The ten best shows in Denver this week

Categories: Concerts

Mike Brooks for the Dallas Observer. More photos here.
Riff Raff mysteriously postponed a Denver show earlier this year. It's back, just in time for a Texas-esque week of heat and thunderstorms here in Colorado. The Houston native should feel right at home. He does in most places.

It's a good week for other bands who get people angry on Twitter: HAIM plays Wednesday with Tennis, and Lana Del Rey brings the pout to Red Rocks tonight. The rest of our picks follow.

Lana Del Rey at Red Rocks: Monday, May 19
Remember when Lana Del Rey was controversial? If you're fortunate enough to have missed the back-and-forth that bitterly split the Internet toward the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012, the argument went something like this: Her dour Lolita shtick was phony, her music was caked in retrograde artifice and it was an insult that something so tailor made for Jaguar commercials could ever be marketed toward enlightened music listeners OR all of that was fantastic, and you were just being a stick in the mud. Predictably, not much was learned or achieved from this. But something unexpected happened: Lana continued to release music that people sort of enjoyed (or at least enjoyed talking about), and the blogosphere naturally found plenty of new issues to divide itself over.

Michelle Mandico at Lost Lake Lounge: Tuesday, May 20
You can hardly miss Derrick Bozich if you're going to the good shows around town. With his dark-­rimmed glasses and low­-key style, he looks like the kind of guy who would be into Pavement, Sonic Youth and Deerhunter. Turns out, his band with Hunter Roberts and Jackson Hillmer, may indeed count one or more of those as musical touchstones. But there's a distinct jangle and soul to this group, which will play Lost Lake Lounge on Tuesday, May 20. Languid guitar tones rolling around sinuous rhythms lend a hypnotic element to Grease Pony's sound -- only to be matched by frantic energy and joyful outbursts of noise from other corners.

Mogwai at the Ogden Theatre: Tuesday, May 20
Mogwai's evocative, largely instrumental rock adventure first gained notice in the mid-'90s with a promising debut album, Young Team. Since then, the Scottish act has produced some of the most breathtakingly cinematic compositions of recent years. The group's textured melodies induce moments of claustrophobic anxiety, transcendent peacefulness and catharsis -- often in the same song. Mogwai's wry humor and appreciation for the absurd finds its greatest expression in song titles seemingly put together without any special regard for meaning.

EELS at the Gothic Theatre: Wednesday, May 21
In one twelve-month span, EELS frontman Mark Oliver Everett (aka E) released three albums as a trilogy: 2009's Hombre Lobo and 2010's End Times and Tomorrow Morning, each of which was about a distinct human emotion -- desire, loss and renewal, respectively. He described the process as painful but cathartic, and the shows for the final part of the trilogy were fun and celebratory. Three years later, Everett followed up with the first album written in collaboration with his bandmates, Wonderful, Glorious, which, despite its title, marked a return to melancholy subject matter. And this year, he's back with The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett, a record that finds the singer/multi-instrumentalist in a stripped-down mode. No matter what form his albums take, Everett is capable of penning some awfully poignant songs.

HAIM at the Ogden Theatre: Wednesday, May 21
Even before last September's full-length major-label debut, Days Are Gone, the trio of sisters (Guitarists Danielle and Alana and bassist Este Haim) were on the verge of mainstream success. With this LP, the days of seeing them play at small local venues, as they were doing just a year and half or so ago, are, in fact, long gone. After touring with Phoenix and Vampire Weekend and making key appearances at Coachella, South by Southwest and Glastonbury, Haim now belong to the world. Singles like "The Wire" and "Don't Save Me" fuse '80s synth-pop with '90s R&B harmonies, a bubbly brew that overrides the sometimes-slick production on the strength of catchy hooks.

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