Staff Picks – The 10 Best Red Rocks Shows of the Summer

Summer is officially over and with it goes peak Red Rocks season. Although to be fair, the 90-degree weather that most of September has been privy to doesn’t really make for much of a fall feel. Nonetheless, going by solstice standards, it’s over. We gotta move on. That doesn’t mean the 303 Magazine music desk doesn’t tend to reminisce. We’ve compiled a list of the best Red Rocks shows this summer, going by our own definition of summer — June 1 to October 1. It was hard to narrow down and there are so many other shows that don’t make the time span, but I guess you’ll just have to wait for our list of best Red Rocks shows of the year to find out who else made the cut.

Billie Eilish – June 5

Photo by Alden Bonecutter

There may have been no Red Rocks performance this year as hyped up as Billie Eilish’s, and she did not disappoint. Through a nearly constant downpour, Eilish brought nightmares to reality in a way only Tim Burton could imagine. Young fans clamored over themselves in the heat of the moment, parents reeled at their kids’ fanatic adoration and those who were unprepared for it all were taken aback. Eilish took all the fanfare in stride, hyping up her fans proving her talents extended far beyond her debut album. More impactful than all of the pandemonium, however, was watching an emerging teenage superstar in her element acting her age on one of the world’s biggest stages. – Kori Hazel 

Check out our full review here.

Rainbow Kitten Surprise – June 11

Photo by Brandon Johnson

Rainbow Kitten Surprise is made of people who are true performers. That shouldn’t be that nuanced a concept when talking about musicians and “entertainment,” but witnessing a true ham on stage can be a treat. RKS is a performing band, and their Red Rocks performance this summer was no exception to the rule. Their melodic, southern rock feel and experimental vocals all came second to a show that was engaging from start to finish. Although, these aren’t elements held just for summer. Catch RKS any season. – Jessica Rendall 

Check out our interview with the band right before their Red Rocks show here. 

Young the Giant – June 12

Photo by Mark Tepsic

It was a night full of magic at Red Rocks when Young the Giant took the stage in June. The indie-pop band’s performance was as polished as anything recorded in the studio, and the accompanying light show helped to transport concert-goers to another dimension where the mysticism of music is all-encompassing. Their set included songs that spanned the band’s discography, ending with “My Body,” and left everyone in attendance dancing all the way back to the parking lot. – Mariah Hansen 

Check out our full review here. 

Death Cab for Cutie & Mitski – June 25

Photo by Mark Tepsic

Death Cab for Cutie has always been a stand-out in the indie-rock scene and honestly, the band wouldn’t have made this list if it weren’t for a special opening guest. For the only night on their tour, Mitski took the stage at Red Rocks clad with nothing but her voice and some strange aerobic exercises and it totally worked. Her voice was pristine, her setlist was a dip into everything we love about the newly crowned indie darling and the crowd was all about it, filling up the rows well before they usually do to see Mitski perform. Death Cab was incredible as well, making for a truly incredible night of music. – Camila Biddulph

Check out our interview with the band before their Red Rocks show here. 

The Motet – July 12

Photo By Dylan Langille

Who can do it better than a hometown favorite? The Motet lit Red Rocks on fire and stood out as one of the best shows this summer due to their high energy and funktastic set. They celebrated their latest release, Death or Devotion, but also jammed many older favorites. Lyle and the band killed it for their home base and having Moon Hooch and Galactic as openers did not hurt the magical evening. – Denby Gardiner

Flume and Friends – August 6 – 7

Flume only had two solo North American performances in 2019, and they were both at Red Rocks. Electronic music — and this applies to Flume’s contemporaries — many times finds itself confined to this box of LEDs, pyrotechnics and stagnancy in regard to the performance itself.  Flume’s Red Rocks show dared to step outside that box and offer an electronic concept closer to that of performance art. There were power tools and smashed flower pots, props, lasers and drama — an entire spectacle built out of his music’s emotional fortitude pulled together in brilliant accord – Kori Hazel 

Check out our full review here. 

One Republic w/ the Colorado Symphony – August 26

Photo by Kyle Cooper

What better band to play at Red Rocks then Colorado’s own OneRepublic. And to play with the Colorado Symphony only emphasizes the significance of this performance. OneRepublic and the Colorado Symphony played to a sold-out crowd on August 26 and if you were one of the lucky people to be in that crowd, then you know why this performance was one of the best of the season. What OneRepublic has at its core, the symphony only exuberated. The vocals of lead singer Ryan Tedder and the meticulously chosen songs played by the members of OneRepublic combined with the effortless and pure instrumental genius of the symphony made musical magic that will never be forgotten. – Katie Boudreau 

Check out our full review here. 

Bon Iver – September 3

Bon Iver

Photo by Jacob Boll

There are few acts that bring up so much reverence and emotion as Bon Iver did at Red Rocks this summer. The venue paired with the band created an unparalleled experience. Justin Vernon has made music under the Bon Iver moniker for over 10 years now, but the inclusion of a full band mixing and reliving all of the carefully produced sounds throughout Bon Iver’s discography is unmatched. Not to mention Vernon’s voice is perfect and resonated through the monoliths leaving all too many with tears in their eyes during songs like “Hey, Ma” and “Holocene” (I’m not crying, you are.) – Camila Biddulph

Check out our full review here.

The Wood Brothers – September 5

Photo by Kenneth Coles

While mostly hanging around the Boulder scene, the Wood Brothers spent formative years here in Denver and their dedication to Denver shows always includes a fulfilling experience. This year was their first Red Rocks show and their talent and expertise made the evening one of the best of the season. The Steep Canyon Rangers and Fruition heated things up but the Wood Brothers were unmatchable in their delivery. – Denby Gardiner

Check out our interview with the band right before their Red Rocks debut here. 

STS9 – September 6 – 7

Photo by Brandon Johnson

Becoming a resident performer at Red Rocks is no easy feat and keeping one of the best weekends of the summer at the venue means each performance counts. This summer STS9 threw down three dirty sets each night for their followers and the weekend came out to be one of the best the entire summer session experienced. With covers like Salt N Peppa’s “Push It” and supporting acts like Ott, what could go wrong? – Denby Gardiner