Fort Collins Music Landscape is Blooming Like Never Before
Spring is here and the Fort Collins music landscape is blooming like never before. This Northern Colorado culture hub is nationally recognized as a hot spot for creative music and talented new musicians. In short, the music scene in Fort Collins is coming up roses.
New stages complement existing venues
Visitors and locals alike are buzzing about Washington’s, the newest music venue in town anchoring an ever-growing music scene. This Old Town Fort Collins landmark was purchased by the Bohemian Foundation and renovated with a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system. Now the 900-capacity venue is bringing local and national bands to the region. Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue show, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Martin Sexton, Keller Williams and more have performed since it opened in early February; this spring, Flobots, Justin Townes Earle, Pedro the Lion and many more will grace the already-lauded (and applauded) stage.
Also new, the very refined-yet-offbeat Magic Rat Live Music, located inside the new luxury Elizabeth Hotel in Old Town, hosts big name artists and local late night jam sessions.
Concerts at The Armory pair a local artist with a nationally-known musician in an intimate 200-capacity (seated) listening room. Big names like John Oates, Shawn Colvin, Shelby Lynne, Brett Dennen, Gregory Alan Isakov and many others have played this one-of-a-kind venue housed in a historic Fort Collins building.
A handful of other longtime local venues, including the Downtown Artery, Hodi’s Half Note, Avogadro’s Number and the historic Aggie Theatre, round out the live music venues, along with local bars and breweries. The new mixology bar Blue Door hosts live music, as does Ace Gillett’s Lounge where sultry jazz music tempts people to this underground speakeasy each week. Likewise, many of the more than 20 local breweries host live music on the reg, including New Belgium Brewing, Equinox Brewing, Odell Brewing Company and Maxline Brewing.
Many other establishments and events pay tribute to FoCo’s deep-rooted music scene.
The year-and-a-half old Music District is helping drive the city’s thriving music landscape. The district’s campus boasts gathering spaces, apartment for artists-in-residence, a radio station, state-of-the-art rehearsal studios and performance spaces, making it a creative playground for the music community. Take lessons, rent equipment, write or compose in the treehouse or another space, learn production skills; you can do all of this and more at the district, which is backed by the Bohemian Foundation and aims to attract both music lovers and novice-to-pro musicians. With at least 100 workshops and events on tap for 2018, they hope to get everyone involved in some way.
Jam out on guitars, drums, marimbas and even a theremin at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, which features a permanent music-oriented exhibit. The Music & Sound Lab explores the physics of sound, the history of the Fort Collins music scene and some of the technology behind everything from Edison wax cylinders to iPods. The museums’ OtterBox Digital Dome Theater hosts concerts as well as a monthly “Acoustic Treatment” event, where a rising local musician shares tales in between an intimate acoustic set.
FoCoMX, the annual spring festival held in Old Town, is slated for April 27 and 28. The popular event features over 300 Northern Colorado-based bands at more than 30 downtown venues.
A musical theme permeates the luxurious 164-room Elizabeth Hotel, which opened to the public in November 2017. The modern hotel features record players in the guest rooms as well as a 1,200 record vinyl collection, a piano in the hotel’s Sky Bar, jazz music at the rooftop Sunset Lounge and a lending library chock full of musical instruments you can borrow.
Music under the sun (or stars)
The iconic Mishawaka Amphitheatre (called “The Mish” by locals) is a bucket-list venue in Poudre Canyon that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016. Summer season highlights include Xavier Rudd on June 2, Cold War Kids on June 27 and Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers on Aug. 4.
Live music can be heard any night of the week in Fort Collins — even mid-week. Music lovers gather at Oak Street Plaza for the intimate Noontime Notes Concert Series, live concerts that take place on Tuesdays from June through August. And over at Colorado State University (CSU), The Lagoon Series is a free summer concert series slated for Wednesday evenings June 14-Aug. 2. Catch well-known (mostly) Colorado bands including Pandas & People, Danielle Ate the Sandwich and The Wendy Woo Band. And the first of the Thursday Night Live free weekly Thursday night summer concerts in Old Town takes place May 31. The lineup is usually announced in May. On Fridays, catch the free Downtown Sessions concert series in Old Town.
Soon music lovers will enjoy a new outdoor gathering space. The Gardens on Spring Creek will include a new multi-use venue perfect for outdoor performances on the Great Lawn.