The official end of summer may have finally arrived, but Denver's creative community shows no signs of cooling down along with the changing seasons. The Mile High City is ripe with affordable entertainments this weekend. Each of the events listed below — be they movie screenings, comedy shows, or concerts — charge less than $10 for admission (fine print notwithstanding). Keep reading for the ten best events in Denver for $10 and under this weekend, and take heart that half of them are free.
Thursday, September 20, 7 p.m.-1 a.m.
Syntax Physic Opera
A tuneful challenge for sharp ears and sharper minds, Vinyl Jeopardy is a mashup of trivia games and dance parties hosted by Best of Denver award-winning DJ Erin Stereo. Test your musical knowledge in segments like "Name That Tune" or "Who's Sampled?" in a fun-filled evening that more than earns the moniker "smart-pants dance party." This month, Erin Stereo is joined by guest DJ Sara Splatter, along with her crates of ’80s favorites. September's celebration also includes a pop-up record store offering unbeatable deals (four albums for $10) and a chance to support KGNU Community Radio, which will receive all the proceeds from sales. The party starts at 7 p.m. and admission is $5 at the door. Find out more on Syntax Physic Opera's Facebook events page.
CU Wind Symphony and Symphonic Band: Bernstein at 100
Thursday, September 20, 7:30 p.m.
Colorado's classical-music community has been honoring the centenary of the legendary Leonard Bernstein all summer long, and the celebrations aren't stopping now that school's back in session. The University of Colorado's Wind Symphony and Symphonic Band are certainly still feeling the Bernstein, and its members will pay tribute to the late American composer with a concert full of songs from some of his grandest theatrical works. Beginning with "Slava!" and continuing with "The Suite From Candide" before concluding with "Three Dance Episodes" from On the Town, the program will highlight both Bernstein's versatility as a composer and the fine musicianship of the student ensembles. Like many CU Presents classical concerts, admission to Bernstein at 100 is free; visit the CU Presents events calendar for more details or a link to watch a live stream of the show.
Friday, September 21, 7 p.m.
The Comedy RoomRoom
A veritable giggle gauntlet for Denver's wordier comedians, James Draper's Story Time! is dedicated to finding the shortest path to laughter. Despite its deliberately misleading name, the Comedy RoomRoom's longest-running showcase challenges comics to perfect the painstaking art of the one-liner. September's lineup includes local charmers Andrew Bueno, Nicholai Roscoe, Lila Bear, C.J.Willard and headliner Andrew Orvedahl. Admission is free, though a minimum $3 donation is richly appreciated. Learn more on the Comedy RoomRoom's Facebook events page.
Friday Night Weird: Perfect Blue
Friday, September 21, 8:45 p.m.
$6.50 to $12
Friday Night Weird, the Boedecker Theater's weekly screening series dedicated to cinematic oddities, lives up to its auspicious name with a presentation of the rarely seen Perfect Blue. The disturbing yet captivating debut of Satoshi Kon (arguably the David Lynch of anime), Perfect Blue is a truly mind-bending psychological thriller about a pop star caught up in a murder mystery that grows more fantastically abstract as the suspense ratchets up. A perfect chance for otaku completists to catch up with the now twenty-year-old classic, Friday Night Weird offers the first of the weekend's two retrospectives of the finest films in the Japanese animation canon. Buy tickets, $6.50 to $12, and find more information on the Dairy Arts Center's box-office page.
Midnight Madness: Akira
September 21 to 22, Midnight
Double up on anime masterpieces with a Midnight Madness screening of the less obscure but nearly-every-bit-as-bonkers Akira. Set in a dystopian neo-Tokyo beset by roving biker gangs, the movie is rich with cyber-punk imagery that still feels groundbreaking even thirty years after its initial release in 1988. Despite requiring a team of animators to produce, Akira is a true auteur effort from director Katsuhiro Otomo, who adapted the genre and medium-defining film from his manga series of the same name. Revisit the classic, or see it for the first time at a pair of midnight screenings. Either way, we guarantee you'll never look at a teddy bear the same way again. Visit the Landmark Esquire's box-office page to buy tickets, $49.50, and learn more.
DC and Marvel Comics Art Exhibit
September 21 to 23, hours vary
Incredible Art Gallery
Though initially regarded as hacky and disposable entertainment for children, comic books have earned their respect as both a legitimate art form and fodder for blockbuster movies. Colorado-based artist Dominic Glover specializes in bringing the costumed heroes from the DC and Marvel universes out of the panels and onto the canvas in his prints of characters like Batman, Spider-man and Dr. Strange that blur the distinctions between fan art and fine art. Shoppers perusing Glover's fine collection of prints and originals can even request original embellishments from the artist to make their piece truly one of a kind. Free admission includes complimentary wine, beer and refreshments and keepsake 9x11 prints. The three-day event kicks off at 5 and winds down at 8 p.m. on Friday, September 21, and operates from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, September 22 and 23. Find more information on Incredible Art Gallery's Facebook events page.
Smithsonian Museum Day
Saturday, September 22, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
History Colorado Center (and more)
For readers who find regular museum-going to be prohibitively expensive, the Smithsonian Institution — one of the country's finest purveyors of cultural artifacts — is sponsoring a free day of exploration at History Colorado. Readers can chase their innate curiosity to fascinating ends not only at the musuem, but also at spots across the state. To find out more, including a comprehensive list of participating venues, visit the Smithsonian Museum Day's events calendar.
Colorado Wind Ensemble: High Five
Saturday, September 22, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
King Academic & Performing Arts Center
$6 to $16
It's time for "fives" to thrive at the Colorado Wind Ensemble's season-opening concert. A tribute to the late contemporary composer David Maslanka, the entire evening is centered around the number five. Spotlighting works with five movements or melodic motifs like Wayne Oquin's "A Solemn Place," Kevin Walczyk's "Unforsaken" Symphony No. 4, Adam Schoenberg's American Symphony, and Maslanka's own "Morning Star." Admission costs $6 to $16, and free parking is available at the Auraria campus's 7th Street Garage. Visit the Colorado Wind Ensemble's box-office page for ticket links and more details.
Let the Good Times Roll
Sunday, September 23, 4 to 6 p.m.
Dance and prance your way into a better community and "Let the Good Times Roll," a welcome dash of Cajun-flavored seasoning sprinkled over Boulder's entertainment scene. Laissez les bons temps rouler amid the scenic Flatirons setting as award-winning choreographer Helanius J. Wilkins's “A Bon Coeur” unites cultures and generations under the welcoming umbrella of Cajun sounds, smells and tastes. A feast for the ears, eyes and stomachs soundtracked by the Happy Hill Zydeco Band and a ten-piece brass band led by CU alumnus Decker Babcock, Let the Good Times Roll brings a welcome dose of Louisiana to the comparatively bland Centennial State. Learn more on the Boulder Arts events calendar.
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Art Compost Anniversary: All Star Jam Before the Slam
Sunday, September 23, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
The weekend may be drawing to a close, but the genre-blending delights continue at Mercury Cafe's eighteen-year anniversary of Art Compost, an evening of extemporaneous improvisation that tunefully blurs the lines between poetry and live music. Hosted and curated by veteran performers SETH and Roseanna Frechette, the event unites poets James Steele, Hakeem Furious, Barb Test, Jessica Chernila, Simon Shah and Vibe with musicians Mark Lane, Bob Peek, Dave Clark and Felix Garrette in a creative meeting of the minds. And lest aspiring performers feel excluded from the proceedings, a slam open mic directly follows the show. Admission is free; find out more on the Mercury Cafe's Facebook events page.
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