Well, it’s officially May in Denver (and everywhere else), and despite what the weather would have you believe, summer is coming. Usually, this is a time accompanied by sunny skies (nope), flowing beer (maybe), and, best of all, a bevy of great concerts (ehhhh…). I’ll admit: I’m a little ambivalent about this year’s summer concert schedule. For a city supposedly becoming known for its great music scene, Denver’s 2016 has been decidedly unremarkable so far. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still a few great shows coming up around town. So, for my first post at the HC blog, here’s a brief rundown of a few of the most exciting (read: by bands that I happen to like) concerts happening in the next few months.
First off, a personal favorite of mine. New Jersey rock outfit Titus Andronicus is dropping by the Marquis Theatre on May 17, hopefully bringing a sequel to the excellent show they played at the same venue a few months ago. Though still seeking (or perhaps deliberately avoiding) mainstream attention, Titus Andronicus has gained significant traction among music lovers with their ragged brand of barroom punk. Their most recent album, The Most Lamentable Tragedy, is a massive two-record rock opera, their best effort since 2010’s The Monitor, to me one of the best albums of the decade (still). Titus Andronicus is a strange, often clumsy band whose music is as messy as it is engaging. They’re also one of the most entertaining live acts playing right now. To see them in person is to love them; don’t miss out on this one.
Aside from that, the schedule at the small theaters in Denver is a little thin this year. However, there’s plenty to get excited about at Colorado’s most famous concert venue, Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Aside from the typical appearances by the traditional dad-rock standards and the endless jam-band snoozefests (it’s possible that I’m biased), there are a few huge shows happening at Red Rocks this year that you simply should not miss.
To me, the season really starts as late as July 31 with a show by The National. Coming off an excellent release in Trouble Will Find Me, the Brooklyn-based alternative (I guess?) band is a deceptively great live act, expanding on the rich sound they create in studio to create a huge, compelling performance complete with a phenomenal light show. Though The National have always trended towards the understated on their records, their bass-drenched aesthetic and pounding rhythms translate perfectly to a venue like Red Rocks. Matt Berninger’s distinct baritone is still the most recognizable voice in rock today, and it holds up surprisingly well despite the amount of wine he tends to soak it in at live shows. Somehow, this show is not sold out already, so go grab a ticket now. You won’t regret it.
A few days later, LCD Soundsystem will play two nights at Red Rocks in what might end up as the premier concert event of the summer. Though James Murphy’s electronic indie project semi-officially called it quits a couple of years ago, the reunion seemed inevitable, and thankfully, it’s taking one of its very few stops here in Colorado. Though they’ve only released three albums, their catalogue is full of danceable rhythms and unmistakable hooks. They’re the rare band whose music feels just at home as when played in a small room late at night between friends or shared amongst thousands at a packed arena. Unsurprisingly, both nights are already sold out, but I’ll certainly be trawling Craigslist for tickets, and I recommend you do the same.
Finally, the Red Rocks calendar draws near its close with an appearance by Australian electro-fuzz group Tame Impala on August 31. Their latest album, 2015’s Currents, was one of the best of the year, a smoothly-blended, flowing collection of hook-driven tracks focused by their emphasis on slick bass lines and Kevin Parker’s soft, high-register voice. Though their previous efforts were centered on distorted guitars and driving drum lines, Currents tends more toward the ethereal, with electronic instruments forming the groundwork around delicate guitars and Parker’s intimate, emotionally earnest lyrics. The disparity in their sound is likely to deliver a show that is at very least interesting, if not outright fantastic. Sadly, this one is sold out as well, so start hunting now.
So maybe this year’s concert schedule is a little sparse in the cheaper spots in town. Still, there’s a good chance I’m missing some great acts on the schedule, so be sure to let us know if you’re looking forward to anything that I’ve omitted here. Either way, there are a few shows that look more than promising, and I’m sure I’ll be spending way too much money on tickets anyway.
- Colin Griffith
Music junkie, film critic, and cultural analyst, Colin has been writing on anything and everything for as long as he can remember. With a particular love for music and film, he'll be writing on concerts around Denver, album releases, and cinematic boom-or-busts. With a focus in film studies from Kenyon College and experience as Publishing Director for Tethered By Letters, Colin brings a lot to the table.
Read his monthly segment, Plugged In, on the HC Blog.