The Best Denver Bars With Live Music | Westword

The Best Denver Bars With Live Music

There's nothing like sipping on your favorite drink while listening to some excellent live music.
John Doe of X at the Lion's Lair.
John Doe of X at the Lion's Lair. Jon Solomon
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In a 2020 article for a series about "cities where live music has exploded," Rolling Stone turned the spotlight on Denver, proclaiming that our city is "in the midst of a huge live-music boom." Some would argue that the scene has been booming for years, and since that article came out, it's become even more robust. Not only does Denver have its share of venues dedicated to live music, but a number of restaurants and bars around town offer live music, as well. 

Keep reading for some of the best Denver bars and eateries with live-music lineups:
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Appaloosa Grill
Danielle Lirette
Appaloosa Grill
535 16th Street Mall
Appaloosa Grill has been a staple on the 16th Street Mall for over two decades, but it’s also been one of the few spots in downtown Denver to offer live music every night of the week. These days, a good part of the bar and restaurant's live-music program is dedicated to weekly residencies, including rock band the Westway Bells on Mondays, jazz/hip-hop act Brant Williams on Tuesdays, jazz trumpeter Gabe Mervine on Wednesdays, with a variety of acts on Fridays and Saturdays. There is usually no cover charge.
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Music is back at Carioca Cafe, aka Bar Bar.
Molly Martin
Bar Bar
2060 Champa Street
Technically, this beloved Denver dive's name is Carioca Cafe, but it's known simply as Bar Bar, thanks to the neon sign above the front door. While Bar Bar was long known for its punk shows, last year, the city discovered it didn't have a cabaret license after an undercover cop was allowed entry with an under-21 ID and purchased alcohol. Bar Bar reached a settlement with the city and closed for two weeks, and finally received its cabaret license — so it can host live music (legally) again. This dive is a favorite, and we're happy to hear music blasting from its walls once more.
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Molly Martin
Bar 404
404 Broadway
Bar 404 opened in December 2021 in the former home of Rory's Tavern (and Club 404 long before that). With its intimate atmosphere and delicious eats, Bar 404 is the place to be on Wednesdays, when the Ron LeGault Trio or other acts offer smooth jazz to soothe your mid-week blues. It also books plenty of other live-music acts, which you can find on its calendar.
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The Beacon is known for its immersive art and music.
Courtesy of the Beacon
The Beacon
2854 Larimer Street
The Beacon is without a doubt one of the most popular bars in RiNo. Known for its Burning Man atmosphere with immersive art installations by local artists in every room, Beacon prides itself on championing Denver-based creatives and DJs. Sip delicious cocktails under the woven-oak installation at the bar as you watch revelers on the dance floor under a cloud-like installation, dancing to beats from the best of Denver's DJs.
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Oskar Blues Grill & Brew and the Black Buzzard are located at 1624 Market Street in LoDo.
Danielle Lirette
Black Buzzard at Oskar Blues
1624 Market Street
Oskar Blues Grill & Brew opened just off the 16th Street Mall in January 2018, bringing with it a basement blues and rock venue called the Black Buzzard. It's been a big success, winning Westword's Best of Denver award for Best New Venue the year it opened; it continues to host both local and national bands, and has become a popular destination for local comics with its comedy nights, as well.
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Get down and dark at the Crypt.
Molly Martin
The Crypt
1618 East 17th Avenue
It's Halloween year-round at the Crypt, which opened in January 2022. Decorated with concert fliers and goth decor inspired by the book Death Scenes and the TV series Tales From the Crypt, this spooky nightlife destination will become your new favorite haunt with concerts that cater to punk, prog-rock, metal, grunge and hardcore fans. The Crypt won a well-deserved Best of Denver award for Best New Club in 2023, and its unique array of bar food and well-priced drinks only adds to its standing as a badass place to see live music.
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Dead Orchids at Goosetown Tavern, March 2017.
John Koontz
Goosetown Tavern
3242 East Colfax Avenue
