Most Underrated Music City in this State Hits Top of the Charts

Most Underrated


Most Underrated Music City in Colorado is Fort Collins, a Music Mecca



The most underrated city for music is Fort Collins, a cultural hub recognized as a hotspot for creative music and talented musicians. The “Choice City” boasts a deep-rooted music scene with free live music nearly seven evenings a week during the summer, myriad live music venues, and some unexpected ways to satiate your love of all things musical.



“Fort Collins and Northern Colorado have become a musical destination for artists and fans alike,” said Greta Cornett, Co-Founder & President of The Fort Collins Musicians Association. “The local scene is vibrant and full of incredible talent of all genres and pulls in an amazing amount of support from the community. It’s become a hot spot for breakout acts and a touring location for national musicians.”



Summer Auditory Arts Line-Up

The summer 2023 weekly outdoor summer concert lineup includes:


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FoCo Food Truck Rally




Fort Collins Stages & Venues

Fort Collins has a rich musical history that includes amazing musicians as well as plenty of collaboration and support, which leads to fresh new sounds and keeps the city on the forefront of talent. Here’s a look at some of the local stages:



Visitors and locals alike are buzzing about Washington’s. This Old Town Fort Collins landmark was purchased by the Bohemian Foundation and renovated with a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system. The 900-capacity venue is bringing local and national bands to the region. Upcoming highlights include: Deer Tick (June 27); Los Lobos (July 7); Flor (July 11); Better Than Ezra (Aug. 2); and more.


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Washington’s announces reggae band “Big Mountain” Aug 13th


The iconic Mishawaka Amphitheatre (called “The Mish” by locals) is a bucket-list venue in Poudre Canyon that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016.


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 in this one-of-a-kind venue housed in a historic Fort Collins building.


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The Armory


Long beloved by the punk rock community, Surfside 7 – aka “The World Famous Surfside” – is known for pulling in big-name national talent thanks to key industry connections of owner/musician-in-his-own-right Jon Snodgrass (Drag the River, Lagwagon, Bad Astronaut, Scorpios, Armchair Martian).


830 North (formerly Chipper’s Lanes) hosts Live on the Lanes weekly concerts sponsored by Mishawaka Amphitheater. Book a table for two (or go big and reserve an 8-person lane if you want to bowl) and revel in live music again.

The very refined-yet-offbeat Magic Rat Live Music, located inside the luxury Elizabeth Hotel in Old Town, hosts big name artists and local late-night jam sessions.


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Magic Rat Live Music


Newer to the local lineup (June 2021), The Atrium Bar at the Alley Cat is an experience inside a Fort Collins institution. Located in a cozy corner of Laurel Street mainstay Alley Cat Coffeehouse (self-described as “one of the most eclectic cafes in Northern Colorado”), The Atrium hosts live music every Friday night, a DJ most Thursdays and open mic on Tuesdays.


A handful of other local venues, including Avogadro’s NumberThe LyricThe Coast and the historic Aggie Theatre, round out the live music venues, along with local bars and breweries. At Ace Gillett’s Lounge & Supper Clubsultry 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 BrewingOdell Brewing Company and Maxline Brewing.



Make Music

The Music District is helping drive the city’s thriving music landscape by serving as a musical incubator. The district’s campus boasts gathering spaces, apartments 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.



Learn About Music

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.


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Fort Collins Museum of Discovery


A Vinyl Experience

A vinyl resurgence is taking place in Fort Collins of late. A longtime FoCo disc jockey opened Driver 8 Records in Old Town in fall of 2022. The Pine Street record store stocks new and classic vinyl across musical genres. Old Town Fort Collins is also home to vinyl record store All Sales Vinyl, which caters to music aficionados who understand there’s a deeper experience available from a record than merely streaming an album.


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All Sales Vinyl


“People of all generations are not only hearing the difference in the vinyl album but … are able to see the album art, which is pretty amazing, and get to hold it in their hands, see who played on the album and get all the experiences you lose when you’re just streaming,” said Owner Mike Fogerty.



Pianos About Town

One of the most beloved forms of public art – and music – in Fort Collins is the Pianos About Town “exhibit.” This cool collaboration combines art and music, featuring pianos painted by artists throughout the year. The completed pianos are rotated to locations around Fort Collins and people are invited to play a tune while admiring the musical works of art. There are currently over 100 painted pianos in and around Fort Collins.



The Return of FoCoMX

FoCoMX, an annual spring festival held in Old Town Fort Collins, features over 300 Northern Colorado-based bands at nearly 30 downtown venues. This two-day music experience celebrated its 15th anniversary this year and is a cherished community tradition. Attendees enjoy live music and discovering new bands while supporting local musicians: a majority of revenue from every FoCoMX wristband sold is paid directly to the musicians who perform at the festival.


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The Elizabeth Hotel


Spin (or Jam Out) Where You Stay

The gorgeous Elizabeth Hotel is a 164-room boutique hotel that earned the honor of being the city’s first four-star hotel when it opened in 2017. Listen to records via the in-room record player (and a 1,200-record vinyl collection) or make your own music in the lobby lending library full of musical instruments. Channel your inner DJ by staying in the Music Suite, replete with a high-tech record player and sound system, and your very own baby grand piano. Drift to the rooftop Sunset Lounge for jazz, or the sultry Magic Rat for live music and late-night jam sessions.



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