Though we love Red Rocks all months of the year, there’s something especially tantalizing about partying under the Colorado stars on a warm summer night. The fast-approaching summer season has us asking the question  — what upcoming artists are really worth the wait? The Red Rocks line-up this summer is already looking lit. Whether you’re anticipating a night of banjo filled indie-folk, gearing up to crunk it out to hood rap or stacking your playlist with futuristic beats in anticipation of an EDM DJ, Colorado’s favorite amphitheater has a show for every musical preference this summer. And while we have love for all of the artists gracing our state with their presence this summer, we’ve chosen 27 to keep your eye on. – Cara Chancellor

Opiuo with Syzygy Orchestra and SunSquabi – April 21

Opiuo

Opiuo at Red Rocks in 2017. Photo by Miles Chrisinger

“The absolute peak of my whole entire Opiuo existence was playing with the band at Red Rocks [last year],” Opiuo’s Oscar Davey-Wraight told 303 Magazine in an interview before his upcoming headlining show at Red Rocks. But with his announcement about bringing the specially-curated 20-piece Syzygy Orchestra with him this time around, we’re sure this show will top that peak. Fans can still expect the funky, hypnotic, swampy bass that Opiuo has gathered a following from, but they can also expect an unprecedented marriage of those highly danceable beats with symphonic sounds. The Syzygy Orchestra is a collaboration of Davey-Wraight and Tom Hagerman of Devotchka and will only be showcased at Red Rocks, the halfway point in the North American “Syzygy 01 Tour.” That performance will be preceded by the electro-jam-grooves of Colorado-based SunSquabi, as well as Flamingosis and Anomalie, making this a perfect way to kick off the season of rocking out at Red Rocks. – Cori Anderson

Vulfpeck – April 27

Photo by Alden Bonecutter

If you are a Vulfpeck fan in Denver, there is a good chance you have felt your heart drop the last two times they have graced the Ogden and sold out their allotted ticket count in minutes. Finally, the epic group will be showcasing their talents at a larger stage, the best stage in the game at that. Vulfpeck is one of our most anticipated shows of the summer because their energy through recording is sure to only scratch the surface of what they can do on stage. Not to mention, they’ve been churning out banger albums yearly since 2015, so there is plenty to love. This show is sure to be full by the time the date rolls around, so we suggest jumping on this one. – Denby Gardiner

X Ambassadors – May 3

Photo by Meg O’Neill

Take a night to run wild and free with X-Ambassadors as they make a Red Rocks stop May 3. Along for the “Joyful Tour,” openers Misterwives and Allan Rayman will start your endorphin rush as the show begins at 6 p.m. Then, with a performance of their latest single, “Joyful,” X-Ambassadors is sure to pull on some heartstrings that haven’t felt a tug for a good while. All we can say is, you certainly won’t walk away with a frown by the end of the night. – Kait Starr

Twiddle – May 4

Photo by Camille Breslin

To kick off the Cinco de Mayo weekend this year, Twiddle, Stick Figure and The Hip Abduction will take the Red Rocks stage. Twiddle played two shows at the Boulder Theater last summer after being forced to cancel their co-headline at Red Rocks with moe. This year, they return with a headline slot all to themselves. The Hip Abduction, as well as Stick Figure, will set the stage each with their unique mix of musical styles, all with a similar reggae-rock vibe but with plenty of other mixed in to keep things interesting. – Caleb Aerenson

Phil Lesh and the Terrapin Family Band with Leftover Salmon – May 5

Phil Lesh is the only original member of the Grateful Dead that is not involved with the currently-touring Dead & Company. Rather, Lesh prefers staying near home and hanging out at his Northern California restaurant and music venue, Terrapin Crossroads. The allure of playing at the infamous Red Rocks must have been enough to convince Lesh to make a visit out to Colorado, because on May 5 the Grateful Dead guitarist takes the Red Rocks stage. Backed by the Terrapin Family Band, which includes Lesh’s eldest son Graham, the evening will be a Dead-inspired family affair, and with the help of Colorado’s own Leftover Salmon to open the evening, May 5 is bound to be one super heady night. – Emma Polachek

Elephant Revival – May 20

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Photo by Meg O’Neill

Set to perform for their very last time, Elephant Revival will be finalizing their legacy on Colorado’s best stage this May 20. Performing their first gig 11 years ago, the six-some from Nederland has had a gratifying run, creating hits including “Sing to the Mountain” and “Down to the Sea.” The group said on Facebook, “It’s been an incredible 11 years making music and touring together as Elephant Revival. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without you, our fans, our friends, our family. We’d love to leave on a high note before we take our break and can’t wait to celebrate with you at Red Rocks on May 20.” – Kait Starr

