Things may have gotten off to a soggy start this week, but a sun-dappled weekend of delights now awaits Westword's adventurous readers. Whether you fancy midnight movies, comedy shows, indie pop, jazz or classical music concerts, Denver's creative community has your entertainment needs covered. Furthermore, each of the ten events listed below offers free or cheap admission, ringing in at $10 and under (fine print notwithstanding). Study up to prepare for a Mile High weekend that's heavy with good times but light on the wallet.
See Kent Ullberg's "Snowmastodon" and more on the City Park Sunset Tour on Thursday, June 21.
Denver Public Art
City Park Sunset Tour
Thursday, June 21, 6:30 p.m. City Park
Denver's public parks are celebrated for their elegant landscaping and lively atmosphere, but verdant urban oases like City Park are also home to some of the city's finest outdoor art. Enjoy an evening stroll through City Park's photo-op-friendly grounds, replete with fountains, historic statues and public art. Join docent Karen Ray for an informative and inspiring trek through landmarks like Kent Ullberg's "Snowmastodon" and Patrick Marold's "Avian Front" that deepens art appreciation and keeps guests limber. Aspiring shutterbugs can also participate in the #DenverPublicArt30 Photo Contest, part of Denver Public Art's 30th Anniversary celebrations. Admission is free, but registration via Denver Public Art's Eventbrite page is required.
Talkin' Shop with Geoff Tice
Thursday, June 21, 7 p.m. Mutiny Information Cafe
Few local creatives have fused their manifold talents as productively as Geoff Tice, a Boulder-based comedian and graphic designer who's singlehandedly responsible for the vast majority of Denver comedy's posters. United by an unmistakable shared aesthetic, Tice's eye-catching designs now appear in national campaigns and tour artwork for comics like Rory Scovel. He's a fitting guest for Anthony Crawford's Talkin' Shop podcast, an interview series that endeavors to learn trade secrets and helpful advice from working comedians. The podcast, which recently branched out into an on-camera version with guest Todd Glass, is reinvigorated and well worth checking out live. Visit Sexpot Comedy's Facebook events page for more details.
Thursday, June 21, 9:30 p.m. The Black Buzzard
Great standup is often derived from feelings of vulnerability and exposure, and few shows embody that concept like Underwear Party. Originated by Atlanta comic Joe Pettis (who'll be in town to host), the show features comedians performing while clad only in underwear in a hilarious yet body-positive testament to laughter's triumph over awkwardness. The Denver lineup has yet to be announced, but the show should prove to be unforgettable no matter who takes to the stage in their skivvies. Tickets are $5 at Eventbrite.
B-Side Music with the Original Ills and Kayla Marque
Friday, June 22, 5 to 10 p.m. MCA Denver
The season of the rooftop party is nigh, and Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art is welcoming arty partiers to its sleek terrace for B-Side Music Fridays, a concert series showcasing the finest local musicians. The tradition continues this week, on the eve of the Westword Music Showcase, with a double bill featuring the funky R&B stylings of Kayla Marque and "dance beats and soul treats" of co-headliner the Original Ills. Arrive early: The first 100 guests receive a complimentary brew from Ratio Beerworks and happy-hour pricing until 7 p.m., when the performances begin. Visit MCA Denver's Facebook events page to learn more.
Nebula Ensemble: Nightlife
Friday, June 22, 7 p.m. Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church
While Denver's Nebula Ensemble is founded in classically trained musicianship, the ensemble's concert calendar is driven by a sense of experimentation that keeps things fresh in what can seem like a hidebound genre. Join Nebula members for Nightlife, a concert that fuses jazz, pop and classical rhythms into a multi-disciplinary evening of song, film and performance art. Modeled after a Viennese Second School Jazz Nightclub, Nightlife is a vital component of the Nebula Ensemble's Summer Festival. Admission is free. Visit the Nebula Ensemble's events calendar for more details.
