Things to do in Denver

Discover the Best Venues and Bars With Live Music in Denver

From jazz lounges to indie dive bars, the Mile High City eats and breathes musical performance. Discover the very best live music bars in Denver.

The Mile High City of Denver is known for its vibrant, independent-minded music scene — and our visiting circus. This, after all, is the home of the near-mythic Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a place that seems conjured from the stuff of dreams.

And while Red Rocks may very well be the best music venue in the world, it's far from alone among the city's stellar outlets for song.

There are endless possibilities for music lovers in search of sensational things to do in Denver. We've been lucky enough to sample some of the best live music bars in Denver. We're here to tell you that the out-of-this-world creativity of the city's talent has to be seen — and heard — to be believed.

Downtown Denver and LoDo (Lower Downtown)

Denver's downtown and the LoDo scene are famous for their musical offerings. For those who adore jazz and blues, LoDo should be your first stop.

1. The Black Buzzard at Oskar Blues

A hidden gem in downtown Denver, The Black Buzzard can be found in the basement of the famous grill and brew restaurant Oskar Blues. The Buzzard has a reputation for delicious food and brilliant shows that feature top-tier talent.

It provides a great stage for local bands alongside excellent acts like Grady Spencer & The Work and outright legends like Big Bill Morganfield. The bar runs an incredibly ambitious 50 taps serving local and international craft beers and cocktails.

2. Dazzle

Long-time Denver fave Dazzle has recently completed a move to the Denver Performing Arts Complex that was years in the making. It features a 140-seat main listening room with a design focused on the splendors of sonic intimacy, and a bar and lounge serving up delicious delicacies such as muffuletta sliders and shrimp bruschetta.

The atmosphere is enhanced with incredible art pieces like Big Horn by Brett Matarazzo and the With Love installation by Shay Guerrero. Only a few months into its new life, this fresh iteration of Dazzle is already earning rave reviews.

3. Ophelia's Electric Soapbox

Emerging from the rich, 130-year history of Denver, Ophelia's Electric Soapbox has played many roles from saloon and hotel to brothel, bar, peep show and adult video library. Located in the historic Airedale Building, the modern venue is part of the Edible Beats family of restaurants.

Its decor and "gastro-brothel" menu celebrate the locale's storied past. While its selection of homestyle cooking and variety cocktails isn't cheap, it isn't all that pricey either.

Factor in all the dynamic shows it has on deck, and Ophelia's Electric Soapbox provides plenty of bang for your buck.

Photographer: mwitt1337

4. Larimer’s Lounge

A classic working-class performance venue catering to an eclectic mix of genres, Larimer Lounge is one of the most popular live music bars in Denver, providing a no-frills show experience whose straightforward nature is precisely what draws its audiences.

The Lounge regularly showcases the talents of house music DJ. But it’s the dazzling variety of the live acts that really make this venue what it is.

This is a stage where you can find an eclectic mixture of artists ranging from TikTok stars like Shanin Blake to veteran rockers like Electric Six, hip-hop luminaries like Shabazz Palaces to country crooners like Zach Seabaugh, and swaggering punk rock acts like The Libertines to noise pop innovators like Sleigh Bells.

The production values outstrip what you’ll often find in pricier venues. The drinks are refreshing and cheap. The staff are incredibly cool. The crowd is generally chill. It’s simply a wonderful place to check out live music.

5. The Meadowlark Bar

The Meadowlark was founded in 2006 and carries the spirit of the very best in lowbrow live music bars of the aughts. It hosts weekly concerts and DJ sets on a patio stage, offers great drinks service at both upstairs and downstairs bars, and provides a food menu.

Some visitors may find the food's sheer deliciousness surprising. (The smoked brisket, mushroom caps, and burgers have all drawn consistent praise over the years.)

Superb service and affordable pricing combine with the marvelous tunes to make this one of the Mile High City’s leading music destinations.

Photographer: Ruslan Alekso

6. Herb’s

Another gem on Denver’s legendary LoDo scene, Herb’s Bar originated in 1933 as "Herb’s Hideout." Over the 80 years since, there has perpetually been a bar named “Herb’s” at the same location.

Free of pretensions and proudly owning the moniker of a “dive bar,” Herb’s is owned and run by musicians with a passion for great live acts both local and from around the world.

This extraordinary entry on the list of Denver’s great live music bars hosts regular jazz and funk showcases and jams. Some include appearances by superb acts like Liv Sings, the Dave Randon Trio and Diana Castro & The Big Time Band.

7. Nocturne

Denver’s Nocturne is one of the most elaborate and sophisticated destinations to evoke the classic jazz clubs of yore.

Its offerings are sumptuous and sophisticated, with seasonally-crafted and innovative cocktails and a carefully curated wine list. Its dinners are inspired by the legendary jazz master, Duke Ellington.

Three-course meals are the norm and a sumptuous $180 live music and fine dining "Ellington Experience" is in the cards for those who want it.

This comes paired with an extraordinary live music experience centered on jazz in its most iconic forms, as practiced by some of the finest artists working today.

These latter-day jazz masters visit the Mile High City for 8-week artist-in-residence runs focused on specific musical forms. The Nocturne is on the pricey side, but the depth of both the musical and culinary experiences more than make up for the expense.

Photographer: SocialButterflyMMG

8. Appaloosa Grill

Affectionately known as "The Horse," the Appaloosa Grill serves up a compelling menu of comfort foods made with all-natural ingredients and offers plentiful vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

Located in the heart of Denver’s downtown business district, The Horse is known for its excellent cuisine and the sensational array of jazz and funk acts that grace its stage every night.