Big Wild – May 24

Big Wild, 303 Music, Denver, Drew Boulos, Will Sheehan, 303 Magazine

Photo by Will Sheehan

Big Wild is a name every music-loving Coloradoan should be familiar with by now. This winter alone he performed to sold-out audiences at Aspen’s BellyUp and Boulder’s Fox Theatre — now Big Wild is bringing his funky, tropical beats to Red Rocks with Louis the Child and special guest Quinn XCII. Last year, Big Wild opened at Red Rocks for Big Gigantic’s sixth Rowdytown. Considering both headliners have released some killer dance songs, such as Big Wild’s “Aftergold” and Louis the Child’s “It’s Strange,” the show should be a massive party on the rocks. – Emily McCarter

The Devil Makes Three with the Wood Brothers – May 25

Devil Makes Three. Photo by Lindsey Bartlett

The folk-country-bluegrass trio will return to the Red Rocks stage on May 25 to kick off Memorial Day weekend, and a foot-stomping, whiskey-drinking time is sure to ensue. The Devil Makes Three became a relatively household name with the 2002 release of the Graveyard album, which included the hugely popular “Old Number Seven.” Since then, the band has been pioneering their genre and their music fits in perfectly with the Colorado aesthetic. Kicking off the evening will be another trio, the Wood Brothers, who are running high from the February release of their latest album, One Drop of Truth. The Wood Brothers folk-country-blues sound will be the ideal accompaniment to the Devil Makes Three’s headlining set, with their deep basslines and gruff vocals to get the crowd jazzed up. – Emma Polachek

Motet & Boombox – June 2

Motet-26

The Motet.

Ah, June. The weather in Denver is amazing, summer concerts are rocking away, and Denver’s baby The Motet is sure to open up the month with their yearly rager on the rocks. Much like in years past, they will be stocking their lineup with heavy talent, this year including Boombox and The New Mastersounds. Pinch us, is this real life? The three epic groups are sure to put on a performance that will be one for Red Rocks history. Not only can we expect great triumphs from them individually, you know these three will be in and out of each other’s sets all night, always with a possibility of a full super-band jam. Kick off the hot season right with some hot seats at this hot show. – Denby Gardiner

Ween – June 5 and 6

Ween, Red Rocks

Photo courtesy of Ween on Facebook

The boognish rises for the second consecutive year at Red Rocks, with Deaner and Gener bringing their signature style, humor and talent to their avid Colorado fans. Ween is perhaps most notorious for their playful antics, but what makes their shows unforgettable is their outrageous talent at playing almost any genre of music. From the raunchy lyrics and classic country sounds in songs like “Piss up a Rope” to the experimental jam session in songs like “Transdermal Celebration” to the cultish zest of any song from Pure Guava, Ween delivers song after song and keeps you wanting more — which is probably why they announced two nights at Red Rocks after only releasing plans for a one-night show. They know we love them and they love us back. – Cori Anderson 

Odesza – June 15 and 16

Photo by Will Sheehan

Euphoric is what comes to mind when I think Odesza. Their sound is an audacious contrast between bold beats and luscious melodies that leave me wanting more EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. This Grammy-nominated duo has taken the international music scene by storm. Since hitting 30-million Soundcloud plays in 2014, they’ve performed across the globe and nation from Coachella to Bonnaroo and stolen chart-topping spots with knock out singles like “Say My Name,” and “White Lies.” The back-to-back shows are already sold out. Now, on the heels of Grammy-nominated album A Moment Apart, these EDM kings are coming to Colorado, and we can’t think of a better way to sway into summer than grooving to their vibrant electronic sound under the stars. – Cara Chancellor

[PHOTOS] Odesza Lit Up Red Rocks with Fiery New Singles

Umphrey’s McGee – July 5,6 and 7

Photo by Nick Annis

Umphrey’s McGee returns to Red Rocks right on time to keep the July 4 party rolling. Joining them will be Lotus on July 5, Papadosio on July 6 and The Record Company on July 7. Each opener has performed at Red Rocks before — Lotus and Papadosio were booked as headliners last year. Umphrey’s McGee puts on a show with an incredible variety of genres and moods. This year, they’re sharing the stage with three bands who represent some of the styles the legendary jam-rock-band can pull off. – Caleb Aerenson

moe. – July 12

Photo by Matt Dirksen

Following a forced cancellation last year, moe. will take the stage at Red Rocks Amphitheater with Pigeons Playing Ping Pong opening for them. moe. has had crowds erupting through their recent tour as the band, as well as the fans celebrate bassist, Rob Derhak’s recovery. moe. and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong have been waiting for a long time to perform together at Red Rocks so it is safe to assume they are ready to give us a show worth waiting an extra year. – Caleb Aerenson

