Colorado Music Festivals 2017: Your Official Guide To All The Goodness

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Festival season is arguably the best time of year in music. So here at BolderBeat, we’ll be updating this feature with every Colorado festival announcement that comes our way. Stay as on the pulse as we are.


FoCoMX- April 28th-29th

Fort Collins' premiere music festival has announced its lineup, which features hundreds of Colorado artists. Some of our favorites include Antonio Lopez, The Alcapones, BANDITS, Bethel Steele, Danielle Ate The Sandwich, Edison, Foxfeather, Gasoline Lollipops, and The Velveteers. Full lineup here


Spread The Word Music Festival- May 5th-8th

Taking place at several Denver and Boulder venues, Spread The Word features a mix of local and national artists with styles including rock, jam, funk, reggae, hip-hop, folk/grass, electronic and fusion. Headliners of this year's fest include Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Euforquestra, A-Mac and the Hight, & Analog Sun. Full lineup on our announcement link.


Denver’s Project Pabst- May 20th

“Project Pabst was a wild success,” contributor Zach Dahmen wrote in retrospect of the 2016 festival that took over Denver’s Larimer Street last year. This year, the PBR-fueled lineup includes Ice Cube, Phantogram, Danny Brown, Kurt Vile, STRFKR, No Name, & more. We’re pumped for this. Details here


Greeley Blues Jam- June 9th-10th

The Greeley Blues Jam seeks to keep the blues alive, and this year, they’re doing just that with a lineup including Walter Trout, Samantha Fish, Honey Island Swamp Band, and Colorado favorite The Burroughs. This is one weekend you’ll enjoy being blue. Full lineup on their website.


Taste of Fort Collins- June 9th-11th

The 21st annual Taste of Fort Collins includes headliners St. Lucia, Gin Blossoms, Plain White T's, & Waterloo Revival this year. Tickets are only $5-$10 and the fest is hosted at Civic Center Park in Old Towne. Get out and get down! More info on their website.


Country Jam- June 15th-18th

Grand Junction will host Country Jam’s 26th annual four-day fest this year. Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, and Thomas Rhett top the headliners list of the 30+ artists that will play to your boot kickin’ desire. Surrounded by the red rocks of GJ, this festival annually hosts some of the biggest names in country music, and clearly this year is no different. More info at this link.


Sonic Bloom Festival- June 15th-18th

If you like electronic music, there’s no better place to be than Colorado’s Sonic Bloom Festival. Happening at Hummingbird Ranch in Spanish Peaks Country, the weekend will feature performances from Gigantic Cheese Biscuits, The Polish Ambassador, The Floozies, and a huge array of electronic beatmasters. The festival will also feature yogis and movement leaders, as well as interpretive artists. And did we mention the visuals? Full lineup here.


Telluride Bluegrass Festival- June 15th-18th

Telluride Bluegrass Festival celebrates its 44th year this summer. Jason Mraz, Norah Jones, Dierks Bentley with The Travelin' McCourys, and Brandi Carlile top the fest’s 2017 list. We can tell you from experience that last year was magical and we even met some our favorite musicians at (where else?) the Port-a-Potties. More info and tickets here.


Van’s Warped Tour- June 25th

Believe it or not, we attended this event back in 2015 after not having been since high school. Yes. Though much has changed since what was arguably Warped Tour’s heyday (moshing is now frowned upon), this is a fest that still has a cult following and still makes its way around the US. Attila, Bowling for Soup, CKY, & Futuristic top this year's bill- grab the full listing here.


Westword Music Showcase- June 25th

Denver’s alt weekly newspaper will host more than 100 live acts at their annual summer celebration this year. With Shakey Graves, The Revivalists, Cut Copy, Bob Moses, COIN, Arizona, and a long list of local acts, this will be one to clink a summer beer to and enjoy. Don’t miss out on Westword’s fantastic Friday night. Local artists should be announced soon; voting is open. More info on their website.


