The 8 best concerts in Denver from March 24 to March 27
Novelty had its moment in hip-hop; vision had its moment; abstraction had its moment. But thanks in no small part to Top Dawg Entertainment and its star, Kendrick Lamar, good old fashioned high-quality rapping is once again the standard of the day. And now, K.Dot's longtime running mate Schoolboy Q has a full-length equal to the challenge of the crew's history. Go see him on Thursday and try to remember why in the hell you bought Tha Carter III in the first place. There are other shows, too. Here, check 'em out:
Schoolboy Q plays the Ogden on Thursday. Photo by Renata Raksha
Monday, March 24: Denver Avant-Garde Music Society solos and duets at Strage Grounds Coffee
The Denver Avant-Garde Music Society has been hosting monthly open-call solo and duet performance nights for about a year now, says event organizer Kurt Bauer of Bangsnap Records, and attendees never know exactly what they're going to get. For some performers, the nights represent a chance to try something new out on an audience, while others join in just for the chance to jam and make noise with like-minded experimental musicians. Whatever the framework, it's an out-of-the-ordinary opportunity to explore the sonic landscape that lives beyond your iPod playlist.
The music -- which features such local avant-garde artists as Arnie Swenson of Mission Supports, percussionist Gordon Pryor, Steve Gordon (who builds unusual instruments from scratch), and Bauer himself -- begins around 9 p.m. at Strange Grounds Coffee, 1417 South Broadway; admission is free. Visit the Facebook event page for information. For more about Bangsnap Records, go to bangsnap.bandcamp.com.
Monday, March 24: Michael Franti & Friends at Sheridan Opera House
It's fitting that Michael Franti and Spearhead's upcoming quartet of appearances in the Centennial State are split between the ski towns of Telluride and Aspen. It's not that Franti, a cheerful ambassador of reggae, funk and hip-hop, offers a certain theme or brand of music geared solely toward the high-income crowds in those trendy mountain towns. In fact, Franti has made a career of crafting rhymes and music for an everyman audience. Social justice and accessibility have always played a big part in the man's music; it's an ethos made clear in the title of his most recent release, last year's All the People. Yet for all their broad appeal, Spearhead's groove-based tunes and conscientious, insistent lyrics are not made for arenas. That's why playing at the Sheridan Opera House in Telluride and the Belly Up in Aspen (on March 26-27) feels so right: Both venues offer an intimacy that fits the group's message.
Monday, March 24: Steel Pulse at Ogden Theatre
Hailing from Birmingham England by way of the West Indies, Steel Pulse is the first reggae band to perform at this (or any) American president's inaugural celebration. As trivial as Steel Pulse's rank is among ultra-roots purists who kneel before the holy trinity of Bob Marley, Culture and Burning Spear, the outfit started out with the lofty intention of most rastas: burning down Babylon, then salting the ashes. In the good old Thatcher-baiting days, Pulse would dress like vicars, coach footmen and powder-wigged aristocrats, sharing eclectic bills with U.K. rabble-rousers like the Clash, the Stranglers, Generation X and the Police. Along the way, however, the protest-minded vision of frontman David Hinds branched into watered-down crossover territory such as synth-soaked party anthems. From its 1978 debut, Handsworth Revolution to the Grammy-garnering Babylon the Bandit, the ever-changing lineup has dabbled in jazz, Latin grooves, contemporary dancehall lite, and even a killer Jah-slanted take on Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl."
Wednesday, March 26: Pierre Bensusan at The Soiled Dove Underground
French fingerstyle guitarist Pierre Bensusan, an incredible technician whose drop-dead, globally influenced licks are as beautiful as they are well-executed. And if his instrumental and ethnomusicological virtuosity alone weren't enough of an enticement, wait till you hear him sing.