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Looking to rock out in The Mile High City? Here's a look at some of your options. Air guitar is encouraged.
Old-school record stores are not as plentiful as they once were, but Twist and Shout still stands tall as the Denver music aficionado's retail destination of choice. This sprawling E. Colfax Ave. store offers thousands of CDs, new and used vinyl, music books, and a helpful (not at all snobby), ridiculously knowledgeable staff. Spend an hour or two browsing for an old or new favorite. Also check Twist and Shout's schedule for special in-store performances by big name acts!
Rock fans know that some of the best music isn't made at sports stadiums in front of thousands. The best shows are often performed in tiny clubs for smaller crowds. The Hi-Dive on South Broadway is the place to catch the hippest bands, ranging from cult favorites to local heroes. Grab a locally brewed beer at the bar, find yourself a spot near the stage and enjoy some raw rock 'n' roll.
The 16th Street Mall location of the Hard Rock Cafe features all kinds of great rock memorabilia, along with plenty of delicious grub. The restaurant is easy to find — just look for the 20-foot neon guitar.
Every rock fan should see at least one show at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre, an acoustically perfect outdoor venue set amidst 300-foot-tall red sandstone monoliths. Over the years, The Beatles, U2 (who recorded a wildly popular live album here), Phish, Dave Matthews, Neil Young and hundreds more have rocked Red Rocks under the stars. The summer concert season runs from May to September -- but even if you can't make it to a show, check out the Performers Hall of Fame (open year-round), featuring photos, video and memorabilia from Red Rocks' past.
The largest indoor general-admission venue in Denver, the Fillmore Auditorium on Colfax and Clarkson has only been known as the Fillmore since 1999. But its rock roots go much deeper than that. Originally built as a skating rink in 1907, the building hosted a virtual who's who of psychedelic rock in the late 1960s — Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Who and The Grateful Dead all blew the roof off here. Today, you can catch an act just hitting its stride, or an intimate performance by a legend such as Bob Dylan or Elvis Costello. Be sure to take a little time to take in the photographs covering the walls, capturing the Fillmore's incredible performers in full flight.
Another cool Colfax rock venue, the Bluebird is a favorite among in-the-know Denver music fans. From the stylish marquee outside to the laid-back ambiance inside, the 1913-built theater inspires musicians to give their best performances. The theater is laid out in tiers with an above-it-all balcony overlooking the entire space.
Each May, Downtown Denver is is transformed into a massive, free rock concert where 25 bands take to five stages for the annual Denver Day of Rock. The performance areas are along the 16th Street Mall, Denver's mile-long pedestrian promenade, making it easy to roam from act to act. Food and beverage booths are set up throughout downtown for the event (which benefits Amp the Cause, a Denver charity), with free music rocking the city well into the night.
Denver's very own version of Austin's South By Southwest Music Festival (SXSW), the Underground Music Showcase takes over the streets and stages of South Broadway for a multi-night extravaganza featuring the cream of Denver's underground music scene. This year, 400 local and national bands will play in 20 venues for more than 15,000 music lovers over four days and nights. Live music fans can stroll from club to club and stage to stage, catching the city's rising stars before the rest of the world hears about them.