It may not be April, but Denver can celebrate 4/20 anytime it wants to. Take, for example, the 420 Games, which take place on July 22. Don't miss plenty of more action on this week's event's calendar, including outdoor movie screenings, art shows aplenty, and some axe throwing.
Tuesday, July 18
Recently resurrected by Netflix with a new cast and storyline, the return of Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a boon to movie geeks and comedy nerds alike. The show’s influence on both cinema and joke-telling is hard to overestimate; even locally produced shows like the Mile High Movie Roast or Cartoons and Comedy couldn’t exist without the example of the ’90s basic-cable staple. While the Meltdown’s Jonah Ray fits comfortably into the Joel/ Mike role, Tom Servo (voiced by Baron Vaughn) and Crow T. Robot (Hampton Yount) still manage to land the best jokes. Luckily for local fans, the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live tour will swing through Denver on Sunday, July 18. Jonah and all the robots are crashing the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Place, to provide their special brand of mocking commentary during a screening of fan favorite Eaargh, in addition to a secret surprise movie and a boatload of new jokes and riffs. The show starts at 8 p.m.; get tickets, $39.50 to $49.50, and more information at altitudetickets.com.
When Iggy Pop and Queens of the Stone Age’s Joshua Homme teamed up to record Pop’s album Post Pop Depression at Rancho De La Luna studio out in the Mojave Desert, a camera was rolling to catch every spark set off by their collaboration. The result, American Valhalla, tells the seminal story of rock and roll all over again through a new lens, as the duo, joined by Matt Helders of the Arctic Monkeys and QOTSA’s Dean Fertita, bond and go on tour. The film, and its footage of the group’s defining performance at London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall, comes to the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, for a one-night-only screening at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 18. Tickets are $10 to $12; purchase yours in advance at denverfilm.org.
Two of Denver’s best literary reading series, At the Inkwell and Fbomb, join forces for a night with a very special guest: author Manuel Ramos, a retired Denver lawyer and Chicano community voice whose mysteries and novels ooze Denver street smarts and smart turns of phrase. At the Inkwell’s Monique Antonette Lewis hosts the evening from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 18, at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street; admission is free. Get details at fbombdenver.com, and learn more about Ramos at manuelramos.com.
Wednesday, July 19
The 32nd Annual Chautauqua Silent Film Series continues this week with Harold Lloyd Comedy Night, a double feature of classic yukfests at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 19. Screening two of the silver screen funnyman’s classic shorts, A Sailor-Made Man (1921) and Grandma’s Boy (1922), the series does its best to replicate that old-time picture-house ambience, including live musical accompaniment from pianist Hank Troy. We can think of no finer environs for such an event than Boulder’s Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Road, which was operational and screening second-run movies at the height of Lloyd’s heyday. Visit chautauqua.com for tickets, $6 to $12, and more information.
The Denver Film Society has linked two of its crowd-pleasing summer series, Film on the Rocks and the 2017 CinemaQ LGBTQ film festival, which kicked off on July 19, for a screening of everyone’s favorite drag-queen film classic, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, on Thursday, July 20, at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. To hype up the crowd for the campy-sweet Priscilla, the movie will be preceded by spins from DJs Markie and Stone Cox, as well as A Cock in a Frock on a Rock, a live stage show with a bevy of Denver’s best drag stars. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. and the film starts at dusk at Red Rocks, 18300 West Alameda Parkway in Morrison. For tickets, $15, visit axs.com. (CinemaQ festival-goers can get in with their passes.) Learn more about the full fest, which continues through July 23 at the Sie FilmCenter, at denverfilm.org.
Francophiles, rejoice! The Fortieth Annual Colorado Music Festival is celebrating the work of famous French composers, beginning with world-renowned pianist Benedetto Lupo performing works by Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy on Thursday, July 20. The French Mini-Festival continues on July 21 with an encore performance by Lupo, and on July 22, the pianist joins members of the CMF chamber orchestra and caps off a Debussy-heavy program with a rousing performance of Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 15. The series concludes the following evening with “Fauré’s French Soirée,” comprising works by Fauré, Paul Dukas, Camille Saint-Saëns, Jacques Offenbach and Cécile Chaminade. We can think of no finer guide to the splendors of French music than Lupo, a Van Cliburn competition medalist. See him tickle the ivories at Boulder’s Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Road. Visit coloradomusicfestival.org for details and tickets, $9 to $54 for individual concerts.
Lions and tigers and food trucks, oh my! The Denver Zoo is hosting Food Truck Safari, which it describes as the “wildest happy hour” in the Mile High City. Call the babysitter and bust out your pith helmets, monocles and khaki clothes, because this adult-only food-truck feast is going to be a bestial affair — or, er, something like that. The party runs from 6:30 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, July 20, at the zoo, 2300 Steele Street. You’ll have more fun than a barrel of monkeys, drinking and eating into the night and listening to acoustic acts croon. Tickets are $17 and include a Great Divide beer of your choice and a tour of the zoo’s newest traveling exhibit, DINOS!. Get tickets and info at denverzoo.org.