Central Rockies Old-Time Music Association (CROMA) Festival-

July 5th-9th

CROMA's 2017 festival at Parrish Ranch features a great old-time music lineup, workshops, nightly dances, open jams, classes for kids, open stage times, and couples dance workshops. Artists at this year's fest will include Eddie Bond and the New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters, The Ozark Highballers, Jesse Milnes and Emily Miller, and The Musky Dimes and Lansford and McAlister. Get full details and tickets here


The Ride Festival- July 8th-9th

Beck will headline The Ride Festival this year, another Telluride fest that is sure to get you groovin’. Ben Harper, Kaleo, The John Butler Trio, and Colorado favorite Rose Hill Drive will all keep your summer-chill vibes in check at this one. Full lineup here.


The Underground Music Showcase- July 27th-30th

One of our absolute favorite weekends of the summer is Denver’s The UMS due to its focus on local artists, and all the fun that comes along with wandering around the South Broadway venues hosting the three-day event. Benjamin Booker, Red Fang, & Esme Patterson are headlining this year, but we're more stoked on this massive list of local artists (a crazy amount of which we've covered in the last year). Get tickets here. More deets on our announcement link.


Rockygrass Festival- July 28th-30th

Bluegrass, bluegrass, and more bluegrass. That’s what Rockygrass in Lyons is all about! Sam Bush Bluegrass Band, The Del McCoury Band, and The Infamous Stringdusters are already confirmed for this year’s pickin’ celebration, so get your tickets now. More artists at this link.


ARISE Music Festival- August 4th-6th

Colorado’s ARISE is back for its fifth year at Loveland’s Sunrise Ranch, and features seven stages of live music, yoga, workshops, theme camps, art galleries & installations, a children’s village, speakers, and films! Some of the top billed artists for 2017 include Atmosphere, Tipper, and Ani Difranco. Get more details at our announcement link.


Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest- August 11th-13th

Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest is a FREE, recurring, three-day music festival held every August in the historic downtown of Fort Collins. CAKE has been announced as one of the headliners with more TBA- keep up with the full lineup here.


Velorama Colorado- August 11th-13th

Following the Colorado Classic bicycle race, Colorado’s newest festival Velorama will take place in Denver’s RiNo Neighborhood this summer. Wilco, Death Cab For Cutie, The New Pornographers, Saint Motel, and La Santa Cecilia are the bands announced so far, and you don’t have to bike in the race to partake in the party! Tickets for this new fest here.


Rocky Mountain Folks Festival- August 18th-20th

Last year, Rocky Mountain Folks Festival proved to be much more than a music festival. Bringing together local artists for songwriting workshops and more, the Lyons, CO fest created an awesome artistic community that still managed to showcase great national acts too. Gregory Alan Isakov, Lake Street Dive, and Rhiannon Giddens have already been announced for this year’s fest; full schedule and list of acts here.


Jazz Aspen Snowmass- September 1st-3rd

We don’t know how Maroon 5 is jazz, but they are headlining the JAS Labor Day Weekend festival this year. Colorado favorite Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats, Lake Street Dive, and Keith Urban will also have performances at the Snowmass event. JAS has a smaller June event too, which will feature John Batiste & Stay Human, Michael McDonald, and Earth Wind & Fire. Details on both events here.


Telluride Blues & Brews Festival 

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Telluride Blues & Brews Fest has Bonnie Raitt, Steve Winwood, TajMo at the top of their bill this year. You can get your grand brew tasting on for three days with these artists and more, plus there is a lot of availability in ticket options, so you can schedule your own fest experience. Get more info here


Festivals of The Past

We'll miss you Vertex.

We'll miss you Vertex.