GRiZ – July 13 and 14

Obviously, it would be a crime to leave our favorite saxophonist from the list — especially when that artist currently calls Denver his home. With back-to-back Red Rocks’ performances on July 13 and 14, the American DJ will surely funk us all with his signature feel-good touch. His previous Red Rocks show surprised all, as the electronic producer pulled off uniquely individual sets each night — and he’s back to do the same this year. One night GRiZ will feature a live band with the other night being hs classic GRiZ set. – Kait Starr

READ: Review – GRiZ Ended a Busy Week with Two Sold-Out Red Rocks Shows

Seal with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra – July 15

Smooth crooner Seal will be joined on July 15 by the Colorado Symphony for a special night beneath the stars that will surely conjure emotions form even the toughest shell. The mere thought of “Kiss From A Rose,” with a full orchestral arrangement backing it is almost too gorgeous to imagine. The icing on the cake, however, is his support for the evening. None other than Corinne Bailey Rae will be joining the singer for the night. If you’re not caught up in the trenches of your feelings by the end of this blowout, you weren’t fighting back the tears hard enough during it. – Kori Hazel

Sylvan Esso – July 18

Sylvan Esso, Will Sheehan, Tyler Harvey, 303 Magazine, Ogden, Ogden Theatre, Ogden Denver, Sylvan Esso Tour, Sylvan Esso Denver

Photo by Will Sheehan

Last year was a good year for Sylvan Esso. In 2017 the North Carolina duo received a Grammy nomination and played a sold-out show at Denver’s Ogden Theatre. This year they’ve decided to upgrade capacity with a show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on July 18. Though Sylvan Esso sold out the Ogden, we’re skeptical that they’ll sell out Red Rocks. Nevertheless, we recommend snagging tickets for this one because it’s a show you won’t soon forget. With catchy electronic hooks, folky vocals and an enormous admiration for their fans, Sylvan Esso knows how to command a stage, keeping your attention and leaving a lasting imprint in your memory. Tickets are available here. – Tyler Harvey

READ: Review – Sylvan Esso are The Best Friends You’ve Always Wanted

Trampled by Turtles – July 19

Photo by Jackie Collins

While Trampled by Turtles remain one of the outlying bluegrass bands to not hail from our state, they are a welcomed staple in our bluegrass haven. A band that has chucked out album after album of songs with tattoo worthy lyrics and beats that could make us stomp all the way to China without noticing. Trampled by Turtles is one of those Red Rocks shows that seems to have a few hundred more people than it should, which is never a problem. Do not expect to have much thinking time when it comes to this show, the band has announced a new album this summer and everyone will want to be in the first crowd to see it live. – Denby Gardiner

Leon Bridges – August 9

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Photo by Kyle Cooper

The Texas-born crooner, Leon Bridges, is less than a month away from dropping a brand new album. The highly anticipated record comes nearly three years after his critically acclaimed studio debut Coming Home and his two new singles signal a change of tone. And while they don’t lose their nostalgic sheen, you hear a diversity of influences in “Bad Bad News.” In it you’ll find heavy layers of contemporary jazz that pushes Bridges past any assumption that he’s a one-trick pony. It’ll be exciting to see how the soulful singer translates his new and old work into a venue the size of Red Rocks and if he can keep people toe tapping throughout the night.  – Brittany Werges

Father John Misty with TV On the Radio – August 15

Father John Misty Photos by Camille Breslin-19.JPG

Photo by Camille Breslin

Joined by opener TV on the Radio, Father John Misty (Joshua Tillman) will hail the Red Rocks Stage this August 15. With the release of his latest album containing thirteen songs, “Pure Comedy” trails themes of politics, the environment, technology and questions just how hard it is for humans to balance all of these pulls. Oh, and definitely check out his website if you haven’t—trust me, it’s worth a look. – Kait Starr

The Cult with Stone Temple Pilots and Bush – August 19

Bush. Photo by Candace Peterson

Like a match made in heaven, beer will now be marrying the Red Rocks stage this August 19 as the historic venue will feature its first ever beer festival. With an ample array of breweries and food trucks, the night couldn’t get any better, right? Well get this—not only will event feature yummy food and drink, THE CULT, Stone Temple Pilots and Bush are all set to perform as well. Talk about a perfect evening. – Kait Starr

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats with Tank and the Bangas – August 22

Nathaniel Rateliff

The gods of soul music have blessed Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweat’s first of two Red Rocks shows on August 22, 2018. Besides the obvious hometown allure of The Night Sweats, the band will be joined by the inimitable Tank and the Bangas. The New Orleans band who were last year’s winners of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Series have positively blown up in the states, gobbling up progressively larger venues with unstoppable momentum. In fact, the howling presence of Rateliff may meet his maker in the imaginative and moving pipes of Tarriona “Tank” Bell. One can only hope that they join forces at some point in the night, but then again, I’m not sure we can handle that. – Kori Hazel

