The Top 10 Must-See Artists at Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival 2018

Beyond the headliners, there are a number of awesome acts scheduled for this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival. Here are our must-sees:

Pitchfork.

Pitchfork.

Kweku Collins

Kweku Collins is from a suburb just north of Chicago, but has been lumped in with the rest of the Chicago artists on the scene. Collins’ music is a unique blend of self-produced beats over his own lyrics, which float somewhere between rapping and droned-out singing. He performed a wild set at Lollapalooza last year, and is sure to bring that same energy to the Pitchfork stage.

Ravyn Lenae

Pitchfork is notable for bringing a collective of artists together at this festival, but something they’re especially good at is tailoring the talent to represent not only the diversity of the industry, but also the Chicago acts who are hustling to the top. Ravyn Lenae is one of these special acts, along with Saba, Noname, Chicago transplant Smino, and northern suburban Kweku Collins. Ravyn Lenae recently released an EP with one of The Internet’s members, Steve Lacy, and went on tour as an opener for Sza, both have which have skyrocketed Lenae’s career this year. Lenae has migrated from a local Chicago favorite to a worldwide obsession. Still, she hones in on her city’s spirit and is sure to have a truly magical set.

Smino

Smino is a St. Louis native, but moved to Chicago to pursue his career as a rapper. He slept on studio floors while working non-stop and was eventually welcomed into Chicago’s tight knit music scene. Along with Ravyn Lenae, Smino was on tour with Sza, helping boost his tunes up the charts as well. His punchy lyrics and riffs of deliverance set him apart, so his set is sure to smash.

Syd

Syd is the breakout star hailing from two of Los Angeles’ most notable artist groups, The Internet and Odd Future. She worked with The Internet’s album Ego Death, which was nominated for a Grammy and has helped shape the sounds of many of LA’s influential artists. Since her debut album, Fin, Syd has been receiving nothing but accolades for her sultry blend of current hip-hop production with a voice that harks back to 90s R&B pop. Syd is a hallmark artist of our generation and an openly gay female who started off in two all-male rap groups and hustled her way into the world’s most competitive music scene.

Listen to our must-see artists on our Pitchfork playlist:

Saba

Saba is one of Chicago’s most special artists, and is the performer you should count yourself lucky to catch this year. At only 23 years young, Saba not only writes some of the most powerful lyrics you’ll listen to, he has also started a foundation and scholarship in the name of his recent friend John Walt. He’s an artist that not only puts on for his city, but he puts on for people. He dropped his second album prior to touring this year called CARE FOR ME, which is a migration from his previous sound but retains his incredible ability for raw storytelling (listen to “LIFE” for a reference on this ability).

Blood Orange

Dev Hynes, better known by his stage name Blood Orange, brought his ethereal sound to Pitchfork a few years ago and we’re more than excited to see his name on the lineup again. His 2016 album, Freetown Sound, combined a blend of sounds in and outside of music to create a textured landscape unlike any other. He claims he sat in Washington Square Park in New York City to write most of this record. It was there where he caught and recorded a lot of the extra sounds you hear throughout this album, such as a saxophone being played in the distance. The integration of these environmental sounds creates a mysterious, diary-like experience for the listener. You won’t want to miss catching these vibes in the late afternoon sun on Saturday.

Big Thief

Brooklyn indie rock band Big Thief are bringing their synth-tinged guitars and rock-influenced siren-like vocals to Pitchfork’s fest. Their songs are a nice mix of slow, dreamy tunes and more aggressive rock beats. This sonic mix has landed them on a tour with Conor Oberst (frontman of Bright Eyes, one of indie rock’s most legendary acts), as well as an NPR tiny desk concert.

Julie Byrne

Being compared to the likes of Joni Mitchell takes a special person, and Julie Byrne is evidently one of the rare ones. Leaving home at 18, she stumbled into music to quench her own happiness and has since established a name for herself. Living a wandering lifestyle prior to her recognition has molded her music into a soft and observant sound, which will sound beautiful outdoors at Pitchfork.

Joshua Abrams

Joshua Abrams will be bringing some much needed jazz to Pitchfork, a genre too often underrepresented especially at festivals. An early member of the group The Roots, Abrams has built up his career in Chicago’s strong jazz scene. His set will be a unique vibe on Friday, and will set the weekend off perfectly for any music enthusiast.

The War on Drugs

Indie rock veterans The War on Drugs recently won a 2017 Grammy for “Best Rock Album.” They tell fantastic stories in their lyrics while also making some thought-provoking statements, simultaneously rocking into immense guitar tangents that take listeners to another dimension, and Adam Granduciel’s voice has a hauntingly beautiful tone guaranteed to give a listener chills.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Hollywood Undead Bring Unique Rap-Rock Blend to the Fillmore This Week

By: Nathan Sheppard

Rap-rock group Hollywood Undead, best known for their debut album Swan Songs, will be hitting the Fillmore Auditorium this Wednesday, April 18th for a co-headlining show with In This Moment and support acts Ded and The Word Alive.

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The five-piece band from Los Angeles, known for their intricate mask designs, released their fifth studio album Five last October and are taking their new beats on the road this spring. You can anticipate a mix of their new material including “California Dreaming” but also some fan favorites like “Undead” from the guys. Hollywood Undead are known for their crazy live shows, so with the first stop of the tour being in Denver, expect the energy to be through the roof as both headliners put on an epic performance. You can check out the newest album here and tickets for the event can be found here.

Keep up with Hollywood Undead on Facebook

-Nathan

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Denver's Sole To Release 'Let Them Eat Sand' At Marquis Theatre This Friday (02/02)

Denver hip-hop artist Sole is releasing his new album Let Them Eat Sand this Friday, February 2nd. The record, which explores the current US political climate, along with social commentary on pop culture elements like “generations lost to memes and smartphones” was self-produced by Sole and funded through his Patreon. As Sole has said, the record is about “An ‘apocalypse’ that isn't coming, but already here.” Sole has already released the single from the record, the title track “Let Them Eat Sand”:

Sole’s album release show, which is sponsored by KGNU, will be at Marquis Theatre the same night as the record’s digital release. Denver’s Mux Mool, Entrancer, and The Maybe So's will open the evening; tickets here.

Sole.

Sole.

Make sure to catch this Colorado hip-hop artist, listen to Let Them Eat Sand, and catch Sole for yourself at the Marquis this Friday!

Find more on this event here.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Kayla Rae On Working With Other Female Artists & Women's Empowerment In Music

By: Annie Kane

It’s around 10AM in Denver’s holiday clad Union Station, and the place is already humming with travelers passing through and freelancers working diligently amongst the couches. As I sit down with local Denver singer Kayla Rae, we reminisce over what it must’ve been like to have traveled during the heyday of trains. She takes another sip of her green tea before we dive into our thought-provoking conversation on her artistry, the importance of self-love, and the empowering feeling of working with other confident women.

So let’s start with a bit about your background. You’re from Colorado Springs- how was that environment? How do you feel like that shaped you?

It’s kind of a small town, so I had a lot of good friends around me. I went to okay schools, but I liked Colorado Springs because it wasn’t too fast, you know? It was a little more laid back. It was the perfect place I feel like for my mom because there was five of us kids and just her, so a slower city was better ‘cause she didn’t have to keep such an eye on us. She was so busy all the time anyways, so there wasn’t a whole lot of trouble we could get into! But, you know Denver was always the place to come when you were a kid on the weekends or when you’re a teenager and you want to come party and stuff, it’s always like, ‘Let’s go up to Denver, there’s way more happening up there!’ I was a really good kid, I never really got into anything crazy. My sisters were kind of wild but I’ve always been ‘the good child.’ My mom always trusted me a lot, and I think that was because of the friends I had and there really wasn’t shit to do in Colorado Springs! It’s kind of boring. So, Denver’s a lot different.

Kayla Rae.

Kayla Rae.

So were your mom or your friends into music?

My mom used to sing when she was younger- a lot actually- she has a huge passion for singing. But she started smoking when she was really young so she obviously doesn’t have the best voice anymore. She always played really good music when I was growing up, like Sugar Hill, The Carpenters. So she was always really musical, but no one else in my family writes music or makes music, and no one on my dad’s side does either. My dad listened to a lot of jazz and so I was always around good music, but I think I’m the only creator in the family.

