When I heard that hair-metal stalwarts Whitesnake played to a sold-out Pikes Peak Center recently, I was a bit incredulous. Not to diminish David Coverdale and company, who apparently still pack them in, but ticket sales are often scattershot in Colorado Springs.
In fact, one of Whitesnake's contemporaries, Kip Winger, recently got to contend with a nonexistent crowd at Peak 31, formerly known as Union Station. After basically playing to a few apologetic fans and somehow remaining calm when one man commandeered the microphone for an attempt at a tuneless Hank Williams Jr. sing-along, Winger was set to return to Colorado Springs on July 13, but the date appears to have vanished from his tour schedule. Maybe Kip's still a little sensitive from those Beavis and Butthead reruns.
There appears to be a similar dynamic operating farther up the Front Range. The Denver Botanic Gardens have already sold out shows for artists whose crowds would ostensibly skew older, such as Boz Scaggs, Bruce Hornsby, and Melissa Etheridge, but if you're somehow dying to see Sugar Ray, you're in luck — and I doubt that combination of circumstances occurs too frequently.
Meanwhile, at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, tickets are still available for Wilco, Joe Bonamassa and, until just recently, the double bill of Steely Dan and Elvis Costello & the Imposters, despite that last show having been announced months ago. Unlike the Botanic Gardens, most of the sold-out acts at Red Rocks are a young person's game, and could be culled from selections on The Voice or directly from whatever Clear Channel is allowing on the radio at the moment, such as Ed Sheeran, Hozier, and Florence + the Machine.
Meanwhile, one event that's almost certain to draw a huge crowd is Denver's Riot Fest & Rodeo, which announced two more headlining acts last week: everyone's favorite Armenian-American hard-rock quartet, System of a Down, and firestarting electronica act The Prodigy. While 2015 may not have brought the hoverboards we all wanted, this announcement at least shows progress on the development of time machines. Other newly unveiled acts at Riot Act include 88 Fingers Louie, Input & Broken, and Chef'Special.
A similarly retro menagerie of Smash Mouth, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Tonic will be hitting Pueblo's Memorial Hall on July 1. Smash Mouth deserves kudos for returning to Colorado so soon after the now-infamous bread-throwing incident in Fort Collins; perhaps Southern Colorado will be kinder and less inclined to roll them, in the literal sense. The '90s throwbacks continue at Red Rocks on July 4, where the venue will host a triple-bill of Blues Traveler, Guster and Hanson.
Perhaps appropriately for Independence Day, the first week of July also brings several notable country and Americana acts to the region. The Zac Brown Band will play at Coors Field on July 3, featuring '90s Colorado mainstays Big Head Todd and the Monsters as their opening act.
Atmospheric, Milwaukee-based roots rockers The BoDeans will also be gracing the Bluebird Theater on the same night.
Closer to home on July 4 itself, Western Underground, best known as Chris LeDoux's band, will be appearing with the Jeffrey Alan Band at the Crystola Roadhouse for a joint concert and barbecue. It doesn't get much more American than that.
Finally, Chico Basin Ranch has just announced the return of alt-country godfather Steve Earle on Aug. 22, with tickets now available. Earle's visit to Chico Basin last year happened shortly before the recording of his self-described blues album, Terraplane, so it will be interesting to see if he brings a bluesier tinge to his acclaimed Americana twang this time around. Husband-wife team The Mastersons — who are also members of Earle's backing band, The Dukes — will also be on hand, and the event will once again offer camping and a late-night bonfire jam session.