Best Of Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Light Entertainment

    Garner Galleria Theatre

    The Garner Galleria is the place to sit back with a drink in hand, ease off your shoes under your seat and catch some laughs.

  • Best Bathroom Decor in a Theater

    Vintage Theatre

    Someone at Vintage Theatre is doing wonders with the women's bathroom.

  • Best Cozy and Funky Theater

    Avenue Theater

    The venerable Avenue Theater has undergone some changes recently, but it's still the place to go for funny, and it's still as warm, grungy, unpretentious and welcoming as ever, with the booze flowing freely among happily lubricated audience members.

  • Best Boundary-Pushing Theater in the Suburbs

    Edge Theater Company

    Two recent shows at the Edge Theater were the profanity-laced The Motherfucker With the Hat and Cock, a triangle involving two gay guys and a woman.

  • Best Theater for the Young, Hip and Curious

    Buntport Theater

    There's nothing like Buntport's work anywhere else in Colorado.

  • Best Theater for Contemporary Drama

    Curious Theatre Company

    Several local companies make a point of producing new works, either frequently or on an occasional basis. But Curious Theatre Company is at the forefront here.

  • Best Snacks at the Theater

    Colorado Shakespeare Festival

    Sparkling, creative shows should be paired with creative eats for those of us who like to nibble at intermission — not ancient Kit Kat bars and stale chips.

  • Best Theater for a Good Cause

    Barth Hotel

    We guarantee you've never experienced theater like this before.

  • Best Big Musicals at Small Prices

    Town Hall Arts Center

    This isn't New York City, but the ticket prices for musicals are still high in Denver and can leave you stranded in the farthest reaches of a cavernous house.

  • Best Theater Export

    Enrique's Journey

    Su Teatro's Tony Garcia widened the scope of his work as a playwright with his 2011 collaboration with journalist Sonia Nazario on a play based on her well-received account of the Honduran migrants who ride atop trains in dangerous company in search of the promise of a better life in El Norte.

  • Best Young Theater Company

    Black Actors Guild

    "Doin' the most" is the motto of the Black Actors Guild — and its members live that out, mounting plays and multi-disciplinary performances weekly, and hosting and organizing regular improv and standup nights year-round.

  • Best Movie Theater — Programming

    Sie FilmCenter

    In an age of on-demand domination and overwhelming options, it's a pleasure to wander into this cozy film mecca and find a manageable mix of fresh new programming to choose from.

  • Best Movie Theater — Food/Drink

    Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

    Watching a film and taking in a meal is the bread and butter of the Alamo Drafthouse, and its menu is still the best for food and drink in the dark.

  • Best Movie Theater — Comfort

    Sie FilmCenter

    You don't often think about the comfort of your favorite movie house until the action on the screen shifts your focus to the pain in your back or just how close that popcorn-gobblin' stranger is to you at a sold-out show.

  • Best Mini-Film Festival

    Voices: Women + Film Festival

    For the past half-decade, Tammy Brislin has overseen nearly every aspect of this growing women's film festival, which each year brings bigger movies, more star power and plenty of discussion to the table as a great way to honor National Women's Month.

  • Best Film Festival

    Stanley Film Festival

    As cozy as the hamlet of Estes Park but as huge and foreboding as the hotel it is named after, the Stanley Film Festival is the right festival at the right place and time.

  • Best Cinema on Wheels

    Davey B. Gravey's Tiny Cinema

    David B. Weaver thinks small. His project-in-a-trailer, Davey B. Gravey's Tiny Cinema, seats four at a time for 8mm screenings and rolls to wherever the action is — from the Boulder Outdoor Cinema to the Starz Denver Film Festival — to entertain guests with silent films and live ukulele accompaniment by Weaver, who dresses in vaudevillian garb.

  • Best Way to See a Classic Flick

    Esquire Theatre

    A little-known secret about the Esquire, the beloved arthouse at Sixth and Downing, is that it has always housed one of Denver’s largest movie screens, which makes it the perfect place — with the help of the theater’s specialty film series — to catch up on some of the great Cinemascope classics of yore or just any larger-than-life movie that will make you say, “They sure don’t make ’em like they used to.”