So you feel like you fell into creating music naturally?

Yeah, well I think when I was a kid I was writing first as a form of expression, like poetry, and stories, and journal entries, like I always just wrote stuff. So then eventually I turned them into songs because I loved to sing. You know, I feel like I was terrible at it as a kid but I loved to do it, so then when I got older it was kind of just what became of me. It was just who I was.

And then you went somewhere to learn how to produce?

Yeah! So when I graduated high school I actually applied for Berklee College of Music in Boston. I didn’t make it in the fall semester, but I got accepted in the spring, so I started in 2010. When you get there, they give you a Macbook and it comes with all different music programs like Logic, Reason, and Garageband. You take basic classes on music production and music theory, but I was just so excited to have my own software to do it ‘cause I was always in other people’s studios, so I was like, ‘I wanna learn how to make beats and record all my own songs!’ So I would do that- I would just make them. They gave us a little midi keyboard as well and you would just hook it up to your laptop and you could just create and record through your laptop speakers, so I would just make all these horrible sounding songs. But yeah, I was just learning how to produce, how to write and record myself, which I think is mostly why I do all my own recording now, because having that control is a lot better. Then you don’t have to wait on other people’s time.

Yeah, I was going to ask you about that. It’s definitely easy to link with other people now with social media, but do you feel like your music is more “you” because you have all that control and ability to actually do it yourself?

I think so. It is nice getting to work with other people sometimes because you have other ideas coming into the pot, but it’s also very liberating when you’re by yourself because you don’t have opinions of other people, like, ‘Oh, well maybe you shouldn’t do this,’ you know? So yeah, you don’t have to wait on anybody else. A lot of people are so busy nowadays with their own things that it takes awhile to get stuff back. And me, when I have ideas, I want them out right away. I’m the worst person at planning and making things go accordingly because when something is just buzzing in my head when it’s good I’m just like, ‘Okay, I need to get this out now.’ So it’s really convenient that I have a studio at home and I can do that on my own because I couldn’t imagine having all these song ideas and having to wait to book studio time to do them.

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Would you say you’re protective over who you let into your creative bubble?

Yeah, and it’s not even on purpose, it’s just, I need the right energy around me at this time because I don’t want anything to interrupt this creative process. You know? And I’m never too good to take anyone’s advice who would say, ‘Maybe this would sound good this way.’ So I’ll ask that of people that I trust- I’ll play music for them and ask what they think about it. But I think you have to be selective when you’re in any craft.

And your music is pretty personal.

Yeah, sometimes it gets… yeah. (laughs) It’s like therapy sometimes!

That’s good! So would you say you make music for yourself mostly?

Yeah! You know what’s crazy is that I was talking to another artist about this yesterday, I was actually working with YaSi yesterday. I invited her over and we finally got to work together, which is something we’ve wanted to do for awhile. But we were talking about that- about making music for ourselves, and that’s always how it starts. With any person who does any kind of creative expression, you do it because you need to. And I think once people start catching on to you and they start listening and you see people's reactions, you want to do it for them. You want to do it for their praise, but you have to remember that it’s not for anybody but you. And sometimes some songs don’t need to be heard. YaSi and I were talking about that yesterday too, just like that’s such a good point that you don’t always have to share things with people, and that’s how you keep it for yourself. Some people use music to heal, and that’s really what it is for me because, I mean I write everyday but I really do my best writing when I’m sad. I don’t know why that is! (laughs) And so some of that stuff people will never hear.

So when you perform live, what kind of environment do you try to cultivate?

It’s so crazy that you say that, ‘cause as artists we have the power to create an atmosphere. I just want people to feel comfortable- I want them to feel really in tune with themselves and with what I’m saying, and I feel like it’s like that when I perform. I feel like I’m respected up there which means so much, and I feel like I have people’s attention so I can pretty much say anything that I want. I feel really comfortable up there, and that’s how I want other people to feel- comfortable to kind of just get lost in the music for a second, almost like I’m in my bedroom. I close my eyes a lot when I sing, and I think it’s ‘cause I’m taken back there.

Is there anything you want your audience to take out of your music?

Inspiration to do what you want, you know. It’s so hard to get caught up in this world and what you think other people want from you, what they expect of you. I just want my music to represent me fully, and let people know that this is just who I am and it’s okay to be who you are too, it’s okay to do what you love. You know, you can make money off what you love, you can live happily doing it and it doesn’t have to be a struggle for you, you can do it and be free. And that’s what I want from people to get when they see me perform and listen to my music, like, ‘Wow, she’s just doing this for her.’

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That’s awesome. So what makes you feel the most empowered?

When I’m working with other women. I feel like naturally, we all just feel like we’re so different, we all feel like no one understands us and we’re just all alone in this world, or maybe that’s just me! (laughs) So when I get around other women, I just feel like ten times myself. I just feel like I can do anything. So I like to keep good solid women around me who also have goals, and they empower me. When I feel really confident in myself I’m empowered, when I feel sexy I’m empowered, and I get all that from [working with] other women. Which is crazy.

So how do you feel about breaking into the music industry as a woman?

I feel like it’s kind of hard because most of the workers in the music [industry] are men. You know, the producers and the engineers, and sometimes they get the wrong ideas when you just wanna work. Like, ‘Nah I just wanna get my shit done!’ But I do think this is a good time for women because I feel like there’s so many women doing so much right now. You have so many women in power: Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, even women on the come up like Tori Kelly, Kehlani, just all these great women in music. I feel like it’s probably going to be a little easier now, you just have to remember to be yourself and not try to be like anybody else.

Yeah, I feel like Sza cracked this huge gate of vulnerability.

Hell yeah, Sza’s amazing. Just so many women doing great things and it makes me so proud, because, I was actually talking to my girlfriend about this, and she was like, ‘You know, the women in this city are doing exactly what the women everywhere else are doing. And who knows what the women in other cities are doing and how they’re coming together and holding each other down and lifting each other up.’ It’s just, it’s a women’s world, I don’t care what anybody else says! (laughs)

What female artists do you most look up to?

All of them, oh my gosh. I really, really love Sade. I think she’s amazing and I used to listen to her a lot when I was younger. I took so much from Aaliyah when I was a kid, like I modeled everything after her it was crazy. And still to this day I watch all of her stuff and it just never gets old for me. I just love how she was so cool, just naturally cool. It seemed like she didn’t have to try, she seemed so sweet. Her music was kinda gangsta, but not really, she was sweet over her music so it was a nice balance and I really loved that about her. Now, I really look up to Rihanna, I think she’s amazing. As a woman in music, in fashion and in business. And she’s been doing this for so long. I really look up to Beyoncé, I love her so, so much. (pauses to think) There’s so many. I think Sza is incredible, I think she is such a good storyteller, you know what I mean? She’s not afraid to write about what she’s been through and it sounds like these crazy-ass stories that you get lost in but you’re also like, ‘Me too, I’ve kind of been through that!’

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Outside of the glory and fame of celebrity and things you can get caught up with, where do you really see your music going?

I just want to get a good amount of people who really like it all over the world who I can come to and perform it for. When I think about fame, and the people who have that, I just think about how unhappy they might be, like how much it must to be keep up with always being talked about or people always trying to find you and how that must really interrupt your peace of mind. I don’t want that, it just sounds painful. I just want people who really like my music and who are down to buy it and down to listen to it, and if I can make a living off of just traveling and performing and making music that’s really all I wanna do. The reality is we have to pay to live, and I think you just have to find something you like to do that helps you do that, that keeps you here, that keeps you fed, that keeps you clothed. If you’re good at something and you love to do it then make that the way that you live. I just wanna take care of my family with music and meet a lot of new people and go to a lot of different places. I don’t want all that extra shit! People kill themselves because they’re so caught up in the pressure and I think we live in that world now unfortunately where everyone is being looked at and there’s this pressure to be perfect and to have all your shit together, and it’s like no, nobody is like that in real life. It’s not even about all the attention, like sometimes it’s nice but if that’s all that you’re after, you’re just going to be so unhappy. I think about the things that make me happy, and it’s not that.

