For a city of our size and cultural weight, Denver bustles with music venues. You’ve probably heard or been to few of them; the ineffable Red Rocks, the Ogden, the Fillmore etc. But, if you are perhaps a newbie to the Denver music scene or someone just looking to increase their knowledge of the multitude of venues in Denver, here’s a short overview of the numerous spaces to enjoy a show.
Large capacity venues:
The bigger the better right? These venues usually showcase the largest and most well-known acts coming to town. They offer great opportunities for seeing big artists with impressive stage design, but they lack the intimacy of smaller venues.
There’s really nothing to say here. It’s simply the best venue in the state and in a lot of people’s minds, one of the best in the world. Being outdoor means shows are submissive to the elements, but come rain or shine any show here is unlikely to disappoint.
The top visit for the biggest acts, for what Red Rocks gives us, the Pepsi Center takes away. It’s honestly a disappointing venue, but so are most stadiums. If given the choice over a Pepsi Center or Red Rocks show (they are usually around the same price, if not higher at the Pepsi Center) go for the Red Rocks show unless you have to see whoever is playing at the Pepsi Center.
Smaller than the Pepsi Center, 1st Bank offers some pretty fantastic shows, and the smaller size means a good view from almost any seat. The major drawbacks are its imposed 9 p.m. curfew, the parking situation and its distance from Denver, but it’s still better than the Pepsi Center.
Medium capacity venues:
Big acts and smaller ones alike fill out these venues, while not holding the grandeur of Red Rocks, most popular acts not big enough for a stadium tour play in these spaces.
This Colfax landmark has seen a lot of great acts come through, and it’s a pretty fantastic historical auditorium. The auditorium is an interesting design due to the deep floor from its time as a roller-skating rink, making the entire GA section basically a pit. There’s also great elevated seating.
Located on the same stretch of Colfax as the Fillmore and the smaller Bluebird, the Ogden is a perfect mid size venue that emphasizes closeness to the artist and intimacy. The theater, like all the others on Colfax breathes history with its fantastic architecture and decor.
Just a few minutes south of Denver, the Gothic provides space for smaller acts than the Ogden and Fillmore but is maybe the most beautiful of Denver’s old theaters. A renovated movie theater, the Gothic abounds in beautiful art-deco vintage looks, and its colorful, psychedelic interior is the perfect space for musical excellence.
Small capacity venues:
Big concerts are fun, but maybe the best shows take place in the small sweaty rooms of performance spaces in the city.
An old porn theater, the Bluebird’s historical Colfax location directly contrasts the bigger venues that surround it. It’s perfect for intimate shows from out of towners and local acts alike. Its beautiful blue neon lights shine bright like a musical beacon on Colfax.
This indie mecca provides perhaps the best space for local and small touring acts in the city. The beer stained wooden stage hosts loud and proud shows that alight the section of Broadway the venue encompasses.
This north Denver haunt is a haven for local and national punk, alternative and rap acts. It’s a tight, intimate space that hosts some of the wildest and most energetic shows in the city.
A simple, aesthetically pleasing space on Colfax, Lost-Lake is a great bar with small but impressive stage that attracts both local and national acts. Its outdoor patio space is perfect for an after-show beer or a post crowd cool down.
While not located near Denver, Mishawaka is one of the most unique spaces in all of Colorado. Located north of Fort Collins, this small outdoor stage, which is located directly along the Poudre river (you can literally kayak to it) provides an impressively enjoyable outdoor music experience. The venue feels quite secluded when you’re there due to the lack of parking. Hosting a variety of acts (indie-band Hippocampus and genre-less bass-maistro Thundercat have played in the last year), catching a show here is a measure of luck and privilege.