Boulder for Music Lovers
A college town that’s ready to rock at all times, Boulder always has fresh music on tap, plus endlessly fun ways to celebrate your love of music across the city.
See a Show at an Iconic Venue
The historic Boulder Theater has been a stage for music and film since 1906, in various incarnations. Today, the theater’s art deco facade and neon marquee are almost as iconic to Boulder as the Flatirons. From big-name musical acts like The Lumineers and Brandi Carlile to local faves such as Big Head Todd and the Monsters and The Samples, the Boulder Theater has put on some of the finest shows in Boulder's history.
Another iconic venue, the Fox Theatre, was named one of the best places in the U.S. for live music by Rolling Stone magazine. Being on The Hill, next to the University of Colorado campus, it caters to a college crowd but draws a huge variety of accomplished artists worth seeing almost any night of the week.
Small Stages, Big Vibes
Velvet Elk Lounge is Boulder’s newest live music venue, opened in the tradition of the town’s old favorite music halls to welcome up-and-coming musicians on the touring circuit. It's a great place to sip a quality cocktail and discover new artists.
Other great small-venue choices include Rayback Collective, a food truck park with insane Flatirons views and a regular lineup of musicians and the luxurious St Julien Hotel & Spa, where the Terrace becomes one of Boulder’s most scenic settings for live music Wed-Sat starting at 6pm, with jazz and Latin beats.
Sip Cider and Sing Along
BOCO Cider is a craft cidery in North Boulder that’s jamming every Thursday-Sunday with amazing artists and bands. Heading there for a sampler of cider and a show makes for an intimate musical experience.
NIGHTLIFE AND DANCING
Dance the Night Away
If it’s dance music you’re after, DV8 Distillery doubles as a nightclub where DJs spin all night long several nights a week. It's a wild ride, with the tagline, "Friends, freaks and lusty libations."
Other options include Rosetta Hall, a chic food hall by day, that becomes a world-class dance call by night, Thursday-Saturday; Press Play, an arcade and billards lounge that hostings rotating DJs on Friday and Saturday nights; and, for samba, salsa and more, the St Julien Hotel & Spa’s terrace on a weekend evening. License No. 1, a cool speakeasy that lives beneath Hotel Boulderado, also has live music at least a couple of nights a week.
Be Part of a Live Radio Taping
eTown Hall is a world-class live music venue, recording studio and community center where shows are taped in front of a live audience and feature performances from musicians as well as conversations about social issues and philanthropy. Musicians like Warren Haynes, Sarah McLachlan, Patty Griffin, Martin Sexton and David Gray coupled with interviewees like Jimmy Carter create a one-of-a-kind live radio show. It is a fun evening of music and inspiration.
Rub Elbows with the Radio Industry
For 30 years, radio programmers from around the country have traveled to Boulder in August to attend the JBE Triple A Summitfest radio conference to hear both up-and-coming and high-profile music acts. Triple A radio stations play “adult album alternative,” and past lineups have included Grace Potter, Neko Case, Cake, The Head And The Heart, Brandi Carlile, Death Cab for Cutie and dozens more. Performances happen on free stages on the Hill, and in indoor venues like the Boulder Theater and the Fox, a limited number of tickets are put on sale to the public.
Hike Near a Storied Recording Studio
Caribou Ranch was a recording studio built in 1972 in a converted barn in the mountains outside of Boulder. Elton John’s 1974 “Caribou” album was recorded there, which set off a stream of artists who followed in his footsteps. John Lennon, Stevie Nicks, Stevie Wonder, Supertramp, Michael Jackson, Stephen Stills, Jeff Beck and Joe Walsh all recorded at Caribou Ranch. The studio closed after a 1985 fire and hasn’t reopened. Today, the ranchland is protected land with popular hiking trails.
Enjoy Scones with a Side of Swing
A Treat for Your Eyes and Ears
At R Gallery + Wine Bar, just a block off Pearl Street, you can watch regular live music and open mic performances while enjoying a glass of vino and perusing their connected gallery that features local visual artists.
Pick Up Some Fresh Vinyl
Paradise Found is an indie record store that's been around Boulder in various incarnations for some 30 years, specializing in vintage and new vinyl. The current shop has a killer location right on Pearl Street and a classic, record-store vibes, great staff recommendations and good tunes always flowing out the door.
Rock Your Walls
Stop in PosterScene on Pearl Street to flip through an astounding collection of concert posters, including some rare collectibles and artwork from famed Boulder rock shows.
Boulder's Local Bands
Wondering which bands are from Boulder? Here are a few that have called the city home.
- Big Head Todd and the Monsters – Since their formation in Boulder in the mid-'80s, followed by their hit song, “Bittersweet,” BHTM has gone on to national fame.
- Yonder Mountain String Band – Members of this adored bluegrass band met in Boulder and Nederland, and performed their first live show together at the Fox Theater.
- The Fray – Each of the band members of this Grammy Award-winning band grew up in Denver/Boulder. Ben Wysocki, the drummer, grew up in Boulder.
- Freddi Henchi and the Soulsetters – “Freddie Love” Gowdy and “Henchi” Graves founded the rhythm and blues/funk band in Phoenix, but relocated to Boulder in 1970 and quickly became a popular musical act on the state’s college circuit and beyond.
- The Motet – A funky soul-filled jazz group founded in Boulder, they are a favorite every time they come to town.
- 3oh!3 – This band started in Boulder and is named after Boulder’s area code 303. They are an electro-hop duo and the album “Want” reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100.
- Rose Hill Drive – A rock band started in Boulder and named for the street of their boyhood home.
- Gregory Alan Isakov – An indie folk-rock artist from Boulder with passionate followers sings about Colorado in his hit “San Luis.”
- Firefall – Formed in 1974 in Boulder and still performs to crowds of baby boomers in Boulder County a few times each summer.
- Leftover Salmon – This broadly loved jam band gets extra hometown props for its song, “When I Grow Up,” which includes these lyrics:
"When I grow up, I wanna work at Alfalfa's
Where the cheese is dairy free!
A Birkenstocks, spandex, necktie, patchouli grocery store
I’ll have a job, picking through the produce — no pesticides for me!
I’ll be a working modern income socially conscience Boulder hippie”
Please enjoy this video of Andy Thorn, the banjo player for Leftover Salmon, playing music for a fox in his Boulder yard.