How do you stay so grounded? Have you always been this level-headed?

Well, one, my mom would slap the shit out of me if I ever came home trying to be bougie! But I just think, like, it is hard and sometimes I get caught up in it. I get caught up in what people think of me or what they’re gonna think of my next song. I think you just have to remind yourself, ‘Why do I do this? Why do I love this?’ I think it’s an internal thing and obviously the people you keep around you, too. No one in my life treats me as if I’m better than anybody else. None of us should treat anybody like that- we’re all equals. So I think it’s definitely keeping good people around you and loving yourself that is really important. If you don’t love yourself, you’re going to try to find all that from other people. So yeah, just really being comfortable with who you are. I feel like there’s so much to live up to. I don’t want my daughters or my nieces to feel like they have to be something unreal.

If you had a daughter, how would you try to guide her away from that pressure?

I would really just press self-love, because I feel like that’s really where it comes from, is inside. I notice that at times when I don’t feel good about myself, that’s when I try to do more with my appearance or I try to be extra on social media because I feel like I need people to tell me I’m doing okay. But that never fulfills me completely, you know. So I would really just teach her to love herself, and you’re different, and you’re unique, and that’s okay. You’re going to make decisions that people aren’t going to agree with, and that’s okay. I think in doing that you learn to appreciate who you are.

Keep up with Kayla Rae’s latest on her Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Soundcloud.

-Annie

All photos per the author. All videos and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Denver's Annabelle Raps About The Importance Of Self-Love

By: Taylor Naiman

Annabelle is The Mile High’s very own 20-year-old female rap artist, and she’s making big moves in the industry. After a brief stint in Los Angeles, she returned to her native Denver to hone her sound. Her introduction to the Denver scene was over a year ago at her first open mic and at the time, she felt like one of Denver’s only female artists. Still, she kept pursuing more stage opportunities at places like The Gothic and Cervantes’ Masterpiece, and while doing so, explored a range of sounds: hip-hop, jazz, rap, and soul.

Annabelle.

Annabelle.

Throughout the duration of her first EP, The Desire, Annabelle creates a storybook and gives the audience her true raw emotion. She has found a balance both lyrically and musically where she can explore different sounds and her own vulnerabilities. Her music is “melodic, soulful and highly vulnerable with hip-hop and jazz undertones.” It is open, emotional, and conveys her vulnerabilities. She strives to give her audience a spiritual awakening.

Photo Credit: Bobby Vasquez

Photo Credit: Bobby Vasquez

Annabelle told me that she is most influenced by artists she herself can dance to, such as Ashanti, Missy Elliott, 2Pac, Bone Thugs N’ Harmony and J. Cole. Lyrically, she likes J. Cole, Chance the Rapper, and Kendrick Lamar. She told me, “I think I hold the same potential as any one of those legends.” And maybe that confidence is just what she needs.

Photo Credit: Bobby Vasquez

Photo Credit: Bobby Vasquez

Currently, Annabelle is working on three EPs in the studio, composed with a new energy and varied tones. They are going to be all about her life journey and “how people can be dangerous.” Each will unmask more of her vulnerabilities pertaining to relationships, self-love, and her continued growth. She describes this music as being reminiscent of an ambient Odesza sound with a  jazzy feel and a hint of a “50 Cent club record.” When she is not in the studio, you can catch her either riding horses or modeling in front of the camera.

Well-attuned to her style and vibe, Annabelle is someone to keep an eye out for. I recently had the chance to ask her a few more questions about her music:

What was your favorite song to write and why?

Should I’ because of the whole story behind it. I walked in on my ex with another girl in his bed. I was pretty calm about the whole situation at the time and didn’t know how to feel about it right when it happened. I tried to write a song about the way I was feeling and it went a couple of different ways before I finished it. But I went from the honest, vulnerable side when I wrote ‘Should I.’ It’s the battle, where you ask yourself, ‘What should I do?’ For me, it is a very poetic song where I can prove my self-love.

What is one piece of advice you would give to another female in the music industry?

Always know your worth and do not settle for anything less. Do not be afraid to tell people, ‘no’ in this industry. Have the confidence to do so! If your ideas do not align with those of other individuals, do not settle.

Learn more about Annabelle and her music here.

-Taylor

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Cisco The Nomad On The City's Gentrification: Denver First, Always

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Cisco the Nomad is Denver born and bred, and proud of it.

“I grew up all over town. My parents split up when I was really young so my dad lived in Central/West Denver, from between Alameda to Federal and Federal to Evans, and my mom moved to Lakewood. I spent the time split between them.” the hip-hop artist told me recently from a SketchFam member’s living room.

“I went to all private schools,” he smiled, “I went to The Colorado Academy for middle and high school with the wealthier kids in town, but I took the public bus three hours to get to that school!” he laughed, “And I wasn’t always comfortable bringing those kids home.”

Cisco The Nomad.

Cisco The Nomad.

Outside of class, Cisco the Nomad, whose birth name is Clay Edwards, spent a lot of time riding around the streets of Denver, and getting to know the city on an intimate level.

“My dad’s a bus driver so I spent a lot of time riding the bus and writing poems about the city. Rapping for me started as poetry. I’ve always identified as a writer more than a musician.” he smiled.

Still, music has always been in his roots.

“My dad’s a percussionist so he was a drummer before I was born. He drummed with Kevin Dooley. I grew up around music and started doing musical theater when I was young and playing saxophone.” he added, “Now I purely do vocal work.”

Edwards showing us a track from his upcoming mixtape.

Edwards showing us a track from his upcoming mixtape.

After high school, Edwards found himself at Colorado College studying theater arts. It was at this point he became more serious about laying down tracks.

“When I got to college, I got serious about recording. My friend Mamoun and I started SketchFam- a collective of beat makers, visual artists, and multiple people across states bringing these talents together.” he explained.

From there, he and friend Henri Katz went on to form Lounge Records, a Denver-based DIY label with a strict focus on Denver artists.

“I put Denver artists first. I am constantly scouring this city for emcees, for talent. I want artists to know that they can launch from here. You don’t need to pull a Trev Rich and go to Atlanta. You don’t need to move to Los Angeles. We’ve got it right here for you. Let’s capitalize on the millions of people who are here.”

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However, Edwards agrees there need to be more performance spaces for hip-hop artists to launch from in Denver. Many venues have shuddered due to the gentrification of recent Mile High neighborhoods.

“I want Denver to be itself- the amount of time and work people have put into this city should shine. I was heartbroken when The Gypsy House Cafe closed down. It was a spot where young poets hung out in Denver. There was coffee, hookah. All of a sudden that spot disappeared and became like an imported sushi place or something. You can’t just expect the soul of a place to grow back in a year. If you take it, it’s gone. And that matters to me. I want artists to come here and exist, but Denver needs to define the artistic hub that lives here. People from New York shouldn’t be coming here and defining that.”

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The authentic culture of Denver is important to Edwards, and I couldn’t help but wonder what he’d see now taking the same bus ride he did as a child.

“Something like ‘RiNo’ is a bunch of bullshit. Why not call it ‘Five Points’? Why rebrand it? Why divorce it from its history and change it from its history? To make it more palatable for who? Why does everything gotta be two-syllables and end with an ‘o’? Who decided this was the identity of the city? Especially growing up where I’m from. It’s so plastic what they’re doing and how they’re marketing it- as a trendy fun place to move- when really [RiNo] is a warehouse district. I don’t see why we need to rebrand a city when people are already coming here anyway. The opportunity isn’t going to go away by calling ‘Five Points’ ‘Five Points’. ‘SoBro’ is South Broadway, ‘LoDo’ is Lower Downtown, The Highlands are just North Denver. I don’t need a LoHi. This isn’t a fast casual restaurant where you can pick your neighborhood like Chipotle options.”

Edwards isn’t alone in feeling this way. Denver’s gentrification has been a hot issue in recent years as more and more locals find themselves forced out of neighborhoods they grew up in and surrounded by corporate chains in place of local joints.

“There’s going to be a point where people who move here look to the city for what it is- for its culture- and that shouldn’t come from people who move here. That should come from Denver and from the people who have lived here.” Edwards told me.

