Archive for June, 2008
This is a full page I wrote for The Oredigger’s summer issue in 2008. It was part of an issue sent to incoming freshman to get them informed about what living in Denver is really like.
The Denver music scene would not exist if it were not for the tireless efforts of bands, promoters, and venues. Most music venues in the mile high city are also historical landmarks, renovated with modern equipment, but still paying homage to their roots.
Among the bars and clubs of downtown sits an all ages venue that has played host to some of the hottest bands from across the country. The Marquis, a venue operated by promotions company Soda Jerk Presents, features a separate bar and pizzeria so that concertgoers of any age can have a good time. While the venue is rather small, especially when compared to other Denver music outlets, the intimate setting allows for fans experience bands in a way that is not possible at larger concert halls. Featured acts have included mewithoutYou, Sherwood, Saosin, and many other bands popular to the “MySpace generation.”
The Denver Center For The Performing Arts
Home to ten performance venues and over 10,000 seats, the Denver Center For the Performing Arts is one of the mile high city’s gems. Performances at the center occur every week and range from opera, to classical music, and even Broadway productions. Students at the Colorado School of Mines have been given opportunities to experience productions, such as Spamalot, and concerts by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at discounted prices. Whether you’re on a date, or just want to dress up for a show, the Denver Center For the Performing Arts is a classy venue for enjoying the finer parts of society and culture.
The Fillmore Auditorium
This historic venue on the hill has a colorful history and has played host to some of the world’s most famous acts. Built near the turn of the 20th century, the Fillmore underwent many changes until the current owners decided to model it after the famous San Francisco music venue. As one of the largest venues in Denver, the Fillmore has hosted the likes of Feist, Rise Against, Brand New, Motion City Soundtrack, and other bands that have become popular on both mainstream radio and television. Concertgoers should expect to pay more for tickets to Fillmore shows, but oftentimes the extra cost is worth seeing some of the most popular and innovative groups performing today.
Another historic venue on Capitol Hill, the Ogden was built in 1913, used for performances and movie showings until it went under new ownership in 1993. At that point the venue became a hot spot for concerts. The Ogden boasts an innovative theater design with balconies and a tiered main general admission area. Concerts are moderately priced and have featured the likes of Green Day, Ben Harper, Allman Brothers Band, Blink 182, Smashing Pumpkins, and the Goo Goo Dolls.
The golden age of cinema birthed the Gothic. During the 1920’s the theater served as a one of the main entertainment spots on southern Broadway. Similar to the Ogden and Fillmore, the Gothic switched uses and ownership several times before becoming what it is today. The mid-sized concert hall features balconies and a tiered main area (similar to the Ogden). Bands that have played the Gothic include indie legends Nada Surf and Built To Spill, in addition to Say Anything, Saves The Day, Lucero, Mute Math, Talib Kweli, and countless other up-and-coming acts.
Red Rocks Amphitheater
The ancient sandstone monoliths that form the natural amphitheater at Red Rocks have provided an awe-inspiring venue for musicians for over 100 years. The current configuration of Red Rocks came about when Franklin Roosevelt and his “New Deal” plan created the Civilian Conservation Corps, who developed the mountain area into a working performance center during the 1940’s. As one of the best outdoor venues in the world, Red Rocks has seen the likes of The Beatles, U2, The Fray, Muse, and many other historic acts. The 2008 concert season at Red Rocks includes the likes of Death Cab For Cutie and R.E.M. While tickets to Red Rocks shows usually start in the low $40 range, the park can be visited for free when there are no events happening.
In recent years the Denver music scene has become more prominent on a national and world level. While some Denver-based bands, like The Fray, have found mainstream success, there are countless other bands that are bound to be the “next big thing.”
The fresh faced musicians that compose The Heyday play in a fashion that is similar to The Format or Limbeck. While they have not hit national charts or mainstream radio yet, The Heyday have toured extensively and worked hard to develop their upbeat sound. Dave Hererra, music editor for Denver’s entertainment magazine Westword called the band “the next generation Fray” after only a handful shows. With ambitious plans of touring all summer in support of their newly released self-titled album, The Heyday are on their way to spreading their fun-filled concert experience across the country.
“There’s A War Going On For Your Mind,” the first track on the Flobots breakthrough record Fight With Tools, showcases the group’s socially conscious approach to hip hop. With a fresh mix of guitars, horns, and lyrics, this group has recently caught the attention of major record label Universal Republic Records. Their song “Handlebars” has seen national mainstream radio play and they regularly sell out shows across the country. However, the Flobots have not let success change their cause. From www.flobots.com, “Not only did they [Universal Republic Records] want to release Fight With Tools untouched, but they were excited to help us continue to integrate music, activism, and community-building.” The Flobots have definitely put Denver on the map for hip hop, a sentiment echoed by Chuck D. from group Public Enemy. “We played Boulder, CO,” said Chuck D., “the opening band were a great group named the Flobots who, along with some great musicianship and rhyme flow, set the stage well with political commentary.”
One part Lil Jon, another part Beastie Boys, 3OH!3 have brought their unique style of crunk-rap and hip-hop to Denver. The duo, composed of Matt Motte and Sean Foreman got their start in Boulder, but have branched out nationally and will be appearing on the 2008 Warped Tour. Their tunes are catchy and entertaining, while their beats are excellent for dancing or partying. Although their style of music might seem like a better fit in a city such as Atlanta, they have found a solid fan base in Denver. Perhaps part of their success has been their ability to turn heads and cause people to stop and listen. 3OH!3 have a self-titled album to their credit and a creative hand signal that represents the Denver area code.
The Photo Atlas
In recent years, experimental dance music has become increasingly popular part of the Denver music scene. Leading this movement is a group of four guys who call themselves The Photo Atlas. A blend of Bloc Party and At The Drive-In, The Photo Atlas have played national tours and festivals in support of their album No, Not Me, Never available from Stolen Transmission Records. Most recently, The Photo Atlas played at the Bamboozle Festival in New Jersey and SXSW in Austin, Texas. This summer they are going on tour again, but will return to Colorado for the Monolith Festival at Red Rocks in September.
While Single File got their start in Denver, they almost gave up music all together. While the three members of Single File were in high school they began playing music together as a jazz trio. However this didn’t last and soon enough they had moved to separate parts of the country to pursue their own interests. However, they reunited in 2003 and branched out in a new direction. Single File brought their unique brand of pop-punk to CSM in 2007, during the E-Days Concert. At that point they were beginning to break out. Soon after they signed a record deal with Reprise Records and released their EP No More Sad Face. With their EP and hit song “Zombies Ate My Neighbors,” Single File are going on the road this summer with the Warped Tour.
Fear Before The March of Flames
While the Denver music scene has seen quite a bit of change along with new sounds and acts, one thing has remained constant: quality hardcore music. Through the years Denver has shown itself to be a place that loves the heavy hitting sound of hardcore musicians, but has also been a major player in the post-hardcore and experimental scenes. Bands such as Fear Before The March of Flames have become a nationally successful the post-hardcore post-hardcore band. They have released three albums on Equal Vision Records and toured with the likes of Poison The Well, Saosin, The Blood Brothers, and Bear Vs. Shark. Their sound is a mix of heavy guitars and heavier vocals. Live, Fear Before The March of Flames can get an entire venue moving with moshing and head-banging in a fashion that is reminiscent of some of the first punk and hardcore bands.