Don't want the weekend to end? Head to Lola Mexican Fish House, which ups the ante on its Sunday happy hour by offering free shows by local bands (members of the Congress were regulars before they went off on tour) that often feature guest appearances by visiting musicians craving good margaritas and more intimate settings. In good weather, when the curtains of the patio are rolled up, this is as close to a beach party as you get in Denver.

One of the most fun ways to relax on a Friday night, Ominous — also known as goth night at Tracks — is an awesome excuse to indulge in music, drinks and good times. Tracks is a GLBT club, and while the monthly dance night is definitely alternative-lifestyle-friendly, you'll find couples of every persuasion — including just plain straight — out on the floor. DJs playing classic and modern industrial music are accompanied by coed dancers on the stage. There's also a monthly theme, and everyone is encouraged to dress up (this is Denver, after all!). Underground-music fans, mainstream dance fiends, true goths and more are sure to find something to love at Ominous.

ominousdenver.com
Readers' choice: Mile High Soul Club

With decor and ambience inspired by the Korova Milk Bar in A Clockwork Orange, Milk Bar caters to an eclectic crowd Wednesday through Saturday nights. Perhaps best known for its goth-oriented nights — explicitly so on Goth Wednesdays and less obviously so on Saturdays with Mixtape (which has a New Wave room) — Milk harks back to a time when EDM and its antecedents didn't completely dominate the playlists. Because of this, it attracts one of the most diverse crowds of any dance club in the city. Though completely legitimate, Milk feels like a speakeasy — the entrance is in the alleyway behind 1037 Broadway — run by benevolent weirdos with good taste.

Readers' choice: Tracks
Larimer Lounge
Jeff Davis

What's a great rock club but four walls and spilled beer? Yet therein lies the formula for facilitating live-music magic, which is just what happens at Larimer Lounge. Rather than assert a dominant personality or aesthetic, the Larimer appears to be little more than a hodgepodge of humble pieces. Its back-room venue isn't temperature-controlled, which encourages crowds to pack together even more tightly, and its low stage increases the feeling of intimacy. You can run into your favorite musicians in the upstairs bathroom — and now would be the time to say hi, because bands that play the Larimer are on their way up and soon graduate to larger venues. The club's energy leaks out the doors and into the bustling neighborhood nightlife, and with a revamped food cart in front and a new music festival happening on the block this spring, the Larimer proves that a great rock club transcends its four walls.

Readers' choice: hi-dive
Mutiny Information Cafe
Courtesy Mutiny Information Cafe

It may have no stage, no bar and not the best sound system in the world, but it's what happens inside Mutiny Information Cafe that matters. This bookstore/record store/venue/hangout on South Broadway stacks its calendar with film screenings, lectures, concerts, comedy shows and live podcast tapings. Basically, if you're not into what's happening at Mutiny, wait an hour and something else will inevitably pique your interest. There's also a pinball machine, a coffee bar and your friendly neighborhood conspiracy theorist hanging out between the books and records, just waiting to share his theories on global warming. The best part? It's the only all-ages venue on the strip, and events are donation-based, meaning Mutiny Information Cafe is a place where anyone can come along for the wild ride.

Pearl's

The building at 608 East 13th Avenue housed the venerable Snake Pit for nearly two decades before the Beauty Bar took over in 2010. When that venue closed last June, co-owner Mike Barnhart and manager Tucker Schwab spent the next few months transforming the space into a super-cool dance club and music venue on one side and a neighborhood bar on the other. Pearl's hosts the ever-popular Motown Thursdays — with free chicken and waffles — as well as other weekly and monthly dance nights.

Readers' choice: Ophelia's Electric Soapbox

As a talent buyer for Syntax Physic Opera and a resident of Denver DIY treasure Rhinoceropolis, Madeline Johnston has a serious stake in the local music scene. Unafraid to mix it up, she takes venue booking to the next level, curating shows based on raw sound rather than genre. A typical Johnston bill might include an experimental electronic act, a jazz quartet and a hip-hop artist all sharing the stage (or floor). Johnston's intentional soundscapes provide an atypical experience for show-goers — bar crowds and warehouse regulars alike. An active musician who also runs cassette-tape label Tinyamp Records, Johnston is fully immersed in the music that's happening right now, allowing her to put together some of the freshest and most interesting concerts in the metro area. Fans might go to a show to see their favorite rock band and discover a noise artist they've never heard of — all because of this promoter's ingenuity.

Denver Botanic Gardens

While the Denver Botanic Gardens' summer concert series is a decades-old tradition, Swallow Hill, which took over booking, producing and promoting the concerts there in 2010, has helped turn the series — which also includes a few shows a year at the DBG's Chatfield location — into a universally sold-out affair. The 2015 series boasted a wildly diverse lineup that included local legendary bluegrass outfit Hot Rize, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Boz Scaggs, Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, Culture Club, Melissa Etheridge, Ziggy Marley, Gipsy Kings, and a stop on Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club's final tour.

Throwing an inaugural local-acts-only music festival into the middle of a festival-saturated summer is a daunting task, but no one pulled it off better than the Bluebird District Musical Festival. Highlighting the wonderful, tiny venues lining the Bluebird District along East Colfax Avenue, the BDMF provided a weekend that was the perfect antidote for music fans already suffering from festival fatigue. It was casual and curated with care, with every stage offering eclectic, talented local acts.

Syntax Physic Opera

The owner of Syntax Physic Opera, Jonathan Bitz, prefers the term "host" or "concierge" to "door guy," which tells you something about the attention to detail and ambience here. And indeed, inside you'll find medicinal herbs in the cocktails, portraits of frontier-era civil-rights heroes on the walls, pistols in glass cases and an eclectic array of offerings on stage. It takes a certain kind of patience and charisma to stand at the threshold of such a place, and Syntax's Yves Rhone has both in spades. You'll find Rhone there every Friday and Saturday night, stylishly dressed and setting the tempo. Finding himself with a sudden vacancy about a year ago, Bitz hired Rhone on the spot on the strength of some trusted recommendations, and Rhone has been all we could hope for in a host: conversational, unflappable, and more than capable of preparing you for what's beyond the atrium.

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