Five things to do in Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs
Vail CO, Colorado
The halls of math and prog rock are filled mostly with skinny guys nodding in goofy time signatures on their instruments, but Marnie Stern is here to break that mold to pieces. She wails like a banshee and taps out oblique and innovative guitar figures unlike anybody else out there ” think of an unholy cross between a hyper-caffeinated PJ Harvey and Hella and you’re getting closer. Along with math-rock drummer god Zach Hill of Hella and Team Sleep, she creates impressive fugues and movements on guitar using a wide array of techniques ” fingertapping, sliding, bizarro pedal effects ” that nevertheless sound utterly human. Her latest, “This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That,” tamps down the mania and allows all the frippery to settle down into cogent, sometimes poignant rock songs. Stern and Hill, despite their manic tendencies, massage each other down to agreeable tempos, making math-prog rock as accessible as possible. Plus, when do you ever see a tiny blonde girl make all the guitar-playing dudes in the audience pee their pants?
What: Marnie Stern performs.
Where: Larimer Lounge, Denver.
When: Friday, 9 p.m.
Everyone’s familiar with the boozy, beery spectacle of the Great American Beer Festival, which invades Denver with thousands of beer varieties from all over the world and countless opportunities to make fun of you and your friends while sampling an embarrassment of suds. The All Colorado Beer Fest takes a different tack: This celebration aims to create an intimate but fun atmosphere where the focus goes back to tasting high-quality, locally-crafted beers. Based in Colorado Springs, the All Colorado Beer Festival features more than 25 brewers, including Arctic, Trinity, Blue Moon, Ska, Tommyknocker, Del Norte, Breckenridge, Lefthand, Oskar Blues, New Belgium, Rock Bottom and many more. Visitors get the atmosphere of a trade show, and can taste as much beer as they like during three four-and-a-half-hour sessions while listening to a variety of live bands. The sessions run from 5:30 to 10 p.m. today and Saturday from noon to 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 10 p.m. If you hope to find a smaller Colorado brewery who brews with your palate in mind, this is just the place to find it.
What: All Colorado Beer Festival.
Where: Mr. Biggs Event Center, Colorado Springs.
When: Friday, 5:30 to 10 p.m. and Saturday, noon to 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 10 p.m.
Cost: $25 in advance, $30 day-of-event.
A robot zoo is something I never thought I’d see in our lifetimes, but really wished I could (although it would probably mean we’d finally killed off all the tigers). Now my wish has been granted, and without any mass extinction’s: Robot Zoo at the Wildlife Experience museum is exactly that ” tons and tons of animals rendered as real, live, working robots, moving metal approximations of the real thing. They even look like Transformers. Best of all, the robots are interactive, and users get to experience what it might be like to be the robot animal in question. The giant robot chameleon, for instance, allows visitors to aim and fire a mechanical chameleon tongue, see through the eyes of 20-foot fly eyes, put on a wall-matching coat that makes you disappear on a monitor, and even put on sticky hands and knee pads to climb up a wall like a lizard. While the exhibit’s stated purpose is to show of the wonder and diversity of evolution, it also gives you a chance to live the dream and be a giant animal robot.
What: Robot Zoo.
Where: Wildlife Experience Museum, Denver.
When: Saturday through Jan. 4 daily.
Cost: Included with museum admission ($8 adults, $5 kids).
For many of us, the holidays begin with a simple sign ” falling colored leaves, a brisk chill in the air, pumpkins, or maybe even the holiday flavors at Starbucks. But for the swankiest of the swank, there’s a more lavish sign to mark the beginning of the holiday season: the Brown Palace Champagne Cascade. The lavish party celebrates Denver’s 150th birthday this year with a birthday cake and bottles of Moet et Chandon in the tony Brown Palace hotel. But you can’t merely pop the cork on these bottles of champagne: A trained master swordsman will cut off the necks of the champagne bottles using an antique Napoleonic saber. Then they fill a two-story tall, 6,000-glass pyramid in the hotel’s atrium lobby with champagne while a special brass quintet from the Colorado Symphony Orchestra plays in the background. If you’re a mere pauper, not to worry: Watching the event is free, but a special $250 for a table of four VIP section exists for big spenders as well. Afterwards, visitors should indulge in the Brown’s famous Dom Perignon brunch, which has four levels to fit most budgets.
What: Brown Palace Champagne Cascade.
Where: Brown Palace Hotel, Denver.
When: Sunday, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Cost: Free to watch; $250 VIP area.
Info: 303-297-3111 or http://www.brownpalace.com.
So the Material Girl has gone through some troubles of late: She’s splitting with longtime hubby and British-crime movie director Guy Ritchie, and she’s embroiled in a potential affair with beleaguered baseball star Alex Rodriguez. But reviews and reaction to her latest album, “Hard Candy,” has been mostly positive, and the relentless energy and entertainment on-stage during her “Sticky and Sweet” tour show that the 50-year-old has no intentions of slowing down or becoming irrelevant. The dance/electro concoctions on her latest album supposedly pop live when combined with the always-brilliant dance choreography and overwhelming spectacle of her stage shows. Old-school fans need not fret, though: On this tour, Madonna has also trotted out dolled-up versions of classics new and old, including “Ray of Light” and “Holiday.” Who would’ve thought Madonna could cut through all the celebrity-gossip B.S. to just focus on the music?
What: Madonna performs.
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver.
When: Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 p.m.