I think we can all agree that 2017 wasn’t what we thought it would be, for better or for worse. Denver’s music industry was no exception — we saw many emerging stars reach new heights at the Underground Music Showcase, we saw some hometown favorites dissipate and we even received the approval for Denver’s first large-scale music festival of its caliber since the demise of Mile High Music Festival and Monolith Festival. Regardless of one’s personal opinion regarding the year in general, 2017 was a year that saw Denver’s music scene collectively pushing onward toward the national spotlight. To conclude another year in Denver’s music scene, we have gathered prominent players in the industry to discuss their favorites sounds, trends and their thoughts going into 2018.

READ: Take a look back at last year’s edition

Ru Johnson — Head of Roux Black Consulting

Photo by Danielle Webster

303 Magazine: Best local album of 2017? 

Ru Johnson: Ray Reed — PacMan.

303: Best national album of 2017?

RJ: Kendrick Lamar — DAMN.

303: Best new local artist in Denver in 2017?

RJ: Color Scheme, consisting of Kevin Cartoon and Sosa.

303: Best music trends of the past year? The worst?

RJ: My favorite trend this year has been seeing artists, especially hip-hop artists gather with their crews/collectives and produce the shows they want to see rather than waiting for it to magically happen for them. The worst trends? Tagging a ton of people in their music posts on FB or other social media without a strong plan for actually servicing their music. It’s like spaghetti noodles on a wall… or a tarantula on a birthday cake!

303: How do you think the new music festival coming to Overland Park will impact Denver’s music scene?

RJ: If they don’t put any locals on it, it’ll just be another massive festival coming through our growing city. They’d do well to work with influencers in town to create a strong sense of inclusion for those who live here and make the culture of our communities thrive. I’m available to consult the hip-hop! (plug!)

303: Best new venue in 2017?

RJ: SneekEazy, for selfish reasons. I dig the lounge-style vibe we produce for our weekly events. There aren’t enough places where you can just kick it, listen to music, have some drinks and actually talk to people. More talking in 2018!

303: What local artist would you like to see make it big in 2018 and why?

RJ: Ray Reed — 2018 is his year. His rap style is incredible and he has the funniest personality. He’s charismatic but quiet, determined but humble and he’s not a schmuck.

303: Denver’s most underrated band or artist?

RJ: Nathan Palmer.

READ: The Past Lives of Denver’s Favorite Venues

Marc E. Bassy Concert 303 Magazine Photography by McKenzie Coyle-694

Photography by McKenzie Coyle.

Hannah Seidel — Marketing Director of Larimer Lounge

303 Magazine: Best local album of 2017? 

Hannah Seidel: Slow Caves — Desert Minded EP. “Glares” is a banger — [it] plays on repeat on my driving playlist.

303: Best national album of 2017?

HS: Lorde – Melodrama, SZA – Ctrl, The Drums – Abysmal Thoughts and many more

303: Best new local artist in Denver in 2017?

HS: Wildermiss is making moves. They’re great people with an awesome Colorado sound.

303: Best show you saw in Colorado in 2017 and why?

HS: Gorillaz at Red Rocks was number one. Seeing the iconic group playing gems from their whole discography, the crowd, the guest artists and the rain, it was so good.

303: Best music trends of the past year? The worst?

HS: I love the strong wave of female hip-hop that’s emerged this year.

303: Best new venue in 2017?

HS: Globe Hall.

303: What local artist would you like to see make it big in 2018 and why?

HS: Avenhart — this band consists of some of the nicest and most hardworking people. Not to mention, their sound is so pure and Andrea’s vocals are insane.

303: Denver’s most underrated band?

HS: Los Mocochetes because they’re important for Denver. Also, The Arturo Complex — those dudes shred.

Tobias Krause — Showcase Coordinator at UMS

Denver music

Photo Courtesy of Tobias Krause.

303 Magazine: Best local album/song of 2017? 

Tobias Krause: Brent CowlesCold Times

303: Best national album of 2017?

TK: Parallelephants – Supply

303: Best new local artist in Denver in 2017? 

TK: Wildermiss

303: Best show you saw in Colorado in 2017 and why?

TK: Dragondeer at the UMS this year. The boys put on one hell of a show as the rain began, however, that didn’t matter. The leaders of the cavalry, Eric and Cole led the band through an incredible rendition of “When I See You,” followed by an incredible drum and bass duel between Carl and Casey. It nearly brought tears to my eyes after a long, long weekend.

303: Best music trends of the past year? The worst?

