It’s easy to see internationally acclaimed performers playing at the largest of Denver venues. However, these musicians, while incredibly talented, don’t contribute to the pulse of this city – of our city. They aren’t here day in and day out. They don’t get to experience conversations in dimly lit Colfax bars or call out of work when the mountains get two feet. They don’t get to know Denver’s local music scene.
The knowledge of Denver’s personality – the love for it – lies within our local musicians. The ones that matter, the ones we need to care about, are the singers who deliver pizza during the day and practice until the sun comes up; the drummers who revel in an inspirational glimpse of the mountains each morning during their commute; and the bassists who spent their life savings converting the basement into a recording studio. We’ve thought of some ways to help support our local musicians so they can keep making awesome music.
Explore Neighborhood Venues
While some bemoan Denver’s rising rent prices, it’s still not New York City expensive. Artists can live relatively well while pursuing their real passions. This leads to a greater amount of success stories and less hope-dashed-against-the-rock tales. Local bands play all over town at inexpensive venues. Often, one only has to pay a cover to see fantastic live music.
The Hi Dive, Syntax and Lost Lake are just a few spots that often showcase lesser known artists. These venues are intimate and special to Denver and set the stage for a great experience. What’s better than being up close and personal with great, live music? All it takes is to show up. The band needs to have an audience in order for bar and club owners to invite them back so just get out there and go.
The Underground Music Showcase, or UMS, hosts local musicians each year. Local fests are a great way to see a bunch of bands and hear truly authentic sounds. The 2017 lineup isn’t out yet but for a quick preview, check out their 2016 lineup to get a glimpse as to what UMS is all about.
Shop at Community Record Stores
Even though many of us get our music online, local record stores can be a great resource – and not just for the score of vinyl and CD’s they house. Employees at these stores are usually in touch with the music community and can point you in the right direction.
Angelo’s CD’s, Twist and Shout and Wax Trax are just a few local stores with almost 100 years of combined experience in the business. All three have roots in Denver’s music scene and are a great place to begin exploration of the city’s musical past, present and future. Twist and Shout sells vinyl from local artists so you can get a beautiful sound in its purest form, right around the corner – no compression, no ear buds, just you and the music.
Buying a ticket or even a CD is a huge help to bands just starting out. What helps even more is stopping by the merchandise table. Some of the best souvenirs are unique t-shirts, key chains and buttons. It’s a way to purchase and preserve a memory but also another way to introduce others to the band you’ve just fallen in love with. By adorning your laptop or car or – let’s be honest, we are in Colorado after all – your Nalgene with the band’s sticker, you’ve become a walking, free advertisement for the group.
Meet the Musicians
Not literally. Although, if you keep attending these neighborhood spots you just may get a chance to. Denver’s known for its open-minded, progressive take on, well, most anything. The music here is no different. No matter your taste, there’s something here for you. Check out some local bands that are bound to get big here.
Spotify really is the Pandora’s Box of music (but don’t tell Pandora). We’re always updating the 303 Magazine Best of Local Music playlist which includes all types of artists and genres. It’s the ideal platform for burgeoning and beginning artists to share their sounds with us. For a couple local bands to get you started, be sure to check out Down Home Sausage Pie, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake and The Railbenders. They carry unique sounds and are good representations of Denver’s varied music qualities.
Spread the Word
In this tech savvy age, the best way to promote something is by taking to our keyboards and shouting it from the laptops. Hop on any social media outlet and you can bet the band you’re getting into has their upcoming shows listed, as well as links to their music. Ignore your inner hipster that wants to keep this one band all to yourself. If you’re truly a fan, you’ll want them to succeed so they can continue to create great music.
It takes a little extra effort to dig into Denver’s local music scene but you’ll be glad you did. It’s a scene brimming with creative ideas, eccentric natives and new experiences all waiting to show you what’s on the other side of the curtain. There’s true talent and a variety of sound in this little big city. We promise, it’s not just smoke and mirrors.