Levitt Pavilion Denver celebrates its long-awaited launch with local veteran favorites Slim Cessna’s Auto Club playing the free inaugural show on Thursday, July 20. The outdoor venue in Ruby Hill Park can scale up to accommodate 7,500 people for its bigger tickets, but also plans to serve smaller acts. Executive Director Chris Zacher told Westword last fall, “This particular Levitt is really the first one that is focusing on the emerging-artists’ market.” The announced concert schedule seems to reflect that principle, spotlighting plenty of Colorado acts like the double bill with My Body Sings Electric and Chemistry Club. In addition to Levitt’s spotlight on Colorado artists, the programming includes the 1STBANK Latin Concert Series – and these shows are some of the most exciting on the list. Here are ten concerts at Levitt Pavilion Denver, in chronological order, that we are more than looking forward to.
Thursday, July 27
This Austin band makes “trashgrass,” and its frontman, Bobby Fitzgerald, is a high-energy fiddler who shuns shirts and shoes – all of which sounds like the makings of a damn good time.
The Suffers, The Other Black
Thursday, August 3
Named an act to watch by Billboard, NPR and the New York Times, the Suffers deliver “Gulf Coast soul.” Lead singer Kam Franklin describes the Houston band’s “gumbo of music”: “It might not make sense on paper to put a Latin percussionist with a gospel singer with a classically trained saxophonist with a jazz drummer, but for us, it works.” Denver’s Other Black features Cosmic Slim (aka Wesley Watkins) and a panoply of local artists creating their own mash-up of cartoonish funk and doo-wop.
Friday, August 4
The Okie folkie has earned a Grammy nomination and awards from ASCAP and the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame – and he’s not yet thirty. Fullbright’s last album, 2014’s Songs, was acclaimed for its powerful, economic and poetically plainspoken Americana. He’ll play at eTown Hall the day before Levitt.
Wednesday, August 9
In the few years since they graduated from high school, the members of Minnesota band Hippo Campus have ascended from opening a festival in Duluth to headlining – the same festival and Levitt Pavilion. The pop-rock outfit, already a darling in its home state, hit the road this summer, adding Saint Paul trumpet player DeCarlo Jackson. Slow Caves and Corsicana will also perform.
311 with New Politics
Friday, August 11
Probably the priciest ticket on Levitt’s 2017 schedule, this 93.3-sponsored show features 311, everyone’s favorite ’90s reggae-rock band. With the celebration of its unofficial holiday (March 11) and the release of a vape pen and 311 Amber Ale, the band has recently transitioned from nostalgia act into “lifestyle brand” – and we’re here for it. Come original, come original!
Thursday, August 24
Guatemalan-born L.A.-based singer-songwriter Gaby Moreno’s latest album, Ilusión, showcases her wide-ranging influences – blues, jazz, soul, R&B – and earned her a 2017 Grammy nod.
Photo: Eric Gruneisen
Sunday, September 3
Late afternoon in the park, Labor Day weekend, and a cumbia festival dancing you into the sunset: What could be better? The celebration showcases Latin American dance-music groups La Tropa Vallenata, founded in Mexico City in 1987, and Denver’s Tropical Kaoba.
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Saturday, September 16
Ceci Bastida has come a long way since her teenage years as a founding member of Mexican ska-punk act Tijuana NO, but the artist’s pioneer spirit persists. Bastida doesn’t shy away from social and political messages in her urgent, dance-driven pop.
SHEL with Megan Burtt
Thursday, September 21
The Holbrook sisters of Colorado-based folk-pop group SHEL claim to be primarily instrumentalists — but the sisters' harmonies are often what strikes listeners first. In the video for "Stronger Than My Fears," premiered earlier this summer, SHEL strips down the production to let the acoustics do the work. Also on the bill is Denver musician Megan Burtt, known for her powerful personal songwriting.