Though some cities have famous bridges, historic statues and iconic architecture, Denver has something that no other city has. We’ve got the greatest outdoor music venue right in our backyard, with a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains that will take anyone’s breath away. It’s only natural that along with that, Denver’s unprecedented local music scene will have their time to wow the crowds at the iconic venue. Over numerous nights this year, we’ve got some of Colorado’s greatest music talent gracing the Red Rocks stage. Our local bands and the legendary Red Rocks make a beautiful combination and we’re especially excited for these shows that will showcase what’s so special about our city. In addition to the local sets at Red Rocks earlier this year, here are the Colorado acts gracing the Red Rocks stage in 2018.
When: April 24
Cost: $30; Get tickets here.
The Lowdown: This electro-funk trio got their big break with their debut EP Odyssey, produced by GRiZ’s All Good Records just barely two years ago. SunSquabi has collaborated on tracks with GRiZ and Big Gigantic, both of whom are on this list too and the camaraderie that is felt within the local music scene is truly inspiring. The band has performed at some of the nation’s biggest music festivals, from Electric Forest to High Sierra to Hulaween and more. 2017 brought their second EP release and a huge headlining tour, so the Red Rocks show will catch SunSquabi running on a high from everything they’ve got going on lately.
When: May 5
Cost: $55; Get tickets here.
The Lowdown: This jam-grass band is the opener for Phil Lesh and the Terrapin Family Band, which means — with so many well-versed Deadheads in attendance — Leftover Salmon will have to bring the heat. Known for both their pristine bluegrass sound and their incendiary island-style jamming, guitarist Vince Herman will no doubt have you screaming along with him in his musical motto, “festival!” This band knows how to really party and they’ll be getting the Red Rocks crowd revved up for the relatively rare appearance of Grateful Dead member Phil Lesh. And we’d bet there will be some sit-ins throughout the evening too.
When: May 20
Cost: $45-50; Get tickets here.
The Lowdown: This show will be the most bittersweet event for local music fans, as it is the last time this band will perform together as Elephant Revival. Last month, the band released a statement announcing a hiatus that will begin following the Red Rocks show. The announcement was added with further heartbreak when shortly after that, fiddle player Bridget Law announced her departure from the band. Elephant Revival has been a pioneer band in the local music scene, especially within the folk and bluegrass genres. The future of the band and the careers of its insanely talented members is still unknown, which is why there’s no excuse to miss this performance.
When: June 2
Cost: $35-46; Get tickets here.
The Lowdown: The Motet is a staple within the Denver live music scene, and on June 2 they will be playing that funky music alongside electronic duo Boombox for one dance-your-booty-off evening. The band has continued on its upward trajectory since Jans Ingber passed the torch to frontman Lyle Divinsky. From the Ogden’s “Hometown Hustle” to playing festivals all over the country, The Motet is a premier funk band that we’re proud to call our own. David Watts will provide the beats, Joey Porter will get weird with the synthesizer and the horn section will be the cherry on top of a great night of music.
Big Head Todd and The Monsters
When: June 9
The Lowdown: Boulder-based and performing for over three decades, Big Head Todd and the Monsters will be roaming the Red Rocks stage this June, promoting their latest album, New World Arisin’. With past albums and singles achieving Billboard chart status, including the popular songs “Bittersweet,” “Broken Hearted Savior” and “Boom Boom,” fans are eager to see what success will come with this newest album drop. – Kait Starr
String Cheese Incident
When: June 20 – 22
Cost: $50-55 per night; Get tickets here.
The Lowdown: The String Cheese Incident has reserved a three-night run at Red Rocks on a weekend in July every summer. Come sun, a light sprinkle or a torrential downpour, these jam band heroes will give the absolute best they’ve got to their devoted fans in those six sets of music. What makes this band stand out from their peers is how each member brings an entirely different sound. Kyle Hollingsworth is the funk master, Billy Nershi is a bluegrass man, Jason Hann loves electronic. All in one show you’ll hear elements of each — plus reggae, rock, latin and more. Opening the shows will be JJ Grey and Mofro on Friday, The Main Squeeze on Saturday and Rising Appalachia on Sunday.
