Well, it’s that time of year again. For any social media-conscious adult, mid-April marks the sacred season of convincing yourself that Coachella is lame and overhyped, and that this will be THE year that you successfully repress the bubbling FOMO it brings. From around now until the end of September-ish (or even October at Red Rocks), you’ll also have at least one conversation with an (unknowingly) racially-insensitive friend about how wearing a headdress as a fashion statement is a bad idea; a maddening choice between a mid-June pilgrimage to Manchester, Tennessee, or wedding for someone who you only kind of like; and at least a few of your more basic friends lecturing you on their newfound appreciation for crystals after a week at Black Rock City (a.k.a. Burning Man). That’s right, folks: it’s festival season. However, you don’t have to go to the far reaches of the country to enjoy all that festival season has to offer. Colorado has more than its fair share of world-class music festivals this summer, so why don’t you just sleep in your own bed (or take a short drive), and support the local music festival economy? Let’s look at a few…
Telluride Bluegrass Festival
You want to know the true mark of an iconic, industry-dominating music festival? When the website for the festival is literally just the genre of music with a .com at the end. Granted, Bluegrass.com has more than just the Telluride Bluegrass Festival (clearly there’s a bit of mafia-esque collusion amongst the bluegrass elite), but Telluride is the golden egg of Bluegrass.com. Why? Because it’s an amazing festival in a certifiably amazing part of our fine state. Even if you don’t particularly fancy the sound of banjos or choruses of enthusiastic stepparents, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful environment in which to see live music. Plus, to be honest, the lineup actually looks super sick—banjos or not.
DATES: June 15-18
LINEUP HIGHLIGHTS: Brandi Carlile, Norah Jones, Dispatch, Yonder Mountain String Band, Bela Fleck, Jason Mraz
Van's Warped Tour
Oh yes, Warped Tour is still a thing—and a strong thing at that. If you ever went through a diagonally-parted-hair-and-Taking-Back-Sunday phase, you probably have a complicated emotional relationship with Warped Tour (and rightfully so). Somewhere along the line, you switched valuable heart real estate from Andrew McMahon and Chris Carrabba over to Father John Misty and Thom Yorke. Sure, you grew up—and that’s fine—but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy listening to a little Hawthorne Heights every now and again. And, that’s exactly what you can do on Sunday, June 25th, since Hawthorne Heights is actually on the lineup this year. Unlike most music festivals, this one is a one-day-and-done slam-dancing good time, so instead of going to the farmer’s market and being a boring adult all Sunday, head to the Pepsi Center and get all nostalgic-like. Just please, for the love of God, stretch before you enter the Hatebreed pit. We promise that while you’re Alkaline Trio tee may still fit just like it used to, your millennial bones aren’t as durable as they used to be—and nothing ruins a Monday morning in the office like the aftermath of a high-schooler’s accidental elbow to the ribs.
DATE: June 25
LINEUP HIGHLIGHTS: Gwar, Municipal Waste, Hawthorne Heights, Streetlight Manifesto, The Ataris, Valient Thorr, Goldfinger, CKY, AntiFlag
Global Dance Festival
For the past several years, Red Rocks has been the home of Global Dance Festival Colorado, a synchronous hive mind locked together by a series of four on-the-floor kick drums and wub sounds. It’s without a doubt the biggest summer dance party, and always plays host to some of the world’s most important International DJs across the EDM and bass music spectrum. However, like all budding raves, sometimes you grow out of your furry knee-high boots, and must upgrade to a slightly bigger pair. In the case of Global Dance Festival, it’s finally time to say goodbye to Colorado’s most iconic concert venue, and say hello to Sports Authority Stadium at Mile High. So, as one might assume, this year’s Global Dance Festival is going to be bigger, louder, and more stimulating than ever before. Who’s bringing the party this year? Well, we don’t know until next Wednesday, but we can hardly contain our excitement.
DATES: July 21-22
LINEUP HIGHLIGHTS: Announcement coming April 19 (!!!)
Underground Music Showcase
As Denver locals, our personal favorite is the Underground Music Showcase, or UMS. Every year, Denver descends into a certifiably raucous street fair, and all of your favorite bars, restaurants, and places you never thought you’d step foot into become venues for your soon-to-be new favorite band(s). Some might say that it’s Denver’s version of a certain Austin-based music festival, but as SXSW becomes more and more of an international hot spot and corporate juggernaut, the UMS retains its local grit while pulling in a couple of sizable bands that you won’t want to miss. If you love local music, and have any desire to see 30 bands in a single day, then our very own UMS is right up your alley.
DATES: July 27-30
LINEUP HIGHLIGHTS: A million bands (TBD)
Finally, this thing...
Did we miss any? Which Colorado-based festivals are at the top of your list?