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Edwards now calls a space on 14th and Federal home, where he lives with producer, guitarist, and collaborator Sherman. The two have recently been working together, with others from SketchFam and Lounge Records, to try and expand Denver’s hip-hop scene. Though a lot of this is happening DIY in people’s living rooms and basements, Cisco thinks this can change.

“I want to create space for Denver arts. As the city is expanding and transplants are coming in, there is a point we have to decide who gets to be the tastemakers and I think those should be Denver people. I’m sick of cultural transplants coming into the city and defining this city.”

Cisco is also working on his music, a mixtape called Starter Pack, which will drop later this year. It will be mostly acoustic hip-hop jams, some of which Cisco has already started to play live.

“When I hit the stage, I try to have an all-encompassing sort of presence. I want people to leave there feeling like church- like they’ve done something spiritual together.” he smiled.

Cisco also agrees there are plenty of Denver artists building the local hip-hop scene just like he is.

Edwards with some local members of SketchFam.

Edwards with some local members of SketchFam.

“I love Sur Ellz. Kid Astronaut. Yasi. And they’re not always getting the attention they deserve.” he said.

It is these artists- and others- that Edwards feels should be defining the Denver hip-hop sound.

“I think the way people speak out here is different. Denver’s sound is more lyrical- I think poetry is a huge influence in the Denver scene. I want to bring out a Baroquian lyricism- excessive, everywhere.”

But to Edwards, the issues of a redefined Denver go far beyond the local hip-hop scene, the broader music scene, and the neighborhoods he has watched change.

“I want Denver’s disenfranchised to have a certain amount of voice in the city. And if it’s not in politics and it’s not in real estate, then it damn well better be in the arts.” Edwards exclaimed.

“Denver first always. No matter where I go.”

Keep an eye out for Cisco the Nomad’s upcoming mixtape, which drops this week hereand keep up with his live performance schedule through Facebook.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos per the author. All videos and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Chance The Rapper's Intern Opens Up About Working For His Favorite Rapper & How One Night at Red Rocks Changed Everything

Hospedales & Chance. 

Hospedales & Chance. 

You may recall a few months back when Chance The Rapper put out a request for an intern across his social media. Canada’s Nagele Hospedales got the gig after turning his resume into a website that went viral. Recently, Hospedales opened up about what life was like touring the globe with Chicago’s hometown hero. From arranging story time for the rapper with Dave Chappelle to coordinating Chance’s hoops sessions with Migos, Hospedales eventually writes,

“I can talk all I want about my run-ins with various celebrities including the ones I lived with for 2 months, or how a taste of the VIP lifestyle changed me, but the first moment that really left shivers down my spine was a slightly more natural one:
Night 2 at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, CO.
The band intros happen nearly halfway thru the show, and after the ovation for ‘Mr. Nico Segal’, ”Sunday Candy” begins. Suddenly, it was if the heavens literally opened up for a second; right as the vocalists harmonized the lines “Come on in this house, cause it’s gonna rain, Rain down Zion, it’s gonna rain”, the most peaceful light mist fell from the sky until the end of the song and as suddenly as they started, ceased. Something about that moment made me realize that I, or rather we, were doing something right, enough so to please our God & Mother Nature & the sky themselves.”

A life defining moment had at Red Rocks? We get you Hospedales.

Read Hospey's full adventures as Chance’s intern here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. Cover photo per Julia Ordog. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

The 2017 Underground Music Showcase Announces Second Round of Artists

The Underground Music Showcase 2017 just announced their second round of artists for this year's festival! Additions include: Headliner Zola Jesus and artists like Bad Licks, Chocolate Diamond, Dear Rabbit, Decatur, Edison, HERESTOFIGHTIN, The Hollow, innerspace, The Kinky Fingers, Ned Garthe Explosion, Retrofette (we should mention here we're premiering something awesome from this band this Friday), Sleepy SunSIR, Sugar Skulls & Marigolds, Sur Ellz, Treehouse Sanctum, Turvy Organ, & more! Make sure to get your tickets for the July 27th-30th festival in the heart of Denver here. And see our previous story for initial lineup announcements at our original announcement link.

Reminiscing on last year's UMS? Peek back at our coverage of 2016:

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Review: IMJLS Releases Concept Record 'The Blunt Diaries'

By: Norman Hittle

The Blunt Diaries is a clever hip-hop collaboration by Boulder's IMJLS and featuring sound engineer/DJ and producer Katmandoom. The record is a thematic concept effort with songs all named after Swisher Sweets wrapper flavors, and centering around getting high.

Independent artist and founder of "The Creative Collective," artist IMJLS (pronounced "I’m Jealous") first broke into the Colorado music scene in early 2016 with his melodic blend of East Coast influenced rap, soul, and R&B.

IMJLS.

IMJLS.

Longtime producer and DJ Katmandoom, or “Katty D,” came across fellow aspiring artist IMJLS after working radio in Colorado Springs. After discovering they musically meshed well, the two soon released over twenty tracks together. With two EPs and some singles, The Blunt Diaries was created.

Regarding the collective project, IMJLS says it began when “an immense amount of blunt smoke filled the air [and the] mention of scrap-booking our previously smoked blunts sparked a thought of an innovative concept. 'The Blunt Diaries' embodies all your favorite flavor[ed] wRAPS into everyday emotions felt day in and day out.”

Kick back with with this eclectic and highly conceptual project, and keep up with IMJLS on his Facebook and catch him at his Hodi's Half Note show this weekend.

-Norman

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

The 2017 Underground Music Showcase Initial Lineup Has Arrived

By: Hannah Oreskovich

The long-awaited and highly anticipated Underground Music Showcase 2017 lineup has arrived. With headliners Benjamin Booker, Red Fang, & Esmé Patterson, this year's fest will take place July 27th-30th. Colorado’s Bandits, Britt Margit, This Broken Beat, Bud Bronson & The Goodtimers, Brent Cowles, The Burroughs, Chloe Tang, CITRA, Coastal Wives, Colfax Speed Queen, Corsicana, déCollage, Dirty Few, Dragondeer, Wolf van Elfmand, Evan Holm & The Restless Ones, Gasoline Lollipops, Get Along, Jilly.FM, Joseph Lamar, King Cardinal, Last of the Easy Riders, Loretta Kill, Mawule, Modern Leisure, One Flew West, The Other Black, Povi, RL Cole, The Savage Blush, Silver and Smoke, SIXXXD, Slow Caves, SYCDVK, Television Generation, The Velveteers, Whiskey Autumn, Whole Milk, Wildermiss, and Yasi are just some of the acts on the bill we've featured in the last year, so needless to say, we're stoked on this lineup. And there are more artists still TBA!

Stay tuned for more UMS info and get ready to join us on Denver's South Broadway for one of our favorite events of the summer! Tickets here.

Reminiscing on last year's UMS? Peek back at our coverage of 2016:

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Dive Into Groovin' Hip-Hop Tunes On Our 'Welcome To It' Playlist

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Wanna groove? Then dive into ‘Welcome To It’ right meow. We promise you won’t be able to sit still.

Deca opens our hip-hop Spotify Playlist tunage this month, with tracks by Nas, Qbala, J. Cole, No Name, Trev Rich, and of course, Tribe Called Quest. Tastemaker Sierra Voss has thrown in some lip-lickin’ numbers into this one.

Trev Rich per Sierra Voss for BolderBeat. 

Trev Rich per Sierra Voss for BolderBeat. 

Make sure to follow us on Spotify for continued tunage, and if you’re an artist looking to submit your song for playlist consideration, roll to our Contact page and do it! Welcome to it.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Trev Rich Blows The Door Open on Denver's Hip-Hop Scene

By: Sierra Voss

Rapper Trev Rich has blown open the door on Denver’s hip-hop scene. All eyes are now on the Mile High City’s hip-hop community thanks to Rich’s announcement in 2016 of signing with Cash Money Records (Drake, Nicki Minaj, Young Money). Denver has already been spotlighted in the national music scene with breakout artist like Nathaniel Rateliff, The Lumineers, and now, rapper Trev Rich has also made this shortlist.

