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Denver’s music scene is extensive. With venues stretching into the foothills and out to the Denver Tech Center, wherever you are in the city, rest assured, there’s a venue calling your name. To make things simpler, music experts at 303 Magazine have compiled this list of all the major Denver venues and separated them by neighborhood.
Opened in 1999 with a Celine Dion concert, Denver’s largest multi-purpose arena and music venue is located in the heart of Lower Downtown (LoDo) Denver. During the winter season, the Ball Arena is used mostly for sporting events (NBA's Denver Nuggets and NHL's Colorado Avalanche), but during the spring, summer and fall, expect to find some of the biggest names in music gracing the stage. Just a few minutes' walk from downtown, you can expect to enjoy good concession food, drinks aplenty or even a meal at one of three restaurants located inside the venue.
This is one of the more unusual venues you'll see. It doubles as a 488-person performance venue and immersive art experience. Throughout the year, local and national performers take the stage at ticketed events. But by day, during normal exhibition hours, The Perplexiplex becomes a "surreal arboretum that guests can discover and explore over the course of four scenes," thanks to the projection masters at Moment Factory.
LoDo’s Summit Music Hall has gone through an evolution this past couple of years. From hard-rock bookings to a thoroughfare of acts across a spectrum of genres and a large-scale renovation that just concluded last year, Summit has become a fantastic venue in the heart of the city. The 1,000-plus capacity venue can even accommodate smaller acts on the touring circuit in its accompanying offshoot, the Moon Room. There’s even a pizza place that serves hot slices throughout the night. What could be better?
A smaller counterpart to the nearby Summit Music Hall, the Marquis Theater is an intimate venue and pizza joint as well. The theater used to be known for its extensive punk and harder rock bookings, but in the past year or so, have extended itself to covering all genres. Also much like Summit, the Marquis is coming off a huge renovation that has opened the small theater into the versatile and intimate venue it is today.
No longer located on the stretch of Lincoln nearby Bar Standard and Temple Nightclubs, Dazzle, the age-old jazz club has found new life in the historic Baur’s Confectionery Building in downtown Denver. The venue, a hotspot for improvised music, has seen a resurgence of sorts to accompany its recent move, yet still holds the title of best jazz club in Denver across a range of publications. Fans of the genre often revel in the national and local upstarts that have made their way to the stage since the venue was conceived in 1998.
The former brothel turned restaurant and venue has, in recent years, become a major addition to Denver’s thriving music scene. Whether you’re catching a local band during a brunch performance or you find yourself tearing up on the venue’s bustling dance floor, Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox is always wired.
The Black Buzzard is a brand-new venue addition for Denver located in LoDo. Conjoined with Longmont-hailing Oskar Blues Brewing Co.’s Bar & Grill location, the Black Buzzard combines good tunes with good eats in an unfussy and uncomplicated manner.
Nights at the musician-owned and operated Herb’s in LoDo are riotous affairs. The wall-to-wall congregation of loyal clientele reel in the covers and originals of the many talented bands that hit the venue’s stage. With cheap drinks and loose crowd, it's always a memorable night at Herb’s.
The Paramount Theatre has been entertaining crowds since 1929 in downtown. From comedy routines to film festivals and from rock bands to Wurlitzer organ performances, there's no shortage of variety in its restored art deco setting. Former Broadway star Sarah Brightman, who was a member of the original cast of "The Phantom of the Opera," performed here recently.
Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom & The Other Side caters to a loyal demographic of jam, electronic and hip-hop fans. A former jazz staple that hosted the likes of Duke Ellington, the now meeting place for heady beat freaks has a nearly nightly hustle and bustle reminiscent of its days as a Denver jazz staple. The venue is paramount to finding a community in the local music scene.
The Roxy Theatre is a gritty, no-nonsense, cut your teeth type of venue. Primarily catering hip-hop of a million different shades, the Roxy Theatre is where you’ll find that particular niche that speaks to you, whether it's the Insane Clown Posse or the backpack rap of acts like Chris Webby.
The Capitol Hill neighborhood is known for good coffee shops, a plethora of fine restaurants to make any foodie swoon and awesome music venues. The Ogden Theatre is one such venue hosting anywhere from two to five shows per week. Located on East Colfax Avenue, this venue is general admission only, so make sure to get there early to find the perfect floor space. Offering an eclectic mix of genres and near-constant sell-out attendance, the Ogden is by and large one of Denver’s most essential venues.