David Byrne – August 27-28

Anticipation does not even begin to describe the emotion felt when you see David Byrne and Red Rocks in the same sentence. The Talking Heads frontman will be doing up the stage for two nights on August 27 and 28, and both events sold out almost immediately. What is truly exciting about these shows is the chance to hear one of the most iconic voices in all of rock music at the king of all venues. While a full Talking Heads set would be the one opportunity to outshine this one, that show has yet to become available. However, with these Byrne performances, it is hard to put hopes of another reunion to bed. Here’s to hoping Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison are reading! – Denby Gardiner

Illenium – August 29

Photo by Will Sheehan

Denver-based producer Illenium (Nick Miller) has been making waves in the EDM scene since 2016, when his first album Ashes shot to the top. The album ended up landing him a number one spot on iTunes’ Electronic Album Chart and three songs on Spotify’s Viral 50 Chart. Now he tours all over, and when he comes back to Colorado his shows have no trouble selling out. We’re proud of our local talent, after all. But what sets Illenium aside from other bass-driven producers is his lack of fear in slowing down the beat, allowing melodies to drive the songs and pushing the crowd to experience a storyline. His performances touch on a buffet of senses — hypnotic audio mixes, face-melting light displays, uptempo and downtempo beats —while also melding influences from hip-hop, R&B, pop and even a little Americana. Even though it’s sold out, we suggest you do some creative searching for tickets to this show. – Cori Anderson 

Mac DeMarco with Noname – September 10

Photo by Austin Voldseth

The always goofy and oh-so-loveable Mac DeMarco will finally have his day in the sun, headlining Red Rocks for the first time on September 10. Previously gallivanting through Colorado in 2016 with three consecutive performances, including one with Tame Impala, Mac DeMarco’s Red Rock’s performance will be his first show since, and he will bring the tunes of 2017’s fantastic This Old Dog with him. His performance is sure to be laid back, light-hearted and without a doubt filled to the brim with DeMarco’s tell-tale charisma and ethos. What more could you want? Also announced with Mac DeMarco is Chicago MC and Chance the Rapper affiliate Noname. The lowkey rapper known for her poetic flow and lyricism has been on the rise following the release of her underrated debut album Telefone in 2016. While her and Mac DeMarco may seem like an odd combo on paper, the show will be nothing but good vibes. – Kori Hazel

Gregory Alan Isakov – September 30

Photo by Meg O’Neill

Although Gregory Alan Isakov hasn’t released new music since 2016, the album he produced with the Colorado Symphony is quickly becoming a classic. It’ll be a treat to hear songs like “Big Black Car” and “Stable Song” reverberate off those massive monoliths just as Colorado’s fall season is starting to settle. The Colorado Symphony will not join Isakov for this show— which is an unfortunate circumstance. But no matter the venue, Isakov has a strong ability to create an intimate and captivating atmosphere and it’ll be exciting to see how he does it in his hometown’s most iconic venue. – Brittany Werges

STS9 – September 7, 8

Photo by Ryan Lewis

Sound Tribe Sector Nine (STS9) playing Red Rocks in September is about as dependable as Red Rocks still standing. The quintet is one of Colorado’s many treasured groups that pass through more than once a year. The group has previously extended their two-night run to a three night at Red Rocks but this year they’re switching it up. STS9 just announced two nights at Red Rocks. Now, don’t feel like just because they play every year that you do not need to make them a priority. Every single performance by STS9 is different and magical in its own special way so no two shows are the same. 2018 just marks one more year of the aging of this fine band, so this year is sure to be better than the last. Just as last year was to the year before. – Denby Gardiner

*Not Announced — Pretty Lights

Photo by Meg O’Neill

Live shows are essential for Pretty Lights fans — with his last full album release dating back to 2013, live performances are some of the only times fans can catch a glimpse of new sounds from Derek Vincent Smith. As DVS is a resident of Colorado and long-time member of the Denver music scene, the Pretty Lights Red Rocks show is one of the most anticipated shows on his tour. He has yet to announce the date — fans keep their fingers crossed that he will continue the two-day tradition. As the name implies, Pretty Lights has one of the most extensive and elaborate light shows, featuring a laser wall that stretches across the stage, as well as other impeccably visual elements that drown the audience in a colorful display. While you may think his sound comes second to the light show — it’s far from background music. Pretty Lights combines soul-pack melodies with a heavy hitting bass and glitch-hop remixes to create some of the best albums and live performances I’ve ever seen. – Ellie Herring

One Response

  1. Alex

    Horrible, how can you not include A Perfect Circle? The best of all the crap on this list

    Reply

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