This consistent supply of aural riches makes this spot one of Denver’s favorite live music bars.

RiNo (River North Art District) and Five Points

These are neighborhoods known for playing host to ambitious artistic projects of every kind, including music venues.

After vibing with the music and getting your dance on, explore some of the best views in Denver.

9. Globe Hall

This vibrant Texas-style saloon and barbecue joint is a Denver favorite both as a live music destination and as a home to a menu full of stick-to-your-ribs food.

Famous for its barbecued brisket, homestyle mac and cheese, and fall-off-the-bone ribs, Globe Hall also showcases an astonishing breadth of musical talent in a year.

Great acts have graced its stage from nearly every imaginable genre, including Brockhampton, Corb Lund, Gang of Four, N3ptune, Reverend Horton Heat, The Bronx, and Zola Jesus.

10. Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom and The Other Side

This unique indie venue has a history dating back to the 1930s and the days of the Casino Cabaret. The venue hosted jazz greats such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie when they passed through Denver. But it's seen a galaxy of other stars come through in the decades since.

Cervantes’ staged its grand opening in this historic building two decades ago, creating a unique two-room performance space with acts appearing in intimate, immersive shows in the Masterpiece Ballroom and The Other Side.

Visitors can venture back and forth between the rooms as these shows unfold — a dual-room format that truly makes Cervantes’ stand out. The Masterpiece Ballroom and The Other Side have featured high-caliber acts like Branford Marsalis, Nas, Dr. John, and Bassnectar.

11. Beacon

Located in the heart of the River North arts district, Denver’s Beacon is an artist-created dance bar that’s all about uplifting engagement.

It provides a series of themed rooms – with titles like The Portal, Dance Floor Under a Cloud, and Trip to the Hive Mind. In the venue's own words, these are designed to be spaces where "over-the-top" is the "bare minimum."

More than a live music bar, the Beacon strives to be an immersive art space where revelers are their most authentic and joyful selves.

With all that said, it isn’t shy on the drinks front either, offering an impressive array of VIP bottle service options along with a menu of wines, beers, and cocktails. A night spent at Beacon is a singular experience.

Photographer: Steve Harvey

Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill's culturally vibrant history is reflected in its equally dynamic present.

12. Charlie Brown’s Bar & Grill

Charlie Brown’s Bar & Grill is one of the many historic bars in Denver with a past that dates back to Prohibition. It has the feel of an old-time lounge that could easily have been passed down almost untouched from the days of its founding.

That enchanting atmosphere is reinforced by the soothing live piano music that’s featured every evening from 6 o’clock until closing time. Also known for hosting karaoke nights and other musical events, this is a perennial favorite with Denver's selective locals.

Photographer: Ian dooley

13. Lost Lake

This vibrant venue in Capitol Hill is a stage for a diverse array of indie artists from around Denver and points well beyond. The music at Lost Lake is definitely the star attraction here, with a spectacular array of past talents spanning numerous genres and more than a few that outright defy genre classification altogether.

Past headliners have included names like The BellRays, Lucy Dacus, DeVotchKa, The Dandy Warhols, Electric Six, and Zammuto. With that kind of musical range on display, the lounge doesn’t need to worry about providing much in the way of frills.

In fact, it’s recommended by the venue that patrons make a prior stop at a restaurant before basking in Lost Lake’s spectacular sounds.

South Broadway

This neighborhood is a center of culturally vigorous dive bars that battle to preserve the independence and authentic commitment of the Mile High City's live music scene.

14. Hi-Dive

A Denver institution for 20 years, Hi-Dive in Denver has been a launching pad for many of the best local bands ever to do it. A musician-owned space that hosts touring acts and local shows year-round, Hi-Dive provides itself on its sonic excellence and unvarnished commitment to music.

Visitors can expect a lively schedule of gigs at any time of year featuring punk, bluegrass, and indie rock bands. The Hi-Dive is known for showcasing acts who are either destined to make waves on the indie music scene or are already doing so.

15. Herman’s Hideaway

For well over 5 decades, Herman’s Hideaway has been one of the premier music venues in Denver. Pioneered over the years by a father-and-son duo, the Hideaway has been a reliable supporter of independent music and the local scene for most of its existence.

During its decades-long run, it has played host to a staggering 32,000 acts and enjoyed the die-hard support of the community. Part of the secret to that support is the Hideaway's tradition of paying acts more than fairly.

Why Live Music Is a Staple of Denver's Nightlife

Live music holds a special place in the cultural life of the Mile High City. What exactly makes that possible is harder to put a finger on.

Ask any five of the city’s music professionals on any given day, and you might get five different answers. Some of the most common might be:

  • The Red Rocks Amphitheatre draws musical pilgrims of all stripes to Denver.
  • There may be more idealism in Denver’s music culture than you’d find in bigger centers such as Los Angeles or New York.
  • The local scene is vigorous but not oversaturated. It’s a place where an indie rock band can be more than “just another indie rock band.”

Denver has a vital ecosystem of live music venues that come in all shapes and sizes. Those venues incubate and nurture musical talent, provide places to practice the art, and ultimately, make greatness possible.

And don’t forget one of the greatest sources of the city’s music — private karaoke rooms in Denver!

Revel in the Rich Live Music of Denver

Live music is a cultural resource in Denver. It’s defended by the community and nurtured by artists, families, and collectives in a way that's arguably unique among American cities.

We admire the spirit of artistic authenticity and boundless creativity that makes this all possible. It’s very much the same spirit that has driven us since day one. We urge visitors to explore these and other venues and to take in the magic of our own shows in Denver whenever they can.

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