Watch Trev Rich’s music video for “Gossip”:

Last week, Trev Rich took the stage at The Gothic Theatre, wrangling up all of his fans, friends and family from far and wide to celebrate his musical journey thus far. Trev has a reputation of being a genuinely happy dude who knows how to rhyme, and his performance was true to form. The venue was packed and buzzing as the night's openers took the stage, which included sets by Squizzy DJS featuring DJ Squizzy Taylor + DJ Hollywood Cook + DJ KDJ Above, Trayce Chapman, and Povi.

Trev sang hits off of his most recent mixtape, including popular favorites like “Flex Sumn.” He worked the entire stage, backlit by an LED screen which displayed an array of graphics behind him with short video clip interludes between songs. Standout graphics included drone images of Denver’s cityscapes and Rich’s classic portrait from the cover of his 2016 album To Make a Long Story Short.

Rich’s set was short but fierce, marked by explosions of fog and vocal tags including the classic airhorn sound. Fans ate it up, dancing and singing along as he crushed through his set. Trev Rich ended the show by inviting a fan up onstage to take the mic as he smiled, “I know she knows every word to this one!” His charisma during his performance and his involvement with the crowd proved this is an artist who has the spirit needed to represent Denver hip-hop and take it to the national level.

IMG_2341.jpg

We can’t wait to see what's up next for this talented Denver artist.

Keep up with Trev Rich here.

-Sierra

All photos per the author. All videos and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat. 

(Un)Traditional Love Songs: A Playlist For Your Valentine's Day & So Much More

By: Joliene Adams

Forget complaints about Valentine’s Day commercialism. Let’s think instead on the limitations of the kind of love that gets advertised to us. Love comes in all shapes and sizes far beyond romantic, and this playlist reflects all those feelings and shades of love. Wherever you are at in your love life and whoever you love in whatever ways, whether the burning embers of passion or the charcoal heart of getting burned from love; from your lover to your mother, it’s all here:

Listen to BolderBeat’s “(Un)Traditional Love Songs” Playlist:

1. “Death Hex” – The VelveteersDeath Hex (2016)

No one said love came without barbs. Hook, line, and sinker, The Velveteers rock straight for the jugular. John Demitro’s drums thunder with the urgency of foreboding storms while Demi Demitro’s tight, heavy guitar licks smack you awake. Staggered vocal notes build tension up to lift off as Demi lets melodic hollers unapologetically rip. If their rock doesn’t shatter the teacups on your shelf, you haven’t turned that heavy grit up loud enough.

And this one’s lyrical content doesn’t dote expressly on love. Demi speaks to this in an interview covered by BolderBeat’s Hannah Oreskovich, “‘Death Hex’ is about awakening from the dead and saying goodbye to the past. It was really inspired by a sense of magic I felt happening. It’s a story of coming back from a bad situation and coming out on the other side better than you ever imagined.” It might not be about love, but it’s an ages old story, that of the lover who rises from the ashes. Take your heartbreak, wipe the floor clean with it, and rise from the ashes bigger, better, stronger, faster, badder-asser.

2. “Didn’t See You There” – Red Fox RunRed Fox Run (2015)

Ever turned around or glanced sidelong at your buddy and all of a sudden SPLAT, you think, “I did NOT realize my friend was this cute let alone that that I was in love with them this whole time?” This number cascades and careens as your own feelings might at such a realization. Red Fox Run fearlessly showcase vocalist and rhythm guitarist Daniel Rondeau shouting out a proclamation from the truths that sit in the center pit of a heart. He’s proclaiming hopeful, but it’s clearly uncertain since “I couldn’t love you more than I do right now” isn’t the end of the sentence. Red Fox Run keep it playful, but in the end, they’ve said all they need to say.

It’s the year anniversary of Red Fox Run being no longer, an anniversary that may bring with it many a fan’s broken heart. But the good news is that three out of four original RFR members continue on in their new Denver-based project Wildermiss.

3. “I Like You” – Ned Garthe Explosion Flashlight Tan (2016)

Crash forward, skid in sideways, stop abruptly- you’ll travel at all different speeds in Ned Garthe Explosion’s capable hands. Splaying themselves across diverse elements is something familiar to Ned Garthe Explosion and their fans. As Andy Thomas of Westword notes, 2016’s Flashlight Tan finds frontman Ned Garthe and his co-conspirators messing around with genre and intent “writing deliberately toward a certain genre, in an earnest near-parody that’s so good you can’t tell it’s a parody. It’s a depth of vision that can only be achieved late at night, when the cops are nowhere to be found.” But isn’t that love sometimes? Crashing forward, landing backwards… and even sometimes ending in a weird parody you sort of knew existed.

4. “Call Through the Wire” – Inner Oceans Call Through the Wire (2016)

“If I leave you in the night...” The suggestion alone leaves you indignant, does it not? The sentiment wells up from something clearly much deeper as Inner Oceans’ frontman Griffith Snyder sings lushly of the story unfolding. “I see you all the time and it hurts to think you were right,” he sings. The sound is atmospherically absorbing while the message delivers clear adoration with a twinge of regret and a still-in-love/lust-with-you. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the two, in life or in music, and I can’t come down on which it might be here but I’m ok with it.

5. “Shooting Star” – RossonianYou Are Your Own Dentist (2013)

Rossonian use space and astral phenomena as metaphor, delivering dreamy and delicate wonder. This one is absolutely a love song, but also earns love for the success of their symbolic narrative. It propels, then floats, taking pause to deliver changes in emphatic subtleties. Rossonian is master of small sound shifts across a slow build, lending the song a complexity that doesn’t announce itself like a smack to the face, but rather comes at and through you like the feeling of slowly waking up. This one’s a gentle journey from one end of conscious awareness to another, starting gently and sleepily as it comes to burn bright-eyed awake.  

6.  “Day I Was Born” – 5ive, Jessica Jones – Radioland (2016)

There’s romantic love, and then there’s the love for your mother. Both can overpower. If I had any doubts as to which it was here at first (the word “mama” is sufficiently vague enough terminology to always throw me off without further clear direction), Jessica Jones’ vocal turn sways results to the latter. “Mama you believed in me, even when my skies were gray, you gave me the entire world… people asked me how’d I got so strong. I tell ‘em that my mama showed me the way. You always raised me up right, with all the love you gave.” Where 5ive (Quinn Lynch) and Jessica Jones put the soul in your playlist, your mother put you and your soul into this world. So if you tell anyone you love them on Valentine’s Day, make it your mother and be sure to thank her.

7. “If I Grew a Violet (You’d Ask for a Rose)” – Andy Sydow A Little Messed Up (2016)

Ever read the children’s book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie? This is an adult version of that tale in more ways than one. If you give a mouse a cookie, they’ll want a glass of milk. They will want something else and more after the glass of milk, so on and so forth until eternity. Sydow dishes up love pangs boiled over lost hopes in the spirit of said book. Emotionally honest, raw words of disappointed love come in, combined with loving, earnest, even sweet melody. The message delivered could interpret as one lover's greed or the other’s embittered pessimistic complacency. You can’t tell who is at fault but you can tell who fell short of the two: the “I” of the singer. It sounds at once an apology, and at once a screw you.

But this tune is also for the times everything you give or have isn’t enough. It’s a song of love exhausted and felled short. Although heartbreak does lead to some great songwriting, as Andy Sydow reminds. Thank you for breaking your open heart for us, Andy.

8. “Tilt-A-Whirl” – The RailsplittersThe Faster It Goes (2015)

If Colorado’s associated with bluegrass, The Railsplitters play a huge support role in buttressing the strong reputation and taking it on tour across the nation. Clear-ringing harmonies usher in a fast-paced minimalism foregrounding wise essentials and together, they come carrying melodies at different speeds, much as a Tilt-a-Whirl carousel making circles. Research lends insight here, for when Dusty Rider songwrites he, “writes with the full band in mind, imagining an entire song in his head before it’s even heard it out loud.” This one is a reflective reminiscence on the memories of someone who came before, but is gone now. And with mind racing, you start to question yourself and all that was.

Lauren Stoval’s lead vocals are clear as sunlight on snow, while Dusty Rider and Peter Sharpe’s alternations between plucking each note and full-bodied strumming chords lend interest and supplement with distinctive, rhythmic filler. Leslie Ziegler’s bass comes in barely, but richly, serving the more invisible role, like that of editor to writer. And of course, there’s Joe D’Esposito’s fiddle coming in on the top to send the song off into its final soars of that gloriously spinning Tilt-a-Whirl.

