As a musician, Red Rocks is one of those places that I insisted on visiting in my lifetime. I have been fortunate enough to see a concert first hand. The opportunity came just last year when at the drop of a hat I purchased a plane ticket to Denver and a concert ticket to Red Rocks! My friend Mike took me in and made sure I had the true Denver experience. Even though the trip was life changing, I decided to let him write about his experiences at this historic venue instead. Here is why…
When you grow up a sports fan, you slowly learn over time about the historical, most sought-after venues, where some of the most famous sporting events in history have taken place. Yankee Stadium, Boston Garden, The Rose Bowl, etc. The list could go on and on. The magic that happened at these venues on those nights was somehow embodied in the walls, grass, and wooden floors of the structure. The duty of any true sports fan is to visit these venues; to relive that magic, to breathe the air, and to just be present in a place where history took place.
I hate sports.
But I love music.
And as I developed my love of music, the same way a sports fan does, I learned over time about the amazing performance venues and amphitheatres that exist in this country: The Gorge, Red Rocks, The Hollywood Bowl, The Greek Theatre at UC Berkeley and countless others. As soon as I started traveling to see music, I made it a personal mission to visit as many of these venues as I could. I would listen to live recordings of my favorite bands, close my eyes and imagine what it would be like to be there. Although I’ve visited many venues, one holds a special place in my heart. It’s the one that I’m lucky to have in my backyard, after moving to Denver from Detroit 7 years ago.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Located in a city park where you can spend the day hiking and the evening seeing a show, this natural rock formation-turned-amphitheatre is astounding. Pictures don’t really capture the magnitude and sheer awe you feel as you round the corner on your first walk into the venue. After 7 years and at least 3-10 trips there each summer, that feeling hasn’t gone away.
After the grueling uphill walk in, and the stairs to whichever row you choose, you make your way towards the center of what seem to be endless semicircles and you find yourself in the middle of the venue. Pausing, you take a breath and realize you’re actually here. You glance over the top of the stage and you see a horizon line that produces some of the most amazing natural light shows you’ve ever seen, from sunsets to lightning in the distance. You look up to your left and you see Creation Rock, you kind of laugh because of its towering height, then you glance right and see Ship Rock, and the laughter continues.
I wasn’t at the first official show here in 1964, The Beatles. Luckily I wasn’t around when “Rock” concerts were banned for five years and only softer acts were permitted in the 70’s. I wasn’t at the famed U2 concert filmed for video release. However, I have been lucky enough to be there for some amazing shows including; Sigur Rós, Daft Punk, Phish, Bassnectar, and so many more.
A day at Red Rocks is never a bad time. Bring a backpack filled with an empty water bottle, a rain jacket or poncho, some snacks (you can bring them in with you), and put on some comfortable shoes. You’ll do plenty of walking and lots of up and down stairs and inclines, but when you make it to your seat, trust me, it’s all worth it.
And when you wake up the next morning, head back to the venue, because you can walk around on the stage and recreate the magic you saw the night before.
Incubus – Alive At Red Rocks
STS9 – Luma Daylight – Live At Red Rocks Amphitheater
Atmosphere – God’s Bathroom Floor (Live At Red Rocks)
BASSNECTAR Live Red Rocks 2011
Jaebone and I took seperate trips from Phoenix ending in Denver at what turned out to be the best show of our lives.
TOOL – Vicarious Live @ Red Rocks
The Glitch Mob – Seven Nation Army Remix Live @ Red Rocks
BoomBox Mini Doc – Live At Red Rocks