April 6, 2018

Denver’s Music Scene Tops the Charts This Summer

Denver, Colorado | RoadGuides.com

Home to Red Rocks Amphitheatre – a bucket list venue for musicians and music lovers alike, and Rolling Stone’s “best outdoor concert venue” in the nation – Denver has always been an iconic music destination. The Mile High City boasts intimate theaters, multiple stadiums, clubs, outdoor stages and more; and this summer, the music lineup is stacked with brand new festivals, international superstar headliners and original events – putting music at the forefront of the reasons to visit Denver this season.

“Denver has been home to an incredible music scene for quite some time – the first concert at Red Rocks was in 1906,” says Richard Scharf, president and CEO of VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Locally, Denver has such creative talent – seen in bands that originated here, like One Republic, the Lumineers, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Earth, Wind & Fire and more – and national and international acts come to Denver to play our small stages, our stadiums and our festivals. During the summer especially, there is live music to be found almost daily in nearly every part of the city.”

The recent announcement of Grandoozy – the newest festival from Superfly, the creators of Outside Lands and Bonnaroo – has catapulted Denver’s music scene to the same level as top music destinations. “With the addition of Grandoozy to our already spectacular music scene, Denver has officially come in to its own in the eyes of the music community; and it truly rivals some of the country’s most well-known music cities,” says Scharf.

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This year will also see the return of Velorama, the music festival connected to one of the largest U.S. pro cycling races, the Colorado Classic; the most robust Red Rocks Amphitheatre Summer Concert Series schedule ever; only-in-Denver events like Underground Music Showcase; and so much more. Below is just a sampling of the musical acts, festivals and events you can catch in Denver this summer. For more events and hotel deals, go to the VISIT DENVER website.

Festivals & Signature Events

  • Five Points Jazz Festival (May 19) – This free festival takes place the third Saturday of May and celebrates the history of Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. Once known as the Harlem of the West, Five Points was home to several jazz clubs which played host to many of jazz music’s legends such as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and many more. The festival features a diverse lineup of music – from Latin to blues to funk and many other styles of jazz.
  • Denver Day of Rock (May 26) – Denver Day of Rock is a free event that features five stages of live music along Denver’s 16th Street Mall on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend. Denver Day of Rock unites the community through music and family-friendly entertainment while also raising funds to support Amp the Cause, a Denver nonprofit that raises awareness about critical family issues and local charities. Headliners for 2018 include Elle King, Delta Rae, Dwayne Dopsie and The Zydeco Hellraisers, A Thousand Horses and Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers, among many other bands.
  • Denver PrideFest (June 16-17) – Recognized as one of the top 10 pride events in the country, Denver PrideFest is a free, two-day festival that takes place in Denver’s Civic Center Park. The weekend features activities and entertainment for adults, kids and pets – from a Dogs in Drag Parade and the annual Gay Pride Parade to the Big Gay 5K and three stages of music and cultural entertainment. Headliners and the full entertainment lineup will be announced in April.
  • Westword Music Showcase (June 23) – Westword Music Showcase, the largest single-day festival celebrating Denver’s music scene, will feature headliners Galantis and Bonobo, along with national acts The Front Bottoms, Joywave, Magic Giant and Sunflower Bean. There will also be dozens of other local acts, voted on by the concert goers.
  • Underground Music Showcase (July 26-29) – The Underground Music Showcase (UMS) takes place at more than 15 different venues and stages along South Broadway and features more than 400 local and national acts. Having grown from just 300 attendees for four bands at one theater, UMS is one of the best ways to experience Denver’s incredible live music scene. Lineup details will be announced soon.
  • Independence Eve (July 3) – Held in Denver’s Civic Center Park, the annual Independence Eve celebration features a free patriotic concert, an innovative light show on the Denver City & County Building and a stunning fireworks finale over the city.
  • Colorado Classic & Velorama Festival (August 16-19) – Professional bicycle racing returned to Colorado in 2017 with the Colorado Classic, a series of men’s and women’s races in three Colorado cities. This year, world-class pro teams will compete in circuit races in Vail and Denver – ending in The Mile High City on the final stages. In addition to the race, there will be a three-day music, beer and food festival in the River North (RiNo) Art District for spectators and athletes with performances by Glass Animals, Cold War Kids, Vince Staples and more.
  • A Taste of Colorado (August 31 – September 3) – This festival, held in Denver’s Civic Center Park and on the surrounding streets, highlights some of Colorado’s favorite food establishments – from ethnic specialties to traditional favorites, diners can enjoy full-sized or sample portions of their favorites throughout the festival. The festival also features live music, family-friendly activities and more; headliners will be announced later in the summer.
  • Grandoozy (September 14-16) – This September, Denver will host the first ever Grandoozy – the latest large-scale festival from Superfly, the producers of the wildly popular Outside Lands and Bonnaroo. Headliners include Kendrick Lamar, Florence + The Machine and Stevie Wonder, and the festival will also host The Chainsmokers, Logic, Sturgill Simpson, Miguel, Phoenix, Young the Giant, St. Vincent, The War on Drugs, Ty Dolla $ign, Kelela, Denver locals Tennis, and many more on multiple stages over weekend. Grandoozy will also showcase Denver’s local culture, culinary scene and love of the outdoors with multiple experiences throughout the festival grounds.
  • America’s Musical Journey (through December 31) – On the IMAX screen at Denver Museum of Nature & Science, experience the sounds of jazz, blues, zydeco and old-time country music, and see how they have shaped our nation’s distinctive musical heritage. In America’s Musical Journey, singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc takes viewers to vibrant places where American music was born, from New Orleans to New York City. Meet artists, music makers, and innovators who are shaping culture today with the creative risk-taking spirit that has always characterized America.

