Nick Cave is the master of American mythology

Categories: Last Night

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Brandon Marshall
When Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds went into "Stagger Lee" from the 1996 album Murder Ballads, it was an iconic moment of an evening of music in which the band took the tradition of American folk mythology and breathed into it a larger-than-life electricity. Cave brought raging emotional intensity and dynamic outbursts, whispered statements from the devil and the seductions and outrageously compelling swaggering assertions of Stagger Lee himself. He strode well into the seating area on the first tier of the theater, standing on the backs of chairs, supported by fans. He became one of us, while effectively embodying various archetypes and reminding us that we're part of those, too.

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Nas and Flying Lotus put on the quintessential Red Rocks show, with help from Schoolboy Q

Categories: Last Night

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Brandon Marshall
Look how amazing this place is.
Editor's note: There was a shooting after last night's concert at Red Rocks. Early reports suggest Schoolboy Q was targeted on his way out of the venue. Three people were injured, none seriously. There was also a concert, though, and by all accounts it was a good one. We'll have some more reports on both the incident and the show, but for now here's our take on the music.

It was one of those perfect nights at Red Rocks -- warm enough during the day to keep the amphitheater at a nice temperature throughout the night. It wasn't sold-out, so there was a little more room to get comfortable and really enjoy what was about to unfold. Schoolboy Q took the stage while there was still a little bit of light left in the day. His set was okay; it felt like it went on a little too long and the bass overpowered much of anything else that was happening. But the crowd loved it.

Nas came through without too much fanfare -- just enough to let the focus be on him. Now that the venue was dark, his minimal light set-up was just right, his DJ positioned on a glowing platform that simply read "Nas." I appreciated the simplicity; it gave room for Nas to be the main event, something which I think is often overshadowed by lighting and visuals that can complicate rather than compliment an artist. Nas wasted no time, getting into the favored cuts of Illmatic, giving plenty of shout-outs to his fervent fans who have stood by him for the last twenty years.

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No one is topping Lionel Richie at Red Rocks

Categories: Last Night

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Brandon Marshall

Lionel Richie is real, there's no question. His star was born decades ago and solidified through so many hits that I had even forgotten some of them were his (and the Commodores', of course.) It was refreshing to see someone so real perform; the last time I was at Red Rocks, it was for Lana Del Rey. While there is no comparison to the two performers, really, I felt at ease watching Richie; I wasn't trying to figure out if he was singing to backing tracks. I wasn't waiting for him to speak, to gauge his humanness by his interaction with the crowd. I wasn't worrying that I might be missing some clue the Internet had already pointed out that proved he wasn't a phenomenal singer. Because Lionel Richie is fucking incredible.


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Why the Denver metal scene should be proud of last night's Meshuggah and BTBAM show

Categories: Last Night

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Brandon Marshall

It may not be unusual for a metal show to push the Ogden Theatre to full capacity, but any promoter is facing an uphill task in selling a Monday-night show. Still, Denver metal fans rallied together for Meshuggah and Between the Buried and Me with no concern for work, bedtimes or curfews. How did this show become so immensely successful on such a notoriously hard-to-sell night?

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tUnE-yArDs has lost its novelty, but Merrill Garbus still had her moments in Denver

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The first time I saw tUnE-yArDs, the avant-pop project of Merrill Garbus, was in 2011 at Fun Fun Fun Fest. She was dressed as if she had fallen in a trunk of costumes with a painted face and was pounding on a taped-up ukulele while creating intricate loops on top of her now-signature yelp and flow. Behind her were two shirtless guys, one on bass, one on sax, rocking neon green body paint and dancing like it was the last time they ever would. After two days and dozens of bands, it was safe to say I was hard to impress, but as the crowd jumped and screamed to "Gangsta" I knew I was witnessing a wholly new moment in pop music. An oasis of novel expression in the desert of borrowed guitar riffs and overplayed drum beats that filled the festival's stages.


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A weekend at Mutiny Information Cafe, Denver's most unexpectedly great music venue

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Tom Murphy
PBLC from San Antonio
Mutiny Information Café may be ground zero for the next generation of Denver's music scene.

The shop sits on the southeast corner of Broadway and Ellsworth. Its modest but inviting exterior hasn't changed too much since Matt Megyesi, Joe Ramirez and 3 Kings Tavern co-partner Jim Norris took over operations in February 2013. In the window, a neon sign indicates "Books," but for the last several months, the storefront has not only made available an increasingly solid selection of music to go along with those -- it has hosted a wide variety of concerts. Mutiny is filling a need for a truly all-ages venue and an easy-to-find location central part of Denver. It's not a symbolic role, either. We spent three consecutive days there over Memorial Day weekend and saw a trio of very different shows.

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Colorado Symphony Orchestra's pot concert begs the question: Why is this still a big deal?

Categories: Last Night

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William Breathes/Westword.
I can't help but think about last night's mash up of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the marijuana industry as a giant piece of performance art, though I know that wasn't anyone's intent.

On the surface, the idea behind the "Classically Cannabis" series -- of which this was the first -- was to bring two "cultures" together. They did accomplish that goal, even though I'm pretty sure marijuana and classical music have been combined plenty in the past. But even if a handful of the 250 cannabis-lovers in attendance truly opened their eyes classical music, that wasn't the main outcome of the concert. What the event really did was point out how absurdly we've been treating cannabis since limited amounts of pot were legalized for adults 21 and up in 2012.

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Riff Raff live is good, but not nearly as good as Riff Raff on the Internet

Categories: Last Night

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Brandon Marshall
I drove all the way to Colorado Springs once because I heard a Myspace scene queen was going to be at a house party I was invited to. I wanted to see if she was real. She was.

Seeing Riff Raff at the Bluebird last night felt similar; I went to see if Jody Highroller was real. When you observe and interact with a persona on the Internet, there is a level of fascination with the tangible that keeps the relationship -- however skewed or disconnected or unreal it is -- alive. In a the span of a 55-ish minute set, the Riff Raff fascination waned.

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Here's why Haim will outlive the hype

Categories: Last Night

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Ken Hamblin

The way you find a band is important. I discovered Haim in a park in small town Illinois with five story oak trees towering over strings of warm lights. I was camping nearby and drinking wine straight from the gallon-sized jug. The three sisters from LA drew me around the corner to the front of the stage with pure feral will. They whacked drums with abandon. They sang choruses seemingly designed with the use of pop music cheat codes.

At the time the only documents of the band were one obscure seven-inch and a Fleetwood Mac cover that didn't even make the CD version of the compilation it was recorded for. The Haim sisters' credentials were impressive even then, though. That's particularly true of middle child Danielle, who spent time as a guitarist and drummer for Jenny Lewis, Julian Casablancas and Cee-Lo Green.


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Lana Del Rey might as well have been tranquilized, but she seduced Red Rocks anyway

Categories: Last Night

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Brandon Marshall
There was sad Lana, drowning Lana, sleeping Lana, smiling Lana. There was even a Lana on fire. But all of these Lanas were just projections on a screen behind the physical manifestation of Lana Del Rey, who held tight to a stoicism personified in a single pout. She wore the pout throughout her set last night at Red Rocks. Hers is a very pretty stoic face, and that was the point. Lana came to be looked at and the crowd was there to admire, fawn and stare.


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