Bombed-out buildings in Beirut seemed to have more concert-venue potential than the Mammoth Events Center, a decrepit barn with acoustics so bad that even Beethoven might have been bothered by them. But a few million dollars and a name change later, the structure has turned into one of Denver's gems -- a place worth visiting whether or not there's a great band on stage.
Bombed-out buildings in Beirut seemed to have more concert-venue potential than the Mammoth Events Center, a decrepit barn with acoustics so bad that even Beethoven might have been bothered by them. But a few million dollars and a name change later, the structure has turned into one of Denver's gems -- a place worth visiting whether or not there's a great band on stage.
The city's original ideas about how to bring this national treasure into the next century (projecting corporate logos on the rocks, building an eyesore of a terrace to pump up concession revenues) were on par with New Coke. But the public, symbolized by the grassroots organization Friends of Red Rocks, pitched such a fit that government types went back to the drawing board. The approach that resulted is a vast improvement that should shore up the structure and enhance the concert-going experience without ruining the views that have drawn people to Red Rocks for decades.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
The city's original ideas about how to bring this national treasure into the next century (projecting corporate logos on the rocks, building an eyesore of a terrace to pump up concession revenues) were on par with New Coke. But the public, symbolized by the grassroots organization Friends of Red Rocks, pitched such a fit that government types went back to the drawing board. The approach that resulted is a vast improvement that should shore up the structure and enhance the concert-going experience without ruining the views that have drawn people to Red Rocks for decades.

Best place to hear Public Enemy in a classical European setting

Gothic Theatre

When Public Enemy performed in town last October, Chuck D was perhaps too busy bouncing athletically around the Gothic Theatre's stage (and keeping an eye on his squirrelly partner in rhyme, Flava Flav) to comment on the venue's interior. Throughout the set, he uttered nary a word about the way the Gothic's balconies recall fifteenth-century French cathedrals, or about the rounded, Roman-influenced apses or the Italian-inspired faux frescoes that adorn the walls. But he had to have been impressed. Owner Steve Schalk -- who relied on his background in film when he restored the Englewood venue last year -- and his crew have carved a promotional niche in a crowded concert market by hosting a range of talent that reflects the baroque atmosphere of the place. Jazz artists Jimmy Smith and Joshua Redman, hip-hop figures DJ Logic and Jurassic 5, the new monthly Space rave series and the rocking-Cuban revivalism of guitarist Marc Ribot are a few of the standout offerings of the past year. The Gothic has proved to be a club with staying power, as well as a fine place to learn a bit about art history while enjoying artful sounds.

Best place to hear Public Enemy in a classical European setting

Gothic Theatre

Gothic Theatre
When Public Enemy performed in town last October, Chuck D was perhaps too busy bouncing athletically around the Gothic Theatre's stage (and keeping an eye on his squirrelly partner in rhyme, Flava Flav) to comment on the venue's interior. Throughout the set, he uttered nary a word about the way the Gothic's balconies recall fifteenth-century French cathedrals, or about the rounded, Roman-influenced apses or the Italian-inspired faux frescoes that adorn the walls. But he had to have been impressed. Owner Steve Schalk -- who relied on his background in film when he restored the Englewood venue last year -- and his crew have carved a promotional niche in a crowded concert market by hosting a range of talent that reflects the baroque atmosphere of the place. Jazz artists Jimmy Smith and Joshua Redman, hip-hop figures DJ Logic and Jurassic 5, the new monthly Space rave series and the rocking-Cuban revivalism of guitarist Marc Ribot are a few of the standout offerings of the past year. The Gothic has proved to be a club with staying power, as well as a fine place to learn a bit about art history while enjoying artful sounds.

In two consecutive Denver appearances, Gil Scott-Heron proved that he is only slightly less hilarious as a comedian than he is inspiring, enduring, and right freakin' on as a musician, poet and social observer. He opened both February performances at the overly stuffed Lion's Lair (which brought new meaning to the word "intimate" that night) with an elongated monologue that could've been cribbed straight from a late-night HBO special. Yet it wasn't Scott-Heron's humor that sold out the club (twice, with lines of ticketless hopefuls extending down the block). After he took his seat behind his trademark electric piano, it was clear that his take on topics like civil rights, politics and poverty hadn't lost its poignancy or punch -- and his music hadn't lost its groove. It was an inspiring night of sounds that was as powerful as it was funky. He always said the revolution would be live.

In two consecutive Denver appearances, Gil Scott-Heron proved that he is only slightly less hilarious as a comedian than he is inspiring, enduring, and right freakin' on as a musician, poet and social observer. He opened both February performances at the overly stuffed Lion's Lair (which brought new meaning to the word "intimate" that night) with an elongated monologue that could've been cribbed straight from a late-night HBO special. Yet it wasn't Scott-Heron's humor that sold out the club (twice, with lines of ticketless hopefuls extending down the block). After he took his seat behind his trademark electric piano, it was clear that his take on topics like civil rights, politics and poverty hadn't lost its poignancy or punch -- and his music hadn't lost its groove. It was an inspiring night of sounds that was as powerful as it was funky. He always said the revolution would be live.

Tom Waits recognizes the value of a good entrance. At both of his Denver appearances at the Paramount Theatre last October, he announced his ascent to the stage by blazing straight through the center of the crowd, howling into a handheld bullhorn as he marched down the aisle. It was the perfect scene-setter for performances that found Waits pulling off a rare feat -- that is, rising to the level of his own mythology. Each night, Waits mule-kicked and screamed through more than two hours' worth of material, pausing only to share the occasional joke or bit of crowd interaction, or to recall the time he spent wandering the streets of downtown Denver before the area had an acronym. At one point, Waits held his green sequined bowler hat up to a disco ball that hung over his head, producing little swirling shatters of light all over the audience. Had they illuminated the faces of those in attendance a bit more, they would have revealed a rapt and loving crowd.

Readers' choice: KISS

Tom Waits recognizes the value of a good entrance. At both of his Denver appearances at the Paramount Theatre last October, he announced his ascent to the stage by blazing straight through the center of the crowd, howling into a handheld bullhorn as he marched down the aisle. It was the perfect scene-setter for performances that found Waits pulling off a rare feat -- that is, rising to the level of his own mythology. Each night, Waits mule-kicked and screamed through more than two hours' worth of material, pausing only to share the occasional joke or bit of crowd interaction, or to recall the time he spent wandering the streets of downtown Denver before the area had an acronym. At one point, Waits held his green sequined bowler hat up to a disco ball that hung over his head, producing little swirling shatters of light all over the audience. Had they illuminated the faces of those in attendance a bit more, they would have revealed a rapt and loving crowd.

Readers' choice: KISS

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