Local music is incredibly important — and we are very fortunate to have the scene we do in Denver. Getting involved in the local scene is a great way to give the community a little something special while discovering great music and meeting interesting people. Plus, the local scene is generally more relaxed. Want in but don’t necessarily know how? We have you covered with six different ways to discover local Denver music.
Hit Up Smaller Shows Around Town
If you are looking for something to do one night, consider going to a smaller show — local bands play smaller Denver venues all the time. Check out places like Larimer Lounge, Hi-Dive, Lost Lake and several other bars and cafés around town with live music. Even going to an open mic night at a coffee shop might introduce you to your new favorite artist. Plus, these events aren’t typically expensive, so why not branch out a little?
Make Time for Openers
If a band isn’t already touring with support, they may book a local act to perform before them. Making time for these artists is not only helping them out but you may just find your new favorite musician along the way. Odds are if they’re playing with another artist you already bought tickets for, you’ll like their sound as well.
Go to Local Festivals and Events
There is no shortage of festivals around town (especially in the summer) and many of them book local artists. Underground Music Showcase (UMS), Westword Music Showcase, ARISE Music Festival, Grandoozy and many others feature a handful (if not more than a handful) of local artists every year. Even if something as grand as Grandoozy doesn’t fit into your budget, you can find locals playing at just about any festival, so get out there and start exploring. Our own 303 Music Fest featured over 10 local artists all wrapped in one night.
Stay up to date on events going on around town as well. Media sites, venues and city websites all usually have event calendars they keep updated each month — take a look and check an event out if it looks interesting. Similarly, we do a weekly roundup of concerts in the area, so if you have a free night, try going to something new.
Keep up with Local Media
Local media cover local things. Listen to local radio stations, read local magazines and publications, blogs and more to learn about the Denver music scene. KTCL Channel 93.3, KBCO and Radio 1190 (a college radio station), for example, are all great Dever-metro radio stations that either feature locals often or have a weekly show dedicated to local Colorado music. The larger stations will often sponsor events or concerts going on in the area that feature local acts. KTCL does an exceptionally good job with covering local artists through their event Hometown for the Holidays. Local bands have the opportunity to submit their music, and then compete to win a spot to open Not So Silent Night and play at Westword Music Showcase. Bands like My Body Sings Electric, 888 and the Epilogues all got a boost from this competition, and it’s great exposure for them. Also be sure to save 105.5 The Colorado Sound and OpenAir to your car’s radio stations.
Most Denver-based publications — including us at 303 Magazine, Westword, Denver Post and 5280 — have a music tab or section in their sites. These publications write reviews, introduce artists and premiere new songs or albums for Denver musicians, helping them get a head start on their music careers and that sought-after exposure. If you stay current in local music news, it’ll be no time before you have a playlist full of Colorado musicians. There are also music-focused publications and blogs in Colorado like BolderBeat and Greeblehaus — published by Aimee Giese. Giese is a Denver blogger, who spends a lot of her time capturing the local music scene. Though she’s not always focused solely on local artists, she’s still a great source if you don’t mind digging around a little.
Check Out Red Rocks’ Local Set Series
Red Rocks started promoting Denver music as well through their Local Set series. Now in its second year, the series includes nine dinners (one every month) in the visitor center. Each dinner features a different local musician that plays through covers and originals throughout the evening. This is not only a new way to see Red Rocks in a more intimate light but to also discover the local talent Denver has to offer as well. Tickets are $50 each and can be bought here or at the door.
Put your time endlessly scrolling through your phone to good use — social media is not only for combating boredom but for new (local) music discovery. From streaming services like Soundcloud, Bandcamp and Spotify to the more chaotic world of Facebook groups, Colorado-born music is just a quick search away. Facebook groups like Denver Music Scene and Denver Music Match are full of artists of all genres and music fans alike, all of whom are usually pretty responsive and friendly. If you prefer a more streamlined platform, we curated Denver-themed playlists on Spotify for several genres, so if you know what kind of music you’re looking for, check those out here.