La Rumba
Eric Gruneisen
Though Sevilla recently relocated from its cavernous corner on Wynkoop Street to new digs in the Denver Pavilions, nothing was lost in the move. It still provides the most appealing environment for south-of-the-border musical expeditions, with a huge dance floor, exotic decor and a stimulating menu of live and DJ music. For those who like to move to merengue, tear up a tango and sizzle to salsa, Sevilla is a internationally flavored delight.
Fox Theatre
Brandon Marshall
Earlier this year, the Fox Theatre notched its tenth anniversary -- but it also celebrated its tenth year as the best-sounding room of its type in the area. Since its 1992 birth on the Hill in Boulder, the space has become a favorite of both artists and fans. Simply put, the Fox provides the finest acoustics imaginable, whether the star attraction is a singer-songwriter playing unplugged or a twelve-piece funk band dedicated to blowing the roof off the sucker.
Gothic Theatre
When he bought the Gothic in 1999, owner Steve Schalk, a former Hollywood set designer, poured his vision (and his bank account) into salvaging the south Broadway space from its formerly sorry existence. The result was a magnificent house with old-world charm, great sound and a progressive booking policy. Beyond its aesthetic qualities -- and there are many -- the theater wins us over by taking chances on lesser known national acts, including jazz artists, and providing a home for creative local projects that might not otherwise have a home. The Gothic brings heart, art, and plain old beauty to the otherwise messy business of concert promotions.

Best Place to Get a Burger With a Side of Death Metal

Sports Field Roxxx

With above-average bar grub and a stage that plays host to the area's heaviest bands, Sports Field Roxxx offers patrons the chance to fill up their stomachs and blow out their eardrums in one sitting. Sports Field has recently expanded its entertainment menu to include punk and rock acts in addition to its trademark heavy metal, industrial and hardcore. The only downside is that you have to scream at the top of your lungs to get someone to pass the ketchup.
The Buffalo Rose's exterior after its 2018 remodel.
Chris Cone
The Buffalo Rose's exterior after its 2018 remodel.
Bands wade into the deep each night at Golden's legendary Buffalo Rose: The bar's music room is built on top of what used to be the City of Golden's municipal pool. The stage itself sits right over the pool's now-empty deep end, adding an extra measure of bottom boom to the sound and giving new meaning to the term "sink or swim."

Best Place for Any (and We Mean Any) Local Band to Get a Fair Shake

Cricket on the Hill

Whether they are truly talented or simply interested in using music as a bludgeon, untested Denver bands have long had a wide-open outlet for their art at Cricket on the Hill. Sure, the place is far from cuddly, but management understands the bar's symbiosis with local rock. The standard deal is straightforward: Three bands split a third of the bar after they pay off the sound guy. No bullshit. No one gets ripped off. No drunken riots...well, not very often. Hey, two out of three ain't bad.
Herman's Hideaway
Eric Gruneisen
You don't have to be terribly accomplished to secure some stage time during the New Talent Showcase at Herman's Hideaway. In fact, the whole point of the Wednesday-night series is to give fledgling acts a chance to test the waters of the live-music experience, even if they only play to an audience of friends and sympathetic strangers. Often the shows are kicked off by a presentation from an industry insider who can offer career advice as well as an ear. Because of the huge level of interest among aspiring stagehounds, owner Allan Roth has begun hosting a similar event on sporadic Tuesdays, as well. We hope that becomes permanent: The Showcase is a great way to sample the city's raw talent in a supportive and fun environment. On to the next.
Technically, Tulagi is not a punk club. About half the time, the smallish space -- which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year -- is booked by the staff that operates the Fox Theatre next door. But a couple nights a week, the calendar belongs to indie promoter Mike Barsch, who draws on his years of running Denver punk staple the Raven to enlist an impressive revolving roster of up-and-coming indie-rock and punk artists. Death Cab for Cutie, Mars Volta, the Icarus Line and the Alkaline Trio are among the underworld heavyweights who've come to town at Barsch's invitation, much to the delight of the all-ages crowds who regularly pack the place. Local punk bands get their fair share of stage time as well; as the operator of Soda Jerk Records, Barsch has long been a supporter of area acts. In some circles, he's the reigning king of the hill.
Cervantes' Other Side
When the owners of Quixote's True Blue moved into the old 7 South space on Broadway, they began redecorating with a vengeance -- and a vision. Colorful and kaleidoscopic, the entire room is a museum of musical memorabilia and art (including plenty of original posters and photographs)

that also serves as a venue for local and national jam-based, bluegrass and Grateful Dead-inspired acts. The bar's wide selection of kindly priced microbrews and spirits has made it a favorite among earthy brothers and sisters around town. Beyond the music and the drink menu, however, it's in the bathrooms that your senses can become the most pleasantly overwhelmed. Full murals depicting scenes from Alice in Wonderland and The Cat in the Hat are adorned with literary quotes and song lyrics. While there's plenty going on in the club itself, thanks in large part to the Deadicated efforts of true-blue owner Jay Bianchi, Quixote's bathrooms are so well done, you may never want to come out.

Herman's Hideaway
Eric Gruneisen
Scott Campbell and Jason Cotter, booking managers for the 15th Street Tavern, must have a psychic grasp of which artists are about to break out: Many of the bands that play their club wind up on the cover of the College Music Journal or headlining a showcase at the South by Southwest music conference soon after stopping in Denver. Fortunately for those who like to see bands before they get big, the Tavern's reputation as the local place to play guarantees there's almost always something worthwhile going on in the deliciously divey space. The sound isn't always great, and the room can get over-packed and thoroughly smelly, but, hey, if you like your rock and roll squeaky-clean, try VH1. For riotous live shows and an incomparable calendar, the Tavern is the down-and-dirty destination.

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