Ten Essential Denver Concerts to End Your Summer Right — 2016 Edition

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Summer is coming to an end, and that means the beautiful, scorching-hot Colorado weather is going to turn into a beautiful, less-scorching Colorado fall. In just a few weeks, the summer schedule at Red Rocks, Fiddler's Green and Hudson Gardens will be done for the year, and the outdoor festivals will start slowing down. Here are a few shows you need to catch before Halloween becomes the focus.

10. Dixie Chicks
Thursday, September 1, Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre

It’s been thirteen years since the Dixie Chicks were pretty much hung out to dry by an unforgiving country-music establishment after saying at a concert in England that they were against the war in Iraq and were ashamed that then-president Bush was from Texas. The band's popularity dropped like a broken elevator, simply because these extremely talented women expressed their views. Fortunately, they’re made of strong stuff, and not only are they back, they’re thriving again. We hope they never stop talking, or singing and playing.

9. Vail Jazz Party
September 1-5, various venues, Vail

A relatively short drive up into the mountains at the start of September could result in a wonderful treat. There’s gold in them there mountains — or at least high-quality brass — in the shape of the Vail Jazz Party. Highlights this year include Canadian singer and trumpeter Bria Skonberg, and thirteen-year-old Indonesian jazz-piano prodigy Joey Alexander.

8. Riot Fest
September 2-4, National Western Complex

The fact that the original Misfits have reunited and will be headlining the final night of Denver Riot Fest this year may be taking all of the headlines, justifiably, but the entire festival promises to be something really special. Jane’s Addiction, Ween, Sleater-Kinney and Nas are the mega-names, while other highlights include Suicidal Tendencies, the Descendents, the Dandy Warhols, Juliette Lewis & the Licks, and Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas. The sun always shines on Riot Fest.

7. A Taste of Colorado
September 2-5, Civic Center Park

While the focus of A Taste of California is the food, the event is also a bit of a nostalgia-fest with the music. Yeah, it all seems a bit “state fair,” but when else would you have an opportunity to hear Taylor Dayne sing “Tell It to My Heart” live? Or anything by Boyz II Men? And that’s before we mention Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Blues Traveler and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Allow yourself a few guilty pleasures, because, honestly, when the snow comes, everybody gets a whole lot more serious.

6. KS 107.5 All-Stars
Sunday, September 4, Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre

This annual super-hot hip-hop event always adds a bit of pizazz to Labor Day weekend, and this year will be no exception. With a bill that features Wiz Khalifa, The Game, Fat Joe, B.O.B. and Kent Jones, you can expect a long evening of tight rhymes. Khalifa put out the excellent Khalifa this year, and we’re about to see a sequel to 2011’s The Rolling Papers, imaginatively titled The Rolling Papers II, so we imagine Wiz may take advantage of the holiday-weekend vibes to try out some new material.

Read on for five more concerts to close out your summer.
5. Sunnyside Music Fest
Saturday, September 10, Chaffee Park

A free festival in, unsurprisingly, the Sunnyside neighborhood of northwest Denver, this event is all about the local: local music, local beers, local food. Musical highlights include bluegrass/folk veteran Mollie O’Brien, singer-songwriter Grant Sabin, and bluegrass band the Highland Ramblers. The vibe is chill, hence the acoustic artists on the bill, and that’s very nice while the sun’s still shining.

4. Soul Rebel Festival
Saturday, September 10, Sunshine Acres, Boulder

This is the fifteenth anniversary of the reggae and world-music festival, a celebration of awesome grassroots reggae, Afro-pop, jam and American roots music. Highlights of the bill include Black Uhuru, Dead Phish Orchestra, King Hopeton with the Yellow Wall Dub Squad, and Judge Roughneck. It’s bound to be a day of eclectic music from all over the globe, with a crowd teeming with good-natured hippies.

3. Kenny Loggins
September 11, Hudson Gardens

Loggins’s show at Hudson Gardens is sold out, but where there's a will, there’s a way. After all, in the 1984 movie Footloose, for which Loggins wrote the main theme, John Lithgow told an entire community that they couldn’t dance to rock and roll, but Kevin Bacon wouldn’t listen. He danced anyway. Be like Bacon.

2. Railroad Earth
September 16, Red Rocks Amphitheatre

The night before Lotus brings the electronic jam to Red Rocks, New Jersey band Railroad Earth will arrive at the venue touting their own newgrass take on the jam-band thing. Not only that, but Black Crowes man Chris Robinson — who calls Denver the "happiest city in the world" — will also be playing with his current band, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Expect a night of intricate musicianship combined with a roots vibe and emotional lyrics. 

1. Lotus
September 17, Red Rocks Amphitheatre

There aren’t going to be too many more opportunities to see a killer jam band at Red Rocks this year, and let’s face it: As soon as the famous venue pulls down the stage lights for the last time in 2016, we’re all going to miss it. The snow will come, and a Lotus outdoor show will seem a long way off. Since 1999, this “jamtronica” outfit has been blending genres, and it just so happens to be blending the genres that are beloved here in Denver. Get a jam band, throw in some EDM, and you’re gonna have a bunch of happy Denverites. There’ll be lights and dancing into the long late-summer night at Red Rocks. Don’t miss it.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.