The thirty best concerts of 2012
25. WOVENHAND / MICHAEL GIRA @ ORIENTAL THEATER | 3/24/12
One song into Michael Gira's set at the Oriental Theater and he told the crowd, "Okay, shut up. Shut the fuck up. Time to shut up." He'd opened with brooding and droning "Jim" from Swans' latest effort, 2010's My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky, and while the people near the stage looked focused, there was talking in the back of the venue. A few more songs into his brilliant and intense hour-long set, which included Swans, Angels of Light and solo material, Gira got a bit fired up again at the crowd. That seemed to work, and the crowd hushed, which was a good thing since Gira's lyrics and vocals demand attention. While Gira delivered a heavy set, Wovenhand brought a completely different kind of intensity. Fronted by David Eugene Edwards, former leader of 16 Horsepower and one of the most powerful frontmen in the state, Wovenhand opened a fierce set with "The Beautiful Axe."
24. MACKLEMORE @ OGDEN THEATRE | 12/6/12
All Macklemore has to do is pose dramatically to induce the same frenzied reaction from an audience that a slightly lesser MC would draw with their signature song. Granted, a very sizable portion of his Denver audience comprised easily riled high school girls, but that should truly take nothing away from the fact that the stories he tells are utterly compelling, and his performance at the Ogden was not one iota short of exhilarating. His stories are deeply personal, universally relatable and delivered with such poignancy that it becomes impossible not to be moved.
23. KENDRICK LAMAR @ OGDEN THEATRE | 10/8/12
The stage was set by an erupting smoke machine, thundering bass and a massive light spectacle, all in preparation for a dynamic, five-foot, six-inch MC in old-school high socks and a voice that seems too powerful to come from such a little body. The second that Kendrick Lamar strutted onto the stage in his grey hoodie and loose shorts, looking like he had just finished an afternoon jog, the rapper held the sea of people that filled the Ogden to capacity in his little hand. He spoke his opening bit and then launched into "HiiiPoWeR," and his words were no longer his own, but shared by the entirety of the venue.
22. BIG GIGANTIC @ RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATRE | 9/29/12
With the first ever grand-scale visual mapping on both the flanking rocks of the venue, Big Gigantic's Rowdytown show, featuring Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Dillon Francis, GRiZ and Raw Russ, easily earns top honors. Performing a healthy dose of new tracks and old hits, the Boulder-based electronic duo more than delivered on its debut headlining show at Red Rocks.
21. JAPANDROIDS @ BLUEBIRD THEATER | 11/18/12
Brian King said that while he and David Prowse had had a blast at the Larimer Lounge this past June, they were going to do even better tonight. As promised, the pair proceeded to do just that with every single one of the seventeen songs of their set with a display of raw power and passion the likes of which you almost never see. Appropriately enough, the show got off the ground with "Adrenaline Nightshift."