The time has come. My days in Colorado have come to an end. My four years in Boulder have exposed me to some of the amazing offerings of the Denver music scene, and I expect I will miss it more than I can really comprehend now. Here I take a moment to reflect on Denver music and my experiences with it.
The live show I was most excited about before moving here that did not let me down:
This honor far and away goes to Slim Cessna's Auto Club. The band continues to develop and I simply can't say enough about how amazing their live show is. Munly puts on an amazing show as well, but plays very rarely. Don't turn down the opportunity to see either of these bands.
Best Colorado act that emerged while I was here:
Nathaniel Rateliff has been around the Denver scene for some time, but only this past May has he really hit full stride. I still haven't gotten around to reviewing his album, but it is awesome.
Best act that emerged while I was here:
The Avett Brothers. I tagged along with a friend to check these guys out at the Boulder Theater 3 1/2 years ago or so and I've not been the same since. Have caught them a number of times in various venues and they remain one of my favorite national acts. They went from playing the Boulder Theater to a 3/4 full crowd to selling out two nights in a row in quite a short time. Hearing them open with "Left on Laura, Left on Lisa" the very first time is still one of my favorite music memories.
Hi-Dive in Denver. No contest. These folks bring in the bands that are going to blow up way before most anyone has ever heard of them. Sometimes they book bands that blow up between the time the show is listed and when the show happens. Fleet Foxes, Cold War Kids, The Morning Benders. The list goes on and on.
Best Boulder venue:
The Fox Theatre. A fantastic mid-size venue that brings in great indie bands on a regular basis. The Boulder music scene supports bluegrass and jam bands and electronic music most strongly, but I've seen plenty of great shows here. Bon Iver, Band of Horses, Lucero, DeVotchKa, Dawes. After it's recent merger with the Boulder Theater, hopefully both will keep going strong.
Best music store:
This is such a toss-up, because I really love them all. Twist and Shout is an enormous indie record store in Denver, but you can be rest-assured that you will spend half your paycheck there. It is not unlike Waterloo in Austin, but I think it has more square footage overall.
Albums on the Hill is a strong standby for Boulderites. They've rearranged a good bit recently and are bringing in lots of new and new used vinyl. Finally, at the beginning of the year, Bart's CD Cellar closed down - quite a sad time for the vinyl collector, as they brought in lots of new merchandise regularly. However, the original owner, Bart, has opened Bart's Music Shack on the far west end of Pearl St. It's a small store, but they focus on quality over quantity, so I highly recommend stopping by when you have the chance. Unfortunately it's more a of a destination place now, compared to the convenient location of the other store, but take the extra time and go visit them.
Best site in Boulder with historical significance that no one really knows about:
The apartment balcony where Townes Van Zandt fell/jumped off of while in college at CU. I realized during my last year here that this balcony was just a few short blocks from where I had worked for the past 4 years. I often went out of my way to walk by, trying to imagine the exact circumstances and how the fall might have actually happened. So many college kids have lived in the apartments since, likely not knowing and not caring of the significance of their residence. Well I think it's pretty cool.
What I'm going to miss a lot:
Picking up my copy of the Denver alt-weekly Westword every Thursday. Between this magazine and the Denver Post Reverb blog, the city covers and promotes its music scene very well. Needless to say there is no alt-weekly where I'm going, and the coverage of the music scene by the newspapers is minimal.
The festival you will hear mentioned alongside SXSW more and more:
The Underground Music Showcase (The UMS). Now in its 10th year, this festival is turning into a fantastic event that does very well to utilize the South Broadway area of Denver. I wouldn't be surprised to see it go city-wide in the next 5 years, in order to bring in some of the larger venues in town. Currently the festival is run by the Denver Post folks, and with the right management, it could begin to employ a full-time staff, similar to SXSW. You should check out this festival soon. It is a steal for the money considering the amount of great music it offers.
Denver has got an amazing thing going with its music scene, and I will miss it a great deal.
One place of no musical significance, but still an important first for me - below is where I got hit by a car on my bike toward the end of my time in Boulder. The car was coming out of the alley, and I was on the sidewalk because the street was a dead end, coming from the right in front of the bluish/grayish garage, and we basically met in the middle, 'neath that old Georgia pine. Luckily neither of us was going to fast, so no long term damage.