For many years, Goosetown Tavern was just a great neighborhood hang, but when Chris Swank (who owns the Bluebird Theater across the street and Mezcal next door) bought it from the Wynkoop Group in 2014, he had a new stage built and new sound and light systems installed. Since then, live music has become much more of a focus, with weekly karaoke and open-mic nights. Cover charges vary.
Herb's hosts live music most nights of the week.
Justin Criado
2057 Larimer Street
Located two blocks from Coors Field, Herb’s has long been a hot spot for jazz (it’s owned by jazz saxophonist Laura Newman, who leads Alive on Arrival) and other genres such as rock, blues and funk. Jazz pianist and organist Vlad Girshevich holds court on Mondays, trumpeter Gabe Mervine plays on Tuesdays, there is a funk jam on Wednesdays, bassist Dave Randon is usually in the house on Thursdays, and a mix of acts show up on the weekends. There is usually no cover charge.
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Lincoln's Roadhouse offers more than meets the eye.
Justin Criado
Lincoln’s Roadhouse
1201 South Pearl Street
Lincoln’s Roadhouse is known for its Cajun grub, but on Friday and Saturday nights, live bands play in a small space next to the front door. Lincoln’s is big on the blues (Westword has named it Best Blues Club multiple times), and it brings in some of the area’s finest blues acts, such as Johnny O and Michael Hornbuckle, along with the occasional national act and local rock and rockabilly bands. There’s no cover charge.
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Jon Solomon
Lion's Lair
2022 East Colfax Avenue
Decades before it became the punk and rock haven it is today, the Lion's Lair was a jazz club where legends like Billie Holiday and Dexter Gordon played. It's also got one of the oldest liquor licenses in Denver. While the storied dive bar is perfect for downing a beer or four, you can also see local bands here, including at open-mic nights. Every so often, the Lair hosts big names in punk, such as John Doe or Mike Watt, and former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra occasionally puts on his own DJ dance party.
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Specific Ocean performing live at the Meadowlark.
Brandon Johnson (@bjohnsonxar)
The Meadowlark
2701 Larimer Street
Nearly seventeen years ago, the Meadowlark opened as an underground bar with the intimate feel of a log cabin. Since then, the bar’s weekly jazz nights have cultivated a certain reputation for nurturing up-and-coming musicians: For starters, the Lumineers played at the Meadowlark's open-mic nights long before headlining arenas around the globe, and Nathaniel Rateliff and the Wheel played intimate sets there back in the day. These days, you can catch live bands and DJs on the weekends on the outdoor patio stage. Cover charge varies.
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Bands perform on Number Thirty Eight's outdoor patio stage even in colder months.
Jon Solomon
Number Thirty Eight
3560 Chestnut Place
Number Thirty Eight has a taproom with rotating brews and serves food, but the spot’s most impressive element might be its massive outdoor patio area that boasts a huge stage, with plenty of room for music indoors, as well. Number Thirty Eight hosts live music through the week, and most of its concerts are free.
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Looking down at the stage at Ophelia's Electric Soapbox.
Ken Hamblin
Ophelia's Electric Soapbox
1215 20th Street
Ophelia's reopened in April 2022 after undergoing renovations during the pandemic. The three-story Airedale Building has a storied history, with many of its years spent as a brothel, sex shop and peep-show venue before it became Ophelia's, which pokes fun at that past with this tagline: "If these walls could talk, they would moan." Aside from a variety of unique dishes and cocktails, it's a fantastic live-music venue, with the stage on the basement level with the ceiling cut out above, so restaurant patrons on that floor can watch the action.
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The Orchid opened in 2023.
Courtesy Pete Foster
1448 Market Street
The Orchid opened in April 2023 as an upscale supper club devoted to jazz, blues, DJs and more live music that you can watch from a reserved table. The intimate setting includes two seated rooms, one in which the band plays on stage, and the other with a projection setup that livestreams the action from the other room.
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River Bar is part art gallery.
Jacqueline Collins
River Bar
3759 Chestnut Place

Part art gallery, part eccentric bar, River is an eclectic haven located in the former home of the Welcome Inn. There's always a great happening there, from pop-ups to food trucks, live music and standup and new gallery installations, but the open-mic night on each Monday from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. is a prime opportunity to kick back and enjoy the atmosphere with a craft cocktail or coffee in hand. The venue also has a night dedicated to hip-hop with Beats Bodega each Thursday, starting at 9 p.m.
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The Roxy on Broadway in late 2020.
Paula Vrakas
Roxy on Broadway
554 South Broadway
Roxy on Broadway opened in August 2019 and was starting to hit its stride before the pandemic shut down bars, restaurants and music venues. But owner Paula Vrakas, who also owns a Roxy in California, was persistent and kept the spot going; at one point, she had musicians play from the patio to the patrons inside. There's live music most nights of the week, as well as DJs spinning at weekend brunches. Cover varies.
click to enlarge a bar with graffiti and neon art installations
Monica Lloyd courtesy of Meow Wolf Denver
Sips (With a Z)
Meow Wolf, 1338 First Street

Meow Wolf added a loungey, immersive bar, Sips (With a Z), to its Denver location, Convergence Station, and Westword food editor Molly Martin went to check out the space before it opened last October. The lounge is flush with Meow Wolf's signature trippy details, with decorations inspired by Art Deco and street art, as well as velvet wallpaper. Grates in the floor provide a bird's eye view into C Street, one of the many worlds in the behemoth Convergence Station installation, while the bar serves "elevated cocktails."

But most of all, there is a stage in the spot as well as a screen that will livestream concerts from Meow Wolf's Perplexiplex venue, and Meow Wolf aims to have live performances in Sips (With a Z), which could include open-mic nights, comedy shows and poetry slams. "This was designed with performance in mind," events director Kristin Hutton told us.
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Two Moons Music Hall is open in RiNo.
Emily Ferguson
Two Moons Music Hall
2944 Larimer Street
Two Moons Music Hall opened in April courtesy of Pearl Street Hospitality and has six nights of live music a week. Most weekdays have no cover charge, and each night hosts a different genre. Tuesdays offer jazz, Wednesdays see independent artists and singer-songwriters, Thursdays alternate between Latin and honky-tonk music, and Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays showcase DJs, disco and funk. With large windows that open to the street and delectable cocktails in a bright, intimate setting, Two Moons is the perfect place for a night out any time of the year.
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Courtesy Washington Park Grille Facebook
Wash Park Grille
1096 South Gaylord Street
Although best known as a restaurant and bar, Wash Park Grille has long hosted live music, both bands and solo artists. There's live music Thursdays through Saturdays starting at 8 p.m., with local jam musicians such as Eric Martinez and Bill McKay. Seating is limited in the bar area, but you can hear the music from the dining room (and the patio, when the weather is good). While there’s no cover, a $10 tip for the musicians is highly recommended.
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The Milk Blossoms perform at Western Sky Bar & Taproom.
Harrison Garcia
Western Sky Bar & Taproom
4361 South Broadway, Englewood
Every last Sunday of the month, Western Sky hosts an open jam from 5 to 7 p.m., but that's not all the taproom has to offer. Each Thursday, there is the South South Broadway Variety Show, which stages comics and live music starting at 8 p.m., and Saturdays see various acts take the stage.
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Your Mom's House throws down in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Sam Nguyen
Your Mom’s House
608 East 13th Avenue
Open nightly from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., Your Mom’s House is a small, low-key, divey club with a bit of a stoner vibe in the space that used to be Beauty Bar. There’s a main bar, a music room with a screen for light effects, high-top seating and just enough space in between for dancing, as well as a small bar in the back. The music is a mix of local and regional bands from all genres, plus DJs, open jams and the occasional cover band, and if no one is booked, patrons can pick their own on the Spotify connection. If you get there early, snag the C-shaped booth for the best people-watching, and check out the local art all over the walls.

This story was originally published in November 2021 and has been updated.
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