Luenell Campbell may be billed by her first name only, but that’s because there’s no mistaking her for anyone else. A prolific character actress and standup veteran, Luenell rose to national prominence as the opening act on Katt Williams’s American Hustle tour and concert film of the same name. In addition to performing in Snoop Dogg’s Bad Girls of Comedy and Stand-up in Stilettos, Luenell has had memorable roles in such comedies as Borat, Think Like a Man and the Hotel Transylvania series and action thrillers like The Rock and Taken 2. She’ll be headlining all weekend at the Denver Improv, the Stapleton stalwart at 8246 East 49th Avenue, so locals will have six opportunities to see her perform starting on Thursday, July 20, at 7:30 p.m. Get tickets, $20, and a list of showtimes at denver.improv.com.
Keep reading for more of the best events this week.
Friday, July 21
It’s not heads that will roll at Roll of Thrones, this month’s edition of the Exdo Event Center’s popular themed costume party on skates inspired by the return of HBO’s Game of Thrones for its seventh and next-to-last season. Expect sharp objects to be verboten on the rink, but otherwise pile on your best fantasy armor and furs (yes, winter is coming…) and fly like a dragon from Westeros to Essos and back from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday, July 21, at Exdo, 3500 Walnut Street. Admission to the 21+ party is just $5 in advance or $10 at the door; skate rentals are included either way. Learn more at rolldenver.com.
Literary readings can be mustier than a first-edition print of Crime and Punishment. The audience quietly listens to perplexing authors drone on, impressing only themselves. But here’s a literary occasion worthy of its name: the Third Annual Fucking Fabulous Fiction Fest. The raucous showcase kicks off at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 21, and includes author spotlights, adult spelling bees, literary costume contests (Tom Wolfe, anyone?), old-fashioned rock and roll, and drinking games. Lots of drinking games. Put on your best Mary Shelley outfit and get ready to have a fucking fabulous time at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue; buy tickets, $12, at theorientaltheater.com.
Since its debut at the 1966 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead has endured as a masterpiece of existential theater. Tom Stoppard’s gleefully absurdist riff on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Rosencrantz thrusts two supporting characters from the Bard’s tragedy into the spotlight, finding humor in the narrative’s cruel twists of fate while deconstructing the theater itself. Stoppard, an accomplished writer of works such as the acclaimed Arcadia and cult-classic films like Brazil, also parlayed his love of the Elizabethan playwright into the Academy Award-winning screenplay for Shakespeare in Love. Borrowing the cast of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s Hamlet, the local production of the Tony Award-winning play premieres at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 21, at the University Theatre on the CU Boulder campus, and closes on August 13. Visit cupresents.org to learn more and buy tickets, which start at $20.
The Denver County Fair, which got its start in 2011, is back with a new owner — but in the same location, the National Western Complex. In fact, the Western Stock Show Association that’s based in that ever-expanding complex purchased the fair in February, and is going to put on the biggest one yet. Expect more than twenty amusement-park rides in an expanded carnival (unicorn rides!), as well as twelve pavilions, six stages (both indoor and outdoor), the fabulous freak show and Peep panorama, and more than 100 weird and wacky contests, including bug-eating. New this year: goat yoga, the first DCF Beer & Wine Festival, and a Viva Denver day. The fair runs from noon to 9 p.m. on Friday, July 21; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 22; and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday, July 23. Daily admission is $10 for adults and $3 for kids, or go for unlimited rides at $20 and $10, respectively. To buy your tickets and get more information, go to denvercountyfair.org.
We all relieve stress differently. Some of us run or fish or eat too many french fries. And some of us throw axes. Bad Axe Throwing, “the biggest urban axe throwing club in the world,” has eleven locations in the U.S. and Canada and is celebrating the opening of its newest shop — at 845 East 73rd Avenue in Denver — with a free three-day open house starting Friday, July 21. Coaches will offer gratis lessons in throwing (you know, so you don’t accidentally impale your friend), and guests are invited to bring their own food and drinks. Drop in between 6 and 11 p.m. Friday, 2 and 11 p.m. Saturday, and 2 and 8 p.m. Sunday. It sure beats the hell out of throwing darts. Learn more at the open house’s Facebook page.
Global Dance Festival might be moving from Red Rocks to Sports Authority Field, but what it’s losing in scenery, it’s gaining in talent. This year’s festival kicks off on Friday, July 21, and includes EDM heavy hitters like Kaskade, Hardwell and Louis the Child, as well as arcade games, food trucks and carnival rides. Tickets are still available for the two-day fest, but they’re going fast; find yours at globaldancefestival.com.
