Note to all musicians: You can’t follow Andy Grammer, so don’t even try.
1. Andy Grammar | 09.24.16, 1st Bank Center, Broomfield CO
I went mostly for Gavin DeGraw; I left in love with Andy Grammer. Before DeGraw’s snoozefest set was over, even. Note to all musicians: You can’t follow Andy Grammer. I don’t care who you are; you just can’t. Give him the headlining slot next time, OK?
2. Mobley | 07.15.16, Lost Lake, Denver
This small venue was perfect for solo multi-instrumentalist Mobley, who wowed the crowd there in time for his opening set. With textured compositions, a strong, versatile voice, and mad skills on nearly every instrument, Mobley deserves to play bigger venues. Keep your ears open.
3. Adam Lambert | 03.30.16, Paramount Theatre, Denver
Adam Lambert at the beautiful Paramount Theatre, touring in support of the incredible The Original High? Yes, please! Lambert reaffirmed his place among the top performers, with his witty, engaging demeanor, out-of-this-world vocals, and dance moves. This show also had the widest age range among audience members that I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t have missed it.
4. Parachute | 04.12.16, Gothic Theater, Denver
Finally: a Parachute headlining show in my town! Will Anderson loves what he does, and it shows. His funny, sometimes self-deprecating stories made us feel close to him and his bandmates, who delivered a strong show loved by everyone in attendance—even if the majority of them were underage girls.
5. The 1975 | 05.02.16, Red Rocks, Denver
Frontman Matthew Healy has an ego larger than his diminutive frame, but the quality of his voice and music excuses it. That, and his posturing is somehow appropriate to the show and, well, sort of endearing, truth be told. On this night, their first headlining show at the legendary Red Rocks, Healy was humbled and awestruck. I’m not as fond of the slower songs, and on this unseasonably cold night I was even less enamored with anything that didn’t inspire dancing. But still: It was The 1975. Freezing my toes off was worth it.
6. Hunny | 08.15.16, Larimer Lounge, Denver
Based on the crowd singalongs, I was a bit late to the HUNNY party, but I’m glad my invitation finally came. The lead singer sports a voice like Robert Smith and a look like Billie Joe Armstrong, but the solid indie rock songs are full of rich lyrics, well-woven instrumentation, and a sound that draws you in. See them. Listen. Enjoy.
7. Jon McLaughlin | 11.10.16, Soiled Dove, Denver
We first caught Jon McLaughlin when he opened for Parachute in April and were so impressed we wanted to check out his show. Whereas he had a full band in the spring, this time it just him and his piano. Between the near stand-up worthy stories he told, the range of piano melodies he offered, and his near-perfect pipes, it left us with deep appreciation for the Indiana-based independent artist. (Here’s a taste of all three: “Don’t Mess with My Girl.” You’re welcome.)
8. Tom Odell | 10.17.16, Larimer Lounge, Denver
True, I’m less enamored with Odell’s sophomore release Wrong Crowd than I was with his debut, Long Way Down. But that wasn’t going to stop me from seeing this young British wunderkind. Like Jon McLaughlin, Odell’s a genius behind the piano.
9. Jakübi (1st half) | 11.08.16, Boulder Theater, Boulder CO
The first half of this NYC quartet’s set was a lesson in how nu-funk should sound and look; the second half was a lesson in how sometimes a band’s early songs should be left to die.
1o. Ron Funches | 08.20.16, Comedy Works, Denver
I’ve long loved Funches’ comedy on TV, so I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to see him in person. Expressing his love of Denver as being a place where pot is legal and the homeless people are mostly white, not black, was a joke that sticks with me. | Laura Hamlett