Said Muhammad Ali/And me." That's not to suggest he's only interested in providing soundtracks for beer-guzzling: The disc features several tender airs, including "Love Song #11 (Secretly Enamoured)" and the plaintive "Sweet Janine." But even during his simplest and most sensitive numbers, he keeps his performances loose, allowing his emotions to flow through unimpeded by musicological self-consciousness. Branan pays tribute to tradition without being hamstrung by it.

The Eric McFadden Trio could just be the Band of Gypsys for the new millennium, a fact not lost on McFadden, who not only borrowed a few tricks from Hendrix, but even called his previous band the Eric McFadden Experience. In all fairness, though, McFadden's scope runs wider. On 2005's Joy of Suffering, for instance, he goes from heavy rock riffage to dusty Ennio Morricone-inspired spaghetti-Western twang, even adding in a bit of Latin, flamenco and gypsy. His wicked mandolin chops, however, are what caught the ear of George Clinton, who invited the axman on tour with him in 2000. Beyond his nimble-fingered excursions on both nylon-stringed and electric guitars, McFadden also has a resounding voice, which draws frequent comparisons to Tom Waits, for whatever reason. Sure, there's a bit of the Waitsian carnivalesque drawl, but without the gravel. His delivery is more reminiscent of Nick Cave.

See Also: Boiz to men: Diamond Boiz call up the past and look to the future
I remember staying up all night just hanging out with my friends, and randomly there would be gunshots and cop cars everywhere," recalls José Bonilla, aka Zé of Diamond Boiz. "That's just something we took for granted." Remarkably, the MC, who grew up in Denver's Westwood neighborhood, never got involved in gangs or drugs. "We knew what to stay away from."
Zé's the youngest of the Diamond Boiz by a couple months. His cohorts, brothers Justin and Joshua Romero (alias Dyalekt and Zome, respectively), spent their childhood near Dartmouth and Federal and were no strangers to gunfire themselves.

Check out our newly revamped concert calendar for a complete listing of all of tonight's shows. Page down for rundown of tomorrow night's best bets.

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