In addition to its diverse musical offerings, this year’s summer concert season will provide us with a unique opportunity to study the early effects of Denver’s decriminalization of psilocybin on public behavior.
Expect a sharp uptick in festivalgoers discussing the virtues of synesthesia, and insisting that the seat next to them is already occupied by their spirit animal.
Outdoor music events are, of course, an ideal setting for studying such behaviors, and this year’s options are plentiful.
The Global Dance Festival (globaldancefestival.com), which takes place in Denver on July 19 and 20 at Broncos Stadium at Mile High, is a true rite of summer, one that’s carried on now for 17 years. This year’s journey into 128 beats-per-minute ecstasy will feature marquee names Diplo and DJ Jazzy Jeff (sans Fresh Prince), a Chase & Status deejay set and several dozen support acts.
If you’re dead-set on attending an especially otherworldly event, you may want to look into the Pagan Asatru Ritual Festival #2: Litha-Midsummarblot (valisoulsanctuary.org). We know next to nothing about this event, apart from it having the coolest name ever. That said, the website does promise a host of deejays, dancing and rituals, as well as traditional music, food, drink, rune and psychic readings, vendors with magical/ritual items, live artist painting, that sort of thing. The festival will take place June 22 and 23 at the The Vali Soul Sanctuary, which, as you may have already guessed, is located in Boulder. Attendees are encouraged to “bring your acoustic instruments and drums — jam with your fellow Vikings, Elves, Fairies, and Witches!”
For those who forgo paganism to worship at the altar of the 12-bar blues, Colorado Springs has you covered. On July 13, Blues Under the Bridge (bluesunderthebridge.org) will hold its day-long celebration alongside the railroad tracks, under the canopy of Colorado Avenue’s four-lane bridge. This year’s installment finds Louisiana Music Hall of Famer Tab Benoit doing headlining honors. Benoit is this generation’s best-known proponent of both Cajun blues and wetlands activism. He’ll be topping a bill that includes Nikki Hill, Selwyn Birchwood Band, Hector Anchondo Band and Crystal and the Curious.
- Esmé Patterson
Manitou, meanwhile, is hosting two promising festivals this year. First up, on June 8 at Soda Springs Park, is the Manitou Women’s Music Fest (manitoumusicfoundation.org). The eight-hour event boasts performances by Esmé Patterson, Spinphony, Edie Carey, Leo & the Lark, Cloud Palace and Xanthe Alexis.
Then, on Aug. 10 and 11, look for the Manitou Mountain Music Festival (manitoumusicfoundation.org). Opening day is at Memorial Park, with dawg-music legend David Grisman headlining. The second day will be a free event in Soda Springs Park, featuring performances by local heroes the Jason Miller Band, High Mountain Duet, Ruxton Railsplitters and Tenderfoot Bluegrass.
You can also sample Americana music, this time paired with an abundance of food and drink, at the annual Fiddles, Vittles & Vino (fiddlesvittlesandvino.com). The Rock Ledge Ranch festival — which this year moves its date up to June 16 in order to steer clear of monsoon season — will feature performances by Hot Club of Cowtown, Wood Belly, Tejon Street Corner Thieves and Tibet.
If you’re looking for more of an indie-rock outing, there’s the Westword Music Showcase (westwordshowcase.com). High-profile artists JAUZ, Jai Wolf, CHVRCHES, Bishop Briggs with Crooked Colours, The Knocks, lovelytheband, The Wrecks and SHAED — along with 70 local bands of varying capitalization — will perform at the June 29 event, which takes place on various stages in downtown Denver’s Golden Triangle.
- Chicano Batman
Also on the not-too-distant horizon is The Underground Music Showcase (undergroundmusicshowcase.com), which bills itself as Denver’s largest and most iconic music festival. The event runs from July 26 to 28 and will feature more than 200 artists on numerous “creatively curated” stages. This year’s lineup is especially noteworthy, ranging from nationally acclaimed acts like Chicano Batman and HONNE to Denver favorites DBUK and Dressy Bessy.
Another excellent reason to head up to Denver is the Juneteenth Music Festival (juneteenthmusicfestival.com) in the city’s historic Five Points neighborhood. The celebration, which takes place on June 15 and 16, will feature Grammy-winning R&B singer Ashanti and numerous other performers, along with hundreds of cultural vendors, day parties and food trucks.
Finally, for those who want to keep their psychedelic summer going an extra weekend, Red Rocks Amphitheatre will play host to Big Gigantic’s 8th Annual Rowdytown Festival (redrocksonline.com) on Sept. 27 and 28. This year’s dance-heavy lineup includes Two Friends, Kasbo, The Funk Hunters, Flamingosis and Birocratic. In addition, the “livetronica” sax, drums and deejay act’s headlining set will employ live 3D technology to create an “epic visual and auditory journey.” Not that it wouldn’t have been, anyway.
Find up-to-date info on music festivals, concerts and club dates in the Indy’s AudioFile, Reverb and Playing Around sections.