Saturday, July 22
When the Birdseed Collective was just starting out, 100 was a big number, especially when it came to the nonprofit’s annual 100 on 100 show, which originally celebrated the hundredth day of the year with 100 works of art by emerging artists. This year, Birdseed founder (and Westword MasterMind) Anthony Garcia Sr. had a different kind of problem: He received so many entries that he had to postpone the show and find a larger venue. Now retitled 100+, the exhibit has turned into a bigger event for 2017, with (in the collective’s own words) “more art, more entertainment and more community.” In other words, there’ll be way more party to accompany the show, with live music, refreshments and unexpected surprises overtaking the huge, vacant Sports Castle building at 1000 Broadway. Join the Birdseed Collective from 6 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, July 22, for an exhibit to remember; admission is $5 at eventbrite.com and at the door.
If you’ve let your summer slip past without having a party in the park, now’s your chance to enjoy a warm day among friends and neighbors. Add beer and barbecue, and you’ve got the perfect July event. That’s what you’ll find at Arvada on Tap: A Craft Beer and BBQ Fest, which the Arvada Visitors Center will host at the Ralston Park Addition, 11200 Ralston Road in Arvada. The fun kicks off at noon on Saturday, July 22, and runs until 7 p.m., with beers on tap from more than 25 brewers, a national barbecue competition with samples available from dozens of competitive cooks, and an amateur brewing contest with awards to be given by members of the Beer Judging Certification Program. Tokens for food and beer can be purchased at the festival, and there will be additional food trucks and carts to supplement the barbecue offerings. Bring a little extra cash to support community vendors offering a range of crafts, clothing, jewelry and barbecue supplies. Tickets are $8 in advance at visitarvada.org, or $10 at the door. Happy feasting!
The 420 Games return to Denver from 9 a.m to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 22. Events include a 4.2-mile run through Berkeley Park, 4401 West 46th Avenue, and a kickball tournament, as well as a celebration at the 420 Village, where there will be beer tastings, music, educational speeches, stand-up comedy and industry vendors — all in the name of cannabis. Participating in the run is free, but tickets for the beer tasting, which runs from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., start at $10, with VIP passes for kickball and lounging with former NFL players running $25 to $50. Find tickets and more information at eventbrite.com.
The Aurora Cultural Arts District continues to find new ways to celebrate its diversity and introduce the rest of the region to its unique multicultural makeup. New this summer, the ImmiFest (short for the Colorado Immigrant Festival) is another link in that effort, shedding light on a quartet of Aurora’s major resident immigrant groups, including folks hailing from Africa, Southeast Asia, Mexico and the Caribbean, over four months. The first installment showcases pan-African cultures thriving in Aurora with a mixture of African food, drink, art and products, and includes a special focus on ACAD’s fair-trade ACADIA Project immigrant creative community. Get a taste of the real Aurora from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, July 22, at ACAD Studios & Galleries, 1400 Dallas Street in Aurora. Admission is free. Future mini-fests celebrate Southeast Asia on August 26, Mexico on September 23 and the Caribbean on October 28; get more information at immifest.com.
At Rumble in the Rockies, you can expect hurling — but not the kind that happens when you drink one too many green beers on St. Patrick’s Day. Hurling is a sport that’s nearly as old as drinking too much, in which players use a hurley (a wooden stick) to wack a slitar (a small ball) into their opponents’ goals. The two-day tourney, which will also include camogie and women’s hurling, brings together clubs of the southwestern division of the United States Gaelic Athletic Association. The games kick off at 9 a.m on Saturday, July 22, at the Lowry Sports Complex, 8200 Sports Boulevard. Learn more about Rumble in the Rockies at denversit.com.
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Sunday, July 23
Denver’s City Park is a delight throughout the summer, popular with locals for its vast green expanses, shimmering lakes and lively pavilion. Far from merely a scenic place to walk your dog, City Park also maintains a thriving cultural calendar throughout the warmer months with its City Park Jazz series, which continues on Sunday, July 23, with a performance from Los Bohemios, a sextet of skilled local musicians who specialize in Cuban jazz, cumbia and boleros. City Park Jazz is a perfect opportunity to cuddle up with your loved ones on a lawn blanket and enjoy the splendor of a Colorado sunset, this week soundtracked by the smooth sounds of Los Bohemios. Visit cityparkjazz.org to learn more. The event starts at 6 p.m., but we recommend arriving early to secure a spot. Admission is free.
Monday, July 24
Local cinephiles can while away their balmy evenings with Monday Movie Madness at Glendale’s Infinity Park, 4599 East Tennessee Avenue. Boasting a brand-new jumbo-sized screen, Monday Movie Madness asked visitors which movies they’d most like to see, resulting in a program of free family-friendly hits and crowd-pleasing classics like Top Gun, which screens on Monday, July 24, and Sing on August 7. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.; we recommend arriving early to set up lawn chairs and blankets or just spread out across the grass.