Midnight Madness: Suspiria (Extended Edition)
June 22 to 23, midnight Landmark Esquire
$9.50 Suspiria, Dario Argento's supernaturally inflected Giallo masterpiece, seems tailor-made for bloodthirsty midnight-movie crowds. Known for its pervasive trippiness, colorful murder tableaux and an evocative score by Goblin, Argento's tale is about a American student who notices something amiss at her German ballet academy even before the bodies start piling up. Suspiria's legacy looms over the horror genre; not even the thoroughly unnecessary upcoming remake could diminish its place in the fright-flick pantheon. Revisit the classic, or see it for the first time at Landmark Esquire's Midnight Madness series, presenting screenings on both Friday and Saturday night. Visit the Esquire's box-office page to buy tickets, $9.50, and learn more.
An Afternoon With Private Investigator Denver Moon
Saturday, June 23, 2 to 3 p.m. Tattered Cover Colfax Free
A rollicking cyberpunk mystery, Denver Moon: The Minds of Mars updates the hard-boiled detective yarn for the genre's most outlandish setting yet: a dystopian colony on Mars. The novella's wildly imaginative story is the result of collaboration between Denver-based authors Warren Hammond and Joshua Viola and a fine introduction to the unique character of Denver Moon, P.I., who also appears in Hammond and Viola's Aaron Lovett-illustrated graphic novel, Metamorphosis,and inspired Black Shirt Brewing's "Red Fever" Blood Orange IPA. Meet Denver Moon's creators and delve further into the weird and wonderful world they created at Tattered Cover Colfax, where fans can celebrate the novella's release and bond with strangers over a shared love of the Denver Moon universe. Visit the Tattered Cover's events calendar for more details.
Purnell Steen & Le Jazz Machine Juneteenth Reunion Concert
Saturday, June 23, 6:30 and 9 p.m. Dazzle
$10 to $20
A living legend in Denver's robust jazz scene, pianist Purnell Steen never fails to bring the house down with his creative interpretations of the genre's standards. Reuniting with the accomplished Le Jazz Machine quintet, Steen presents a special evening of music in honor of the Juneteenth holiday. Hear stirring renditions of beloved tunes by the likes of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and more in one of Denver's finest jazz venues. Showtimes are at 6:30 and 9 p.m.; visit Dazzle's box-office page to buy tickets, $10 to $20, and find out more.
Saturday, June 23, 7 p.m. The Comedy RoomRoom
Until recently, childless Denver comedians and erstwhile Nerd Roast co-hosts Zach Reinert and Preston Tompkins's Step-Dads! sketch comedy has focused on producing brief and bleakly hilarious videos for YouTube, but now the comics bringing their act to the stage. Step-Dads!, Tompkins and Reinert's eponymous new showcase at El Charrito's Comedy RoomRoom, is an unholy hybrid of sketch and standup fully informed by its hosts' dark sensibilities.The inaugural lineup includes local mirth merchants John Papaioannou, David Rodriguez, Cory Helie, Elena Ingraham, Cody Spyker and Ben Bryant, plus Iowa's David Kousgaard and the live premiere of a brand-new sketch. Visit the Step-Dads! Facebook events page for more information.
Shy Boys with Panther Martin and Briffaut
Saturday, June 23, 9 p.m. to midnight Syntax Physic Opera
Feast your ears and eyes on a triple bill of indie-pop powerhouses as Shy Boys, Panther Martin and Briffaut unite for an evening of toe-tapping wonderment on Syntax Physic Opera's velvet-lined stage. Whether guests choose to mingle with artsy Syntax patrons while sampling treats from the food and cocktail menu or simply boogie the night away on the dance floor, the spacious yet intimate venue is one of the city's most cherished live-music spots. Admission is $10 on Syntax's Brown Paper Tickets page, where readers can also find more details.
Looking for more to do? Visit Westword's event calendar online. And if you have an event you want considered for this list, send the details to [email protected]
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Byron Graham is a writer, comedian and gentleman thief from Denver. Co-host of Designated Drunkard: A Comedy Drinking Game, the deathless Lion's Lair open mic and the Mutiny Book Club podcast, Byron also writes about comedy for Westword. He cannot abide cowardice, and he's never been defeated in an open duel.