The Eleven Best Concerts in Colorado This Weekend

Categories: Things To Do

Eric Gruneisen. More here.
Railroad Earth fans at a recent Denver show. The band returns this weekend.
It's a busy weekend in Colorado -- local favorite Railroad Earth is in town, the Toasters' tour heads south and there's plenty more. Our picks for the best shows over the next few days are below.

See also: 50 Photos That Prove Red Rocks Is the Most Beautiful Venue on the Planet

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Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt Explains Why Regional Music Scenes Still Matter

Categories: Profiles

Bruce Pavitt/Wikimedia
Bruce Pavitt at home on Orcas Island in 2012.
Bruce Pavitt is best known as a founder of Sub Pop Records -- the label that is credited with bringing Nirvana, grunge and the entire "Seattle sound" to the masses more than twenty years ago.

Pavitt's devotion, skill and connections fed the early days of this regional music movement that eventually led to a sea change in the entire music industry, but Pavitt is more than just a tastemaker; he's a hard worker. And over the years he'd built a respected brand under the "Subterranean Pop" name-- first as a radio show, then a zine and eventually as the name of the record label that he founded with Seattle DJ Jonathan Poneman that would release some of the most groundbreaking music of our time. Over the course of his life, Pavitt has worked nearly every job in the industry. He's been a radio DJ, a zine publisher, a rock column writer, a record store founder, a club DJ, a record label founder and now an author and music historian.

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Bill Frisell Gave a Tour of His Musical Past at East High School Last Night

Categories: Concert Reviews

Jon Solomon
"I'm stunned," guitarist Bill Frisell said to a crowd of over 900 people. He was standing on the stage in the auditorium of East High School, from which he graduated in 1969. "I can't believe this is happening. I used to have dreams like this. Really weird dreams too. I really don't know what to say. Actually, it was back then I figured out I couldn'tsay any words, so I just tried to play my guitar, and that's what I should do right now."

It was a bit surreal seeing the guitarist essentially flipping through his own musical diary, playing material from Guitar in the Space Age!, a collection of songs that inspired him to play guitar. Early in the set, Frisell, along with guitarist and pedal steel player Greg Leisz, bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wolleson, stretched out an extended take of the Kinks' "Tired of Waiting for You" and Duane Eddy's twangy "Rebel Rouser" before launching into "Walk, Don't Run," which was made famous by the Ventures and written by the late Colorado Springs-based jazz guitarist Johnny Smith, who Frisell studied with at the University of Northern Colorado.

See also: Bill Frisell Returns to East High School, Site of His First Jazz Guitar Performance

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John Hickenlooper's Surreal Inauguration Concert Wasn't About Politics

Categories: Concert Reviews

Scott Lentz. Full slideshow here.
John Hickenlooper: Governor, businessman, banjo picker.
Thirty-eight governors around the country celebrated their inauguration this year. Most of them held events marking the occasion, ranging from elaborate galas to tours of the state's barbecue restaurants (Arkansas). Here in Colorado, John Hickenlooper marked his reelection with a formal ceremony at the State Capitol followed by a dinner at the Fillmore Auditorium and a concert a few blocks down Colfax at the Ogden Theatre.

There were a handful of other concerts among the nation's gubernatorial inaugurations, but it's a safe bet that only in Colorado did the state's highest elected official get on stage with a banjo to lay down a few tentative licks with a legendary jam band while grinning ear to ear.

See also: Denver Has More Live Music Venues Than Austin. Does It Matter?

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The Wiredogs' Dan Aid on How the Industry is Killing the Artist and Hyping the Trash

Categories: Profiles

Courtesy of the band
Wiredogs got their new album name from a conversation with Iggy Pop.
Two major things inspired the Wiredogs' newest album, Kill the Artist Hype the Trash: trauma and Iggy Pop. The personal trauma the band experienced in their daily lives is responsible for the album's deep, personal lyrics and frustrated, aggressive tone. The title? That was all Iggy.

At Riot Fest in 2013, Wiredogs drummer Stefan Runstrom had the honor of being Mr. Pop's driver. After his set, Iggy waxed about the current state of the music industry, finally announcing that it seemed its current model was "killing the artist, hyping the trash." Runstrom took the story and the sentiment back to his bandmates -- guitarist/vocalist Dan Aid, bassist Mark Hibl and guitarist Steven Beck -- and a concept was born. Before Saturday's album release show at the Marquis Theater, we talked to Aid about what the phrase meant to him and how to forge ahead in the face of its reality.

