The Geiger Counter: Getting amped up
Last summer was the debut season for the renovated Dillon Amphitheater and I’d say the venue knocked it out of the park. Having never been to the old amphitheater, my first concert there was seeing DeVotchKa — one of my favorites that I’ve had the pleasure to watch many times over — perform a free show. The Denver-based quartet plays an alluring mix of gypsy punk, folk and rock. I’ve seen them at the Aggie Theatre, at the Stage Theatre during a production of “Sweeney Todd,” at Red Rocks Amphitheatre with the Colorado Symphony and now, the intimate Dillon Amphitheater.
Then, the following night I headed back to watch the last half of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic’s set. My ears were ringing from the funky grooves for almost two days straight.
Aside from the Lake Dillon Beer Fest, I’ve yet to make it out to the amphitheater this season. But there are plenty of reasons to, including this week’s free shows.
Playing for free on Friday is Buckstein. The Colorado born and raised country artist appeared in season five of “American Idol” and has had the music industry on his mind ever since. With the help of his band The Heard, he has opened for Charlie Daniels, Dustin Lynch, Old Dominion, Eli Young, John Michael Montgomery, Mark Chesnutt, Vanilla Ice and others. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7.
Taking the stage on Saturday, June 29, is Jenny and the Mexicats for a free concert. Previously known as Pachucos y la Princesa, the bilingual band blends blends flamenco, jazz and cumbia. The group is composed of English trumpeter and singer Jenny Ball, Spanish percussionist David González Bernardos, and Mexicans Pantera Mexicat on guitar and Icho on double bass. In April of 2018 the band appeared on NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concert” series. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7.
The venue may not be Red Rocks in terms of size or scope, but that’s not necessarily a good or bad thing. Sometimes it’s nice to not have to drive an hour away and deal with traffic among roughly 10,000 concertgoers. Though I admit I’m extremely jealous of folks who got to see Stevie Wonder perform with Usher this past Monday.
The main draw they both have in common is the wonderful view of Colorado’s beautiful nature. There’s something about the combination of hearing music in the serene outdoors that soothes the soul. I pinch myself every time I look at the lake flanked by the majestic mountains. And I hope you do, too.
‘Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection’
I didn’t own a PlayStation 3 so my first encounter with Naughty Dog’s “Uncharted” franchise was watching videos of the cinematic trilogy cut together like a movie. Then, in preparation for “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” coming out on the PlayStation 4, a remastered collection was released. I don’t remember much from the videos, so I decided to pop in the disc and finally play the first three.
Like an interactive “Indiana Jones” film, the game follows the escapades of explorer Nathan Drake and his pals Elena Fisher, Victor Sullivan and Chloe Frazer. There’s the whole laundry list of tropes and trappings we expect in adventure media: cursed treasure, collapsing bridges, old temples, car chases and train heists. What’s not to love? I’m only mere minutes into the third installment, but the first game centered on finding El Dorado, while the second took Drake and the gang on the hunt for the mythical kingdom of Shambhala.
The difference between 2007’s “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune” and 2009’s “Uncharted 2: Among Thieves” is almost as big as the first entries of Naughty Dog’s earlier series, “Jak and Daxter.” The graphics are more vivid and detailed, the gameplay smoother, and the story more compelling. You can see how change in direction led to Naughty Dog making more exploration-heavy games such as their award-winning post-apocalyptic title, “The Last of Us.”
For those who aren’t into video games but want in on the fun, a movie adaptation may finally come to light with Tom Holland (“Spider-Man: Homecoming”) recently being casted as Drake. Though I’m partial to Nathan Fillion playing the protagonist (not only because he did a stellar job in a fan film), this is supposedly a prequel, so I think the younger Holland will do just fine.
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