Best Metal Venue 2023 | HQ | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Broadway is home to some of the city's great live-music locales, but HQ is the best place to catch a metal show. The club moved into the former 3 Kings Tavern space after the pandemic, when Oriental Theater owners Peter Ore and Scott Happel took over the beloved dive bar with the intention of keeping its independent music legacy alive. And metal bands are taking the stage nearly every night: This year's lineup includes Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein, hardcore legends Madball and new wave of British heavy-metal mainstays Satan and Max Cavalera's Soulfly. Those acts alone give HQ more than enough heavy-metal cred, but the space also regularly books local bands and events, including drag and burlesque shows. That type of diversity and welcoming attitude is pretty metal, too. Horns, HQ!

Anthony Camera

DIY isn't dead in Denver, and the proof is at Seventh Circle Music Collective, which sits in a small house and garage in west Denver. Here you'll find an art gallery, a record store, and a multi-purpose art and music space that welcomes a variety of genres, including shoegaze, indie, punk, rock, ambient, metal and more. The entire place is run by volunteers — music enthusiasts and creatives who are passionate about keeping Denver's wild and weird spirit alive while nurturing a community for those who prefer to indulge their interests in more alternative settings.

Nissi's is known to offer rock, jazz, swing, Latin, R&B, funk and more, along with the occasional comedian. But you'll also find high-quality blues at its weekly Bourbon, Blues & Grooves night, free Wednesday evenings that showcase regional and national bands covering or playing original blues, including Mojomama, the Toneshakers and Reckless and Blue. Nissi's has also been known to host some of our most beloved local blues bands, including the Delta Sonics (recipient of many past Best Blues Band awards) and Eef and the Blues Express. While you're enjoying a set on the club's stage, which has plenty of space in front to shake your groove thing, take advantage of $1 off any bourbon or whiskey drink — the bartenders are skilled, so try the Manhattan — and nosh on a few of the savvy small plates.

Cynthia Griggs

The Beacon has become one of the most desirable hot spots in RiNo since Mario Nocifera and Robert Champion opened it in December 2021, and it's easy to see why. The space is brimming with immersive installations from local artists, including Jon Medina, Aleesha Anderson and Sidney Connell; even the ceiling above the dance floor is a work of art, with a massive cloud-like installation hanging over the packed crowds that gather there. The Beacon emphasizes supporting local musicians, too, and has become a destination for people who want to dance and let loose, and perhaps even stumble upon secret sets from famous DJs. With all-around good vibes, you'll find yourself coming back for more.

Best Place to Dance Like No One's Watching

Your Mom's House

Sam Nguyen

You know how they say not to worry about what other people think of you, because chances are they're not? That goes double at Your Mom's House, a small laid-back club in Cap Hill with a bit of a stoner vibe that puts on a variety of shows each week — local and regional cover bands, DJs, open jams, flow artists, you name it — that are always eminently danceable on the floor made from squares of LED lights. Find a couple of cubes to stake out and strut your stuff, but don't worry: No one cares about your style (or lack thereof). In fact, it's highly likely that your fellow dancers are far too busy channeling their party favors of choice, mesmerized by the ever-changing lights rotating to the beat. Feel free to let loose — just hang on tight to that PBR tallboy.

Scout It Out Media

A nonprofit artist collective, Knew Conscious is a members-only club where you can see new talent in Denver perform alongside the digital artwork of the organization’s founder, Kurt Redeker, in an intimate setting. And one of the side perks of the private club is that because it's open late, big-name artists often stop by after playing sets at Mission Ballroom or Red Rocks to keep the party going. That happened in February with none other than members of Billy Strings's entourage, who played Knew Conscious for hours after their 1STBANK Center show let out. Clearly, that $12 monthly membership is well worth it.


The Black Box has been one of Denver's most consistent purveyors of EDM since it opened in 2016. The club was founded by Nicole Cacciavillano, who had already been fostering Denver's underground electronic scene for a decade with her Sub.mission event, which occurs at the Black Box every Tuesday to showcase the best of the Mile High City's DJs. Sub.mission, which celebrated its fifteenth anniversary in 2022, is the oldest active dubstep promoter in the country, and was the first to bring an international dubstep DJ to the United States. The event's success is how the Black Box came to be, and the club has continued to deliver only the cream of the crop to its dedicated audience.

Jake Cox

Are hip-hop clubs an endangered species in Denver? For decades, they've been the subject of complaints from neighbors and cops alike, subject to shutdowns that last days, weeks...and sometimes forever. Over the past year or so, Roo-Bar Lounge has been slapped and LoDo's legendary Beta Event Center was closed altogether, making other clubs reluctant to take on the genre. All that makes the hip-hop parties and events that (shh!) pop up in the lobby and subterranean space at Nativ Hotel a real reason to celebrate. Fight for your right to party!

With its country-Western vibe, the uninitiated might take one look at Stampede and assume it's a honky-tonk where bluegrass and country reign supreme. And while it does offer line-dancing lessons, Stampede has become known for championing Latin bands on the several nights a week that it hosts live music. The stage has been graced by the likes of Pesado, Duelo de Acordeones, Bertín y Su Condesa and Frank Reyes. In addition, every Wednesday is ladies' night, when the cover charge is only $5 and women drink for free until 11 p.m. Ándele, pues.

Courtesy of La Rumba

La Rumba celebrated 25 years in business in October 2022, but for its first two years in business, it was a swing-dance club called Ninth Avenue West. We're grateful that owner Chris Swank decided to change the club's musical direction, as La Rumba has established itself as the preeminent salsa and cumbia club in the city. There are classes in salsa, cumbia and bachata daily, and the music ranges from Dominican dembow to merengue, reggaetón and more.

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