Halloween Rundown

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Halloween night concert choices range from electronica to Americana

By Brian F. Johnson

Each year, as kids gear up to grab candy, “adults” (and, we do use that term loosely) set their sights on area concerts.
With Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, the choices at local venues offer as many alternatives as an overly-aggressive trick-or-treater’s loot bag at the end of the night.

:: Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit ::
:: Larimer Lounge ::

The former Drive-By Trucker axe slinger, who took off on his own path a few years ago, dropped his second solo album early in 2009. The self-titled disc has been deemed by Rolling Stone as one “not to be missed,” while The Tripwire called it “one hell of a record.” And, if those kudos weren’t enough, Esquire said of Isbell and his band: “Combine the sounds of Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and Aretha Franklin and you’ve got Jason Isbell, a 28-year-old reviving Southern musical history.” Damn!

:: Swollen Members ::
:: Marquis Theater ::

Swollen Members have risen to the top of the underground hip-hop scene with a series of classic albums that have made them one of the genre’s brightest rising stars. Founded by two of the game’s best MCs, Mad Child and Prevail, along with the help of DJ Rob The Viking, Swollen Members have created a huge fan base while staying completely independent under their own label, Battle Axe Records. Swollen had taken a break over the past few years while Mad Child dealt with drug addiction and some legal issues, but, the group has come back stronger than ever with their upcoming new studio album Armed To The Teeth, which features guest appearances by Talib Kweli and Tech N9NE.

:: DeVotchKa ::
:: Boulder Theater ::

DeVotchKa cut their chops as a backing band for burlesque shows, so it’s no wonder that their Halloween concerts have become legendary. This unlikely and obscure act from Denver blends so many old-styles of music that the only possible outcome is something new and different. They’ve blown up huge, with the help of movie and television work, most notably in the 2006 film Little Miss Sunshine, which fetched a Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack.

:: Meese::
:: Gothic Theatre ::

This summer, Meese logged more than 20,000 miles over 39 states, supporting The Fray, Jack’s Mannequin and Copeland. The Colorado quartet was touring behind their Atlantic Records debut,  Broadcast, which was released this summer to national critical acclaim.

:: Bassnectar ::
:: Fillmore Auditorium ::

The brand-new full-length Bassnectar album Cozza Frenzy dropped digitally on September 29, with CD’s available in stores on October 27 — just in time for Halloween. Bassnectar’s own label, Amorphous Music, teamed up with Child’s Play Records to unleash the album, an amalgamation of sound that combines dubstep, electro, hip-hop, and all styles of dirty digital bass-heavy music, and smashes it all into a collision of wobbling, intense basslines, and hypnotic hide-and-seek adventures.

:: Nashville Pussy ::
:: Bluebird Theater ::

True rock and roll doesn’t require definition. It’s self-explanatory based on a gut feeling and the unconditional devotion to the musical genre. Nashville Pussy have celebrated their brand of genuine rock and roll for more than a decade, in classic style at times, surprising at others, but always earthy, raw and unadulterated. Band mastermind Blaine Cartwright (vocals, guitar), his wife Ruyter Suys (guitar), Karen Cuda (bass) and Jeremy Thompson (drums) spent three years working on their latest rock release, From Hell To Texas, out on Steamhammer/SPV, which was released in February of this year.

:: Ghostface Killah::
:: Fox Theatre ::

Ghostface (the artist formerly known as Ghostface Killah, or GFK, to friends), armed with his latest heat rock of an album, Fish Scale — which boasts production from MF DOOM, Pete Rock, J.Dilla, MadLib, and many others — stands ready and willing to carry the Wu Tang’s burden and return rap to it’s proper course. “You know, niggas try to come on that other shit,” he said of hip-hop’s growing ranks of imposters on his website, “So I just had come back to raw drugs, sex, money, and murder shit real quick to show these young niggas how it’s s’possed to be done.” And who better to kick the truth to the young black youth, than Ghost, an artist more universally accepted than American Express.

:: The Motet ::
:: Cervante’s Masterpiece Ballroom ::

The Motet has become legendary around Colorado for, every year, tackling a new band’s material for their Halloween throw down. Past performances have covered Prince and Michael Jackson, among others. This year, they will take on the music of Sly and the Family Stone — but for 2009 they’re taking the concept a bit further. In addition to Motet regulars, the band will, this year, feature Sly and Family Stone guitarist Gail Muldrow, who played on the 1975 album I Get High On You.

:: Slim Cessna’s Auto Club ::
:: Bender’s Tavern ::

Engaging, riveting, sad and humorous; demanding the audience to participate both live and while listening to their albums; Slim Cessna’s Auto Club has been branded with every musical description possible. This seems fitting, as SCAC describes their music as American; and after a decade of working and living as SCAC, they have created their own genre. The originally Denver-based band has recorded critically acclaimed albums on Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label. Spin Magazine and No Depression have described them as the best live band in America. The songs are each thoughtfully crafted with unique arrangements, executed by superb musicianship, then fully realized through original, insightful and intelligent lyrics. With two of the most charismatic front men around and four accomplished musicians (Wovenhand, Delta 72, 16Horsepower), SCAC is the past, present and future of American music.

:: Euforquestra ::
:: Whistler’s Café ::

Originally from Iowa City, IA, relocated to Fort Collins, CO, Eufórquestra has been touring more than ever and is continuing to take its cutting edge music in different directions. Their self-proclaimed “Afro-Caribbean-Barnyard-Funk” brings a rhythmic wall of sound, integrating such genres as afrobeat, reggae, afro-Cuban, samba, soca, funk, salsa, and dub. This is music that ignites dance floors across the country with a sound that explodes, dances and melts in your ear with sheer bliss. This year the band recorded its third album, Soup, at Backbone Studios in Loveland, and released the project on October 6.

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