10 Must-See Autumn shows in Colorado

By: Daniel Mescher

August 22, 2013

It might not seem like it now with all the sunshine and consistent 80-plus degree temperatures, but autumn really is just around the corner. And while the summer festival and concert season is still ongoing (check out our trusty concert calendar for more details!), there are a great deal of initial shows already announced for fall, and it’s never too early to get a head start on planning your personal concert calendar. Starting with a two-day festival that combines alternative, punk, indie, and hip-hop up to a late-November showcase from a true Colorado music superstar, we’ve listed the 10 must-see concerts for this upcoming autumn.

There’s sure to be plenty more announced in the coming weeks too, so be sure to keep checking back at the OpenAir calendar to stay in the loop!

Riot Fest @ May Farms, Sept. 21-22

Riot Fest’s three-stop tour luckily includes a weekend event in Colorado beginning the last day of summer. A music and sideshow extravaganza that includes a corn maze, ferris wheel, and on-site camping, Riot Fest boasts a stellar lineup including headliners like the recently reunited Replacements, and Iggy & the Stooges, along with indie acts Devotchka, Yo La Tengo, Best Coast, and many, many more. It all goes down in Byers, CO, a little less than an hour outside Denver. One and two-day passes are available, along with a variety of camping options. A surefire way to start your autumn on a high note.

Fiona Apple & Blake Mills @ Boettcher Concert Hall, Oct. 11

Fiona Apple hits the road this fall with touring collaborator Blake Mills. The shows, which include an October date in Denver, will combine the two songwriters’ work and debut some new material; Apple claims they only have “about 26% of an idea” of what they’ll end up playing, though she attests “the uncertainty excites us”. A tour from Apple excites us too, especially after last year’s excellent The Idler Wheel… album.

Passion Pit w/ The Joy Formidable @ 1STBANK Center, Oct. 15

Passion Pit returns to the 1STBANK Center after an energetic spectacle last March. Michael Angelakos’ indie-dance project has expanded its live show with a fuller band and light show, and the music of last year’s Gossamer lends itself to massive arena dance parties that thrive in venues like 1STBANK. This time around, Welsh alt-rock group The Joy Formidable, an act sure to get the audience’s blood pumping with their effervescent indie anthems, will open.

Portugal. The Man @ Boulder Theater, Oct. 18 AND Ogden Teater, Oct. 19

Portugal. The Man, whose seventh full-length Evil Friends recently ranked no. 1 in our weekly Top 30, return to Colorado for a headlining show at the Boulder Theater. The Portland-based group’s recent lineup additions and work with producer Danger Mouse has provided their new material with a renewed vigor, combining garage, psych, and indie for a memorable record that’s sure to provide an engaging live show. Spanish alt-dance group Crystal Fighters open.

Tame Impala @ Boulder Theater, Oct. 26 AND Ogden Theatre, Oct. 27

Australian rockers Tame Impala is giving you two chances to see them in Colorado this fall. Whether you catch them in Boulder or Denver this October, you’re in for a fantastic live show, one that Rolling Stone praised in their recent 50 Greatest Live Acts Right Now list. The band has a knack for psychedelic-rock freak outs as documented on albums Innerspeaker and Lonerism, but Tame Impala are simply one of those acts you have to see for yourself. Be sure to show up early for Austin rockers White Denim, who will open both shows.

M. Doughty @ Boulder Theater, Oct. 29

OpenAir hosts Mike Doughty’s show at the Boulder Theater. Doughty has done well to continue his musical livelihood as a singular entity since the breakup of cult alternative band Soul Coughing in 2000. Though he has largely eschewed his former band’s material for years, those days are over: Doughty has advertised his current dates as the “M. DOUGHTY (used to be in) SOUL COUGHING” tour, promising to play the best of Soul Coughing, including tracks off classic indie albums Ruby Vroom and Irresistable Bliss.

Paper Bird @ Fox Theatre, Oct. 31

Since forming over five years ago, Denver folk seven-piece Paper Bird has become a household name in the Colorado music scene with consistently excellent releases, including this year’s Rooms. This September they’ll be sure to get some well-deserved publicity when they open for fellow Denver folk act the Lumineers at their sold-out Red Rocks show. Halloween shows have become a tradition of sorts for the group (two years ago they played a Halloween show at the Hi-Dive which included a cover of TLC’s r&b classic “Waterfalls”), and the band headlines the Fox Theatre this October the 31st. Better start planning your costume now.

Iron & Wine @ Paramount Theatre, Nov. 7

Iron & Wine, the performing and songwriting moniker of Sam Beam, will embark on a handful of North American dates this Halloween in support of this year’s Ghost on Ghost album. The record is a relaxed mix of Beam’s signature wordy singer-songwriter folk along with jazz and pop influences. Despite his sparse early lo-fi recordings, lately Beam has been known to tour with a sizable horn section, so expect a full, rich sound at the Paramount this November.

Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony @ Boettcher Concert Hall, Nov. 8

With the release of the universally acclaimed The Weatherman, it’s been a truly fantastic year for Colorado folk artist Gregory Alan Isakov. Following this month’s album release show in Boulder, Isakov comes to Denver for a show with the Colorado Symphony at the Boettcher Concert Hall in November. Given the orchestral nature of The Weatherman (a difficult task for a folksinger, but Isakov makes it seem perfectly natural), the performance is sure to be a sight to behold for indie, folk, and classical fans alike.

Nathaniel Rateliff / Nathaniel Rateliff & Night Sweats @ Gothic Theatre, Nov. 29

OpenAir presents this year’s Annual Holiday Show from Colorado music star Nathaniel Rateliff at the Gothic Theatre. The multi-talented Mr. Rateliff will perform both his folk material and with soul outfit the Night Sweats at this one-of-a-kind performance combining the many genres of Rateliff’s oeuvre, along with a performance from Land Lines. It’s also a release party and on-site afterparty for his new album Falling Faster Than You Can Run. Skip the lines at the mall this Black Friday and head to the Gothic for a spectacular holiday show with OpenAir.