Located one block down from the Ogden Theatre, the lush Fillmore Auditorium is the biggest venue in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Stunning chandeliers dot the ceilings of the expansive space that caters everything from high-production EDM shows to hip-hop blowouts. With a giant main floor surrounded by an upper level facing the stage, this is another general admission venue, holding upward of 3,700 concertgoers and offering lots of room to dance and enjoy a show.
Heavy electronic music has a home in Cap Hill’s Black Box. The almost nightly rotation of abrasive and bass-forward DJs and electronic acts have guaranteed an almost non-stop shaking of the block into the early morning hours. The Black Box has curated a community of like-minded individuals headbanging and upheaving their bodies to the metallic destruction of the small bar and venue.
Name aside, Your Mom’s House is actually the spot to be if you want to dive into the unknown of its hodgepodge mix of genres. Through the clouds of smoke lingering at its front, the dive aesthetic is only made more pertinent with the cast and characters enjoying a night out at the perpetually random Cap Hill venue.
The multi-level Club Vinyl is one of Denver’s most cherished clubs. From their rooftop LGBT dance parties to the diverse array of national and local DJs who light a blaze on the dance floor night after night, Club Vinyl is a high-wire destination for a high flying night out.
Low-frequency beats and full-throttle euphoria overflows from the neon daydream that is Temple Nightclub. Reminiscent of a spaceship, this club is a full-blown production rolling on high-octane EDM. Featuring three unique dance spaces within, the relatively new club will make a night out at the club into an experience.
Dark and tastemaking, Bar Standard is a venue on the cutting edge of electronic music. An absurd array of club music breaks ground in the venue, as well as the occasional live band performance when the time befits it. One thing that’s constant, however, is the crowd's unambiguous reception and determination to cut upon its long dancefloor until the early hours of the morning, night after night.
Built back in 1913, the Bluebird Theater was originally a movie house before being redone in 1994, reopening as the music mecca that we know today. Located on East Colfax and fronted by a not-to-be-missed neon style marquee, this venue is an intimate affair hosting emerging and steady touring acts alike. The 500-capacity tiered layout venue makes it so there are truly no bad views.
Punk rock and cheap beer collide at East Colfax’s Lion’s Lair. The dive bar locale is a local favorite ushering in the good old-fashioned, hard-hitting rock for years. The only thing sharper than the gnashing of guitars and drums may be the spikes adorning some of these rockers' leather jackets.
Located on East Colfax, Lost Lake is a hotbed of emerging local and national talent in a classic lounge capacity. Up close and personal with the artists who grace the stage, Lost Lake’s charm comes from experiencing something mostly unknown and walking away blown away.
The Gothic Theatre began, like the Bluebird, as a movie theater. It was even the first to show "talkies" in Denver in the 1920s. In 1998, the theater was renovated from top to bottom while keeping the historic interior intact. When it reopened its doors a year later, the Gothic made its mark once again now as a renowned music venue. The venue offers a lot of room for patrons to stand or sit and enjoy the show much like an Ogden Theatre counterpart. Like many other venues of this size, the Gothic covers a wide variety of music from indie to electronic, from rock to folk, and much, much more.
Broadway’s Hi-Dive right in the middle of the Baker neighborhood has been a launching pad for many local bands over the years. The independent venue’s modest stage and bar have created some of the tightest fan connections that have stood the test of time, and propelled many acts to the bigger stages of Dever and beyond. Grabbing a ticket and standing in line to enter could mean catching the next big thing before they really kick off.
Once a shot-and-beer lounge for blue-collar workers, Herman’s Hideaway became Denver’s longest-running live music venue. Having hosted Phish’s first Denver show and on to hometown bands like the Fray, Herman’s Hideaway was a gateway to local music and spoke to the Denver scene like few venues had before it. Nowadays, Herman’s Hideaway is still independent and resolute in their support for the local music scene and the artists that make it what it is.
While Tennyson Street is going through a renaissance of sorts, the street located in northwestern Denver, has long been home to the historical Oriental Theater. Built in 1927, the theater operated for 40 years before closing its doors, only to reopen in 2005 as a live music venue. The theater has since hosted a number of acts across genres and endured several large scale renovations, and most recently had a massive mural stretch across the entirety of the theater commissioned by Meow Wolf and completed by Denver’s own Rumtum.