Wondering what happened to some of your other favorite Colorado festivals? Bass Center moved to New Jersey this year, Divide Music Festival has been postponed until 2018, Groove Festival’s web presence has been replaced by this Japanese site making us question everything, Mad Decent Block Party went to India (yes really), Riot Fest Denver will not return due to Sean McKeough's death, and Vertex (which we freakin’ loved) was sadly cancelled, but we’re praying it comes back to life with full zombie mayhem next year. Fingers crossed fellow festheads.


Make sure to keep up with our festival coverage all season on BolderBeat’s dedicated fest page!

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls: One Weekend, Two Shows, A Flagon of Whiskey, and Hangin' with Frank

By: Nikki Steele

Drinking with Frank Turner and a hundred of his closest fans was sick.

This weekend, I followed Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls from Denver to Boulder. This two-show-same-artist experience was awesome: I danced with Frank Turner, drank whiskey from a giant flagon, and discovered what makes a show in Denver a bit different than a show in Boulder. I learned the atmosphere of a show is really made by more than just the artists: it’s the venue, it’s the crowd, it’s even the security staff. Read on:

The first show was Friday at the Ogden and the second was Saturday at the Boulder Theater. At both venues, Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls put on performances that took us on a roller-coaster-of-emotions. The guys were unpredictably infectious to watch: they would sway into a sad song and follow it by a fast, rockin’ number, and between it all there were a lot of jokes and dancing. Should we laugh? Should we cry? We weren’t sure. So all that was left to do was sing and dance and see where the night took us. It would have been easy for Turner to make the show all about himself with a backing band, but instead, Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls were one giant performance of stomping, riotous energy with Turner stage-diving into the crowd. Every member had evident passion in their playing, and paired with their onstage antics of cheek-kissing, joking, and armpit-squeezing, you could tell that, in those moments, everyone on that stage was exactly where they wanted to be. Even when Turner made the comment that “backstage is boring” because “it’s just a bunch of homesick people updating their Facebook statuses,” it didn't feel like any of the members would have taken a plane-ticket home versus playing this show. They were in it and so were we.

The opening act, Skinny Lister, deserves an honorable mention. I don't usually write about openers, but this band did something quite unique: they actually got the crowd moving just as much as the headliners did. Skinny Lister had an energy that demanded crowd participation and engagement. It was impossible to stay still and reserved while they took everything they had and laid it at our feet. They gave the impression that they were all just friends who were ridiculously supportive and proud of each other, and that positivity percolated into the audience. When one member of the six-piece outfit played a solo, every other member clapped and screamed as if it were the first time they’d ever seen that person play. And as they all danced onstage, we didn’t even have time to realize that we had been casually boogie-ing with them the entire time too.

But, while the bands stayed the same, the shows this weekend were quite different. The stages and venues were, in themselves, one of the biggest players in making the shows so different. The Ogden Theatre has a bigger and higher stage with a larger space separating the stage from the barricade. The Boulder Theater, on the other hand, has a smaller stage that is more level with the audience and the barricade-to-stage space is only a quick jump. These physical differences in the venues actually had a surprising impact on the shows: in Boulder, the bands held more communication with the audience than they had at their Denver show. When Frank Turner talked to someone in the crowd at the Boulder Theater, they responded. And vice versa, when someone wanted to get the attention of one of the artists in Boulder, they did. The Ogden’s higher stage with a larger barrier space kept the crowd from engaging with the performers the way they did at the Boulder show.

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Something else I noticed that made a huge difference in the shows was actually the security at the two different venues. While Denver had security guards all along the stage, Boulder had two posted at either end of the stage (way more chill). In Denver, when an artist jumped into the crowd, a handful of security guards would rush toward them, panicked and serious, to get them back on the stage. In Boulder, the guys were unphased by the actions of the artists. Except when Skinny Lister passed around a giant flagon of whiskey. That was immediately confiscated since it was an all-ages show. But other than that, the Boulder vibe was noticeably more relaxed.