9.  “Someone Like Me” – SF1 Inamorata (2012)

From hand drums to lyrical repetitions, SF1 keeps their sound light, and their message relatively straightforward. There’s a serious sense in which this song seems at once upbeat, and then anything but. It’s a song that wouldn’t have to come without heartbreak, but it takes its pride on walking away in fulfilled request from another. “You’ll never find someone like me” could come out all wrong in a breakup, but the cheerful sonic delivery here gives this song a quality of what you sing in your head knowingly to comfort and uplift your own self on the walk home, giving props to your emotional regulation in honoring a request, and moving on.

10. “Bloodstream” – IoliteBloodstream (2016)

Bloodstream’s sophisticated stormy pop comes through even better on headphones, as Iolite’s (Elina Odnorlav) full-bodied indie-electronica pounces at you with confident authority. She fuses an ear, talent, and a decade of piano work with electronic assets wisely, and all at the ripe old age of seventeen. Laying down this kind of sophisticated, well-calibrated arrangement with undergirding convinces you she’s worth your ear time. The sheer carnal sensuality of this tune pulses at you with a cosmopolitan sensibility, one that makes the heart beat fast. Iolite is fierce, and if you need more proof, read BolderBeat’s interview with Odnorlav by Sierra Voss.

11. "Wait to Rust” – Kayla Marque, Kid Astronaut, Sur EllzLive and Die Like This (2016)

Triple Denver whammy! This Kayla Marque, Kid Astronaut (Jon Shockness), and Sur Ellz (Khalil Arcady) collaboration 110% comes out the most natural thing in the world. Lyrically and vocally caressing you with emotion, this trio allures in their fervent R&B/soul blend as soft finger snaps and harmonies soften your ear and melt into your heart chambers.

Marque caresses your emotions with intimacy in both lyric and lead vocals. Muted cymbal, reliant drums, and the hushed guitar unobtrusively lend rhythm, combining together and across this song to create instrumental romance and a certain sense of enchantment. The heart, bloodstream, nervous system, and muscle memory in you recognize the message: wanting something at a cellular level you know at a cognitive one is only going to destroy or undo you. Having a heart is a wonderful gift and real son of a gun, ain’t it?

12.  “They Love to Hate” – Molina Speaks, DJ Icewater Sex Money Ego (2016)

Robust, fresh beats thump and bump as they palpitate at heart rate speed. Chill, smooth, and with a pinch of lyrical sass, this one’s also purely carnal. It’s got sexy love and wantingness combined with a creed of holding-your-cool and enjoying all the spontaneous pleasures of life. It’s definitely a turn-up tune for cruising in your car, or even cooler, on your low-rider bike with the sweet speaker you should probably have. Molina Speaks and DJ Icewater have collaborated to make something seductive, both in romantic passions and in making you just want to live out loud to the full. So get to it.

13. “Lucid Recall” – Sunboy Yesterday Is in Love With You (2016)

Yes to a song that I’d enjoy instrumentally, yet do with its lyrics just the same. Sunboy give it a good 55 seconds before vocals seep in though, setting the feel first. If only we all had lucid recall, but memory doesn’t always work that way. Yet, at the same time, it’s by dint of the lyric “haven’t felt this way in a long time” that we remember: sometimes it isn’t the memory, but the feelings evoked that bring back lucid recall in all its vivid glory. And what a robust memory sensation it is when it hits.

Synthy sounds and a certain protraction allow emotions here to take flight. Vocals and piano instrumentation undergird a sound that might be tinny and emotionless otherwise, which would be the last desirable thing in a song so emotionally charged in content. Like Iolite’s “Bloodstream,” headphones are most recommended on Sunboy’s “Lucid Recall” for best up-close-and-personal vibes.  

14. “Medicine” – Rose QuartzAxis of Love (2015)

In the abstract, medicine is there to make us better. Humans are no strangers to using or abusing another person in this way at some time. Sometimes leaning on others is necessary and appropriate. But there is a difference between asking for help and being soul-suckingly co-dependent or reliant. Like a prescription drug, it can be toxic, and this song rails against the notion that one partner serves that role. You can use medicine or abuse it, and this one splits the difference.

A combination of electronic space-esque warble, full-bodied guitar notes, and clips on the drum machine set the scene. Lyrically unapologetic, this is a power number for those times you need to speak to your decision to leave someone who treats you like something to be used up rather than given to. Rose Quartz build and release tension with efficacy, establishing a subtle back and forth strain that fits the bill in the stark truths this electronic groove-pop song seeks to sing out and deliver sans apology. The only thing bigger than its sound may be the heart behind it. This is definitely one to get sassy to under lights on the dance floor, and that sounds like a great way to spend Valentine’s Day.

Make sure to follow us on Spotify to take a listen to this playlist and more Colorado music playlists at BolderBeat.

-Joliene

All songs per the artists featured. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Bring Em Out! Catch T.I. at Cervantes' This Wednesday (01/11/17)

By: Sierra Voss

This Wednesday night, rapper T.I. will by dropping by Denver’s Cervantes’ Masterpiece, along with Talent Among Us, ITsEVi, Ray Reed, and AP.

T.I. embarked on his well-known rap career in the early 2000’s and soon became a founding father of hip-hop subgenre trap-music. T.I.’s musical career has included the release of nine studio albums, as well as numerous successful singles including, "Bring Em Out," "Whatever You Like," "Live Your Life" (featuring Rihanna), "Dead and Gone" (featuring Justin Timberlake), "Ball" (featuring Lil Wayne), and "No Mediocre" (featuring Iggy Azalea). T.I. has won three Grammy Awards, including “Best Rap Solo Performance,” “Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group,” and “Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.” In February 2016 he joined subscription-based music streaming service Tidal, alongside other artist such as J. Cole, Madonna, and Daft Punk. Most recently, T.I. made headlines in the New York Times for writing an open letter of appreciation to President Barack Obama.

Bring on the nostalgia with T.I.’s video for “Whatever You Like”:

Last July, T.I announced his new project, an upcoming EP title Us or Else. In August 2016, he released the first two singles from the EP: “We Will Not” and “War Zone”.

Tickets for Wednesday night’s Cervantes’ show are still available online!

-Sierra

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Your Guide To Colorado Shows For New Year's Eve

By: Hannah Oreskovich

It’s time to pop bottles Colorado! Here are our picks for New Year’s Eve shows this weekend:

Berthoud

Jeremy Mohney at City Star Brewing in Berthoud 9PM-Close

Jeremy Mohney.

Jeremy Mohney.

Boulder’s Jeremy Mohney released multiple EPs this year, both of which definitely caught our ear. The jazz/swing artist is throwing down at City Star Brewery to welcome in 2017, and we definitely recommend getting your swing moves on at this one. Mohney will have your feet tappin’ in no time, and after a few celebration libations, you won’t want to sit still. Details here.

Boulder

Andrew Sturtz & Friends at The No Name in Boulder 10PM-Close

Andrew Sturtz.

Andrew Sturtz.

Soulful singer/songwriter Andrew Sturtz will be holding things down behind the big brown door tomorrow night for NYE. Known locally for his solo work and his performances with The Constellation Collective and other groups, Strutz will croon you into the new year in style. Plus, there’s no cover. What’s not to dig? Deets here.

Lady and The Gentleman at The Lazy Dog in Boulder 10PM-Close

Boulder’s Lady and The Gentleman have made some changes to their lineup this year, but they’re still bringing mad grooves to the Colorado scene. Tomorrow they’ll grace the stage at The Lazy Dog, and no cover means no excuses. Get to it! More info right here.

The Alcapones at Conor O’Neill’s Irish Pub in Boulder 10PM-Close

The Alcapones.

The Alcapones.

If you want to be shaken up Boulder, here’s your chance! The minstrel show of The Alcapones will be taking over Conor’s to dance you into the wee hours of 2017. Come hang and get rowdy! There will be lots of funky horn playing for your listening pleasure. More info here.

Yonder Mountain String Band with The Railsplitters at The Boulder Theater in Boulder 8PM-Close

Yonder Mountain String Band.

