Reach for the heavens, because that’s where great live music is at. Yes, if you are looking for one of the most exciting and fastest-growing regions to see musicians perform in the United States, head up to the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado. Perched at exactly one mile (1,609 meters) above sea level, the city has seen a 22 percent growth in its music industry between 2011 and 2016, with the number of live music events more than doubling from 73 in 2010 to 154 in 2017. Denver’s scene has definitely outgrown its country music roots and now showcases an array of genres like rock, jazz, punk, and even electronica. So if you are tired of piped-in music at nightclubs, here are 10 live venues that would definitely provide a great sonic experience in Denver.
Theaters and concert venues
1. Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Any talk of Denver’s great live venues must start with its most celebrated one. The Red Rocks Amphitheatre, built in 1906, is an open-air venue surrounded by stunning sandstone outcroppings, located about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of Denver. The beautiful setting is matched by wondrous natural acoustics, and it is no wonder that top music acts such as U2, Depeche Mode, and Dave Matthews Band produced live recordings at this venue. Rolling Stone magazine rated Red Rocks as America’s best outdoor amphitheater, so try your hardest to secure tickets to see a concert here. Any show will be elevated into an unforgettable experience.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Address: 18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison, CO 80465
Website: Red Rocks Amphitheatre
2. Pepsi Center
From a celebrated outdoor venue to a dazzling indoor arena, the Pepsi Center is the place to go for the biggest music acts coming into Denver. Situated right in the heart of the city, the multi-purpose venue serves as a regular sports arena for Denver’s professional basketball, ice hockey, and lacrosse teams. But when the likes of Madonna, Bon Jovi, and Taylor Swift roll into town, the venue can host up to 20,000 fans eager to be entertained by these superstars. With state-of-the-art lighting and audio systems as well as comfortable seats for all, the Pepsi Center makes for a superb concert-going experience.
Address: 1000 Chopper Cir, Denver, CO 80204
Website: Pepsi Center
3. The Bluebird Theater
The problem that many mid-sized concert venues face is that concert-goers may find their views to the stage blocked if they are at the back of the floor. Which is why many old-time theaters are converted into live music venues nowadays as they offer tiered or balcony options, meaning that there is hardly a bad view wherever the fans are. The Bluebird Theater, located on Denver’s main thoroughfare road, is such a venue. Built in 1913, it was originally a movie house and then a notorious porno theater, before being redone in 1994 into its present incarnation as a top mid-size concert venue. It showcases a diverse line-up of musicians throughout the year, and its convenient location means there are plenty of dining and drinking options nearby.
The Bluebird Theater
Address: 3317 E. Colfax Avenue, 3F, Denver, CO 80206
Website: The Bluebird Theater
4. The Gothic Theatre
With its neon art-deco interiors, wide and inviting floor, as well as excellent views throughout, the Gothic Theatre rivals the Bluebird Theater as Denver’s premier mid-size venue. It is situated in the adjacent municipality of Englewood, but is just a 10-minute drive south of Broadway from Denver’s city center. Like the Bluebird Theater, it was once a theater in the 1920s showing “talkies” during the silent-film era and was renovated into its present state in 1998. Thankfully, the atmospheric interiors were retained, and it continues to host a great line-up of up-and-coming musicians from all kinds of genres.
The Gothic Theatre
Address: 3263 S. Broadway, Englewood, CO 80113
Website: The Gothic Theatre
5. The Fillmore Auditorium
Mention the word “Fillmore” to classic rock fans and see their eyes light up as they reminisce about the legendary live music venue in San Francisco which became the focal point of 1960s psychedelia and counterculture. Nowadays, Fillmore has become a national franchise, running concert venues all over the US, including this one in Denver. With decor reminiscent of the original Fillmore, this 3,700-seater venue has chandeliers, cocktail bars, and a huge main floor. With top music acts like Bob Dylan and Coldplay gracing its premises, this is one of the most prominent live venues in Denver. Be sure to arrive early and get a spot close to the stage though, as those at the back may have their views partially blocked.
The Fillmore Auditorium
Address: 1510 N Clarkson St, Denver, CO 80218
Website: The Fillmore Auditorium
Bars and clubs
6. The Soiled Dove Underground
If you are those who feel that huge concert arenas are soulless and prefer the intimacy of live music bars or clubs, then look no further than this interestingly-named venue found in the heart of the Lowry neighborhood. With a custom sound system and lighting rig not found anywhere else in Denver, the Soiled Dove Underground attracts quality acts from genres like rock, folk, bluegrass, and indie. The cabaret-style seats are laid out in three tiers in a semi-circle, and you are no more than 45 feet (13.7 m) away from the stage. The venue is on the same premises as the Tavern Lowry, and so dining as well as appetizers and cocktails are available to enjoy before or during the shows.
The Soiled Dove Underground
Address: 7401 E. 1st Avenue, Denver, CO 80230
Website: The Soiled Dove Underground
7. Ophelia's Electric Soapbox
The historic 1894 Airedale Building in heart of Denver, just a stone’s throw away from the Coors Field baseball ballpark, was once an infamous brothel, and now houses this gastropub cum gig venue. With a sunken stage that hosts live R&B, hip-hop, and jazz music, you can enjoy great food, cocktails and beer on the upper-level before heading down to the dance floor. Great food and great music–an unbeatable combination for a memorable night out in Mile High City.
Ophelia's Electric Soapbox
Address: 1215 20th Street, Denver, CO 80202
Website: Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox
8. The Grizzly Rose
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
While Denver’s music scene is far more diverse these days, it still retains its love for traditional country music. And when you talk about country music in Denver, the Grizzly Rose is where you should head. Where else can you enjoy great country music six nights a week, great BBQ meals at its in-house grill and bar, and get free dancing lessons on Wednesdays to brush up on your two-step? Not surprisingly, this award-winning institution is much beloved by the city residents, so put on your cowboy hats and join in the raucous fun at this sprawling nightclub just beside the Interstate 25 highway.
The Grizzly Rose
Address: 5450 N. Valley Highway, Denver, CO 80216
Website: The Grizzly Rose
9. Swallow Hill
Listen to great live music for a good cause. Swallow Hill is a non-profit music organization which has brought the community together through its outreach, school programs, and concerts since 1979. Located a few blocks away from the Gothic Theatre, this calm acoustic music haven showcases mainly folk and bluegrass musicians as well as Native American singer-songwriters.
Address: 5736, 71 E Yale Ave, Denver, CO 80210
Website: Swallow Hill
Without a doubt, this is the best place to go for jazz music in downtown Denver. Why? Because Dazzle has been rated as one of the top 100 jazz clubs in the world–yes, the world–by Downbeat, America’s top jazz magazine. Hosting the region’s best mix of local and national jazz talent, from avant-garde to big band and solo artists, Dazzle also has great food and drinks to go with the superlative music amid the intimate setting.
Address: 1512 Curtis Street, Denver, CO 80202
Great accompaniment to beautiful city
Whether you are a hardcore American music aficionado, or just looking for a great night of music, Denver has all bases covered when it comes to live venues featuring all genres of music. Overflowing with established acts as well as up-and-coming talents, Denver’s vibrant live scene is a great accompaniment to its beautiful outdoor setting beside the Rocky Mountains. The air may be a bit thinner in Mile High City, but it is always thick with the sweet sounds of music.
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