The Boulder Theater is at its most Boulderish with a bunch of runners racing past.
The Boulder Theater is at its most Boulderish with a bunch of runners racing past. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

Sure, you can stay in your dorm room and listen to Spotify or Pandora on your iPhone. You can do that.

But there are other ways to perforate your ear drums, and that, my college friend, is live music. So take the headphones off, preferably put some pants on and venture out.

Downtown Boulder has the Fox Theatre and Boulder Theater, probably the most noticeable venues in town, but there are plenty of coffee shops and restaurants near Pearl Street that offer live music. One needs only the desire to explore.

Longmont brewery Oskar Blues — which has locations in several states and has its beer is distributed throughout the country — has restaurants in Longmont and Lyons which offer live music. Check out oskarblues.com for more information.

If you can tear yourself away from Boulder, it's always worth heading to Longmont whenever Left Hand Brewing Co. hosts one of its outdoor events. There will be kickass cover bands — Leftapalooza is dedicated to them — and last summer, they managed to get Bob Marley's backing band to come to town.

1stBank Center

11450 Broomfield Lane, Broomfield

303-410-0700

1stbankcenter.com

It's a large venue on the road to Denver and probably where some of the bigger-name shows will come, at least to the Boulder area. Kings of Leon are playing Jan. 25. If that's not your cup of tea, WWE Road to Wrestlemania is happening on Feb. 3. It's sold out, so you aren't invited, but Greenday is coming in April. Wow, I had no idea Greenday was still around. I'm going to party like it's 1994 tonight.


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Boulder Theater

2032 14th St., Boulder

303-786-7030

bouldertheater.com

The Boulder Theater opened in 1906, but it was then known as the Curran Opera House. Its modern incarnation dates to the mid-1990s, and it's a common stopping point for local stars like Yonder Mountain String Band (which came in late December) as well as national acts like Chevelle, which will take the stage Jan. 26. Comedian Marc Maron is stopping by in April. In case you were wondering.

The Dickens Opera House in Longmont hosts musical acts as well as comedians and pole dancing competitions.
The Dickens Opera House in Longmont hosts musical acts as well as comedians and pole dancing competitions. (Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer)

Caffe Sole

637R S. Broadway, Boulder

303-499-2985

caffesole.com

Caffe Sole (pronounced caf-FAY so-LAY) is locally owned and features live music Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. It's mostly jazz, but blues and Americana artists also take the stage. The cafe has a pretty big wine list, and it serves food all day. The music is free, but a $10 donation is suggested.

Connor O'Neill's

1922 13th St., Boulder

303-449-1922

conoroneills.com/boulder

The bar closed last fall, briefly, before reopening after the owners worked out a deal with the landlord. Offering one of the most enduring bar stages in Boulder, Connor O'Neill's has been the starting point for many local artists who have gone on to bigger things. It's the site for a go-to open mic and acoustic picks as well as marquee shows.

Dickens Opera House

300 Main St., Longmont

303-834-9384

dickensoperahouse.com

What began as an opera house in Longmont's earliest days is now one of the city's premier places to catch live music. Local talent claims most of its calendar, but touring acts also make regular appearances. There's a comfortable bar and restaurant on the ground floor, while the spacious stage is upstairs.

eTown Hall is in a recycled church.
eTown Hall is in a recycled church. (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)

eTown Hall

1535 Spruce St, Boulder

303-443-8696

etown.org

The nationally syndicated eTown radio broadcast used to tape at Boulder Theater until the nonprofit moved into its own hall in 2012 in downtown Boulder. The new venue is a recycled church, and eTown kept the wooden pews and other trappings of the building's former use. Now it houses a music hall and full-service recording studio. Blues legend Otis Taylor held his Trance Blues Festival at the Venue last fall.

Fox Theatre

1135 13th St., Boulder

720-645-2467

foxtheatre.com

The one indispensable live music venue in Boulder, Fox Theatre opened in 1992 and has since become one of the best rock venues in the country. Of the two venues — Fox and Boulder theaters — operated by Z2 Entertainment, Fox is the one with the louder, sweatier, dancier shows. It's the punk younger sister, smaller than Boulder theater but feistier. Tyler, The Creator held a free show there in 2013, and a riot nearly broke out in the streets.

Macky Auditorium

1595 Pleasant Ave., Boulder

303-492-8008

colorado.edu/macky

There are all kinds of events at this large on-campus venue — dance, theater, opera, you name it. The Nile Project, which features music from 11 countries that are up and down the Nile River basin, happens on Feb. 2.

Owsley's Golden Road

1301 Broadway, Boulder

303-440-1446

owsleysgoldenroad.com

This is the newest addition to Boulder's music venue roster. It was opened in 2015 by longtime Denver venue operator Jay Bianchi, known for such jam band haunts as Quixote's True Blue and Sancho's Broken Arrow. Grateful Dead music lives here.

Pioneer Inn

15 E. First St., Nederland

303-258-7733

pioneerinnnederland.net

Take the twisting journey to Nederland for music at the Pioneer Inn and you'll thank yourself for making the effort. With a history that goes back to the early 1970s, when the nearby Caribou Ranch recording studio was hosting superstars from around the world, its stage has been graced by the likes of Billy Joel, Carole King and Waylon Jennings. Attention hipsters: They have Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap!

The Lazy Dog

1346 Pearl St., Boulder

303-440-3355

thelazydog.com

The Lazy Dog sports bar is often the first stop for local bands with big ambitions. It serves as a de-facto feeder to the area's larger venues, and established artists often turn up at this room for bread-and-butter jams.

Pearl Street Pub & Cellar

1108 Pearl St., Boulder

303-939-9900

A welcoming atmosphere, wide selection of bar games, friendly service, a warren of rooms, greasy food ... oh, yeah, and local artists on a corner-of-the-room, un-raised stage who play their hearts out.

John Bear: twitter.com/johnbearwithme