10 best Denver concerts 2023: Taylor Swift, Illenium, Dead & Co & more
If you’re wondering where to start on 2023’s concert calendar, which is already packed with thousands of shows, you’re not alone.
Here are 10 big concerts in Denver that you shouldn’t miss, plus suggestions for more in that stylistic vein. Tickets for all shows are on sale unless otherwise noted. See the latest at denverpost.com/things-to-do/music. (Note: This list does not include festivals.)
RZA and THE COLORADO SYMPHONY
It’s too early to say whether the potential of this show — and the Symphony’s Imagination Artist series in general — is being realized for general audiences. But all the elements are in place, with Wu-Tang co-founder and veteran composer RZA teaming up with Colorado Symphony as part of the original/curated program, Feb. 17-18 at Boettcher Concert Hall. The title, “36 Chambers of Shaolin and A Ballet Through Mud,” certainly raises more interesting questions than it answers — one of RZA’s specialties.
Also recommended: Imagine Artist shows with Nathaniel Rateliff (March 3-4) and Peter Oundjian (March 24-25); DeVotchKa with the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra (May 6, Macky Auditorium).
Cube’s legacy has become complicated in recent years with a turn toward political conservatism and accusations of antisemitism — which this N.W.A. co-founder has denied — but his stage influence, prowess and presence remain iconic. Along with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and a few others, Cube’s one of the few remaining L.A. gangsta-rap godfathers still performing, and if you’re a fan, you shouldn’t miss this April 21 concert at Mission Ballroom.
Also recommended: YG (Jan. 20, Fillmore Auditorium); J.I.D. and Smino (Feb. 10, Mission); Young Nudy (March 11, Cervantes); Wiz Khalifa and Joey Bada$$ (April 22, Red Rocks).
The disaffected vocals, flanged guitars and lo-fi bedroom beats of indie rock are alive and well in 2023. Goth Babe, which takes cues from Phantogram, Washed Out and other melodic mid-fi acts, brings its fuzzy bliss to Red Rocks Amphitheatre on April 23, having minted plenty of new fans at a Civic Center concert last year.
Also recommended: Snail Mail (April 11, Fox Theatre); Tennis (April 14, Mission Ballroom); The Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie (Sept. 26, Mission); Caroline Polachek (May 14).
The aurally iconic British voice behind “Crazy,” “Kiss from a Rose,” and other ’90s hits remains as alluring as ever on stage, and we’ll be there for his May 30 show at Bellco Theatre, which celebrates Seal’s 30th anniversary. Like R&B genius D’Angelo, he doesn’t tour often, so consider yourself notified.
Also recommended: Sam Smith (Aug. 18, Ball Arena); Rod Stewart (Aug. 1, Ball Arena); The Magnetic Fields (March 17-18, Swallow Hill).
KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD
These prolific, blistering Australian rockers can seemingly master any genre, with elastic guitars, dialed in percussion and stylistic horizons that have yet to be fully explored. Known for its exhausting live sets, King Gizzard will play a trio of shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre June 7 and 8 — including both a matinee and nighttime show June 8 — to further test its rabid local fanbase. We have a feeling they’ll pass with flying colors.
Also recommended: Louis Cole Big Band (March 25, Cervantes); MarchFourth Marching Band (April 1, Boulder Theater).
Electronic dance music is a wide-armed genre, from dubstep and jam-oriented hybrids to shimmering pop and throwback house music. Based in Denver, producer and DJ Illenium — a.k.a. 32-year-old Nicholas D. Miller — has risen to the top of it with a series of diverse, pop-oriented collaborations that move the masses, as we’ll see at his June 17 concert at Empower Field at Mile High. He’ll play a trio of sets at the show, which will easily be one of the biggest-ever headlining concerts from a Colorado act at a Colorado venue. And what’s more iconic than the home of the Denver Broncos? (notice we didn’t say “better sounding”).
Also recommended: Excision (Feb. 9 at Mission Ballroom; Feb. 10-11 at FirstBank Center); M83 (May 5, Mission Ballroom); Zeds Dead (July 2-3, Red Rocks Amphitheatre); Rezz (Aug. 31-Sept. 1, Red Rocks).
DEAD & CO.
This extruded version of the Grateful Dead featuring guitarist John Mayer will call it quits (or so they say) with a 2023 tour that stops by Folsom Field at the University of Colorado Boulder July 1-3. It is, of course, a massive party that unites Colorado musical subcultures in folk, bluegrass, Americana, jam, funk and rock. If you can afford the tickets — and don’t mind the gaggle of well-heeled fans cosplaying as hippies for a few hours — this is your scene.
Also recommended: Phil Lesh & Friends (Feb. 4, Mission Ballroom); Billy Strings (May 11-12, Red Rocks); Trampled by Turtles (July 13, Red Rocks); Greensky Bluegrass (Sept. 15-16, Red Rocks).
While it’s tempting to view this pop-punk and emo act as singer Hayley Williams’ show, it’s truly a band affair as the beloved act returns to the road with its first new release in five years (February’s “This Is Why”). Williams’ infectious, unflagging energy drives the sing-along sets, but it’s the whole package that will keep things rolling at Ball Arena on July 13.
Also recommended: New Found Glory (acoustic set, Feb. 11, Oriental Theater); Ani DiFranco (March 15-16, Boulder Theater); The Interrupters (May 21, Fillmore Auditorium); blink-182 (July 3, Ball Arena).
The most absurd thing about Taylor Swift’s 2023 tour is that you can’t currently buy tickets to it, following Ticketmaster’s pre-sale debacle in November. That will change at some point, but until then keep your eyes peeled for on-sales because Swift’s concerts are unmatched in spectacle and polish (see her mind-blowing show at Empower Field in 2018). Her ongoing stylistic evolution always promises new sights and sounds, as we’ll see and hear when she visits Empower Field at Mile High on July 14.
Also recommended: Larkin Poe (Jan. 26, Ogden Theatre); Aly & AJ (April 4-5, Fillmore Auditorium); Caroline Rose (April 25, Gothic Theatre); Madonna (July 25, Ball Arena); The National (Aug. 11, Mission Ballroom).
GOJIRA & MASTODON
Metal and hard-rock double bills are a favorite recipe, and this year’s calendar is full of tasty-looking new entrees. There’s perhaps no better than Gojira and Mastodon, who will co-headline Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre on Sept. 2, with separate, lacerating sets. Stretch your neck muscles and don’t wear open-toed shoes, OK?
Also recommended: Cradle of Filth (March 19, Summit Music Hall); Enslaved and Insomnium (April 14, Gothic Theatre); Kreator & Sepultura (June 3, Ogden Theatre); Death Grips (May 9, Mission Ballroom); Queensryche (March 24, Gothic).
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