The nine best concerts in Denver this weekend
Hoo, boy, it's SnowBall weekend, here in Denver for the first time in the festival's young history. The dance-heavy lineup features reliable names like Pretty Lights and Griz as well as some curveballs, like Earl Sweatshirt and Warpaint.
Courtesy of Rough Trade Records Warpaint plays SnowBall Music Festival this weekend.
There's more: In the Whale will spend two nights celebrating its new album at the hi-dive with Austin prodigy Residual Kid. And you can wind down your weekend with the great Brad Mehldau Trio in Boulder. The rest of our picks follow.
Booker T. Jones at the Soiled Dove Underground: Friday, April 4
In tandem with his band, Booker T. & The M.G.s, multi-instrumentalist Booker T. Jones laid down the grooves behind some of the '60s most revered soul artists, including working as the Stax label's in-house band during the era of Otis Redding and Albert King. Two years after Jones was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, he teamed up with the Drive-By Truckers to release Potato Hole in 2009, which earned him a Grammy. Since then, he's released a pair of strong albums, including 2011's The Road from Memphis and last year's Sound the Alarm, which marked his return to the Stax imprint.
Head for the Hills at the Bluebird Theater: Friday, April 4
Head for the Hills uses misdirection like a veteran magician on Blue Ruin. The album kicks off with "Take Me Back," an easygoing, rambling ballad steeped in traditional bluegrass. The rest of the record, however, is a surreal, heady and innovative fusion of styles. "Never Does" offers a dark and brooding narrative with complementary moody music, while the mandolin work on "Priscilla the Chinchilla" is frenetic enough to fit the profile of a prog-rock band, and "Breakfast Noir" includes jazz cues that feel straight out of a beatnik coffee shop. The lyrics are just as bold, reflecting the band's knack for wordplay. All of these elements make for an innovative mix, one that shows that this quartet isn't bound by its roots in bluegrass tradition.
Gary Numan at the Gothic Theater: Friday, April 4
Gary Numan is most widely remembered for his 1980 hit song "Cars." That song was merely the most popular in an influential career that had a direct impact on artists as diverse as Prince, Beck, Lady Gaga and, of course, Nine Inch Nails, with whom Numan has both toured and collaborated. Anyone who has seen the man perform on recent tours knows he doesn't skimp, with music that runs the gamut of electronic-based pop and rock music but always with a core of vibrant emotional vulnerability and openness. It is that quality that has allowed Numan as an artist to take in influences from his peers as well as those that identify his work as a foundational inspiration.
SnowBall Music Festival at Sports Authority Field: April 4 to 6
Sports Authority Field at Mile High is often filled with fans who provide unfaltering support for their home team, who come out in droves and weather malicious snowstorms, biting wind and blinding sun to be a part of something special. With the silhouette of the Rocky Mountains to the west and the skyline of the Mile High City to the east, this plot of land is Colorado through and through.
But this weekend, it won't be the Denver Broncos that fans will be rooting for at Mile High, but a different Colorado-born endeavor: the SnowBall Music Festival. Hometown favorite Pretty Lights will headline the festival; the party will also include the bombastic sounds of Knife Party and the commanding flow of Busta Rhymes. In addition, this year marks the first time SnowBall will be held east of the foothills, after three years of bouncing around mountain towns with mixed results.