The beating heart of the Westword Music Showcase has always been the lineup of Colorado bands playing some of the city's top independent venues, and on Friday, September 17, you'll have the chance to enjoy dozens of those artists — some familiar names and others who are on the brink of exploding — playing multiple bars, clubs and other businesses throughout the RiNO Art District, all for free. That lineup will be shared soon.
In the meantime, we're announcing the bands we've tapped to play the three stages at the Mission Outdoors on Saturday, September 18, alongside the international headliners. These genre-spanning artists have proven to be some of the region's most promising talent, packing houses and spreading their music online. They inspire us and make us love Denver's music scene more and more each day, and we can't wait to share their performances with you.
Before we drop the lineup, one note: In the mix is a super-secret act that will be announced just before the festival, a fierce band that has proven itself on the international touring circuit and at home. These hard-hitting young musicians have one of the most anticipated albums of 2021, and from what we've heard, it deserves the hype. What's the band? We really wanna tell you...but mum's the word.
Here are the rest of the local main-stage acts playing the 2021 edition of the Westword Music Showcase on Saturday, September 18:
We've loved 2MX2 for as long as the band has been around. But when we caught this crew of musicians opening for Flobots at Levitt Pavilion earlier this summer, we were blown away by their songs of liberation and joy, their charming choreography and ability to lure in the crowd. They are as committed to making the world a better place as they are to making us dance — and dance you will when you hear them deliver a mix of hip-hop, Latin sounds and soul. "Sí, se puede!"
Brothers of Brass
No Denver band has dominated the city's streets like Brothers of Brass, a group of horn and drum players that have wowed passersby outside major concerts and sporting events, led protests and brought the feel of a New Orleans marching band — laced with hip-hop — to the Mile High City. Walk around any corner in Denver, and these tireless musicians might be there, busking and breaking down covers and original songs alike, all while challenging the powers-that-be. And they've proved to be as magnificent on the stage as they are in the streets. So surrender yourself to the Brothers of Brass, because they will never back down.
Skipping across genres, Boulder pop singer-songwriter Dafna has been racking up streams on Spotify and playing some of the region's best clubs, dazzling audiences with her catchy songs, lilting voice and extraordinary charisma. Her music is both intimate and emotionally explosive, the soundtrack to the sweetest, saddest moments of our lives. She's a natural star with extraordinary promise. Her music is a love potion, and you'll feel as light as a feather as you float away on her catchy melodies.
The Fort Collins-based alt-rockers in Holdfast. — two brothers and a cousin — dish out a pop-y take on their genre, with killer songwriting and festival-primed bangers that make you feel like the sun is shining, the wind is blowing through your hair and life is filled with possibility, even when it's tough. At music festivals, including Taste of Fort Collins and Hometown for the Holidays, their high-energy shows have attracted a passionate fan base. We're betting they'll win you over, too.
Up-and-coming rapper Nay Renee has been dishing out sassy songs that have garnered a national reputation and an extremely dedicated crew of supporters in her hometown of Denver. Her music has been played widely in clubs across the country, and whenever we listen, we can't help but sing along. She's primed to party, as wild as they come, and equally ambitious. Catch her while you can.
With earworm songs and unfiltered energy, the bilingual Ecuadorian pop singer turned Denver fave, Neoma, puts on a stunning show. She's young. She's brooding. And she knows how to own a stage and dominate a crowd. Denver's lucky she moved here, and we're excited to share her soaring talent with you. Do not miss her and her band, because they bring a live show every bit as compelling as her recordings to the stage. Can't make it? Suffer FOMO.
Take a trip into the galaxy when N3ptune slays the stage with soulful, genre-expansive songs fueled by youthful energy, a troubled relationship with drugs, and dance-y beats. His music moves through experimental, hip-hop and pop, and his catchy hooks and bluesy vocals are impossible to resist, as is his steel-hard rapping. As he brutally attacks the mic, listeners will appreciate his sophisticated understanding of dynamics. This artist is primed to skyrocket into outer space with a party in tow.
Westword writers have been YaSi superfans every since the singer-songwriter got her start. We embraced her when she was playing tiny venues, and we've cheered her along as she's owned crowds at the Mission Ballroom, Red Rocks and Levitt Pavilion. Let her own you. Her most recent EP, Coexist With Chaos, is one of the best to come from a Denver artist in years. Lately, YaSi's been traveling back and forth between here and Los Angeles, and we're afraid she might be moving on. Before she does, make sure to check her out: She's going places.
Among Denver rappers, A Meazy stands out for his masterful lyricism, his brilliant flow and his ability to move between humor, pathos, drama and a commitment to chronicling the ups and downs of life. He made waves during the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 with his powerful "I Can't Breathe" collab, but he's been hitting the mic for years, sharing painful stories and pushing the art form one release at a time.
Wondering about the state of Denver's rock scene? Look no further than iZCALLi, a hardworking band of musicians who have been instrumental in preserving the genre in town. Always shredding, the bilingual trio has made waves in the city, bringing along fellow musicians for the ride and building community in the process. Now it's time to show up — and rock out — for them.
Having grown up making music in church, Joseph Lamar now dives deep into the hypocrisy of religion, the sultry side of life and issues of guilt and redemption through song. Over the past year, he's released the defiant Sin [Act I], a brilliantly produced exploration of a character in a dystopian future. With bold narratives and a rebellious performance style, Lamar promises to surprise audiences and push borders every time he plays.
Jazz heads, jam-band fans, hip-hop lovers and poetry fiends alike will jump on board as the musical wizards in Ramakhandra teleport us to another plane of consciousness. These are musicians' musicians, whose jaw-dropping experimentation and futuristic outlook push Denver's soundscape into other worlds. Nobody makes music quite like Ramakhandra. Driven by harp plucking, mind-twisting jazz drumming and prophetic vocals, the band conjures the future of music and all its possibilities.
The Westword Music Showcase runs September 17 and 18 in the RiNo Art District. For more information about ticket packages, visit the festival online.