Boulder Theater: bouldertheater.com
Fox Theatre: foxtheatre.com
Ogden Theatre: ogdentheater.net
Bluebird Theater: bluebirdtheater.net
1stBank Center: 1stbankcenter.com
F inally, we're moving out of the concert doldrums of winter. The listings that beg the questions "Who?" and "They're still around?" have been replaced with more relevant and exciting acts. Here's what's on the bill so far.
Bloc Party , Jan. 22 at the Ogden Theatre
Bloc Paty's summer 2012 release, Four, didn't quite live up to hype, but that doesn't mean it wasn't good. The British indie rockers are still out touring on the strength of the record, not to mention their older stuff, and they put on a reliably fun show.
Ben Folds Five , Jan. 23 at the Ogden Theatre
It's weird -- with Ben Folds doing the solo thing, it almost feels like this band was never gone. We haven't really heard from the beloved alt-rock band in a while, though and fans are happy to hear them back at it. If you're looking for a deserving '90s rock throwback -- one fueled by talent and not just nostalgia -- this is the show for you.
Cat Power , Jan. 24 at the Ogden Theatre
She had a hell of a comeback this year, carefully toeing the line between finally being at ease with herself and another breakdown. Needless to say, that kind of emotion is captivating on stage.
Great American Taxi , Jan. 25 at the Fox Theatre
Here's one of those bands you have to stick too many labels on. It's bluegrass, country, Americana and straight rock. What it's not, at least most recently, is jammy. It's not music that can't decide on an identity -- it's music that carefully fuses all of those traditions, and the band's technical prowess shines on stage.
Delta Rae , Jan. 29 at the Bluebird Theater
Look, Delta Rae's album sounds great. But you haven't really experienced this band until you've seen them live. The four-part vocal harmonies at the core of the group will stun you into silence and make you want to sing along at the same time. If you're lucky, you'll get their excellent cover of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" in addition to their own worthy catalogue.
RJD2 , Feb. 1 at the Bluebird Theater
The prolific beatmaker just can't stop, and that's pretty alright with everyone. Churning out so much music, some of it is bound to miss the mark, but RJD2 is consistently solid, if not great, and the show is a guaranteed dance party.
Ellie Goulding , Feb. 1 at the Ogden Theatre
How do you describe Ellie Goulding? The London pop star is often called a singer/songwriter, but that conjures acoustic guitar sounds and breathy vocals. Goulding has dipped her toes into pop and dubstep, while covering the likes of Elton John and Active Child. Whatever she's doing, she's drawing a crowd.
Churchill , Feb. 9 at the Ogden Theatre
In just a couple of years, folk rock quintet Churchill have grown into something close to hometown heroes in Denver. They're not huge -- yet -- but their self-recorded and self-produced records are catching attention and their shows aim to make a connection with the audience.
The Vaccines , Feb. 11 at the Bluebird Theater
These Brit rockers have a sticky relationship with fame and the idea with being rockstars. It stands out a bit in their music, but that doesn't stop it from being catchy rock. The music is straightforward and so is the show. Go. Rock out.
Ty Segall , Feb. 11 at the hi-dive
Ty Segall had a hell of a year, but then, when doesn't he? His assault of releases have all kicked ass, whether he was spiraling into psych territory or churning out punky garage rock. His live shows in 2012 got some attention, too, for the expected rowdiness and some confrontations with security. He can draw a festival crowd, but he's coming to the hi-dive, which is all kinds of perfect. Expect a packed room bursting with raw energy.
Toro Y Moi , Feb. 23 at the Bluebird Theater
Toro Y Moi's latest, Anything In Return, is meant to be "sincere pop." For all his underground cred, Chaz Bundick has always seemed pretty sincere. The idea of a tour packed with more accessible pop music just sounds delightful.
Passion Pit , March 1 at 1stBank Center
First of all, it's all sorts of wonderful that Passion Pit can sell a venue of this size. Last year's record was a dazzling spectacle. The joyous energy of the group's electronic indie pop deserves a big, giddy crowd -- you wouldn't expect it so far from the coasts. And speaking of coastal indie bands, indie pop rock duo Matt & Kim will open for Passion Pit. They're more than capable of matching the ecstatic energy.
Murs , March 8 at the Fox Theatre
California rapper Murs represents a softer side of rap -- less swagger and more quiet confidence. But that doesn't mean his show will be a snooze. This is still hip hop.
Alabama Shakes , March 9 at the Ogden Theatre
For the love of all that is raw and soulful, get to this show. The Alabama Shakes have been doing their thing for years, but it wasn't until 2011 that they became a band to watch, and in 2012, they continued to build themselves up without changing a thing. The gritty, soulful rock on their debut LP Boys & Girls is even more powerful on stage, an Brittany Howard's voice will knock you down.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds , April 3 at the Ogden Theatre
When Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds arrive in Denver this spring, it will be on the heels of the group's next record, Push the Sky Away (out in February). Cave has said of the record, "Well, if I were to use that threadbare metaphor of albums being like children, then Push The Sky Away is the ghost-baby in the incubator and Warren's loops are its tiny, trembling heart-beat." Make of that what you will, and expect a moving performance.