Yonder Mountain String Band.

Nederland’s Yonder Mountain String Band are holding down the BT for NYE. The five-piece bluegrass band well-known around these parts will share the stage with Boulder’s The Railsplitters. Get over to get down! Tickets here.

Denver

Flobots with Nahko and Medicine For The People at The Ogden Theatre in Denver 8PM-Close

Flobots

Flobots

Denver’s Flobots members have been locally active in several awesome events this year, including Denver’s “Our Neighbors, Ourslves” refugee benefit and the Rock Against The TPP event. Tonight, the crew will swing you into the new year with Portland’s Nahko and Medicine For The People at The Ogden. Tickets here.

Fox Street & Friends with Tiger Party at The Bluebird Theatre in Denver 9PM-Close

Dever’s Fox Street & Friends will be rolling in the new year tomorrow at The Bluebird with a 12-piece band and double sets, which will include music from the movies Boogie Nights and Blow, and tracks by Rick James, David Bowie, and Prince. The band’s frontman Jonathan Huvard is relocating to NYC in 2017, so this show is your chance to catch this crew together in what may be their last local performance for awhile. Tiger Party will open the night with songs by LCD Soundsystem. Tickets for this dance party here!

Itchy-O with Total Unicorn at Summit Music Hall in Denver 8PM-Close

We actually spent our NYE with Denver’s Itchy-O last year, so we’re here to tell you this show is going to be a magical time! The mysteriously masked band will have you boogieing all over Summit Music Hall; Total Unicorn is opening. Enter the dark. Tickets here.

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club with Kid Congo Powers at 3 Kings Tavern in Denver 10PM-Close

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club will be laying out their ‘Commandments’ for you tomorrow evening at 3 Kings Tavern, and we’ve actually got a whole interview with Slim himself for you here. This show will be one crazy ride into 2017, so take it! Tickets here.

The Yawpers with The Other Black at The Oriental Theater in Denver 7PM-Close

The Yawpers. Photo Credit:   Hannah Oreskovich

The Yawpers. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

We love The Yawpers. And we love The Other Black. And both of them are sharing the stage tomorrow night at The Oriental for NYE! The Moved and Evan Holm & The Restless Ones are opening the show, making for a full lineup of Denver badassery. Get to this gig- seriously. Tickets here.

Winehouse Masquerade Ball with Judge Roughneck at Mercury Cafe in Denver 930PM-Close

Winehouse.

Winehouse.

Denver’s Amy Winehouse tribute band Winehouse are ringing in the new year at Mercury Cafe with plenty of sultry, soulful vibes. Presales are only $20 and Judge Roughneck is opening the night, so grab tickets while you can! This will be an awesome show. Deets here.

Durango

Nappy Roots with Jerney at Animas City Theatre in Durango 9PM-Close

Jerney.

Jerney.

Nappy Roots are closing out the year in Durango tomorrow, and Denver’s Jerney is opening the gig. Jerney has been dropping new music like crazy this year, and this is one of his last Colorado shows, so make sure to get to it! Tickets here.

Greeley

The Burroughs with Bryce Merritt at The Moxi Theatre in Greeley 8PM-Close

The Burroughs.

The Burroughs.

Greeley’s The Burroughs dropped some sweet new music this past year, and they’ll be playing that for you tonight + more tunes at The Moxi. The nine-piece soul pop outfit will be joined by Bryce Merritt for good measure. Wicked. Tickets here!

Fort Collins

Rose Hill Drive with The Velveteers at Hodi’s Half Note in Denver 9PM-Close

The Velveteers. Photo Credit:   Sierra Voss

The Velveteers. Photo Credit: Sierra Voss

Denver’s The Velveteers are arguably one of the most successful acts coming out of Colorado right now. Fronted by Demi Demitro, the heavy rock two-piece will make you headbang all the way up until Boulder’s Rose Hill Drive takes the stage at Hodi’s. Go get yourself hypnotized. Tickets here.

Rollinsville

Jaden Carlson Band at The Stage Stop in Rollinsville 10PM-Close

Jaden Carlson.

Jaden Carlson.

Teenage musical prodigy Jaden Carlson has had quite the year in the Colorado music scene. From impressive opening slots for bands like The Revivalists to her own headlining performances at The Fox, Carlson has proved she knows how to break. things. down. Head out to her last performance of the year tomorrow at The Stage Stop! We guarantee it will be an impressively good time. More info here.

That’s it for us for NYE Colorado! See you in 2017!

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. Header photo per Sierra Voss. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat

Nelly Getting Hot In Herre at Cervantes' Denver This Thursday

By: Sierra Voss

Looking to take a walk down memory lane this week? Then here’s one you don’t want to miss: Nelly is making an unexpected stop at Cervantes’ in Denver this Thursday, October 27th.

Nelly.

Nelly.

Nelly embarked on his well known hip-hop career back in 2000 with his debut album Country Grammar. The title track of the album became a top ten hit on the charts, and the release soon made its way to #1 on the Billboard 200. Some Nelly classic hits included "Hot in Herre", "Dilemma" (featuring Kelly Rowland), "Work It" (featuring Justin Timberlake), "Air Force Ones" (featuring Murphy Lee and St. Lunatics), "Pimp Juice", and "#1". And if you’re a millennial, please don’t pretend like you don’t know every. single. one.

Watch Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” below because you know you want to:

Following Country Grammar, Nelly went on to record six more albums, started two clothing companies (Vokal and Apple Bottoms), and has starred in numerous movies and TV shows. His last known setlist this year at the State Fair of Texas included songs “E.I.”, “Ride Wit Me”, “Dilemma”, “Hot in Herre” and “Just a Dream”. I can’t help getting a bit excited thinking of all the high school memories this concert is going to trigger for me.

Nelly needs to hear you at Cervantes' this week. 

Nelly needs to hear you at Cervantes' this week. 

Nelly’s most recent album, M.O., was released in 2013 and features guest appearances by Nicki Minaj, Pharrell, Future, T.I., 2 Chainz, Florida Georgia Line, and Daley. Some say this now forty-one-year-old rapper is a hip-hop legend. This Thursday is going to be quite the intimate night at Cervantes’ with Nelly, and the perfect kickoff to your Halloweekend. Tickets here.

-Sierra

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

The Beatbox House Brought One Incredible Impromptu Set to The Lazy Dog

By: Clinton Henderson

The Beatbox House is a collection of seven champion beat boxers from Brooklyn, New York. Two of their members, Kaila Mullady and Mark Martin, were in Boulder last week visiting family. Though the duo didn’t originally plan on any local performances, they jumped onstage at The Lazy Dog’s Tuesday Night Jam last week, and were so captivating that they were asked to play a set at the Bohemian Biergarten last Saturday.

Watch a video of Kaila Mullady spittin':

As a duo, Mullady and Martin are phenomenal. Their Biergarten set, performed between two DJs, was an incredible series of swoops, pops, booms, echoes, and bass dropping done entirely with voice manipulation. Largely improvised, their styles ranged from hip-hop to techno to house to straight epic. At one point they fell into a “Sweet Dreams” sample that involved an echoing, almost water-quality delay/reverb in their harmonized voices. For their last song, they asked the audience for a request. One of my friends called out “No Diggity” and they snatched it up. Of course, they killed that one as well.

Check out Mark Martin beatboxing:

For how amazing their Biergarten set was, surprisingly the duo’s coolest performance of the night was yet to happen. After the Biergarten, we stepped over to The Lazy Dog to groove with the brass band Guerrilla Fanfare, who were a superbly funky show. The eight-piece group actually ended their set leading the audience on a parade out to Pearl Street, where they finished playing surrounded by twisting, dancing fans on the rust-red bricks in the heart of Boulder.

Guerilla Fanfare.

Guerilla Fanfare.