  • Best Accompaniment for a Silent Film

    Paul Buscarello

    Musical wunderkind Paul Buscarello has a way with improvising fresh, unique scores for some of cinema’s silent classics, and he’s reinvigorated such gems as The Phantom Carriage and Pandora’s Box with a young sound that polishes the dust right off the screen. His talents aren’t tied to a specific venue...

  • Best Place to See a New Local Film

    Movie Night at Glob

    John Golter brings great local shorts and feature films to light at Glob — a DIY superspace and performance venue — once a month. This fresh series has heralded some quiet geniuses, serving as a great place for amateur filmmakers to work through their burgeoning visions with the help of...

  • Best Colorado Film That Doesn't Overdo Colorado

    The Frame

    For some reason, many Colorado filmmakers tend to render their work dull by framing our city's landmarks and scenic vistas in ways that distract from the narrative at hand and feel more like tourism promos.

  • Best Colorado History Documentary

    Neal Cassady: The Denver Years

    Director Heather Dalton put seven years of loving care into the film Neal Cassady: The Denver Years, an in-depth look at the manic Beat icon's early days as a boy on Denver's skid row and his less-publicized life as a family man.

  • Best Science-Fiction Film Curation

    Science Friction

    What happens when a Hugo Award-winning writer and a Denver Comic Con co-founder join programming forces?

  • Best Bloodthirsty Film Host

    Theresa Mercado

    Horror films certainly get their due in Denver, but no one screens or curates them as lovingly as Theresa Mercado.

  • Best Party-Starting Film Host

    Megan Miles

    It takes a quick wit and a steady hand to lead one of the beloved Quote-Alongs or '80s Sing-Along Dance Parties at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.

  • Best New Festival

    Collaboration Fest

    Craft brewing differs from many other industries in that rather than fighting each other for customers, beer makers typically offer assistance and advice to their would-be competitors.

  • Best Annual Festival

    PrideFest

    Over two big, well-done days each June, PrideFest brings all of Denver together in the correct way by offering just the right wares, foods and a whole lot of entertainment throughout Civic Center Park.

  • Best Free Entertainment

    People-Watching at Union Station

    The idea doesn't sound that good on paper: Take one part bus station, one part LoDo bar and one part trendy restaurant row and smash them together under the hundred-year-old ceilings at Union Station.

  • Best New Comedy Show

    Chain Reaction Comedy Night

    Nestled into a particularly sparse corner of the Athmar Park neighborhood, Chain Reaction Brewing isn't an obvious venue for comedy.

  • Best Comedy Open Mike

    The Matchbox

    Usually attended only by nervy fledgling standups and neighborhood inebriates who resent the incursion, open-mike nights often have the feel of a glum joke workshop — which is why emcee Kevin O'Brien likes to mix things up, kicking off each comedy open mike at the Matchbox with a throaty rendition of "America the Beautiful."

  • Best Free Comedy Show

    Too Much Fun

    Too Much Fun is a success story years in the making. By creating a bridge between the local comedy and music scenes (both of which have a fair bit of overlap with the service industry), the Fine Gentleman's Club has achieved the impossible dream of hosting a successful weekly comedy show for free.

  • Best Comedy Night

    Lucha Libre & Laughs

    Most comedy shows thrive on simplicity: a stage, a stool and a microphone.

  • Best Comedy Club

    Comedy Works Downtown

    Comedy thrives in dark rooms with low ceilings. At Comedy Works' historic downtown location, the generally cocktail-besotted crowd is tightly packed into the venue's cozy showroom; once the lights darken, they become an anonymous mob freed from any sense of propriety.

  • Best Gay Improv Show

    Queerbots

    The Queerbots are giving a voice to gay comedy with their new monthly improv show at Hamburger Mary's — and proving that laughter is truly a great unifier.

