Seventh Circle Music Collective
Anthony Camera

What would Denver do without the Seventh Circle Music Collective? This space is the epitome of the DIY ethos, a community-driven venue that relies on fans and bands alike to book, run and attend shows. Seventh Circle has invited hundreds of performers to its gritty, well-worn west Denver stage, entertaining and inspiring fervent all-ages crowds for more than half a decade. Just this year, Seventh Circle launched a membership program — so even punks with day jobs who don't get out to shows can throw a few bucks the venue's way and support a space that's keeping underground music alive in this town.

Readers' Choice: Upstairs Circus

If you're looking for queer, Gladys: The Nosy Neighbor delivers. Most nights, there's a good mix of genders at the bar, which bills itself as a hub for trans and non-binary people. Early in the evening, the joint is usually quiet enough for you to grab a drink with a date or a friend. But Gladys truly shines after 10 p.m., when the shows begin. The venue hosts acts unlike those you'll see on Denver's more traditional drag stages: Performers bring a nuanced, complex vision of gender to shows like the Thursday night Mx. Weirdo competition, when kings, queens and folks in between take on politics, pop-culture phenomena, personal tragedy and pure weirdness. If you want seats near the stage for any show, be sure to reserve a table, as the small place fills up quickly.

Readers' Choice: Tracks

Voicebox

While it can be fun to sing in front of a bunch of strangers, it's also a blast to share a mic with friends in a private karaoke suite — like one of the ten rooms at Voicebox. After opening two spots in Portland, Voicebox launched its RiNo location in 2016 with a full bar and restaurant. Individual rates run from $7 to $11 an hour, and group rates are $60 to $90 an hour. If that sounds a bit pricey, you're getting what you're paying for: a super-hip karaoke spot with state-of-the-art sound, video equipment and a playlist of more than 20,000 songs.

Readers' Choice: Voicebox

Oriental Theater

Like much of Denver, Tennyson Street has transformed so quickly that it's virtually unrecognizable to old-timers. But somehow, amid the cranes, bulldozers and boxy luxury living, sits the historic Oriental Theater. This temple of culture opened in 1927 as a movie house and did well for a few decades before closing up shop in the '80s. It was reopened as a live-music venue in 2005 and has only grown in popularity, hosting international musicians, big-name comedians and plenty of locally focused events, fundraisers and other gatherings. With a position on both the state and national registers of historic places, the Oriental has avoided the stain of gentrification while being one of the last independently booked large venues in the city.

Mutiny Information Cafe
Courtesy Mutiny Information Cafe

Polished and hip, Mutiny Information Cafe is not. And thank goodness for that, because its anything-goes vibe is part of what makes the space so attractive to young crust punks, low-key poets, old-school hip-hop heads and electro-freaks alike. Hidden in the back of this coffee shop/bookstore/pinball hall/comic and vinyl shop is a floor stage, a place for new musicians and old friends to hang out, see live performances and get inspired. Nobody's checking IDs at the door and no alcohol is served, reiterating the crucial point that at Mutiny Information Cafe, all-ages is always the rule and anyone can be a part of art as it happens, whether they're old enough to drink or not.

Readers' Choice: Red Rocks Amphitheatre

hi-dive

As many longtime establishments along the South Broadway corridor are pushed out by rising rents, the hi-dive has held on, a beacon of hope for all of Denver's jean-jacket constituency. The hi-dive's rock-music roots were firmly planted more than fifteen years ago, and since 2012, musicians and longtime patrons Joshua Terry, Matty Clark and Curtis Wallach have owned and run the venue, never letting the bar lose its local musicians' clubhouse undertones. South Broadway's perceived hipness has always preceded its actual vibe, thanks in part to the hi-dive's true-blue coolness. As the city's dive bars have closed in droves, a select few aged into place. The hi-dive should be known as one of the great "bars that existed before Denver was cool," and we hope it stays forever.

Levitt Pavilion Denver
Joel Rekiel

In Levitt Pavilion, we get two of Denver's greatest assets in one: a beautiful public park and a music venue. The nonprofit-operated outdoor stage is nestled in southwest Denver's Ruby Hill Park, a lovely, accessible green space offering access by car, bus, bike or foot. Fifty free concerts a year means that Levitt is economically approachable, too, giving audiences a chance to check out local, national and international musicians that fill the venue's summer calendar. Bring a blanket and your own picnic, or purchase food from the local food trucks that set up shop during concerts. Enjoy beverages from Levitt's own concession stand and you'll put money right back into the programming that makes this outdoor amphitheater a welcome, all-ages addition to an already bustling live-music scene.

Readers' Choice: Red Rocks Amphitheatre

The Buffalo Rose's exterior after its 2018 remodel.
Chris Cone
The Buffalo Rose's exterior after its 2018 remodel.

Back in the 1980s, the Buffalo Rose earned its reputation by bringing in hard-rock and hair-metal bands, a tradition that continued for nearly three decades at the legendary downtown Golden music club and bar. The venue is housed in a group of five buildings, some of which date back to the 1800s, and in 2017, new owner Chris Cone, who bought the Rose in 2016, closed it for renovations and gave it a major facelift, installing new sound and lighting systems, HVAC, bathrooms and more. These days the Buffalo Rose brings in a variety of acts, including local tribute bands, national blues artists and — as a nod to the old days — hard-rock acts like Winger.

Temple Nightclub
Aaron Thackeray

Nothing in town matches the spaceship-themed venue that is Temple Nightclub, which opened in 2017 in the former City Hall space. Approximately 50,000 lightbulbs grace the futuristic club, from floor to ceiling. The Funktion-One sound system guarantees phenomenal acoustics for beats from some of the best DJs and EDM producers in the world, among them Borgore, Duke Dumont and Pegboard Nerds. While the main room at Temple can be a lot of fun, the smaller room, LVL, offers a great place to chill to house and bass from local DJs on Wednesdays and weekends.

Readers' Choice: The Black Box

The Black Box
@JVPhotography11

Not all club-goers want to get gussied up and shell out big bucks for hoity-toity bottle service and maddening crowds. Many electronic-music aficionados prefer to party in a more intimate space, where the drinks won't break the bank and the music caters to the underground. Since Sub.mission's Nicole Cacciavillano opened the Black Box in 2016, the club has grown, bringing in some of the best local and national talent from the fringes of dance music, blasting songs through a booming Basscouch system. The club is open at least four nights a week, and there's usually music happening in each of its two rooms. For those who want to create their own EDM experience, the Black Box Studio offers classes in music production, sound design and live visuals.

Readers' Choice: Tracks

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