Following this, Mullady and Martin got back onto The Lazy Dog stage and began their second set of the night. This time though, an array of musicians joined them for the next hour with some amazing improvisations. A djembe player sparked the madness and was followed by one of the drummers from Guerrilla Fanfare. I then joined them onstage myself to freestyle rap, while Cameron, one of the sounds guys at The LD, jumped up on a drum kit. We were joined by another rapper from the audience, a second drummer from Guerrilla Fanfare (who did an awesome cymbal call and response with Cameron), and a second LD employee, Noel, who popped onto bass. And it kept going! When we finally jumped offstage, we were replaced by one of the sax players from Guerrilla Fanfare and a third talented member of the LD staff, Nick, who busted out a violin. All the while, Mullady and Martin continued their assault of pops, booms, cracks, swoops, and awesome echoes. And the crowd was all in. People cheered for each musician, twisting their hips and smiling as different people took the stage. We only stopped playing when the venue had to close because of Boulder’s curfew.

Some of The Beatbox House crew.

Some of The Beatbox House crew.

It’s experiences like this that I live for in the Boulder music scene. For a duo like Mullady and Martin to come through town and spark an exhilarating, impromptu jam was phenomenal. This is a group to look out for every time they come through the area. Check them out at on their website, and give their other members a listen too. And keep up with Guerilla Fanfare’s schedule here. This was a night in Boulder music that I won’t soon forget.

-Clinton

All photos and videos per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Blackalicious Hint At New Album Over Weekend at Colorado Show

By: Mikhail Ruchkin

Blackalicious performed their second Boulder show in less than a year and it was fire.

The love was real last Saturday night at the Fox, as legendary hip-hop duo Blackalicious made their second visit to Boulder in less than a year. And much like last fall, Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel did not disappoint.

Blackalicious. 

Blackalicious. 

The show kicked off with a short solo set from Denver's own Kitty Crimes. An MC too talented to play to the empty room that she did, KC transitioned from poppy beats and ethereal vocals to grime and lyrical fire with ease throughout her short set. Her closing cover of OutKast's “Bombs Over Baghdad” definitely got the crowd hyped, and started the buzz of energy that built with every performer of the evening.

Kitty Crimes. 

Kitty Crimes. 

The room filled in more for Lance Coleman, better known as Fuze the Mc, who brought a great storytelling presence to the show. The digital strategist for Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj by day and soulful rapper by night’s set leaned heavily on songs about his failed relationships, and his looking for love in the wrong places. But the highlight of his set was a spoken word acapella piece about his pursuit of success within the musical industry alongside pal Lupe Fiasco.

Lance Coleman, aka Fuze the Mc. 

Lance Coleman, aka Fuze the Mc. 

And then it was time for Blackalicious. If you’ve seen one of the California duo’s shows, then you know the greatness you can expect from the Quannum crew. Like their show last September, Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel were joined by Lateef the Truthspeaker and Jumbo the Garbageman for their performance. After opening with “Blacka” from their 2015 release, Imani Vol 1., the duo proceeded to breeze through selections from their entire catalog. "On Fire Tonight", "That Night", "The Blow Up", "Deception", "Alphabet Aerobics", "Blazing Arrow", "First in Flight", and "Make You Feel that Way" made up the setlist, but surprisingly, the duo did not play any new songs despite Gab's promising tease that Imani, Vol II. will be dropping “very, very, very, very, very, very soon”. These showmen definitely gave an incredible performance with a palpable energy that didn’t die until the show ended, which was after the duo’s "Chemical Calisthenics" encore. It was a great night of hip hop that I hope to see repeated again soon.

Watch Blackalicious’ video for their song “On Fire Tonight”:

Every hip hop enthusiast owes it to themselves to see a lyrical master like Gift of Gab perform live at least once in their life, so keep up with Blackalicious’ tour schedule and catch one of their shows soon!

-Mikhail

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat. 

Mawule's "Chosen" Album Release Party Was The Perfect Sunday Funday Start to the Summer

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Mawule's release party for Chosen was thumpin'.

This past Sunday, the walls of Denver’s Lost Lake were bumping in celebration of Mawule’s release party for his album Chosen, which dropped on June 10th. The good vibes were palpable, and the music was paired perfectly with the “Sunday funday” feel of the crowd.  

Mawule.

Mawule.

Mawule was accompanied by some pretty stellar and diverse musical acts. Denver hip hop artist Jerney warmed up the crowd as it trickled in, prepared to round out the weekend with a bang. Singer/songwriter Amy Kress graced the stage afterward, and had what I believe to be one of her best performances yet. She moved gracefully around the stage, switching between strictly vocals and piano with vocals, sharing her story with the crowd. Amy truly shined under the red and blue lights of Lost Lake’s stage, and belted her heart out. Rapper/MC ILL Se7en followed, hyping the crowd with some killer lyrical flow and classic hip hop beats, thanks to the lovely Bianca Mikahn. Together, the two created a combination that was impossible not to move your muscles to. DJ Zenas was the last performer to kick up some dust before Mawule took the stage. It was a delight to watch him, as this was his very first performance as a rapper/singer. To say his set was just downright fun would be an understatement. Zenas’ confidence on stage and rapport with the crowd got everyone fired up right before Mawule, and he proved that he is just as talented of a performer as he is a DJ.

Bianca Mikahn and Mawule.

Bianca Mikahn and Mawule.

Mawule brought an entirely different vibe than his predecessors, rounding out the evening with some R&B/soul sounds and dance beats produced and co-written by Glenn Sawyer at The Spot Studios. When it comes to Mawule, the meaning behind the music is just as important as the music itself. His unveiling of Chosen felt incredibly personal, as he shared bits and pieces of his journey behind each song. It’s no mystery that he is passionate about the community, human relationships, and working to bridge the gap between the performer and the audience. Personal favorites from the night were “Chosen”, which featured local MC A Meazy, “Anything” featuring DJ Zenas, “It’s Not You”, “Get Your Name”, and of course, the soulful tribute “Black Is Beautiful”, featuring the vocal magic of Bianca Mikahn and ILL Se7en.

Listen to Mawule's Chosen for yourself:

It was incredible to see Mawule celebrate the hard work he’s put into Chosen, and also to see the talented musicians and friends he surrounds himself with. Everyone was supportive and enthused about what was being shared with them, and that, I believe, is what truly makes a show great. The walls of the Lost Lake were filled with eclectic poetry, funky beats, and friendly faces who did not seem to care that it was late on a Sunday night. It was personally awesome to revisit one of my favorite musical enclaves in Denver, and with summer just around the corner, I’d advise everyone to get to Lost Lake for a show in the near future.

Mawule and A Meazy.

Mawule and A Meazy.

Chosen can be found on Spotify and SoundCloud, and will be released later on iTunes, for your listening pleasure. Stay in touch with Mawule on Facebook to keep tabs on his upcoming performances and announcements.

-Jura

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Vince Staples Open Sasquatch Music Festival

Opening night at Sasquatch was full of stage dives and more. 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra. 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra. 

Psychedelic R&B four-piece Unknown Mortal Orchestra were one of the first bands to grace the Bigfoot stage at Sasquatch last night. The Portland-based group played to a full crowd right before sunset, a prime slot for the night’s lineup, which also included appearance across the festival by Alina Baraz, A$AP Rocky, Todd Terje, Wolf Alice, and Yeesayer.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra. 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra. 

With a healthy mix of old and new songs, UMO’s hit single “Multi-Love” had people moving. Shortly afterward, frontman Ruban Neilson jumped off the stage and into the crowd to be carried around while singing. His stage dive was the perfect start to the festival weekend.

Views.

Views.

As Neilson was passed around, it was evident: that palpable energy that resonates between stages at The Gorge was beginning. Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s sound was perfect, and it carried off into the beautiful setting surrounding us.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra. 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra. 

Watch Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s video for “Multi-Love”:


Vince Staples. 

Vince Staples. 

The energy continued to build when Vince Staples, a high-energy MC from Long Beach, CA took the stage. Staples has taken the national music scene by storm in recent months for his 2015 release Summertime ‘06. As he started in on his 20-song release, the crowd was enthusiastic. He was the perfect act to welcome in the night.

Vince Staples. 

Vince Staples. 

Check out Vince Staples’ “Lift Me Up”:


While pacing ourselves, there were some heavy hitters in the dance department to close out the night, including Disclosure and Chet Faker. Stay tuned for updates from each day of the fest, and check out today's schedule!

All content per Kaitlin Summer for BolderBeat.

All videos and embedded tracks per the artists featured. All photos per the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.