In the scheme of the lucrative music industry, Red Rocks is an oddball venue. Now, don’t get us wrong, Red Rocks is by far one of the grandest venues in the world and it’s a staple in Colorado culture, but in the scheme of the concert industry, it’s an oddity. Red Rocks maxes out at just under 10,000 seats while The Pepsi Center virtually holds up to 18,000 people and Mile High Stadium holds over 76,000 people. In terms of the music business, chart-topping artists have the potential to make way more money by playing large Denver venues.

The thing about Red Rocks is that artists perform at the venue to experience the true power of the amphitheater, rather than bank on selling out an arena. On July 16, chart-topping titans of the music industry Imagine Dragons came through Red Rocks and delivered a nearly two-hour-long non-stop performance. Imagine Dragons made the entire night about the music, not the glamour. It would have been so easy for Imagine Dragons to take over The Pepsi Center again after their recent stop back in October of 2017, but they decided to take on Red Rocks and conquered it with their craft.

Grace Vanderwaal, Imagine Dragons, Mike Tritsch, Michael Tritsch, Kyle Cooper, Kyle Cooper Photography, 303 Magazine, 303 Music, Red Rocks, Denver Music, Imagine Dragons Red Rocks

14-year-old prodigious singer Grace Vanderwaal and her band took the Red Rocks stage. One might recognize Vanderwaal as the 2016 champion of America’s Got Talent, which — when listening to her unique raspy voice — is easy to hear how she was crowned the winner. It’s not often that a 14-year-old gets to take on a sold-out Red Rocks crowd, and she handled it with grace (no pun intended). Vanderwaal looked comfortable on stage while performing her music. It was clear to see she was in her element, and she didn’t let the wall of people before her intimidate her.

Grace Vanderwaal, Imagine Dragons, Mike Tritsch, Michael Tritsch, Kyle Cooper, Kyle Cooper Photography, 303 Magazine, 303 Music, Red Rocks, Denver Music, Imagine Dragons Red Rocks

Grace Vanderwaal

Like any young musician, Vanderwaal’s set had its shortcomings — it was repetitive and began to blend together after a while. Let’s make this clear – Vanderwaal’s set was not bad by any means. The sheer talent the girl has is nothing short of incredible, however, there is so much potential for the young singer-songwriter to grow, as she is only 14. It’s crazy to think of a 14-year-old handling that amount of success, but we can’t wait to see what she brings next.

Imagine Dragons came right out of the gates like a bat out of hell. It’s a bold move to start a set with one of your biggest songs, but when you’re a band with a large number of hit songs, you can say “fuck it.” That’s just what the Las Vegas-based band did when they came out swinging with their 2012 hit “Radioactive.” It’s a bolder move to follow up your first song with another massively successful song, but fuck it — their second song was “It’s Time.” Lead singer Dan Reynolds decided to engage with the crowd by running out into the amphitheater seats, up the middle of the venue and then back down to the stage. The energy throughout Red Rocks was explosive, and the set was far from over.

Grace Vanderwaal, Imagine Dragons, Mike Tritsch, Michael Tritsch, Kyle Cooper, Kyle Cooper Photography, 303 Magazine, 303 Music, Red Rocks, Denver Music, Imagine Dragons Red Rocks

Dan Reynolds

Midway through their set, in true Red Rocks fashion, the band ended up in the middle of the crowd on a second stage. During this time, they took the opportunity to share even more intimacy with the Denver crowd. Acoustic versions of “Amsterdam” and “I Bet My Life” rang out along the two red walls of the venue as the band literally became the center of attention.

One of the best things about this set was the watching the band. Every single member of the Imagine Dragons cast was having a ball. The five-piece band acted as brothers on stage. From hugging one another to messing with each other on stage – the band was in sync. Reynolds kept the small talk with the crowd short and even intertwined dialog in the intros of their songs, which he did intentionally. At their Pepsi Center show last year, Imagine Dragons did not leave the stage in order to trigger an encore chant from the crowd at the end of their set, rather they saved that time for more music. They did the same exact thing at Red Rocks during this run, and then some.

For nearly two-hours, Imagine Dragons delivered a mighty performance to Morrison. Not only did the band start out strong, they ended their set with even more force. Imagine Dragons left Denver with “Demons,” “Thunder,” “On Top Of The World” and put the sealing stamp on the evening with “Believer” making this one of the best Red Rock shows of the 2018 season so far. Not even a year ago, Reynolds and company presented Denver with a performance that celebrated life through music. It’s nice to see the Imagine Dragons team give Colorado so much love, and we hope they never stop coming back.

All photography by Kyle Cooper. Check out our full gallery here.

Grace Vanderwaal, Imagine Dragons, Mike Tritsch, Michael Tritsch, Kyle Cooper, Kyle Cooper Photography, 303 Magazine, 303 Music, Red Rocks, Denver Music, Imagine Dragons Red Rocks

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