Sam Goldner

Whether it’s on a massive outdoor stage or at a tiny indoor venue, Colorado has an increasingly large roster of festivals where you can go check out some of the best national touring acts as well as a slew of badass local artists. This year in particular has seen an outstanding number of showcases, with some of the most anticipated still around the corner. If you’re thinking about getting more in touch with your local scene, or just want an excuse to go drink beer and listen to music with your friends all day, here are four local festivals that are killing it right now.

Goldrush Music Festival: Over the past four years, this two-day event has grown into one of the most impressive low-key festivals in Denver’s DIY scene. Taking over the Larimer Lounge and Meadowlark for two days, this year’s Goldrush features a healthy dose of experimental local favorites, like CP-208, Sister Grotto and Thug Entrancer, as well as left-field national acts such as Mount Eerie and clipping. Any gathering like this that puts so much emphasis on provocative music is surely worth checking out. (September 13-14)

Underground Music Showcase: Taking place now through Sunday, the UMS has become a kind of shorthand for the who’s-who of the Denver underground. Basically everyone and their mother is playing this festival, taking over the city for the weekend across a spread of bars and venues, and making a generous display of the variety of music this city has to offer. In addition to the local crowd, bigger favorites like The Men, Real Estate, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and Baths will be playing as well, making for a well-rounded weekend of musical wonderment. (Through Sunday)

Riot Fest: The Denver chapter of this growing punk festival is truly one of the more bizarre showcases to arise in recent years, if the lineup is any indicator. Featuring an array of punk stars like Rise Against and Buzzcocks, alongside weirdos like Die Antwoord and Gogol Bordello, as well as indie favorites The Flaming Lips and The Cure, Riot Fest is getting bigger every year and continues to surprise and confound. (

September 19-21)

Fantasia: If you’re at all familiar with Denver’s premier DIY space Rhinoceropolis, you may have heard of their weekend-long art installation/local music extravaganza wonderfully titled Fantasia. Whether they’re transforming the venue into a cyber-aquarium through the use of digital projections, hosting multimedia performance art pieces, or hosting shows from some of the most exciting artists in Denver’s experimental scene, Fantasia is an impressive, profound display from Colorado’s finest. Although it was in June, keep an eye out for it next year.

Sam Goldner is the music director at CU-Boulder’s Radio 1190. Email him at

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