  • Best Drag Queen

    Janessa Befierce

    Denver's exploding drag scene is teeming with a card deck's worth of queens hoofing and hot-assing all over town, but Janessa Befierce isn't taking a slow pony ride to the top; she's grabbing the reins of a stallion and racing it there.

  • Best Drag Bingo

    Dolls With Balls

    Gone are the days of bingo halls filled with old ladies and church-like reverence.

  • Best New Drag Shows

    Bitchcraft and Fatale's Dollhouse

    The stage at Broadway's isn't the fanciest, but that makes it the perfect spot for a new queen to break in some heels and feel the rush of performance.

  • Best Amateur Drag Competition

    Tracks Ultimate Queen Challenge

    With every new season of RuPaul's Drag Race, Tracks hosts a series of viewing parties, and this year the spot will feature its own competition as well, in which a bevy of queens will submit to a sixteen-week boot camp of wigs, heels, makeup, sequins, and the tightest tucks this side of the Platte.

  • Best Long-Running Drag Show

    Denver Divas at Charlie's

    The beer may be cheap at Charlie's, but the performances aren't.

  • Best Denver Burlesquer Gone Global

    Midnite Martini

    It's no secret that Denver burlesque has helped put this cowtown on the map: The notable names who take over intimate stages all over the city also headline major festivals and receive accolades on the global burlesque scene.

  • Best Gay Bar

    X Bar

    With a recent renovation that included the addition of an expansive front deck, this East Colfax watering hole solidified itself as the perfect spot for meeting up with pals and dishing all the recent gossip.

  • Best Lesbian Bar

    Blush & Blu

    A feminine mystique definitely runs through every inch of this Colfax bar, which describes itself as "a unique drinkery." But in fact, the bar is only a part of what Blush & Blu has to offer.

  • Best Eighteen-Plus Dance-Party Melting Pot

    Super Star Thursday at Tracks

    This mammoth gay club already has a sterling reputation for welcoming all comers, no matter their sexual orientation, but on Thursdays the place truly becomes the United Nations of dance parties, with every inch of space occupied by all manner of man, woman and teen.

  • Best Jukebox

    Nob Hill Inn

    One of the city's few remaining true dives, the Nob Hill Inn has hosted its share of music royalty — including Bob Dylan and Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister — in over a half-century of operation.

  • Best Karaoke Bar

    Armida's

    The folks at Armida's are serious about karaoke. They should be, after hosting it for the past two decades — first on a once-a-week basis, and now every night.

  • Best Spanish-Language Karaoke Bar

    100% de Agave

    Belting out the Spice Girls' "Say You'll Be There" is always fun, but sometimes you just want to get in touch with your inner Selena and sing "Como La Flor" while a frozen margarita melts all over the microphone.

  • Best Open-Mike Night

    Strange Grounds

    On the third Monday of each month, the experimental outfit ANIMAL/object holds an avant-garde open-mike night at Strange Grounds.

  • Best In-Store Performances

    Twist & Shout

    It's not easy to get an in-store performance booked at Twist & Shout, and there's a good reason for that: These shows are almost invariably events you'll never forget.

  • Best Concert Series

    Strings & Wood

    With an undying love for music and the intimate concert experience that often gets lost in the nosebleeds of the Pepsi Center and other large venues, Strings & Wood aims to bring concerts back to the living room — literally.

  • Best Old-School Hip-Hop Night

    MGM's Restaurant & Lounge

    Tucked away on Morrison Road is MGM's, a little club with big things happening inside.

  • Best Club Night

    TheHundred Fridays

    The intimate but spacious setup at Bar Standard is perfect for accommodating the people who pack the dance floor on Friday nights, when TheHundred brings some of the best tune-spinners on the planet to town.

  • Best Underground Dance Parties

    Deep Club

    Eschewing the aesthetics of giant EDM shows, which have been increasingly popular in Colorado lately, Deep Club formed in 2013 with a mission to provide an alternative to those larger-than-life presentations.

  • Best Place to See New Bands

    Bar Bar (Carioca Cafe)

    If there is a sports-like farm system in the Denver music scene, Bar Bar (aka Carioca Cafe) represents a quality AAA baseball club.

  • Best New Club

    Vie

    Lotus Clubs owner Francois Safieddine has had a long and successful history in Denver's nightlife, especially with more recent venues like Chloe and both ViewHouse locations.

  • Best Dance Club

    Beta Nightclub

    Beta has a downtown location and sizable dance floor, but that's not what makes it the best dance club in Denver. It's also got a slick, sleek layout and a large patio where smokers can congregate and watch the LoDo night unspool.

  • Best Rock Club

    hi-dive

    The hi-dive has brought in top-notch local and national acts for eleven years now — and while the lineup is a good part of its success (talent buyer Ben Desoto does a noble job), there's more to the venue's charms.

  • Best Blues Club

    Ziggies

    Ziggies celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2014, and while it's hailed as Denver's oldest blues bar, it's been updated over the years, giving the place a modern feel while preserving its heritage.

  • Best Jazz Club

    Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge

    Denver is home to a startling array of home-grown jazz clubs. Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge is not the one with the most history or the one with the most novelty, but it is without question the one with the best jazz.

  • Best DIY Venue

    Rhinoceropolis

    It's impossible to talk about DIY venues in Denver without putting Rhinoceropolis front and center.

  • Best All-Ages Venue

    Skatuary

    If you're a fourteen-year-old (or just one at heart) who wants to ollie over a couch or grind a rail while listening to your favorite screamo band, Skatuary is your new home base.

  • Best New Venue

    Syntax Physic Opera

    After a five-year stint as talent buyer at the Meadowlark, Jonathan Bitz knew he wanted to start a place of his own.

  • Best Multi-Stage Venue

    Mercury Cafe

    With three rooms offering three very different experiences, the Mercury Cafe has been feeding and entertaining Coloradans for nearly four decades.

  • Best Non-Venue Venue

    Mutiny Information Cafe

    Stuffed to the gills with new and used books, graphic novels, local-band CDs and vinyl, Mutiny Information Cafe is a place where you can sit at a table, sip coffee and flip through a book while a loud punk band plays on the floor just a few feet away.

  • Best Venue for the Unexpected

    Deer Pile

    Anything goes at Deer Pile, whether it's weekly DIY comedy staple Too Much Fun, Occupy Denver meet-ups, experimental-film showings or ambient-noise concerts.

  • Best Art Gallery/Music Venue

    Denver Art Society

    Even from the outside, with its large windows and spacious interior, the Denver Art Society feels like a welcoming place.

  • Best Underground Arcade and Music Venue

    Hyperspace

    Tucked away just off Colfax, Hyperspace is easy to miss.

  • Best (Literally) Underground Venue

    Ubisububi Room at the Thin Man Tavern

    It's been almost five years since twin brothers Greg and Garrett Hilpipre of Mountain to Sound started presenting shows at the unique, 35-seat Ubisububi Room in the basement of the Thin Man Tavern.

  • Best Venue to Fall in the Past Year

    Dead Leaf Arts

    Young Colorado natives Tom Abraham and Colin Wilcox operated Dead Leaf Arts in north Boulder for just under a year.

  • Best Venue Green Room

    Bluebird Theater

    Opened in 1913 as the Thompson Theater, the Bluebird is grimy, old-fashioned and awesome. One of its highlights is the cramped green room downstairs, which is pretty much directly below the stage.

  • Best Sound System

    Summit Music Hall

    Summit Music Hall owner Mike Barsch says he spent three years shopping for sound systems, "trying to set us apart from the rest," before going with an Italian GTO C-12, the Ferrari of rock-venue sound systems, last fall.

  • Best Sound-System Upgrade

    Lost Lake Lounge

    If you had stepped into Lost Lake Lounge before last year, you might have thought you had accidentally wandered into the 1970s.

  • Best Venue Renovation

    Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre

    In its first year of operation by AEG Rocky Mountains, Fiddler's Green (which took back its original name last year after years as Comfort Dental Amphitheater) has gone from being a serviceable spot for watching your favorite mega-star from the lawn to downright pleasant.

  • Best Door Guy

    Trevor Thon

    Most door guys and gals take tickets, check IDs and run guest lists with a somewhat thorny attitude — perking up only when a friend passes through.

  • Best Sandwich-Making DJ

    DJ Gatsby/Peter Schroeder

    By day he makes your spicy-tofu banh mi sandwiches; by night he spins your favorite dance beats.

  • Best Underground Promoter

    Aaron Saye

    If you've been to a punk-rock show in Denver over the past five years, chances are you've seen Aaron Saye: He's usually perched at the back of the room with a video camera and a smile, documenting the night.

  • Best Music-Education Program

    Youth on Record

    Although Youth on Record changed its name from Flobots.org and found a new home last year, the group's goal is still the same: empowering young people to use their musical abilities in order to be heard.

  • Best Recording Studio

    Dryer Plug Studios

    Being a musician and recording an album for the first time can be a daunting process, but Dryer Plug Studios takes the pressure off.

  • Best New Radio Station

    OpenAir 102.3

    OpenAir technically isn't new — it had a good life on the AM dial — but the commercial-free radio station made the big leap to FM this year, and that changed everything.

  • Best Music Video

    "Amsterdam"

    This is not an underdog story. Gregory Alan Isakov is among Denver's most well-known songwriters, and Laura Goldhamer, who directed the "Amsterdam" video, is a familiar name to anyone with even passing familiarity with the city's creative community.

  • Best Comeback Album

    America

    When America was released on New Year's Day 2014, it symbolized a new beginning for the Samples.

  • Best Denver Music Compilation

    Wet Pizza V: Wet It Be

    An epic 32-song mixtape, Wet Pizza V: Wet It Be shows off all of what Denver's under-the-radar musicians have to offer.

  • Best Use of Weed in an Album Design

    Drive

    Paper gatefold CD packaging is hardly a new thing. And given the current era of weed culture in Colorado, it's only natural that someone would use hemp rather than wood fiber to make cardboard for a CD sleeve — which is exactly what promoter Morris Beegle proposed to Kathryn Ellinger of Sleepers for Drive, the group's first album in nearly a decade.

  • Best Use of Bones as Instruments

    Matthew Hunzeker/Of Earth and Sun

    When Matthew Hunzeker of Of Earth and Sun shows up to a venue, most sound people don't really know what to make of him.

  • Best Fitness Band

    Werk Out Palace

    Artist Vincent Comparetto describes his Werk Out Palace project this way: "Imagine if Richard Simmons was the most powerful lesbian in the world who could inspire you to crush your lover into dust with your thighs."

  • Best Tribute Band

    Fauxgazi

    Featuring musicians from notable Denver bands like Uphollow, Glass Hits, Cannons and Il Cattivo, Fauxgazi performs near-perfect songs from one of post-punk's most lauded and respected bands: Fugazi.

  • Best New Band

    Future Single Mom

    Punk is more than forty years old, and it often seems like every nook and cranny of the genre has been discovered and colonized.

  • Best Music Festival

    RockyGrass

    At some recent point in time, people like investment bankers started paying attention to music festivals, and the industry ballooned. Now the summer concert season feels like an arms race between massive promoters rushing to cram more bands, more people and more amenities into any given field or parking lot.

  • Best Concert of the Year

    Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

    Walking into the posh Temple Buell Theatre to see Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, fans knew they could expect an extraordinary performance from a band with plenty of sophistication and emotive power.

  • Best Album

    Totem

    No Denver band has come as close to perfecting its sound as Snake Rattle Rattle Snake.

  • Best News About the Denver Music Scene

    We Beat Austin!

    At the 2014 awards luncheon of the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, Governor John Hickenlooper repeated a claim that he's been making since he was mayor: Metro Denver has more music venues than Austin, a city that has a much bigger reputation as a music mecca and even bills itself as "The Live Music Capital of the World."

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