Since composing music is typically viewed as a deeply personal act of self-expression, it comes as no surprise when artists use their art to work through personal tragedy — Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven," Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak, and Sufjan Stevens' Carrie & Lowell are just three notable examples that come to mind. On Sept. 9, Australian singer-songwriter and towering cultural figure Nick Cave's new album Skeleton Tree will be released, marking his first new music since Cave suffered a tremendous personal tragedy of his own: the accidental death of his teenage son Arthur in 2015.
If you're familiar with Cave's dramatic, staggeringly literate work, whether with his frequent backing band The Bad Seeds, his pioneering postpunk work with The Birthday Party in the early 1980s, or even his recent forays into screenwriting with The Proposition and Lawless, you'll know that Skeleton Tree will likely be an intense listen. Cave, however, is allowing a rather unprecedented look into using art as a grieving process with the simultaneously released companion film, One More Time with Feeling, which is showing in Denver at the Landmark Chez Artiste and the Sie FilmCenter on selected dates in September.
Director Andrew Dominik describes the film as evolving "from a performance-based concept into something more complex" as he delved into the background of the album's conception. To quote from Cave himself in the film's trailer: "Most of us don't want to change, really. What we do want is modifications on the original model. But what happens when an event occurs that is so catastrophic that you just change?"
However you describe it, the film promises to be stark, haunting and fascinating for anyone interested in the art of songwriting and the artistic process in the face of extreme duress.
Though I'm sure you've gotten the point by now, I'd still be remiss if I didn't give you a final reminder that the Denver edition of Riot Fest is finally here, taking place Sept. 2-4 at the National Western Complex. Something approximating the original Misfits lineup (Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only, anyway) will perform, along with Jane's Addiction, Death Cab for Cutie, Julian Marley, Nas and plenty of other acts with varying degrees of nostalgic capital. I'm sure you've already made up your mind on whether you want to attend, but if my word somehow makes any difference, I can go on record and attest that Ween, Meat Puppets and Sleater-Kinney are tremendous to experience live.
If you weren't able to travel north and catch Red Rocks' annual Reggae on the Rocks festival, you can still get your reggae fix at the inaugural One Love Fest, taking place Sept. 4 at Colorado Springs' own One Love Smoke Shop. In addition to the New York-based headliner SkillinJah, Denver ska band Judge Roughneck will perform — fresh off their appearance at Reggae on the Rocks — along with Autonomous, Selasee & the Fa Fa Family, Red Sage, The Hourglass Cats, Black Bottom Lighters, Harry Mo, Na'an Stop and 77 Jefferson.
With that, here's a look at some additional shows for the week:
On Wednesday, Aug. 31, Nashville psychedelic "voodoo rock & roll" act The Delta Saints hits the Black Sheep, joined by theatrical prog-tinged ensemble Weathervein and the more country-rock stylings of Redraw the Farm.
Sept. 1 brings the self-described "angular bummer punk" of Las Vegas' Stocksmile (formerly known as Bobby Meader Music) to the Flux Capacitor, also featuring the indie-punk of Arizona's Sundressed and northern Colorado singer-songwriters Leftmore and Kiel Grove.
Also, if you missed The Mansfields' triumphant return to The Modbo gallery a couple weeks back, you can catch Dave Mansfield's current glam-punk project, The Röxy Suicide, at two shows this week. On Sept. 1, the band plays Phil's Bar and Music Venue in Pueblo, and they perform at Zodiac the following night.
At the Black Sheep on Sept. 2, local bass phenom Charlie Milo celebrates the release of his new album, This Is a Long Drive for Someone Without a Stereo in Their Car, currently available for download at charliemilo.bandcamp.com. Joining Milo and his musical cohorts are Ponder the Albatross and DJ Gravity.
If dubstep is your thing, you won't want to miss the lineup at Rawkus on Sept. 2, featuring Megalodon, DJ GBP, ATown Sound and MVRTIVL LVW.
Meanwhile, at the Triple Nickel, Houston punk-rockers Ese perform on Sept. 2, joined by several Colorado punk standouts, including Pueblo's Haj Paj and locals Street Priests and Dead End Stompers.
Finally, Manitou-based psychedelic black-metal duo Helleborus kick off their national Carnal Sabbath Fall Tour at the Black Sheep on Sept. 4, sharing the stage with Satan's Host, SAR ISATUM and Hellhound.
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