Without fail, as soon as Friday rolls around, people always ask me: “What show are you going to this weekend?” Denverites just might be the luckiest of music fans, because my answer is always a list. It’s not uncommon for me to visit two, or sometimes three venues in one night. With a flood of up-and-coming bands touring the Mile High City, and local artists playing at a watering hole just down the street, there is so much amazing live music in our city. Many of us forget, or don’t realize, but unlike many other U.S. cities, Denver plays host to numerous artists each week. From local indie rock, to international DJs or mainstream pop, Denver has it all, all the time.
As a main stop on most tours, Denver receives the same artists as major music markets, like NYC or LA. With plenty of mid-sized venues like Ogden Theater and Bluebird Theater, huge arenas like Pepsi Center, and countless outdoor venues like Mishawaka Amphitheater and State Bridge Amphitheater, Denver can house dozens of touring musicians on any given night.
It comes as no surprise, then, that Rolling Stone named Red Rocks Amphitheater the best outdoor venue in the U.S. and Beta Nightclub the number one dance club in the country. I am lucky enough to interview a variety of artists every month for 303 Magazine, and despite the different genres these artists produce, they all enthusiastically agree – Colorado is the place to perform.
So what makes Colorado such a special place for music? Dave Watts, founder of beloved CO-based funk outfit, The Motet, explained it best to me.
“It is not uncommon for there to be three or four sold-out shows in Denver or Boulder on the same exact night,” he says. “Maybe it’s something in the Rocky Mountain air, or something in our water, but music fans here are open to checking out any kind of music. And they are willing to support live music.”
Watts is right. According to Ian Hogarth, founder of Songkick, a multimillion dollar website that provides personalized news about live music events, the average person attends one concert a year. On average, 303 Magazine readers attend a whopping 36 concerts a year.
While Denver sees no shortage of sold-out arena tours at the Pepsi Center, it’s not uncommon for local shows to sell out, either. Over the past year, The Motet has consistently sold out all of their shows, and often times, entire two-day runs. Colorado music fans have proven to be loyal, and in my opinion, it isn’t just because of the groundbreaking music being produced in our city, it’s the culture the music is curating.
Local musicians will attest – Denver is a city where artists pat one another on the back. They play in each other’s bands, they set up music collectives like Holy Underground, Greater Than Collective, and Elm and Oak. They start their own music labels. They welcome collaboration and cross genres to do so. They celebrate music lovers who take risks to book shows and produce music festivals.
Denver has always been a city for dreamers – that’s why I moved here four years ago. So far, I have been nothing but overwhelmingly inspired by Colorado’s music scene. I stumble upon a new band, musician, event or idea which I am completely enamored with each week. Keep reading, and I’m sure you will be, too.