See also: The Wiredogs Truly Connect With The Resistance

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Legendary Guitarist James Iha on Suburbia and His Upcoming Denver DJ Set

Photo courtesy
James Iha
James Iha will DJ Lipgloss this Friday, January 23, at Beauty Bar. Iha is best known for his time as a guitarist for alternative rock band Smashing Pumpkins. He left that band in 2000 and went on to join A Perfect Circle, and he has contributed to numerous recordings by other artists. He has also done production work in and out of his own studio. In 2009, Iha formed Tinted Windows with some friends including Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick. We recently had a chance to have a brief conversation with Iha to ask what sorts of things we might expect to hear at Beauty Bar, his memory of playing Denver on the tour for Gish in 1991, and growing up Japanese in suburban Chicago.

See also: Cold Cave's Wesley Eisold On UFOs, the Cure and his Upcoming Lipgloss DJ Set

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Stevie Wonder, the Disco Biscuits, the Decemberists Shows Announced

Categories: Concerts

Eric Gruneisen
The Disco Biscuits return to the Ogden in April.
Stevie Wonder brings his Song of Life Performance tour to the Pepsi Center on Tuesday, March 17. Tickets ($39.50-$149.50) for the show, which is a live adaptation of his Songs in the Key of Life album, go on sale on Friday, January 23 at 10 a.m.

The Disco Biscuits return to the area for three nights at the Ogden Theatre on Wednesday, April 15, Thursday, April 16, and Saturday April 18 and also headline Red Rocks on Friday, April 17. The Red Rocks show will feature Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann. Tickets for the shows ($44.75/four-day packages $142.40) go on sale on Saturday, January 24 at 10 a.m.

The Decemberists and Spoon co-headline Red Rocks on Wednesday, May 27, and tickets ($39.50-$49.95) go on sale on Friday, January 23 at 10 a.m.

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Five Things You Should Know About Belly Up Aspen

Categories: Lists

Soren McCarty
Belly Up Aspen was packed during this Pretty Lights show a few years ago.
Belly Up Aspen, an intimate venue hidden in the mountains, turns ten this week. The space has hosted some unforgettable shows in that time (including sets by the Jane's Addiction, home state hero Pretty Lights, the Wu-Tang Clan, B.B. King and more), and the owners have plans to keep the momentum going. They'll mark the anniversary this week with a full slate of shows, including headlining sets from Kaskade, Skrillex, Chromeo and Wiz Khalifa. "We cant do it without the local community and we cant do it without the acts," says the venue's founder Michael Goldberg. "As much as we want to make this a celebration, it's really a thank you."

We talked to Goldberg and came up with five things you should know about the space as it enters its second decade. "There's still a lot of work to be done," he says of the anniversary. "We're just getting started."

See also: Three Colorado Venues Make Rolling Stone's List of the Twenty Best Rock Clubs in America

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The Dark Past and Bright Future of the Vanilla Milkshakes' David McGhee

Categories: Longform

Tom Murphy
David McGhee (center) with his Vanilla Milkshakes band mates.
"I think the first time music as a whole clicked for me was when I saw the Offspring's 'The Kids Aren't Alright' video," says David McGhee. "I was like, 'Wow, this is heavy like Slayer, but it's poppy like Disney. They're like a heavy Disney band!' "I started writing songs and thinking I was going to sound like the Offspring. Then I started showing people my songs and they said, 'You must listen to a lot of Nirvana.'"

At the time, McGhee was living in Georgia with his parents, his older half-brother Jimmy and his younger brother Eddie. Those were challenging years for McGhee, who has Asperger's syndrome but hadn't been diagnosed yet at that point. Instead, his symptoms were treated with a battery of ineffective drugs.

See also: 50 Ways to Support Your DIY Music Community

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Mayhem Brought its Dark, Elegant Brutality to Summit Music Hall

Categories: Concert Reviews

Tom Murphy
Mayhem at Summit Music Hall.
During last night's showcase of black metal, Revenge put in a solid set of deathgrind-inflected black metal and Watain had a skeleton and goat head altar with lit candles. The band's actual performance was entertaining enough but straddled the divide between black metal and more commercial metal, to the point that its presentation, including the tasteful corpsepaint-esque look of its members' make-up didn't seem particularly menacing.

But when Mayhem took the stage last night at Summit Music Hall, its music and appearance seemed heavier and more serious. Only vocalist Attila Csihar and guitarist Teloch wore any kind of costume, which made their respective physical presence on stage stand out even more.

See also: DIY or Die: Why Denver Need Under-The-Radar, All-Ages Arts Spaces

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