How many, though, is another question: While it isn’t strange that Nickelback is headlining Red Rocks — even in 2017 — it is strange that tickets start at $75. When: Sept. Of course, barring a miracle, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Beatles and ABBA will never grace Red Rocks. But thanks to the magic of ambitious tribute acts, you can get a wig’s throw away from that dream. Like that Nickelback has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide since it first hit the rock scene more than two decades ago. For fans not sated by the handful of films and 10-plus seasons of television, the once-dead (and Netflix-revived) show has somehow mobilized into a live performance that plays out like a staged improv comedy routine, often attracting an equally sauced-up crowd. Who knows? Meanwhile, Straight No Chaser is probably as far from rock and roll as a sippy cup full of Shirley Temple. When: Various times
How much: Various costs For the rest, it’s a Red Rocks sign o’ the times. Between the two of them, Croatia’s Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser can play just about anything on their uber-sleek electric cellos, especially with the help of a drummer, who joins in on jauntier numbers in their pop repertoire, like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” For the pair’s latest international tour, which hits Red Rocks this summer, it’s taking on famous film scores. 12
How much: $75-$125
The Trailer Park Boys
No, the Trailer Park Boys isn’t the name of some incredible bluegrass band you’ve never heard of. In other words, despite the internet’s worst wishes, tickets will sell. No matter: This double feature of a YouTube-famous classical cover band and an all-male a capella group is weirder. For die-hard fans, this one is a gimme. They are Ricky, Julian and Bubbles, the protagonists of the Canadian comedy movie and TV series of the same name. It’s probably a logistical decision, given that it’s one of the band’s most intimate shows on its just-announced Feed The Machine tour. When: Aug. Each act that plays Red Rocks gets an award just for having played it, along with a chance to write their names in the venue’s underground tunnel next to luminaries like Wilco, Judas Priest and Santana. 30
How much: $45.00 – $69.75
Sometimes, Red Rocks just anticipates what we all want before we know we want it. (Seth McConnell, The Denver Post)
Red Rocks has long been thought of as a venue upon a hill. 4
How much: $39.95-$79.95
When it was announced earlier this month, the internet greeted the news of Nickelback’s first-ever headlining spot at Red Rocks in the same way it treats everything else: outrage and ridicule. Literally, it’s about 800 feet higher up than Denver in elevation. Case in point: One, well, it’s an a capella group, and two, out of seven total releases, they’ve cut four Christmas albums. Post Modern Jukebox and Straight No Chaser
Originally, this spot was going to go to freaky South African nu-rap duo Die Antwoord, whose Red Rocks show was announced by the band last week and mysteriously pulled off of the internet soon after. When: July 25
How much: $39.50-$59.50
Cover bands galore
Speaking of cover bands: If you squint, there’s an impossible medley of rock gods coming to Red Rocks this summer. Hence, this year’s Red Rocks schedule, which is by no means bad, but isn’t without a handful of questionable choices sprinkled throughout like so many worms in a bowl of spaghetti. Below, this year’s highlight oddities. For example: Who hasn’t wanted to see two hunky Croatians destroy a cover of “Moon River” on the cello? When: Oct. But to bands and fans, it’s also a sort of arbiter for the talent that graces its stage. Because if 2Cellos’ headlining show is any indication, about 10,000 of us do. Or so the thinking goes. Led by Scott Bradlee, the latter has made its bones by tricking out today’s best pop and rock songs to hipsters’ liking, typically sending them back to the jazz age, or enlisting a nearly 7-foot clown to take lead vocals (see: Puddles the Clown’s rendition of “Royals” above). Maybe a radical cello version of the “Game of Thrones” theme song will make you forget you’re watching a couple of guys furiously bow through rock covers instead of just, you know, hitting up a rock show. The Beatles and Zeppelin make sense: 1964: The Tribute has played Red Rocks every year for awhile now, and as one of the objectively best rock and roll band of all time, the right Led Zeppelin cover band (which Get The Led Out is) could actually be incredible. But even hardcore Nickelback fans (they’re out there) might balk at paying what shakes out to just under $100 after convenience charges for a nosebleed ticket to the Canadian AOR four piece. Now that the venue is open for business nearly half the year, the privilege of playing the stage is more a matter of rent money than it is a gatekeeper for the music elite. Music data aggregating service Pollstar even calls its small venue of the year award the Red Rocks Award. If you can play Red Rocks, you can play anywhere. But that’s not really true — at least not anymore. But snark can’t undermine cold, hard facts. Arrival from Sweden’s Music of Abba is harder to parse until you remember how ABBA is basically happiness personified, and that it’s hard not to smile — nay, box step — when you’re at its mercy. The show follows a group of brash, hard-drinking trailer park low-lifes as they scheme their way in and out of money and jail time.
An inflated Red Rocks schedule leads to some odd choices for the venue’s 2017 roster.