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

La Rumba
Eric Gruneisen

Fans of all types of Latin musical styles have been heading to La Rumba since the late '90s to dance and enjoy Spanish-language music from Denver and around the world. The venue is known for its dance classes, where you can get various levels of instruction in salsa and bachata before hitting the dance floor. Regular dance nights are Thursday through Sunday — but for concerts and special events, La Rumba is known to bring in some of the biggest names in the state as well as from Latin America. For world-class entertainment in an intimate venue, La Rumba is the place to be.

Readers' Choice: La Rumba

Dazzle

Walk into Dazzle most nights of the week and you're apt catch a mix of Mile High jazz greats and world-renowned artists. Two years ago, the venue moved from its longtime home at 930 Lincoln Street to a much bigger space, in the Baur's building on Curtis Street downtown, where the club has upped its bookings by bringing in crowd-pleasing acts like the Bad Plus and taking chances on more fringe international artists like Jakob Bro and Nik Bärtsch. Along with live music, Dazzle serves up high-end comfort food and sells vintage and contemporary records at reasonable prices.

Readers' Choice: Nocturne

Denver has plenty of venues that book the occasional blues act, but Lincoln's Roadhouse shines a bright light on the genre, whether it's hosting some of the area's best players, like Austin Young or Johnny O., or the occasional national act. The joint can get rowdy and the tiny dance floor jam-packed on the weekends, but if you like your blues with a side of some of the best Cajun grub around, Lincoln's is the spot.

Readers' Choice: El Chapultepec

Ophelia's Electric Soapbox

Following the success of urban eateries Root Down and Linger, restaurateur Justin Cucci went on to open Ophelia's Electric Soapbox, dubbed a "gastro-brothel" in a nod to the building's history as a house of ill repute and peep-show parlor. These days, the super-hip spot, decked out in boudoir-style decor, serves a varied dinner menu that includes burgers, sliders, flatbreads, skillets and small plates. Downstairs, the music venue has gradually ramped up the quality of its bookings, bringing in such national acts as the Dandy Warhols, Son Volt and the North Mississippi Allstars while hosting local acts and wildly popular dance parties.

Globe Hall
Jeff Davis JWD Imagery

Since AEG talent buyer Scott Campbell, owner of the Larimer Lounge and Lost Lake Lounge, took over Globe Hall two years ago, the venue, dive bar and barbecue joint has steadily brought in a dazzling assortment of national acts that might normally be found playing bigger stages. Recent shows at the 250-person venue include Gang of Four and Helio Sequence; both had played the Gothic Theatre on previous stops in town. This no-frills intimate club is great for seeing bigger acts up close and catching lesser-known bands on the rise.

Readers' Choice: hi-dive

Fillmore Auditorium
Michael Emery Hecker

Celebrating its twentieth anniversary as a concert space under the Fillmore name, Live Nation's mid-sized Colfax Avenue auditorium — once a skating rink and an electric-car factory — received a stunning upgrade. The Fillmore's wide-open space was graced with three new elevated tiers of seating, creating vastly improved sightlines to the stage. Upgrades to the sound system deliver bright acoustics to every seat in the house, and added doors have created a smoother entrance and exit for the crowds. The most crucial improvement — which came after years of complaints about endless lines — is the addition of more restrooms, so concert-goers can spend less time doing the pee-pee dance and more time enjoying the show.

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