Denver Music Venues Are Acing the Stay-at-Home Order

The Ogden Theatre, also part of the AEG family, shows its gratitude for musicians, patrons and the community at large.
The Ogden Theatre, also part of the AEG family, shows its gratitude for musicians, patrons and the community at large. Lauren Antonoff
Most Denver music venues have heeded the city's stay-at-home order, even though it runs until at least May 8, with no clear signals about when venues might be able to reopen after that.

In the meantime, musicians have pivoted to online concerts and applied for grants; promoters have scrambled to reschedule and cancel shows and refund money; and music-industry workers have been applying for unemployment.

When Governor Jared Polis announced details of Colorado's safer-at-home order on Monday, April 27, he offered no specific time frame for when nightclubs, concerts and other large-scale events might return to the state — though it's clear they will not be permitted in May under safer-at-home rules, which do not allow for gatherings of more than ten.

On previous occasions, Polis has said that large-scale concerts and events might not return until there's a COVID-19 cure or vaccine, or sufficient herd immunity.

Only one music-related enterprise, the Grateful Dead-themed Sancho's Broken Arrow on East Colfax Avenue, has been cited by the city for violating the stay-at-home order.

"The first orders were issued on April 15, 2020 to cease all in-house consumption and only adhere to LED to go sales at Sanchos," says Denver's COVID-19 Joint Information Center. "They were instructed not to have any consumption of alcohol on site by staff, owner, or patrons.

"Court summons was issued on April 24, 2020 for three counts: Failure to comply with previous orders, failure to comply with current Denver Stay at Home orders, and hindering an investigation," the city's statement continues. "That took place at 4pm. In addition to the summons and closure we issued orders to clean the facility prior to opening. Owner was compliant."

Promoters ranging from corporate giants AEG and Live Nation to independent outfits like Ophelia's Electric Soapbox and even DIY spaces such as Seventh Circle Music Collective have been lobbying the government for support — but not bucking the law.

"I haven’t heard anything official regarding how long before we’re up and running again," explains Levitt Pavilion's executive director, Chris Zacher, who is also organizing Colorado bookers and promoters represented by the National Independent Venue Association. "The most responsible thing the industry can do is wait until it’s safe for large gatherings to happen again. If we push that time frame up too early, we risk the potential of exposure to our audiences, staff and artists. My hunch is that we will not see much, if any, activity until July at the earliest. If it’s July, August, September or 2021, we have to br patient and open when it’s safe. Levitt is planning for multiple scenarios with a cautious level of optimism. When the industry can open back up, I believe we’ll see a phase-in of live events based on social-distancing guidelines."

Here's the full list of Denver businesses that have been cited for violating the stay-at-home order, provided by the Joint Information Task Force:

4/26: DogHaus, 8316 East Northfield Boulevard
4/25: Queens Auto Sales, 7405 East Colfax
4/24: Sancho’s Broken Arrow, 741 East Colfax Avenue
4/23: Spray La Vie, 5075 Leetsdale Drive
4/21: Hush Vapor, 1908 East Colfax Avenue
4/20: Sleep Nation, 1390 South Colorado Boulevard #100
4/18: Smokey’s Pipe and Tobacco, 10019 East Hampden Avenue
4/10: Appliance Factory, 1045 Zuni – DISMISSED/WITHDRAWN
4/10: Appliance Factory, 2816 Colorado – DISMISSED/WITHDRAWN
4/8: Bass Pro Shops, 7970 East Northfield Boulevard
4/7: Colorado Vape and Glass, 1871 South Broadway
4/6: Nuggs Ice Cream, 5135 East Colfax
4/3: United Ground Express, 8500 Pena Boulevard – DISMISSED/WITHDRAWN
4/2: Appliance Factory, 1045 Zuni
4/2: Denver Smokes and Vapes, 4085 East Mississippi #E
4/2: Royal Pipes and Hookahs, 10890 East Dartmouth #10A
4/2: EZ Pawn, 1025 South Broadway
4/1: Appliance Factory, 2816 Colorado Boulevard
4/1: Vape Glass, 4039 South Lowell Boulevard
3/31: Appliance Factory, 1045 Zuni
3/31: Wing Stop, 5125 Chambers Road
3/30: Hobby Lobby, 920 South Monaco Street
3/29: Appliance Factory Outlet, 1045 Zuni Street
3/29: Car Wash USA Express, 603 Santa Fe Drive
3/28: Appliance Factory, 1045 Zuni
3/26: Game Stop, 757 East 20th Avenue
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris