Shopping for adults is tough – and finding the perfect gift for music lovers can be a particular challenge. We're often uppity about what's hot and what's not and temperamental when it comes to what we like. Still, in a city like Denver, with our endless stream of live shows and bands galore, gift options for every musical taste abound. Here are ten gifts we recommend for the Mile High music lover in your life.
A gift card to Ophelia's Electric Soapbox
Maybe your music lovers are early risers and enjoy a weekend brunch, or perhaps they prefer late-night concerts. Don't know? Either way, you can't go wrong with a gift certificate to Ophelia's Electric Soapbox, the downtown joint that boasts musical acts as good as its food and decor.
Music festival tickets
In 2018, Colorado is going to see a bevy of music festivals, from our own Westword Music Showcase, the Underground Music Showcase and Global Dance Festival to Decadence, RockyGrass and the new festival at the Overland Park Golf Course. There are festivals for all stripes of music fans, from electronic to metal to jazz. Some tickets are already on sale; others you'll have to wait for.
Record store gift certificate
Independent record shops are a music lover's paradise, and they happen to be struggling to stay open in a world where a song is always a few clicks away. A gift card to Twist & Shout or Wax Trax shows you care without having to agonize over the perfect album to gift someone, all while helping to keep Denver's mom-and-pop record shops alive.
Red Rocks tickets
Even if you have no clue what kind of music your loved one enjoys listening to, Red Rocks tickets are a good pick for any Denver music fan; after all, even listening to a lousy band can become a magnificent experience at the world's greatest venue. Already announced for 2018 are Icelantic on the Rocks, Methodman and Redman, Global Dub Festival, Khalid and many more.
A subscription to a classical-music series
Most classical-music organizations offer subscriptions; it's how these legacy institutions stayed afloat for years. These days, they depend more on blockbuster one-off events (for which you can also purchase tickets). Nonetheless, opera lovers would appreciate a season pass to Opera Colorado or Central City Opera, orchestra lovers to the Colorado Symphony, and ballet aficionados to the Colorado Ballet or Wonderbound.
In the wake of the music industry's seismic shift in distribution and how revenue is generated, bands rely on merch sales to make a living. While much of the merch is sold at concerts (and we encourage you to buy some whenever you go out), it is also available on band websites or Bandcamp. For a list of stellar local musicians selling posters, pins and tchotchkes, check out the bands that played Westword Music Showcase in 2017.
New album from a local band
Dozens of Denver bands released new albums in 2017. From Gasoline Lollipops, SIR and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats to the Flobots, you're sure to find a new record by some of these acts online. Better yet, go to one of the aforementioned record stores and ask a friendly salesperson what hot Denver bands they recommend.
Music isn't just something to consume; it's also to be made! And musicians, from the least experienced to the most gifted, can benefit from music lessons, whether they're learning a new instrument or style or just perfecting their skills. Consider getting your music buff classes at Swallow Hill, the Denver Music Institute or another local music school.
A donation to a music nonprofit
Perhaps you eschew commercialism. You prefer your gifts to be gestures of philanthropy. Good for you. Consider making a donation, in your gift recipient's name, to a music nonprofit like Youth on Record, Swallow Hill or Levitt Pavilion. Most of these organizations, burned out from heavy-handed Colorado Gives Day campaigns, are too weary to encourage holiday-season giving, but they'll be thrilled that you thought of them.
A New Year's Eve concert
If someone is going to be spending New Year's Eve alone, consider giving them a night on the town. Snag them tickets to Decadence, New Year's Eve on the Rocks or any of the amazing shows happening at venues citywide, including performances by Itchy-O, the Yawpers or the Nuns of Brixton.