25 reasons the Denver music scene rules

05. People here will take you as seriously as any band from out of town
Around here, a lot of people get just as excited -- if not more -- about bands like Speedwolf and Havok as they do Metallica. And for good reason: Those bands totally kick ass, and you wanna know what? When you think about it, Metallica is really just a local band from San Francisco.

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JAWBREAKER PHOTOGRAPHY
DJ Ishe
04. You have a legitimate shot at opening for a national act
That last sentiment perhaps explains why you frequently see local acts opening for bigger national acts -- and, in some cases, even outshining them. The reason is simple: The folks making music here are no joke and can completely hold their own. Ask Skrillex about the time Ishe opened for him at Beta.

03. You have a legitimate shot at performing at Red Rocks
It's no secret that entire tours are planned around performing at Red Rocks. Many artists view playing there as a career-defining achievement -- and it is. You have to rise to a certain level of prominence to play there, and some may never scale that peak. Yet every summer, a select few local bands get the privilege of playing in front of a sold-out audience at Film on the Rocks.

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Eric Gruneisen
Rachel & the Kings at this year's Hometown for the Holidays concert

02. The radio will actually play your songs
Oh, here's the other unique thing about Denver. If your songs are good enough, there's a better-than-average chance that you'll get to hear your songs played on the radio, either on a weekly specialty show or maybe even in regular rotation if you make the cut during KTCL's annual Hometown for the Holidays promotion, in which ten local bands are guaranteed airtime every year just before Christmas. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

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Jon Solomon

01. We take care of our own
While there are stories on the news virtually every day that continue to erode your faith in humanity, for every inexplicable act of senseless cruelty, there's heartwarming story after heartwarming story of how the people in our music community have set aside their differences and come together to help one of their own, whether it's raising money to help pay for medical expenses (see Jim Norris or Karen Cuda benefits) or simply reaching out when someone else is down or in need after a harrowing loss (see wildfire benefits).






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70 comments
Jami Duffy
Jami Duffy

I would add Youth On Record to the list. We employ - meaning PAY - local musicians to teach in the most underserved high school classrooms in Denver. 20+ locals are currently working for us. They're teaching their craft, educating the next generation of musicians and making enough money to keep doing what they love. :)

Bernard Saujon
Bernard Saujon

Anyone want to colaborate?www.bartholomewvanderhorne.com

Riley Rukavina
Riley Rukavina

There is still waaaayy to many groups that work hard and create incredible music with no recognition or chances to further their reach. Honesty denver loves generic crap

ZetaKaye House
ZetaKaye House

Can agree with almost all of these, sir. Even a year later... Ha! Hey! Thanks for the mention too!

Cory Evertz
Cory Evertz

crappy auto text piece of shit..sorry for the words being changed from what I meant to say

Cory Evertz
Cory Evertz

This is good news, but being a recording artist trying to start a business, I have to compete with studios that have worked way more equipment. Either way, Colorado is where I wanna be...loving those mountains and we have goid folks. Buying some weed legally is cool as F $ck!

M Matthew Eizenga
M Matthew Eizenga

So many start here and get shit on that they leave. Laying out here for 10 years, proves that The Fray and The lumineers didnt 'make it here' they left and made it in spite of Denver.

Hayley Blattner
Hayley Blattner

I'm not yet convinced that it rules. I'm talking about local acts only & The Lumineers don't count. Give me your top 5 local alt-rock artist. (I'm in need of a good face melting, toe tapping time)

DanaCain7
DanaCain7

GREAT list, Dave!  Thanks so much for this. I'm gonna share the hell out of it.  <3


Ivan Gomez
Ivan Gomez

Yeah that's what you call creative writing...

Frank Catalfano
Frank Catalfano

Denver is going down with all that weed around ,mark my word

Kat Jaramillo
Kat Jaramillo

You people don't know a sad scene. Come to Albuquerque. Denver rocks!!!!

York Hill
York Hill

You're listening to the wrong music then

Nathan Dant
Nathan Dant

Denvers scene sux, I dont know what youre smokin.

Ben Lewis
Ben Lewis

Didn't mention the punk or hardcore scene. Or 7th circle. Or the office space.

Patrick Layman
Patrick Layman

@Dave Herrera You try way too hard. Yes, 2 of 5 golden rules of marketing/ communication 101 is both non-alienating your audience and welcoming subcultures that would normally feel unwelcome but if you're going to do this... please, do it with sincerity. For example, back up one of your bullet points with an example instead of mentioning 2-3 band names and pretending that the name drop alone explained your point. So you know, it didn't.

Megan Sabella
Megan Sabella

Lived in DC, Nashville, Orlando, NYC, San Francisco, LA and boston and Denver tops them all when it comes to music, hands down!

