The fourteen best shows in Denver this weekend
Well, hopefully the hail and tornadoes are over. Certainly this is no weekend to be stuck at home, not with a Monday off and a shocking array of great shows. Esme Patterson will finally play that in-store performance at Twist & Shout to celebrate her excellent Woman to Woman. Country royalty past (Charlie Daniels Band) and present (Randy Rogers Band) play Saturday and Sunday at the big outdoor venues. There's plenty more, including a solid hardcore double-bill with Judge and Cro-Mags at Summit Music Hall. The rest of our picks follow.
Brandon Marshall Esme Patterson plays at Twist and Shout at 6 p.m. tonight.
Afterhours Anonymous at NORAD: Friday, May 23
Even though he hails from Cologne rather than the electronic-music mecca of Berlin, Michael Mayer was instrumental in putting Germany on the genre's map. He was one of the first artists to experiment with electronica in the late 1980s, and in the decades since he began sharpening his needles, Mayer has brought a rare level of commitment and versatility to the scene. His love for music has kept both his sound and his abilities fresh; he founded the still-illustrious Kompakt label in the late '90s, and today he spends his weekends jet-setting around the world to play major dance floors. Just this spring, he put together a promotional mix for Fabric in London that starts out gorgeously groovy before swooping into a deeper track and then seamlessly elevating the mood once again. On Friday, May 23, Mayer will headline the final Afterhours Anonymous production at NORAD.
Esmé Patterson at Twist & Shout: Friday, May 23
When Esme Patterson was learning to play Townes Van Zandt's song "Loretta," she says she started singing the words and got angry. "I started thinking about how one-sided and subjective a lot of 'love songs' are, and how a lot of women immortalized in songs might tell a different side of the story if anyone ever asked." Fueled by this epiphany, Patterson started writing songs for Woman to Woman, an album of response songs to Dolly Parton's "Jolene," Elvis Costello's "Alison," Van Zandt's "Loretta," the Beach Boys' "Caroline, No," The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," the Band's "Evangeline" and Leadbelly's "Irene."
Hoodie Allen at the Bluebird Theater: Friday, May 23
Hoodie Allen raps with a certain perpetual coming-of-age naivete that has solidified him a niche in the pop-rap market. Last time Allen came to Denver, he was energy on top of energy, which made for an outstanding live show. Since then, he's been working on his acoustic game, releasing Americoustic, which works surprisingly well for him. He's got the soft voice and boyish charm to win the hearts and/or admiration of the teenage audience as a singer and a rapper. It will be interesting to see if Allen can mature as a songwriter beyond worn-out hashtags and boasts into something more raw and unique.
The Meatmen at the Marquis Theater: Friday, May 23
In the late 1970s, Tesco Vee was an elementary-school teacher in Michigan who led something of a secret life, first as a fan of punk rock and then as the frontman of one of the most notorious and hilarious bands of that era: the Meatmen. At roughly the same time he started the band, Vee and his friend Dave Stimson started one of the most influential music zines of all time with Touch and Go. The pages of Touch and Go were filled with the kind of opinionated rhetoric and willingness to take it all in that should inform most music journalism but often doesn't. The zine ultimately ended, but the record label it spawned became one of the most respected of independent labels of its time, releasing some of the most important albums of the '80s, '90s and '00s.
Pharoahe Monch at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom: Friday, May 23
Erstwhile Organized Konfusion member Pharoahe Monch has spent the last decade and a half wandering the earth recording great hip-hop -- everything from legendary room-destroying bangers like "Simon Says" to the casual, bouncing song-rap "Love," for J Dilla's The Shining. And although Monch might never achieve household-name status, he's one of a select few living legends who have managed longevity in hip-hop without getting stale. Among his unparalleled feats of verbal athleticism is dropping the word "triskaidekaphobia" (fear of the number thirteen) in verses more than once (originally on "Mayor," in 1999, and again, eight years later, on "Free"). He's currently on tour supporting a new record, PTSD, which follows in the footsteps of 2011's W.A.R., with tight verses, incisive social commentary and banging beats.