For 303’s 10th Anniversary Print Issue, I was lucky enough to be able to write about one of my favorite places on earth: Red Rocks Amphitheatre. For music lovers and Colorado residents alike, Red Rocks is more than a venue–it’s a staple. While for Denver residents the convenient 20 minute drive to this red sandstone haven makes seeing shows at Red Rocks easier than for most, people from all around the would journey to this magical place. Over 1.5 million people travel to this place each year–and Red Rocks does not disappoint. From impeccable natural acoustics to incredible views of both the mountains and the Mile High City off to the left, this wondrous place is spellbinding even without music coursing through its speakers.
But when the music does start, Red Rocks is elevated from a 9,525-person amphitheatre to a legendary experience for anyone from children to their great grandparents. During a Red Rocks show, it’s clear to see that whether someone has been there for 40 shows or just one, the spark in the eyes if audience members as their favorite musicians step onto the stage is undeniable. When the first note strikes, Red Rocks comes alive, pumping music through its veins. Instruments and their talented players come together to be the nourishment for this place and every show is special in its own right. From jam-band shows with copious instrumental solos to bass-laden EDM performances and electrifying rock concerts, one season at Red Rocks offers a show for everyone.
My favorite part of the amphitheatre, however, hides beneath what most will ever see. Deep within the winding tunnels of Red Rocks is a hallway that stretches from the sound booth to the stage. Though it doesn’t sound like much to look at, it’s the walls and floors that tell this tunnel’s story. Legendary musical acts have all passed through this famed hallway, each scrawling their names indellibly onto the walls and stairs. From John Mayer to Big Gigantic and James Taylor, the names are varied, but each is extraordinary. Though to the untrained eye, this narrow corridor appears to have just undergone some serious graffiti tagging, there’s an undeniable feeling in the air that sent a shiver up my spine.
While so many fans travel from all over the world to see this place, musicians too have performing at the famed Red Rocks Amphitheater on the top of their bucket lists. Some of the most legendary performers will step onto the stage, fighting to catch their breath at 5,280-ft. above sea level and take a solemn moment of silence to gaze above at the sea of people floating between two illuminated towers of red stone. It’s majestic and awe-inspiring, but the City of Denver–who owns the park–works tirelessly to make sure Red Rocks is also safe, functional and providing the best experience to fans and visitors.
Tad Bowman, Director of Venues for the amphitheatre, and his team work to improve upon the venue during each off-season, and if you visit during say February or March, it’s not unusual to see scaffolding and workers making small changes to seats, lighting, the stage, concessions and more. Though Red Rocks is a natural geological marvel, it’s the people who appreciate and love it that make sure it can be enjoyed for many more years to come. While the park has been opened since 1941, it’s now–in this very time–that Red Rocks is experiencing its Golden Age. And we can thank the people who make it all work smoothly: the employees that keep it functional and beautiful, the musicians that give it life and the fans who make it all worth sharing.
Check out this amazing video of the 2014 Winter on the Rocks shot from above by company iFLYSolo. Winter on the Rocks is in its second year and is the only show at Red Rocks out of regular season, put on by AEG and Icelantic Skis.
To read the full article of “The Golden Age of Red Rocks,” grab your copy of the 303 Magazine Print Issue–on stands now or check out an online Flipbook version of the print issue here.