Le­vitt Pav­il­ion Den­ver, the city’s new­est mu­sic venue

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Dy­lan Owens

Though Le­vitt Pav­il­ion Den­ver will be the sev­enth in a se­ries of Le­vitt Pav­il­ions across the coun­try when it opens in Ruby Hill Park on July 20, it will be the largest of them all, not to men­tion one of a kind in Den­ver.

With an ad­justable ca­pac­ity that can ac­com­mo­date as many as 17,000 peo­ple, the $7 mil­lion, 63,450- square-foot am­phithe­ater will be far and away the largest out­door mu­sic venue in Den­ver proper, with a max­i­mum ca­pac­ity more than dou­ble that of Red Rocks. (Fid­dler’s Green Am­phithe­ater, which seats 18,000, is in Englewood.)

Aes­thetic flour­ishes set it apart

from the com­pe­ti­tion in less quantifiable ways. “Sky Song,” an in­ter­ac­tive art in­stal­la­tion, will be ded­i­cated at 6:30 p.m. on Thurs­day, 30 min­utes prior to the venue’s first con­cert. Dreamed up by Den­ver artists Nick Geurts and Ryan El­men­dorf — who col­lab­o­rated on a 16-foot­tall metal sculp­ture of a head and hands emerg­ing from the desert at Burn­ing Man last year — the shiny steel 8-foot struc­ture in­vites passersby to press any com­bi­na­tion of its 33 but­tons, which will ac­ti­vate lights on a nearby build­ing fa­cade dur­ing a con­cert and ac­ti­vate bells when all’s quiet.

So, yes, you too can per­form at Le­vitt Pav­il­ion Den­ver this sum­mer.

The venue will also bring an un­prece­dented amount of free con­certs to its bill: Thirty of its sched­uled 35 shows won’t cost you a dime. That in­cludes Thurs­day’s grand open­ing con­cert with Den­ver’s own Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, Halden Wof­ford & the Hi Beams, and Andy Thomas’ Dust Heart.

It’s an es­pe­cially busy night for Thomas. The venue’s as­so­ciate di­rec­tor and the first act to of­fi­cially grace its stage, Thomas will take on the stresses in­her­ent to both or­ga­nizer and per­former in the hours lead­ing up to the venue’s in­au­gu­ral show, sound­check­ing his own set from the stage and then tend­ing to the head­lin­ers from the booth.

Thomas, who’s been play­ing mu­sic in Den­ver for the past 14 years, looks at the evening as a tes­ta­ment to his and the staff’s com­mit­ment to the lo­cal mu­sic scene. That he’ll be open­ing for Slim Cessna, a band he’s fol­lowed for years, is “ic­ing on the cake.”

As an in­de­pen­dently booked venue, Le­vitt isn’t be­holden to any one pro­moter’s bank of artists, which means it will host artists from a wide range of back­grounds. This sum­mer’s sea­son fea­tures hiphop (Colorado Springs’ The Re­minders), Amer­i­can roots (Whiskey Shiv­ers) and, par­tially in a nod to Ruby Hill’s largely His­panic de­mo­graphic, a six­con­cert Latin con­cert se­ries. From singer-song­writer Ceci Bastida to Mex­i­can ska act In­spec­tor, that lineup is as eclec­tic as the venue’s pro­gram­min­gat-large.

The pay-to-en­ter con- certs kick off on Fri­day, with a dou­ble bill: pop reg­gae group UB40, the mu­si­cal som­me­lier that turned Neil Di­a­mond’s cover of “Red Red Wine” into a bon­afide hit in the early ’80s, rap­per Matisyahu and Rag­ing Fiyah. (Tick­ets are $25-$75.)

Speak­ing of wine, the fes­ti­val’s BYOB ad­ver­tis­ing ac­tu­ally stands for “bring your own blan­ket” — there will be beer on sale at the venue ($7 for a 12-ounce craft brew; $12 for a 24-ounce) and a reg­u­lar ro­ta­tion of food trucks for con­certs. Thurs­day’s show fea­tures four: Pavy’s, Wong Way Veg, Cheesus and Ba-Nom-A-Nom.

Pro­vided by Le­vitt Pav­il­ion Den­ver

Le­vitt Pav­il­ion Den­ver, on June 28. The am­phithe­ater, which opens on July 20, took eight months to build.

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