Red Rocks is officially back




Shakey Graves titled the first full capacity concert at this iconic venue since the pandemic began on Wednesday night. We went to see what the crowded crowd looked like.


Monique Bechard had been waiting a long time for Wednesday evening. “It’s like we’ve taken a long road trip where you wait and wait until you’re actually going to get there,” she said, while lounging with three friends in the Upper parking lot. South outside the Red Rocks Amphitheater. “We’re here and we can finally open the doors and stretch out. Red Rocks is back.

The Red Rocks definitely made a big comeback Wednesday night, as some 9,000 people crowded between the sandstone monoliths of the iconic concert hall to watch American artist Shakey Graves performs. While Red Rocks have hosted concerts throughout the pandemic, including small shows for hundreds of people last summer and performances with larger capacities—2,800 first and then 6,300– This spring, Wednesday was the first event at full capacity since the closure of space by the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. It was a significant milestone in the return to normalcy of the Denver area .

The importance of the event did not escape many fans present. Before the show, the upper space plaza featured a parade of people looking around the place and saying things like, “Red Rocks, baby! We’re back ”or“ Back to paradise! Many of these enthusiastic statements, of course, were accompanied by “rock on” or “hang loose” hand gestures.

For some, it was their first experience with the Red Rocks. Lauren Fuchs, a 24-year-old from Massachusetts, was on a road trip to visit national parks when she realized she could purchase tickets to one of her list sites. She decided to stay an extra night to make it happen. “I’m on the verge of tears, I have chills—[my] the heart is overflowing with happiness, ”she said before the start of the live music. “What a way for me to kick off post-COVID concerts. ”

The opening of the concert, freelance singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus, was also overwhelmed by the moment. “Shit. I haven’t done this in a while,” she said at the start of her set. “This is my first show since March 2020. I don’t know if you’ve all been to shows. , But I did not do it.”

Spectators wait in lines for beer and food in the upper plaza of Red Rocks. Photo by Shane Monaghan

Before Shakey Graves’ performance, as the venue grew to a large capacity, the familiar smells (i.e. avoiding people. The same goes for the less pleasurable parts of large crowds: the lines. beer and food were sometimes 40 to 50 people. “I was trying to cut the beer line to get somewhere and no one moved,” said Jon Black, 33. “During COVID, we are all become so aware of the space. And everyone stood in their places like, I do not cut myself. It was weird.

The night was also not without COVID-19 reminders. While mask-wearing was almost non-existent (we saw maybe 20 people with one), the big screen next to the stage advertised a free vaccination clinic, where spectators could get a free t-shirt and other memories with a Johnson & Johnson Inoculation. The King Soopers pharmacist who runs the clinic said he gave an injection to a person around 8:30 p.m. He only brought 15 doses with him and did not plan to give many more, if needed.

Once Shakey Graves started playing around 9 p.m., the experience felt remarkably familiar to some onlookers. “If I had a pre-COVID photo and compared it to the current one, you wouldn’t really see a difference,” Black said. “It’s pretty cool that we’re at this point.”

The end of the night, however, was marked by the ultimate sign that Red Rocks is back: revelers made their way to the legendary district’s parking lots for afters, while other spectators waited in a conga line of cars slowly descending the hill out of the room. The wait, however, was at least accompanied by the exhilaration of seeing music live with thousands of other people.

Shane Monaghan, Associate Digital Editor

Shane writes and edits articles for and manages 5280’s daily newsletter, The Local.


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