Open Mics In The Mile High: Navigating the What, Where and When

Photo Courtesy of Last Minute Musician Blog, Open Mic.
Photo Courtesy of Last Minute Musician Blog, Open Mic.

The Mile High City isn’t just renowned for its stunning mountain views and outdoor adventures. It’s also a thriving hub for artistic expression. Denver’s open mic scene is starting to flourish into its peak, providing a spotlight almost every night of the week for musicians, poets, and stand-up comics to showcase their creative side in front of a new audience. But an open mic is more than just a stage. The local open mic scene has progressed into a vital space where people intrigued by performance can come together to cultivate a network of other artists to collaborate their visions with and find inspiration for their next work of art. 303 Magazine took a deep dive into the whys, wheres, and whens of Denver’s open mic scene to reveal the nature of what drives the city’s artists to new heights of creativity.

Denver’s Open Mic Scene Emergence

Open mic crowd
Photo Courtesy Of

The city’s open mic scene has seen an extraordinary amount of firsthand attention within the past few years, fostering a home for Denver’s various types of creative media and the abundance of diverse genres within the scene. Now more than ever musicians, comedians, and poets have a place to have their talent be discovered by a new audience in a different space on a potentially nightly basis. This rise can be accredited to businesses that host the open mics and the organizers that manage them. They recognize the transplants in the city that have a desire to explore new places, particularly those where art is celebrated and for the locals that are in need of a place to express themselves and garner a fanbase in front of new crowds.

The Purpose of Open Mics

Open mics have a variety to offer to the artistic community, from newbies performing live for the first time to experienced veterans with an itch to test out new material. In Denver, these gatherings have become prominent places for artists seeking to share their talents, explore new avenues of creative expression and develop a network to potentially collaborate with people that share the same passion to entertain. This isn’t all about showcasing talent, it’s a step towards building confidence to perform live in front of people, receive constructive feedback from other performers, and to practice content to get it to the level it’s desired to be. The Mile High open mic scene is a home filled with like-minded people motivated to develop, educate and move one another with their work.

Celebrating Diversity Through Performance

Open mic girl
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Artistic expression has no limits in the open mic scene. This is what makes these particular events in Denver a captivating place to learn about other people’s cultures and an opportunity to celebrate diversity through live performances. Whether it’s a jazz musician playing saxophone, a poet conveying a story about their travels through spoken word or a stand-up comedian telling jokes to make the crowd laugh, it creates an experience for all backgrounds to have their voices heard. Furthermore, this presents the chance for performers to take inspiration from backgrounds other than their own and implement that into their own works of art. In these spaces, creativity flourishes, which stimulates a level of unity for all backgrounds to share the same goal of pure creation.

Photo by Annie French-Mack

Open mic venues in the Mile High are spread all over town, each honing its own special twist that makes them unique to one another, providing a diverse selection for attendees and participants to choose from. While there’s a ton to choose from, some of the most well-known open mics in the city can be found below:

Mercury Cafe is one of the cornerstones of the scene in Denver. With its free spirited energy, it attracts some of the best poets and musicians channeling a distinct yet fun level of word play from many of the performances.

Lion’s Lair, on Colfax Avenue, is a beloved venue not only for its frequent shows hosting an array of different musicians within the local music scene but also for its vibrant open mic scene. This particular venue has grown to the point where music and comedy open mics are separated by two different nights, indicating the level of demand to focus individually on each creative medium.

For the aspiring showmen with a thirst for comedy specific spaces, Rise Comedy serves a platform for those looking to showcase their talents in a hub filled with other comedians. No matter if you desire a low key atmosphere or a more loud and eccentric environment, Denver’s open mics has a place for all types, serving as a home for artists and audience members to feel comfortable in whatever it is they’re seeking.

READ: 303 Magazine is hosting a Comedy Competition for Local Comedians.

Weekly Schedule of Open Mics

There is a consistent group of weekly open mics happening in Denver, allowing performers the chance to unleash their creative energies on a nightly basis.

Monday nights at Lion’s Lair switch up the typical mundane start to the week with jokes and laughter, thanks to their stand-up-comedy open mic.

On Tuesdays, Mutiny Information Cafe hosts a night for musicians to showcase their art surrounded by books, art, and vinyl, which is certain to invoke a mood of creativity. 

Wednesdays at Roxy on Broadway are dedicated to their open jazz night. This is an ample opportunity to experience a spontaneous creation of music in an open and collaborative environment.

City O’ City has an open mic for all types of performances on Thursdays if variety is your thing.

Mercury Cafe ends the week on Fridays with poetry performers hitting the stage with their powerful words and soothing voices. They also host their infamous poetry slams on Sundays which are typically followed by an open mic meant for those who weren’t able to perform.

The weekend keeps going with the first Saturday of every month at That’s Kava and every Sunday at River Bar, both catering to all types of entertainers.

Furthermore, there are Facebook groups and calendars online providing up-to-date open mics within the area. 

Building Connections Within The Scene

Denver’s open mic scene is more than just a space to perform, it’s a place that promotes creativity, collaboration, and a supportive network among artists. People that organize these events have a duty to make a welcoming atmosphere for all talents to be able to express themselves creatively in an environment free from judgement. This is why building connections in a vibrant community of musicians, poets, and stand-up comedians couldn’t be easier. The reason being is everyone has one focus while at these events which is expressing themselves creatively in front of crowds of people. No matter if it’s musicians working with comedians or poets working with musicians, all people can exchange ideas and learn from each other in an ecosystem that forges togetherness through live entertainment. 

Coming Back For More

Building a community that is welcoming to all experience levels of performance is quintessential to the growth and sustainability of open mics. This community fosters growth both external and internal, communal and individual, becoming a kind of obsession because there are few other places where energies entwine so magically. Denver’s scene is particularly open-minded to the variety of different types of artistic expression. It can range from musicians coming in to play something experimental with their synths, poets reciting excerpts from their past accompanied by a loop and fuzz pedal or a comedian telling jokes about their most embarrassing stories from college. It truly can be anything, and there is often something unique and unexpected in every performance.

The other reason people come back for more is because of how helpful the community is in working with people trying to display their talents for the first or millionth time. The atmosphere continues to cultivate an open minded feeling where all talents feel valued and appreciated from their peers. Furthermore, this community of supportive creatives complimenting and sharing their feedback with other artists helps build confidence and eagerness for new talents to come back again.

Snaps All Around! 

Denver’s open mic scene continues to grow each passing week, providing an experience for people to explore their creative sides within the music, poetry, and comedy sphere. The ability to showcase their talents and build new relationships with other artists within the scene on a regular basis is a statement of how much the city has grown in its support of the beautiful artists now engrained in Denver’s very fiber.

The increase in demand for open mics can be a lot to handle, and appreciation should be given to the business owners and organizers that host open mics on a weekly basis. They are the reasons that there are always open mics in the Mile High City filled with crowds of people waiting to hear someone tell a story.


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