When: July 13 – 14
Cost: $30; Get tickets here.
The Lowdown: The one-man electronic extravaganza known as GRiZ is back at Red Rocks for a two-night run on the Rocks. On one of those nights, GRiZ is bringing company — his live band. Last year, the DJ re-released his 2016 album, Good Will Prevail, but in re-mixed form. Remixes were once upon a time quite popular, and GRiZ brought a new and improved version of the concept to his fans with the hugely innovative Good Will Continue. These couple of mid-July shows will be a hot and sweaty dance party that, in years past, have exceeded even the highest of expectations.
Yonder Mountain String Band
When: August 4
Cost: $43; Get tickets here.
The Lowdown: One of Boulder’s favorite bluegrass band Yonder Mountain String Band returns to the Red Rocks stage in early August with a lineup that has been official since 2015. With mandolinist Jake Joliff’s incendiary skill and fiddle player Allie Kral’s feminine charisma, the two most recent additions have allowed the band to hone their individual talents and become a better band. A witty banter and repertoire will only add to an evening of performances from some of the genre’s greatest talents.
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
When: August 22 – 23
Cost: $47-53; Get tickets here.
The Lowdown: He’s easily the biggest name on this list, which is why Colorado Governor Hickenlooper even declared December 17 Nathanial Rateliff & The Night Sweats Day. Rateliff, along with his five-man band, returns to headline Red Rocks for two nights of his hugely popular folk-rock sound in the middle of an expansive world tour. These shows are sure to sell out, so we suggest guaranteeing your spot by purchasing early.
Slim Cessna’s Auto Club
When: August 23
Cost: $47-53; Get tickets here.
the Lowdown: Fearless leader Slim Cessna is known for sporting his white cowboy hat to accompany his well-grown beard and horn-rimmed glasses, and is the face of this all-male modern rock band. Slim Cessna’s Auto Club is a hot commodity, booked solid in the US, U.K. and Europe from now through mid-September. Don’t miss your chance to see them live this summer.
When: August 29
Cost: Sold out.
The Lowdown: One of the electronic and dance genres newest rising stars, Illenium provides not just the music but an entirely sensual experience to his audiences. The producer’s shows include cutting-edge lighting and visuals to fully stimulate his fans, which has quickly gained him a hot reputation amongst his fellow EDM players. In just two years, Illenium landed the number one spot on iTunes for the electronic album chart and hit 10 million plays in under one month for his remix of The Chainsmokers’ “Don’t Let Me Down.” The moral of this story? Find tickets and go.
When: September 28 – 29
Cost: $115 for a two-day pass; Get tickets here.
The Lowdown: As the event’s title boasts, this is the seventh annual “Rowdytown,” brought to you by Boulder’s own Big Gigantic. The duo —which consists of saxophonist Dominic Lalli and drummer Jeremy Salken — hosts two nights each summer at the legendary venue. This year’s supporting lineup has yet to be announced, but RowdyTown VI saw Keys N Krates, Slushii, Pell, Big Wild, Whethan and Maddy O’Neal. Big Gigantic have proven their mastery of the cross-over between instrumental and electronic, which makes them quite a unique pair and this show is one not to miss.
Gregory Alan Isakov
When: September 30
Cost: $39-46; Get tickets here.
The Lowdown: Though he was born in South Africa, Gregory Alan Isakov now calls Colorado his home. It’s only fitting that his latest album was recorded with the Colorado Symphony, in support of what many refer to as his “lyrical genius.” The indie-folk musician will be one of the last shows on the docket for Red Rocks’ summer concert season, so do not miss out.
The Colorado Symphony Orchestra
When: Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 on May 31; With Seal on July 15; With Sarah McLachlan on July 26.
The Lowdown: These few shows are going to be pretty epic. If classical music is your thing, May 31 is your chance to experience it outside of your typical music hall and to witness it whilst overlooking the Front Range from your perch on the rocks. Both July dates will be in support of music icons, R&B superstar Seal and angelic singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan. Tickets are pricey, but these performances will be worth it.
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