The best concerts in Denver this weekend


When your band can be said to be a direct and obvious influence on the Ramones, the Sex Pistols and countless punk bands since, it's fair to say you've made an impact on punk rock. But the Stooges didn't look too far into the future in making its music, it just articulated an unaffected desperation and intensity of emotion born of incredible sensitivity. But this isn't the only band playing this festival, which is brimming with some of the greatest punk bands from the '60s onward, including the Replacements, Naked Raygun, Flag, Rocket From the Crypt, Against Me! and Bad Religion. Riot Fest isn't one of those tours that travels to every major music market in the country, so we're pretty fortunate to be having such a density of great bands in one place at one time.

See also: Riot Fest Denver full schedule

The circus comes to town this week as a pair of Grateful Dead greats, guitarist Bob Weir and bassist Phil Lesh, who take the stage for four nights at Red Rocks with their consistently touring band, Furthur. Named after the wildly painted bus that Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters drove around the country in the '60s, Furthur covers mostly Grateful Dead tunes, interspersed with Weir and Lesh originals and occasional covers such as Ryan Adams's "Let It Ride." The outfit puts its own soulful, slowed-down spin on things but maintains the loose spirit and improvisational style that Weir and Lesh cultivated for decades with the Dead. With an extremely talented backing band, which includes lead guitarist John Kadlecik channeling Jerry Garcia with confidence and heart, Furthur continues to mix up its set lists and keep things interesting, offering plenty of pleasant surprises along the way.

In 2010, Abel Tesfaye, a Canadian songwriter who makes music under the name the Weeknd, met producer Jeremy Rose and recorded a handful of tracks. Later that year, Tesfaye uploaded the tunes to YouTube and ended up attracting a famous champion in Drake, a fellow musician from the Great White North. In 2012, exactly three mixtapes and a guest spot at Drake's second annual OVO Fest later, the Weeknd played Coachella and various other festivals around the world. "Wicked Games," the Weeknd's most well-known track, is a kind of downtempo R&B song that, while overtly (and perhaps crassly) sexual in theme, suggests that Tesfaye may be having one over on the kind of listener that takes things at face value. If so, the Weeknd's output is essentially an artistic cousin to Spring Breakers, Harmony Korine's darkly evocative film.

Luke Bryan is the kind of earnest everyman upon which modern country's fortunes are currently resting. With a toothy grin and an impeccably manscaped five o'clock shadow, clad in a denim button-up over a v-neck T-shirt and pre-stressed designer jeans, Bryan puts forth a seamlessly crafted image. Rather than coming across as an authentically rugged guy who spends all day toiling, getting dirt underneath his nails, Bryan seems more like a guy capturing, reflecting and romanticizing the struggles, regrets and conquests of that other guy. Nonetheless, his songs seem to resonate, and the mere mention of his name makes countless ladies swoon. The country heartthrob got his start writing songs for guys like Travis Tritt and Billy Currington, acts he's long since lapped. Riding the success of "Crash My Party," the hit single and title track from his latest album, Bryan's due at Fiddler's with Thompson Square and Florida Georgia Line, two outfits that seem poised to headline tours of their own in the not-too-distant future.

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Kendra Lee Kreie
Kendra Lee Kreie

Atomga Afrobeat Denver at Cervantes Other SIde on Saturday night!

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