Music Festivals

Five Observations From the First Bluebird District Music Festival

The inaugural Bluebird District Music Festival hit East Colfax last weekend, and if you weren't there, you missed three days of insane local talent. We were there, wandering the wickedest street and taking in all the music. Here's what we thought of BDMF, volume one: 

1. Lost Lake is the only place in town where you can grab a seat at the bar and watch bands set up and on a giant flat-screen TV (and still hear them perfectly).

Lost Lake recently remodeled, flip-flopping the stage and bar, and it was a smart move on their part. The bar, which is separated by a semi-wall that allows for privacy but doesn’t alter sounds from the stage, also features a giant TV with a live feed of the stage. In between the Outfit and the Blue Rider, we met a guy at that bar who was friends with a member of the Dirty Few. Having arrived early for their set, he was more than content chilling at the bar, casually hearing (and watching through the screen) the bands on stage play, and buying anyone who looked friendly a drink. I was happy to chat with him and comment on what was happening on TV and also just behind us.

2. The Blue Rider sounds like the Doors if Jim Morrison were actually good.

Don’t get me wrong, The Doors are my desert-island band. But Jim Morrison was mostly a drunken idiot who acted like both a teenage heartthrob and a shaman. The Blue Rider, however, has found a way to harness the Doors’ sound, mix it with all the pub rock that’s come post-Morrison’s death, and create the perfect sonic mix for a dive bar at 11 p.m. on a Saturday.

3. General information about the lineup and schedule was less than great.

The only schedule to be found if you googled “Bluebird District Music Festival” was a Facebook page with a photo of the schedule, which was slightly outdated. The lack of pre-day signage and information was fine if you were heading over for a few hours in between recording a podcast and having a late meal with a friend. But it was probably a nightmare for the obsessive festival fan who wants to make sure they catch every single band they want to see. In all likelihood, it can be written off as part of the chaos that is throwing a festival for the first time — but arriving at Lost Lake to find that the Dirty Few wouldn’t be playing until 12:30 a.m. and A. Tom Collins was suddenly missing from the schedule was a buzzkill.

4. BDMF is the kind of festival best approached casually, which is a relief in an already festival-saturated city.

It seems like every weekend there is another music festival in Denver during the summer. Trying to plan it all and remembering to hydrate and scribbling down set times can get tiring quickly. Sure, BDMF had five venues and tons of local bands to see in a three-day span, but most festival-goers seemed content to have a few pints on the patio of Goosetown and then wander in when they heard music. Or have a few pints in the parking lot of Park House and cheer for whatever band happened to be playing. The festival is venue-based, and proved that sometimes just relaxing and enjoying a space is the best way to enjoy a festival.

5. As far as festivals goes, BDMF is one of the better choices for the broke music fan.

The cost of festivals can add up fast. Between the drinks and transportation and ticket costs, it’s not surprising for a local music fan to see their bank account take a nosedive in the summer. But BDMF was only $25 for three days. If you wanted to just stop by one venue for one night, it was only $10. That’s comparable to most local shows, if not cheaper. Even if you just went for a few hours, you more than got your money’s worth, because throw a rock anywhere in this town (or at any one of the five participating East Colfax venues) and you’ll hit a crazy-talented band.