Highlighted Concerts

  • Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre Summer Concert Series – Recently named to the National Historic Register, Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre is a world-famous outdoor concert and recreation venue located approximately 30 minutes from Denver. Red Rocks is recognized for its star-studded concert roster, stunning scenery and ambience. Some of this year’s headliners have been announced, including X Ambassadors, Khalid, Elephant Revival, Vance Joy, Odesza, Dispatch, Widespread Panic and more. The full calendar for the Summer Concert Series and event schedules can be found online.
  • Levitt Pavilion – Located in the historic Ruby Hill Park, Levitt Pavilion opened in June 2017 to near immediate acclaim – the venue was named one of Billboard’s “20 Freshest Venues to Watch in 2018.” Focused on building community through music, Levitt Pavillion offers both free and ticketed concerts. The free concerts aim to cultivate local and independent acts; and this year’s shows include Tommy Emmauel, Della Mae, The Hillbenders, HONEYHONEY, Ripe and more. Ticketed events this summer include headliners Home Free, Robert Earl Keen and War & Tower of Power with guest and local Denver artist, Megan Burtt.
  • Denver Botanic Gardens Summer Concert Series – The Summer Concert Series at Denver Botanic Gardens’ York Street location brings sought-after artists to concert goers within an incredibly unique setting of thousands of blooming plants. This year’s series will feature top acts like the Violent Femmes, Melissa Etheridge, Amos Lee and more. Tickets are available through the Denver Botanic Gardens website.
  • Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre  – Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre hosts top touring bands in a unique, outdoor concert setting. This summer’s concert series will feature Paul Simon’s farewell tour, top country band Sugarland, Weezer, Dave Matthews Band, Poison and more.
  • Mile High Stadium – Mile High Stadium, home of the NFL’s Denver Broncos and MLL’s Denver Outlaws, will host several concerts this summer. On May 25, Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour will take the field with opening acts Camila Bello and Charli XCX. On June 30, Kenny Chesney will bring his Trip Around the Sun tour to Mile High Stadium, along with fellow country music superstars, Thomas Rhett, Old Dominion and Brandon Lay. On August 4, Luke Bryan’s What Makes You Country tour stops in Denver with Sam Hunt, Jon Pardi and Morgan Wallen.
  • Coors Field – Home of MLB’s Colorado Rockies, Coors Field has hosted a few summer concerts in between regular season games. This year, the downtown Denver stadium will host the Eagles’ 2018 North American Tour featuring Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band on June 28. Popular 80s rock bands, Def Leppard and Journey, will take the field on July 21.
  • Pepsi Center – Pepsi Center, which usually hosts games for the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NLL’s Colorado Mammoth, will host several international superstars. P!NK’s Beautiful Trauma World Tour with DJ KidCutUp will play on May 8. Vans Warped Tour, the final full cross country tour, will take over Pepsi Center grounds on July 1, bringing artists like 3OH!3, Pennywise, Reel Big Fish and more to multiple stages. The Juke Box Heroes Tour featuring headliners, Foreigner, alongside Whitesnake and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening, comes to Pepsi Center on July 24. Panic! At the Disco’s Pray for the Wicked Tour with Arizona and Hayley Kiyoko plays on August 7. Chris Stapleton will bring his All American Road Show to Pepsi Center on August 10. Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson: Twins of Evil will play The Second Coming Tour on August 20. Sam Smith will bring The Thrill of It All Tour to Denver on August 21. Rod Stewart and special guest, Cyndi Lauper, will play on August 22. To close out the summer concert season, Bruno Mars will return for his rescheduled 24K Magic World Tour stop with Cardi B on September 7.
  • Phish at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (August 31 – September 1)
    For three days over Labor Day Weekend, legendary jam band, Phish, will play three concerts at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Featuring unparalleled jam sessions and an always-entertaining live show, Phish will celebrate Labor Day with its devoted following from Denver and around the country for the seventh year in a row.

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Live Music Venues

On any given night, national and local acts take the stage at the myriad of clubs, lounges and venues throughout the city. From chic hotspots and jazz bars on Larimer Square and in LoDo (Lower Downtown) to intimate concert venues and energetic dance floors on Colfax, there is something for every genre and live music experience anyone may seek.

For more on Denver’s live music scene, including a rundown of hot local acts, shows at historic theaters, special events and a full music calendar, go to Visit Denver’s Music and Nightlife Page.