The crowds themselves seemed to differ as well. Neither crowd lacked loudness or passion, but their ways of expressing things were different. Denver's show inspired a mosh pit. Not a crazy intense mosh pit that people walked away from bleeding or anything, but a mosh pit that had a significant amount of shoving. And Boulder's show didn’t have any of that, though one person did decide that they should crowd surf (and they were successful). Denver’s crowd seemed to be in sync with one another, and when they screamed it sounded like one voice; Boulder's crowd seemed like hundreds of different voices screaming the same words.

Hangin' with Frank.

Hangin' with Frank.

So which was the better show?

Maybe I am hometown bias, but the Boulder show ended up feeling way more personal. Skinny Lister's lead vocalist, Lorna Thomas, told Turner that Boulder was her favorite show of the tour, something that he decided to share with the crowd, and something that neither had said the night before. But it wasn't just the comments about the show being favored that made Boulder’s show so great; there was just an overwhelming feeling that swept through the theater that felt like the entire show was a love letter to Boulder.

Overall, both performances were a great time, and that’s what we all go to shows hoping to have. I’d catch both of these acts at either spot if they made their way back here. And that’s not just the whiskey talking. Promise.

-Nikki

All photos per the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Even When Warped Tour Changes, It's Still The Same

By: Nikki Steele

I went to the good 'ol Warped and this is what went down.

never change warped tour- hags.

never change warped tour- hags.

Vans Warped Tour has been showing music lovers for decades that you don't even need to leave the parking lot to have a good time.

Last week, Warped Tour stopped in Denver. This year's show differed from other years in one big way: the venue changed. For years, Warped was held in the parking lot of Mile High Stadium, but this year, they moved the event to the Pepsi Center. There were both pros and cons to this switch, the biggest con being that the layout of the Pepsi Center's parking lot put the main stages too close to the entrance. This made it easy for everyone to go to the main stages and see the big name bands, but it took something away too: you didn’t have to walk around the venue and stop at smaller stages to check out bands you’d maybe never heard of before on your way to the main acts. You weren’t as likely to discover new music. There was just no real need to venture past the main stages with the Warped setup this year, so for smaller bands, it had to be harder to gain a crowd and get heard. But, on the flipside, with this setup there was more shade, and if you know anything about Warped Tour, you know that some shade goes a long, long way.  

the inflatable set schedule still lives.

the inflatable set schedule still lives.

This year, Warped Tour also tried to crack down on one of the more dangerous aspects: the crowd itself. VICE mentioned this in an article earlier this summer. Basically, every stage had a banner hanging that said if anyone was hurt moshing or crowd-surfing and tried to sue, there would be no more Warped Tour. Quite the threat.

But this is Warped Tour.

So the banner didn’t inspire change amongst the crowd behavior, nor the bands. In fact, the pleas from artists for a circle pits and rowdiness were common. During Pierce The Veil's show, the audience got so riotous that lead singer Vic Fuentes shouted at us to “keep each other safe.” He then turned around and dedicated a song to the crowd surfers, which turned the audience into an anthropomorphic California beach scene. Though the banner went unfollowed, Fuentes’ words actually did not. Moshers were respectful. They picked fallen kids up and they avoided throwing themselves into anyone who didn’t look prepared. They kept the punk rock spirit that has and still is Warped Tour alive, but they managed to still watch out for their fellow concertgoers.

The author front row center for Warped Tour 2015.

The author front row center for Warped Tour 2015.

Beyond the new set-up and the crowd, let’s get to the bands. This year, headliner Asking Alexandria came forth with a new lineup. A few months ago, Danny Worsnop, the band’s original lead singer, left the group. Denis Stoff took over the lead spot, and although AA had played a few shows with Stoff, Warped was his real “coming out” tour. And he was great. Stoff sang the songs as if he had written them himself and had a stake in their meaning. And the rest of the band played like they always have, which helped to make it feel as if nothing changed.

New venue, new rules, new frontman. But luckily, the same good ‘ol Warped.

-Nikki