The Westword Music Showcase is always a blast. Great bands. Great food. Great vendors. To have the best time possible, there's a lot you can do to prepare, from organizing your schedule and wearing the right clothes to making sure you have to goods to avoid sunburn and stay hydrated..
With the 25th edition of Showcase taking over the Golden Triangle neighborhood in a mere 25 days (on June 29), we thought this would be the ideal time to offer 25 tips culled from our staff to help you have the time of your life.
No, we don't mean get drunk before Showcase starts in the morning (though if you do, we won't judge). Save that for the festival itself. We mean research the artists — local and national alike — and get to know their songs. Festivals are always more fun when you can sing along. Get started with this Westword Music Showcase playlist on Spotify.
Sure, be stylish. But also be prepared for a hot day. Shorts, sundresses, tank tops and light T-shirts all allow your body to breathe. Also, this is Colorado and weather can be unpredictable, so bring along a light jacket...and maybe some rain gear.
If you leave the bars and local acts for the main stages during the day, sunglasses are mandatory. The sun can be blinding — literally — and there's no reason to risk that.
Wear Comfy Shoes
Ditch the heels and the trendy but blister-inducing knee highs. Pretend you're going for a hike or a run instead. The comfier the footwear, the better. You're going to be standing, dancing and walking a lot. Don't torture your dogs.
Wear a hat, slather on sunscreen and wear the kind of lip balm that protects your smackers from those nasty rays. You're less likely to suffer under the bright Colorado sun, and also less likely to get skin cancer — which means you might be around when the Westword Music Showcase celebrates its fiftieth year, too.
Use Ear Protection
As a music lover, your ears are one of your most important assets. Never show up to a concert without ear protection, be it plugs, headphones or even punk-style wadded-up toilet paper. We know, we know: the louder the better. But it's not so fun when your ears ring constantly and you can't hear your friends.
Bring an Extra Outfit or Three
If you're the sweaty type, you know the feeling: soaked clothes, chafed skin, misery. Bring along an extra outfit for that all-day fresh look.
Leave Banned Items at Home
No, you can't bring your gun or your banners or your squirt guns or your outside food and beverages or your drugs or your inflatables to showcase. But do bring a small camera, empty water bottles or bladders, and hats. Review our FAQ page for a full list of what is and isn't prohibited.
Plan Your Transportation
We recommend that you bike, if possible. And when you get there, park your ride at the Denver Community Credit Union parking lot at 1075 Acoma Street. If you can't bike, then walk, take public transportation or come down in an Uber or Lyft. If you must drive, try to carpool — and be prepared for limited parking and figuring out how to get home if you've had one too many brews.
Succumb to the Fates
If you're the adventurous sort, don't plan a thing. Just cruise around the neighborhood, stopping in to hear whatever catches your fancy. Explore the whole event, see every stage, and embrace the unfamiliar. Or...
Plan Your Schedule
While it can be fun to wander from venue to venue, stumbling into whatever the fates may offer, we recommend reviewing the schedule, prioritizing the acts you're most excited about seeing and writing down where you plan to be and when. Find out how many bands you can see in a day, even if that means just checking out a band for a few minutes. Or dig into a few acts' full sets.
Things tend to get a little chaotic once the day gets into full swing. If your day doesn't work out as you planned, no harm, no foul: The beauty of Showcase is that there's always something else to do/see/hear.
Unlike typical concerts, where musicians are shuffled off to a greenroom, many of Denver's finest artists will be partying in the crowd with you. Go up and say hi. Showcase is all about forming community, and it's up to you to do that. Generally, musicians are thrilled to chat — especially if you like their music.
Explore the Whole Festival
Don't limit yourself to one stage or one genre. Check it all out and challenge your taste.
Post Your Schedule on Social
Assuming you're not in hiding, share your festival schedule on social media. You don't want to find out that you and your friends were at the same venue and missed each other.
Prepare to Party
Of course, partying means different things to different people. For some, that's drowning in Breckenridge brews. For others, that's sobriety. No matter what, show up with an open heart, and you'll get more out of the experience.
Keep Your Hands to Yourself
Music festivals have too often been plagued by gropers and pushy people who don't know how to take no for an answer. This is unacceptable. Don't touch anybody without their explicit permission, and if somebody's harassing you, go speak to one of the good folks staffing the festival.
If the crowds and loud music get to be too much, take a walk, stop by one of the local restaurants, peruse a nearby gallery or simply sit down and breathe. You can even take a load off at Showcase sponsor White Claw's festival lounge and sip on some of the company's booze-and-fruit-infused seltzer water.
Hydrate, but Not Too Much
Hydration stations throughout the festival grounds offer the opportunity to keep your water bottle filled. Drink. A lot! But not too much water. If you're going to stay hydrated, be sure to also take in some electrolytes so you don't flush and sweat them out of your system, leaving you sick and cranky.
Dance to Your Own Tune
Don't forget to dance at the silent disco in the Breckenridge Brewery area, where a variety of DJs will allow your pick of tunes. These things look awkward from the outside, but once your headphones are on and you're moving, few things are as fun. If that's not your bag, Breckenridge will also be offering games to play.
Make a Playlist
Make a playlist of your favorite Showcase artists and share it with your friends and family. Everyone loves discovering new music, and after seeing more than 75 bands in one day, you're going to be in the know about what's hot.
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Peruse the Vendors
Check out the Westword Music Showcase vendors. Whether they're registering voters, selling windows or hot merch, or dishing out free samples of a new product, they're there to connect with you.
Invest in some B Fresh official Showcase merch, but don't forget band merch, too. Whether it's a tape put out by a scrappy local or a CHVRCHES T-shirt, you'll have something special to help you remember the day and support the musicians, to boot.
Don't Rely on Your Phone
Make sure your phone is charged before you leave home. But just in case, designate a place to meet your friends if you get separated.
Shoot and Post Photos
Document your day: the bands, the venues, the people. Then post all your photos, comments and videos to social media, using the tag #WMS25 for the chance to be spotlighted on Westword's Instagram feed.
The 25th Westword Music Showcase will sound off in the Golden Triangle on Saturday, June 29. Find out more about who's playing, vote for your favorite acts on the Westword Music Awards ballot, and buy tickets at westwordshowcase.com.