The Eleven Best Shows in Denver This Week
This week's crop of shows includes a busy lineup at the big venues, including guitar heaven at Fiddler's Green with ZZ Top and Jeff Beck.
Huey Lewis and the News plays Thursday in Avon "He's been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far more bitter, cynical sense of humor."
Elsewhere, the Coathangers return to Denver after a short time away, Styrofoam Sanchez plays Rhinoceropolis and, yes, Huey Lewis and the News are in Colorado. The rest of our picks follow.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre : 7:30 p.m. August 18
Even if he's too mellow for you, at least give him credit for promoting the surfer life as much as the Beach Boys. At this rate, he's gunning to replace Kenny Chesney as Jimmy Buffet's heir apparant for the endless summer crowd. He's at least likable, which is a plus for adult contemporary rock, but if he really did want to make good on surf music, he should sneak in "Wipe Out" or "Church Key" into his set now and then.
Rhinoceropolis : August 18
Bands like the Residents, Caroliner Rainbow and White Mice put forth social critiques using performance-art techniques informed by the Theatre of the Absurd, challenging audiences with both their content and their delivery. Oakland's Styrofoam Sanchez is cut from the same cloth, making a direct commentary with its costumes and stylized masks, constructed from the non-biodegradable plastics that will litter the polluted graveyards of the future. With brooding, forbidding industrial sounds enhancing its members' already bizarre appearance, Styrofoam Sanchez embodies a warning of the future for humans pinched to the brink of extinction by the hubristic notion that technology has made us immune to the laws of nature.
Pepsi Center : 7:30 p.m. August 19
Despite a few hiccups along the way -- including feuds between frontman Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry -- Boston's Aerosmith has forged on and established itself as a vital force in rock music for more than four decades. In the 1970s, the band built a solid fan base on the strength of songs like "Dream On," "Walk This Way" and "Sweet Emotion." The '80s proved to be successful for the group as well, with multi-platinum albums like Permanent Vacation and Get a Grip. 20112's Another Dimension! the first disc since 2001's Just Push Play to feature an entirely new batch of tracks.
Larimer Lounge : 9:00 p.m. August 19
As a side effect of being a band with women in it, the Coathangers often fall under the blanket category of "all-girl." In their video for "Follow Me," the Atlanta-based trio addresses this head-on by asking their dude friends and practice-space mates in Mastodon to wear wigs and dresses -- the premise being that the men in the metal band are playing the Coathangers. Whether it was an ingenius response to irrelevant gender-cataloging or just a joke, the musicians tapped into their bigger appeal -- their sense of humor. But forget the politics and the humor: The band's latest effort, Suck My Shirt, is a sort of rowdy answer to 2011's more grown-up Larceny & Old Lace. It also marks the departure of longtime keyboardist Candice Jones (aka Bebe Coathanger), though not much has gone missing sonically as a consequence of the loss, and the trio is punchier than ever. That Coathangers sound is still carried by drummer Stephanie Luke's (aka Rusty Coathanger) raspy belly wail, and the band's brand of Southern no-wave remains strikingly minimal. Guitarist Julia Kugel (Crook Kid Coathanger) and bassist Meredith Franco (Minnie Coathanger) sing, too, bringing sorrowful and charming vocal elements into the mix. Live, the Coathangers emphasize both the sarcasm and the raw power that drive their records.
The Gipsy Kings
Denver Botanic Gardens : 7:00 p.m. August 19
Way before Gogol Bordello sang punky odes to the proverbial wanderer, the Kings traversed the globe, blending Spanish rumba and flamenco guitar for a worldwide audience. Formed in 1978, the Gipsy Kings is two sets of siblings, the Reyes and the Baliardos. They are descendants of Spanish gypsies who fled to France in the 1930s to escape Spain's civil war. The Reyes brothers grew up harvesting crops and making music before starting a family band with their pops, legendary flamenco artist Jose Reyes. After the father's death, his sons partnered up with the Baliardos boys at the St. Marie de la Mer Gitan pilgrimage, drank some wine, and started a band. Since releasing "Bamboleo" in 1987, a three-and-a-half minute version of the popular Venezuelan folk song, "Caballo Viejo," the Gipsy Kings have enjoyed international crossover superstardom.
Wiz Khalifa and Young Jeezy
Red Rocks Amphitheatre : 6:00 p.m. August 19
What if we told you that Cameron Jibril Thomaz (better known as oddball rapper Wiz Khalifa) was born in North Dakota, a state hardly synonymous with hip-hop? That he moved around Europe as a child, far from the American ghettos. That he had a goofy-looking short white friend named Mac who followed him everywhere. That he never sold drugs and that he wears skinny jeans. That as an MC, he just likes to stay positive, focus on wordplay, and let the other guys beef. That he once released a song ("Big Screen") entirely Auto-Tuned. It doesn't really sound like the making of a rap superstar, does it? But that's exactly what 26-year-old "Black and Yellow" rapper Thomaz is. He's not alone. Increasingly, the trend in rap stardom is oddness.
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