Denver, CO

Live music returns as COVID restrictions lift

Margaret Jackson

With nearly all COVID-19 restrictions lifted, Coloradans can look forward to a return to live music just in time for the summer concert season.

Even so, there still are rules when it comes to large crowds gathering. For example, Denver is keeping in place a rule that indoor events with more than 500 people must get approval from city and state public health departments, a requirement the state is dropping on June 1.

Outdoor venues also continue to have capacity restrictions, but those are going away in about a month. Red Rocks, for example, announced it will increase to full capacity on June 21.
Diana Ross performs at Red Rocks Amphitheater in 2019Margaret Jackson

Brent Fedrizzi, president and chief operating officer of AEG Presents Rocky Mountains, said that while the outdoor venues the company books shows for have started to hold concerts, it’s delaying its return to indoor venues until August when capacity is expected to be increased.

“There’s no point in booking anything on speculation,” Fedrizzi said. “We feel pretty good about the fall indoors.”

In many cases, the bands that were booked in 2020 have simply rolled their shows into 2021, but big shows that fans hung onto their tickets for have been rolled into 2022. Big Head Todd, for example, has such a loyal fan base that when AEG decided to hold two shows with a capacity of 2,800 people in 2021 for the same dates the band had booked for 2022, many people who already had tickets bought for again for those dates.

“We emailed all the Big Head Todd fans and said here’s a code to buy early,” Fedrizzi said. “Some will hang on til next year, some will get a refund and some will do both. We have to do it that way — there’s no way to take a show that was sold out in 2020 and spread it across several days.”

The Denver Botanic Garden Summer Concert Series was cancelled for 2021 because Swallow Hill Music books acts months in advance of the shows, said Erin Bird, communications manager for the garden.
John Hiatt performs at Denver Botanic Garden in 2019Margaret Jackson

“We had to make the tough decision to cancel the 2021 season out of caution as we did not know what the COVID status would be in the spring and summer,” Bird said, adding that the Summer Concert Series will return next year. “We are fortunate that our booking partner Swallow Hill Music has been able to confirm that many of the artists we booked for the 2020 lineup, which was also cancelled, are able to join next year’s roster.”

But just because the Botanic Garden’s traditional concert series has been canceled this year, that doesn’t mean it won’t be offering live music. Beginning in June, the garden is presenting Evenings al Fresco, a live-music experience in which attendees will enjoy intimate performances as they stroll through the gardens. The events will take place most Monday and Wednesday evenings from June through August, and tickets go on sale May 20.

“We worked with our booking partner Swallow Hill Music to feature five local artists and ensembles each evening,” Bird said. “The musical genres are diverse each evening and include jazz, bluegrass, Americana, singer-songwriter, Latin, pop and classical.”

Visitors can buy dinner at the Botanic Garden’s Hive Garden Bistro or Offshoots Cafe. They also can purchase picnic packages from Marczyk Fine Foods or Mythology Distilery as well as bring their own picnics.

The Levitt Pavillion Denver, which offers a number of free concerts at its Ruby Hill Park location, recently increased its capacity from 3,500 people to 7,500 people. The venue can accommodate up to 20,000 concert goers.

For its first two shows, the venue helped attendees maintain social distancing by painting circles in the grass that accommodated up to six people from the same party and were socially distant from other groups, said Karen Exley, the venue’s production manager. The pods will be eliminated for this weekend’s shows.

“We found that people were respectful of following social distancing on their own,” Exley said.

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I'm a Denver-based business writer with expertise in commercial and residential real estate as well as general business news.

Denver, CO

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