The nine best concerts in Denver from March 31 to April 3

Categories: Concerts

Ryan Russell)
The Coathangers open for The Black Lips on April 2 at the Bluebird.
Maybe you saw Neutral Milk Hotel last night in Boulder; if not you have another shot at it tonight in Denver. If the line "putting fingers in the notches of her spine" sends ice through your veins as consistently as it does ours, we can strongly recommend finding your way there. The band's great these days, even if some of the mystique has faded.

But there's plenty more, if historical fiction indie ain't your bag. There are The Coathangers, these days having more fun that their historically fun-loving headliners, The Black Lips. There's K. Flay at The Black Sheep, and Araab Muzik at Vinyl. Fastest fingers in the West. The rest of our picks follow.

Neutral Milk Hotel at the Ogden Theatre: Monday, March 31
Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea might be the best indie-rock album of the 1990s. It's certainly one of the most storied. After its 1998 release, frontman Jeff Mangum put the band on hiatus, ostensibly because he never wanted to be a rock star in the first place. Rumors swirled in the indie world that Mangum couldn't handle the success of his magnum opus. But despite Mangum's refusal to do interviews and play shows, Neutral Milk Hotel managed to cultivate a steady and rabid fan base. Considering the relative silence of the past fifteen years, the current reunion tour is a major get for fans. Mangum has brought together the original lineup from In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, and they're sharing a stage with fellow Elephant Six artists Elf Power.

Slam Nuba Presents: Hear Me Roar at Crossroads Theater: Monday, March 31
When Women's History Month rolled around, Slam Nuba's Jovan Mays -- who also happens to be the newly appointed Poet Laureate of Aurora -- wanted to make sure his slam-poetry community knew about it. For one evening in March, he's pulled together the most stellar lineup of his sisters in spoken word for Hear Me Roar, a showcase of poetry and music performance by a top-notch roster of local and national stars. Mays says that as a poet, he's found great inspiration in the many female artists he's met along the way, and this is his way of sharing that inspiration and those powerful voices with the city at large. "We have too many badass female poets in our city for them to not be showcased a good way," he enthuses. It's all part of a general surge by the Slam Nuba collective to get the word out about Denver's rich slam-poetry scene, one of the nation's most vibrant spoken-word platforms.

K. Flay at The Black Sheep: Tuesday, March 1
A Stanford graduate, K. Flay is smart and self-aware, which explains the name of her debut album, Suburban Rap Queen. To be certain, she has insecurities, but she is secure enough to rap about humdrum everyday real life, taking Flintstones vitamins and talking politics while boys kiss her neck, rather than project some falsified ultra-glamorous persona. She is a proud nerd, referencing X-Men and Lex Luthor while sporting a certifiably fresh flow, to which she says simply, "no duh," as if it were the easiest thing in the world.

Meat Puppets and Moistboyz at the Gothic Theatre: Tuesday, April 1
The Meat Puppets' improbable gold album, Too High to Die, has a title both accurate and true. The band's main men are brothers Cris and Curt Kirkwood, who began playing punk in the '70s, turned hardcore in the early '80s and landed a deal with SST Records, which was bankrolled by Black Flag. Hopped up on weed and classic rock, the longhairs slowed down and began playing creaky tunes that caught the ears of young musicians like Kurt Cobain. Nirvana covered the Puppets' "Lake of Fire" and "Plateau" on its MTV Unplugged in New York album, and new interest led to a major-label deal for 1994's Too High to Die. Drug problems have haunted the band, but it's soldiered on in one form or another. Lollipop, released in 2011, is a loopy tour de force that ranges from acoustic country-kissed songs to keyboard-backed rockers.

The Used and Taking Back Sunday: Tuesday, April 1
These New York-based emo veterans have weathered a number of lineup changes in recent years, and in response their sound has shifted around a bit. 2011's self-titled disc -- the first with John Nolan and Shaun Cooper since the act's 2002 debut -- works a grown-up radio-rock vibe, with one song that comes remarkably close to quoting Toto's "Rosanna." On the heels of the outfit's brand album, Happiness Is, Taking Back Sunday is on a spring co-headlining tour with the Used.

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