Ryan Mcmichael
Ryan Mcmichael

Definitely the "420 friendly" venues. For those of use that don't drink or only can have a couple drinks because we have to drive, being allowed to get completely ripped during a show is greatly appreciated.

goat4
goat4

Please allow me to add several more reasons Colorado rocks.... KAFM KBUT KCSU KDNK KRFC KUNC KGNU KDUR KOTO KVNF KUVO Radio 1190. Open Air 1340. All air decent amounts of CO music

Jennifer Underwood
Jennifer Underwood

Well our band from Colorado just won third place at the International Blues Competition in Memphis. Over 200 bands from all over the world competed. We got it going on here in Denver!

mspmidway
mspmidway

The Denver music scene rules?  When I think of amazing music scenes or in your words, scenes that rule (musicians, support, venues, etc...) cities like New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco and Austin come to mind.  Denver has a long way to go before it can be grouped with those cities.  As of right now, the Denver scene is where it should be for a city / metro this size.  BTW, I knew this article was a joke when the Fray and Lumineers (who aren't even from Denver) were mentioned. 

zach.pasdoe
zach.pasdoe

@Jennifer Underwood  Every metro area larger than Denver (I think there are 20) and several smaller metros (probably 20+) have it going on.  That said, there is really no reason to sit and thump our chests.

stokednco
stokednco

@mspmidway @mspmidwayI'm sorry but you haven't a clue what you are typing my hard rocking Amigo!  I've spent the last few years on the the west coast trying to find what Denver brings to the table and it's just not out there yo.  What makes this place a bedrock for music IMHO is the bluegrass scene and if you're not on board with that then I'm afraid I'm going to have to say goodnight.  Show me a place anywhere in the country that compares.  Show me a place that I can plan my entie year aound so many bands that I can see without even leaving the state? OK, this is about Denver but overall, String Cheese Incident, YMSB, Pretty Lights and EOTO just to name a few really decent and respectable bands are always in town in some form or antoher. 

robbygriswold
robbygriswold

@mspmidway I can second this I've lived in Denver my whole life and recently just moved to Austin. The author of this article should try getting out to some other cities.

dave.herrera
dave.herrera moderator editor

@robbygriswold@mspmidwayI've been to other cities, most of the ones you mention, in fact, and while I love Austin and some of those other places, I much prefer to live here. But, listen, while we're on the subject, what, specifically, makes you think those other places are so vastly superior to Denver? Eager to hear your opinion.

dave.herrera
dave.herrera moderator editor

@robbygriswold

In the interest of not further stoking the fires of what seems to have the potential to become an ad hominem exchange here, I'll try to offer a reasoned response to your points, rather than making broad, unfounded assumptions about you based on your assertions, as you appear to have with me.

Let's see, for starters, by "adventurous," I was referring to music fans here, whom are clearly willing to give unheralded acts a chance -- in this case, groups like DMB and Phish, which were both unknown and unproven quantities elsewhere when they gained a strong, grassroots foothold here -- as opposed to those specific acts themselves.

Just the same, while you could certainly make a viable argument that both of those acts were progressive in the own ways in the context of pop music at the time they came to prominence in the early '90s, to suggest that they're envelope pushers these days is not only silly and remiss, it's besides the point.

As far as my tastes are concerned: Considering that I never mentioned Pretty Lights or even got into specifics regarding my EDM inclinations, it's a bit baffling that you assume that my tastes are generic and/or lacking. There's truckloads of "progressive, truly adventurous music," as you put it, being made here:

To wit: There are no shortage of acts I'd consider to be progressive here, from Men of Burka and CacheFlowe to Rubedo and BLKHRTS, but perhaps more salient to this particular discussion, you can make a case for acts like EOTO, Big Gigantic, Project Aspect, Ieungliss or Yawn Tron making forward thinking electronic music, IMHO. Out of curiosity, what acts, specifically, do you consider to be progressive?

If you'd like to get a feel for my actual sensibilities, you're welcome to peruse my individual picks in our weekly Heavy Rotation feature; that should give you an apt feel for my current and recent proclivities.

Now, back to the original point, I'd love to hear your perspective on how and why these other cities are so vastly superior to Denver. What makes them so? Is it the caliber of talent, the infrastructure, the venues, what? Surely you can offer up at least a couple of concrete reasons -- I mean, I've listed two dozen. 

Eager to hear your take...

robbygriswold
robbygriswold

@dave.herrera I really can't get over the fact that you think Dave Matthews band is adventurous... what a joke! The dubstep scene is the most progressive in Denver but there is so much more to electronic music than that. As far as experimental forward thinking electronic music and hiphop Denver has a long way to go. If you think pretty lights is original or innovative you don't have a clue... ok I take it back maybe it's not you're lack of experience with other cities. You just have generic limited taste/knowledge of progressive truly adventurous music. Lol fucking Dave Matthews band... get out of here did you become a music journalist?

mspmidway
mspmidway

@dave.herrera Wait.  Now you want to discuss where one prefers to live?  

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