TK: I hate the word trends, so, one of the really cool things I’ve started seeing a lot of is the use of modular synthesizers. I have absolutely no idea what’s going on there… but the possibilities, noises, sounds, effects, affects and so on seem endless and it’s a world I just can’t quite comprehend. I really like what Nasty Nachos has been up to as of late, and it doesn’t seem like it’s slowing down any time soon, which is very exciting.

303: How do you think the new music festival coming to Overland Park will impact Denver’s music scene?

TK: I’m excited! It’s no easy task putting on an event of this magnitude and I’m very excited for what’s to come. The city needs a major music festival in my opinion.

303: Best new venue in 2017?

TK: Levitt Pavilion

303: Best overall venue in 2017?

TK: That’s a tough call. I found myself at The Bluebird, The Fillmore and Globe Hall the most, and a few Red Rocks shows this year (more than usual).

303: What local artist would you like to see make it big in 2018 and why?

TK: Wildermiss — hands down. They’re so good and they’re absolutely crushing it as of late. Many congrats to the band on winning Hometown For the Holidays this year.

303: Denver’s most underrated band?

TK: The Corner Girls. Their pastel punk sound was a highlight on this year’s UMS mainstage.

303: Denver’s most underrated venue?

TK: Globe Hall has so many good shows going through it. The sound is great, and they have a solid bar and food program as well.

Chris Zacher — CEO/Executive Director of Levitt Pavillion Denver

Photo courtesy of Chris Zacher.

303 Magazine: Best local album of 2017? 

Chris Zacher: Brent Cowles — Cold Times.

303: Best national album of 2017?

CZ: Jay Som — Everybody Works.

303: Best new local artist in Denver in 2017?

CZ: Jeff Harris.

303: Best show you saw in Colorado in 2017 and why?

CZ: Ripe. These Berkeley grads have it all — great sound, great stage presence and they’re just great guys overall.

303: Best music trends of the past year? The worst?

CZ: The best was the return of the music video and VR. The worst was visual albums.

303: Best new venue in 2017?

CZ: Levitt Pavillion, of course.

303: What local artist would you like to see make it big in 2018 and why?

CZ: Brent Cowles — he’s instantly talented.

303: Denver’s most underrated band?

CZ: Anthony Ruptak.

 

Stephanie Kroll — Marketing Director for SoCo Nightlife District

Denver music

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Kroll.

303 Magazine: Best show you saw in Colorado in 2017?

Stephanie Kroll: I’d say Zhu at Global Dance Festival. Also Deadmau5, Muse, RUFUS DÜ SOL and Above & Beyond at Red Rocks, OneRepublic at Fiddler’s Green, Rusko at 420 on the Block, The Anjunabeats Showcase and Boiler Room at The Church and the Claptone rooftop party at Vinyl.

303: Best music trends of the past year? The worst?

SK: I love that we are seeing large-scale cultural shifts internationally also reflected in the music industry, and for the better. Women in music are getting a much stronger voice and the platform they deserve. Women are finally feeling empowered enough to make bold moves and see their own value in the market. The same goes for mental health in the music industry — people are starting to transparently recognize the issue at large and measures are being taken to improve it. That said, we still have a long way to go on both issues.

On the other side of things, I like seeing vinyl sales increase and innovative streaming companies using data in powerful ways to save the industry. Finally, I like seeing venues and festivals are just as much about curating experiences and storylines than just lineups. The worst music trend overall is really reflective of the challenge of making it in the music industry as a whole — seeing artists care more about building their brand and their buzz marketing tactics rather than the actual music. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a major piece of it, but music is the foundation, and if it doesn’t make people feel something then there’s no solid ground to build off of.

303: How do you think the new music festival coming to Overland Park will impact Denver’s music scene?

SK: I think on a national scale, it’ll really put Denver on the map as a major contender in the music scene. The industry has always been extremely competitive here — we already have multiple major festivals every year, and Denver is an essential stop for the routing of most acts since we are smack dab in the middle of the country. However, it’ll continue to bring a mass influx of people into the city from out of state and the added tourism will help support the local economy. It’ll give locals an annual large-scale fest to call “their own” and will give transplants more added value for living here. If they play nicely with the local players in the music space and take care of the facility they are utilizing, I see it as a good thing. My only concern is oversaturation.

303: What local artist would you like to see make it big in 2018 and why?

SK: Darci. Listen to the music and then you’ll understand.

303: Most up and coming national acts of 2017? 

SK: Two Feet, Karma Fields, Saints of Valory, Pablo Nouvelle, Cash+David and morgxn.

303: Best new venue in 2017?

SK: Temple Nightclub and Levitt Pavilion.

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