Denver's live-music scene is booming. From massive projects like the Mission Ballroom to the pop-up Neon Baby, venues have been opening, remodeling and rebranding throughout the metro area. This means one thing: more live music every night of the week. Here are ten of the spaces that debuted or were remodeled this past year:
Antero Hall at Eck's Saloon
9890 West Girton Drive, Lakewood
The Lakewood venue at Eck's Saloon has gone through many iterations under a series of colorful owners. Now longtime staffer and new owner Ken Morris has rebranded the venue as Antero Hall at Eck's Saloon and remodeled the space with upgraded kitchen, lighting system and sound system. While opening up has been a struggle, Morris is hell-bent on bringing the space's concert calendar back to its full glory.
1909 Blake Street
The old Beta was one of the nation's hottest bass and EDM clubs. It closed earlier this year, with a massive party. Then it reopened this fall, with promises of a pool (which we last heard is slated to be open for Rockies Opening Day 2020). The DJ booth has been redesigned to tower over the dance floor, new projection technology and lighting rigs have been installed, and over the past few weeks, the club has pivoted to incorporate more hip-hop, gaming and sports betting. Tensions have brewed between longstanding dance-music fans and the hip-hop scene, and Denver is still waiting to see how 2.0 shakes out.
1119 Washington Avenue, Golden
Since Chris Cone revamped the historic Buffalo Rose, the Golden venue that dates back to 1859 has a new motto: "“Where the old meets the new.” After being closed since 2017, the bar and restaurant reopened with new decor that opens up the space and brings back some of the original architecture. Best of all, the venue is continuing its long tradition of independent booking — something that's increasingly rare across the Front Range.
1510 Clarkson Street
To celebrate its twentieth anniversary, the Fillmore Auditorium received a much-needed upgrade from Live Nation, addressing many of the problems that plagued the historic venue. New restrooms and more entry doors cut down on some of the lines that used to irritate music fans. And revamped dressing rooms and green rooms make the experience better for artists, too. A new digital marquee has been added to advertise shows.
La Jaula Sports Bar & Grill
1750 West Mississippi Avenue
When former Youth on Record participant and rapper Sly Guevara decided to turn his family bar, La Jaula Sports Bar & Grill, into a live-music venue showcasing hip-hop and Latinx music, he had an uphill battle. How do you attract the best and brightest to a largely unknown venue? He's spent the better part of 2019 figuring that out, throwing a hip-hop industry night, DJ nights and rap showcases.
4242 Wynkoop Street
Of all Denver promoters, AEG made the biggest waves in 2019 with its brand-new Mission Ballroom, a medium-sized venue boasting a moving stage that makes the house look full whether 2,500 or 3,950 people are in attendance. With stunning sound, a selection of murals from Denver-area artists, tiered Red Rocks-style amphitheater seating, a large floor and VIP seats, to boot, the Mission has been designed to be the best venue in Colorado — and while there are plenty of spaces that hold their own, it's lived up to much of the hype.
Owsley's Crazy Diamond
1700 Logan Street
Jay Bianchi, who has had the corner on Denver's deadhead bar scene for years, opened up Owsley's Crazy Diamond in the old Avenue Theater space, adjacent to Be on Key Psychedelic Ripple. The new venue is named after Dead soundman and LSD chemist Owsley Stanley. While the space hosts plenty of concerts, Bianchi has also planned film screenings and burlesque. It's the latest in this notorious countercultural entrepreneur's wild career.
1942 Market Street
The new pop-up disco club Neon Baby, a sister to the Yeah Baby nightclub in the RiNo Art District (which closed for renovations), opened in May with a late-night dance party and selfie-friendly decor. That spot, located in a historic temple, has become a staple of Denver nightlife. Creative director Josh Sampson's goal with both of these projects has been to reimagine what dance parties can be and celebrate the possibility of transformation. His vision has been a smash success.
3554 Brighton Boulevard
In late 2016, two of Denver's most popular DIY hubs — Rhinoceropolis and its sister venue, Glob — were shuttered by Denver safety-code enforcers in the wake of Oakland's Ghost Ship fire. After years of grueling labor and cumbersome negotiations with the city, Rhinoceropolis is open once again. Equipped with a new sound system and a team of passionate volunteers, the space continues its long tradition of hosting underground, experimental and electronic shows and wild art.
554 South Broadway
Denver's independent music scene was heartbroken earlier this year when Syntax Physic Opera announced it had shuttered its doors. The space had been purchased by a California-based entrepreneur who decided to bring her Encinitas-based concept, the Roxy, to Denver. Many were appalled that an outsider would bring in a new venue that shared a name with a historic Denver staple, the Roxy in Five Points. But thanks to Anthony Ruptak and others, the new venue in the Syntax space has maintained a commitment to local musicians and continues to be run independently. With new decor and an updated menu, the Roxy continues Syntax's long tradition of excellence, despite an awkward arrival.
What are your favorite new venues in Denver? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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