With so much going on in Denver during the summer, it’s a struggle to keep track of the things you’d like to do. Between People’s Fair, Cherry Creek Arts Fest, and the obligatory Rockies games, don’t forget the amazing live music events happening throughout the metro area. This list should satiate your sonic needs until September, with just a little something for everyone, no matter your musical taste.
MCA Denver’s B-Side Music Thursdays
Looking to enjoy outdoor tunes, but hoping to avoid the hustle and bustle of the festival scene? The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA Denver) has you covered with their B-Side Music Thursdays series. “Focused on presenting the best up and coming bands and side projects of well-known Denver…musicians”, the MCA’s rooftop is a hidden oasis tucked between high rises – an ideal setting to end your day while enjoying tunes from artists like Ancient Elk, Rubedo, Chimney Choir and DéCollage. The best part? This event is free for MCA members, and a mere $5 for non-members who arrive after 5pm.
Red Rocks 75th Anniversary Concert Season
What’s a summer in Denver without at least one visit to Red Rocks Amphitheatre? Lucky for you, between a primo Film on the Rocks lineup and Red Rocks’ 75th Anniversary concert season, you’ll find plenty of epic shows to choose from at our most breathtaking music venue. Film On the Rocks is perfectly packaged for anyone who wants to make the most of their time: a comedian, a local band, and a classic film all in one night, and performed in the wondrous setting that is this historic Colorado landmark. July through September, you’ll have the chance to catch films like “Scream,” “The Sandlot,” “Deadpool,” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” If you’d rather celebrate Red Rocks with a proper concert, big names like Blues Traveler, Twenty One Pilots, Dolly Parton, The Avett Brothers, Grace Potter, and Colorado’s very own Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats will all make their way to the magical monoliths before the summer’s out.
Denver Botanic Gardens Summer Concert Series
And if you still haven’t found the right outdoor venue for perfect musical enjoyment, the Summer Concert Series at the Denver Botanic Gardens might be just your kind of thing. Situated smack in the middle of one of the nation’s most revered botanic gardens, groups like Guster, José Gonzalez, Marc Cohen, and Keb’ Mo’ will serenade you as you sit on the grass and enjoy the ambience of this distinct setting. (Bonus: you can bring your own food and drink to the York Street gardens, so prepare your picnic baskets!)
The Underground Music Showcase presented by The Denver Post
There’s nothing quite like experiencing The Underground Music Showcase (UMS) for yourself. This 4-day festival takes over just about every venue on South Broadway in the Baker neighborhood, even expanding into “unofficial” showcases in backyards and on rooftops. Primarily focused on “underground music” you’ll find smaller bands from across the US performing throughout the weekend. Don’t let the unfamiliarity scare you, the atmosphere of this showcase is unlike anything else our city offers, and is certainly worth the experience alone. A complete four-day pass is a mere $55 dollars, and gives you access into the main festival grounds behind the Goodwill on Archer St. and all other official venues. From July 28 - 31, take the time to wander into a sushi shop or boutique hosting a stage, and be prepared to discover your next favorite band.
Riot Fest Denver
Lace up your combat boots, throw on your leather jacket, and set your mohawk: Riot Fest returns to Denver for its 4th year in the Mile High City. The Chicago festival first partnered with local promoter Soda Jerk Presents to bring its carnivalesque atmosphere to May Farms out in Byers in 2013. After legal shenanigans and one year in Mile High Stadium’s parking lot, Riot Fest has finally found its home here in Colorado at the National Western Complex. Shifting from the carnival theme of Chicago to embrace the “rodeo” aspect of its new location, Riot Fest’s carnival rides, a bucking bronco, and five stages means there’s nary a dull moment during this three-day festival. In 2016 Denver will see performances from Death Cab for Cutie, NAS, Deftones, Fitz & The Tantrums, Underoath, Motion City Soundtrack (their farewell performance), and the original Misfits reuniting for the first time in decades. This punk-rock carnival hits Denver September 2-4, 2016. http://riotfest.org/denver/
– by Maddie Casey
A connoisseur of all things music, you can usually find this tiny blonde in the crowd (or behind the merch booth) at nearly any concert all year round. She’s a community manager who loves getting to know her communities through engaging content, bad jokes, and adorable Red Panda gifs.