Six Queer Bands in Denver Whose Music Beats Most Crap Played at Pride

Ian Cooke
Ian Cooke Amanda Tipton
It's not that disco throwbacks and showtunes are all that bad or that house music beats don't have their place in queer life. But let's get real: By the end of Pride, if we have to hear "I Will Survive" or "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" one more time, we might do something that would make us less than proud.

We're in Denver, people, land of the handcrafted and local. So instead of defaulting to the Pride Pandora station this PrideFest weekend, stop by Queer in the Headlights, Larimer Lounge's Sunday afternoon concert spotlighting LGBTQ acts. Before then, consider making your own playlist of some of the best queer bands in the Queen City of the Plains. Here are six of our favorite queer music acts we'll be listening to, listed in alphabetical order.

Ian Cooke
Ian Cooke sings harrowing minimalist indie-pop songs about love and desperation, using a looping pedal to create harmonies showcasing his Rufus Wainwright-like vocal style. His best tunes are driven by his cello, though he also plays compelling piano pieces. Known as much for his genuine kindness as for the quality of his sound, Cooke is a longstanding icon in the Denver music scene, and for music lovers, he's as representative of our city as that big blue bear or the cash-register building. Listen to Cooke online.

Mirror Fears
So rainbows don't float your boat, and you're sick of chipper music? Try Mirror Fears. This explicitly queer act makes songs that waffle between industrial dance music and experimental noise. If you're looking for a sonic landscape to disappear into, where you can escape the corporate branding, bright colors and boozed-up shirtless people taking over Civic Center Park – all without sacrificing an inch of your queerness – this might be the queerdo music outfit for you. Hear more at the group's Bandcamp page.

Oko Tygra
After incurring a head injury, singer-songwriter Joshua Novak birthed the dream-pop act Oko Tygra, which offers up synth-heavy introspective music that evokes breezy ’80s teen movies with a hint of darkness. Check out the group's tunes at the Oko Tygra Soundcloud page.

Read on for three more of the best queer bands in Denver.

Sur Ellz
Neo-soul singer Sur Ellz produces catchy pop songs with an experimental undercurrent and hip-hop flare. Sometimes he beatboxes; other times he uses looping pedals to produce hypnotically rich harmonies. Whatever he's doing, he brings an edgy style and an appreciation of music from across the spectrum to his work. Find out more about Sur Ellz online.

Teacup Gorilla
If you're craving moody indie rock with poetic lyrics and delightfully off-key vocals, press "play" on Teacup Gorilla. The group delivers songs like "Just Like That" with an arty, post-punk political sensibility, and the brooding tune "I'm Not Ready to Go (Yet)," sung in a style that delightfully evokes the Weakerthans. Listen to more Teacup Gorilla online.

Wheelchair Sports Camp
Rhyme-slinger Kalyn Heffernan brings her politically charged hip-hop to the mic, tackling everything from gentrification and ableism to queer politics. Heffernan has assembled a wildly talented crew of bandmates who push musical boundaries as she masterfully raps. Whether she's on stage with her fellow musicians or freestyling at a protest, she's proven herself, time and again, to be one of Denver's greatest MCs. Hear more of her music online at

Queer in the Headlights, 3 p.m. Sunday, June 18, Larimer Lounge, 2721 Larimer Street, $5-$10.
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris