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We finally made it out west! After attending Lockn’ festival in Arrington, Virginia… we just couldn’t stay away from the live music scene. We’d originally planned to drive straight from Virginia to Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming to visit a friend… but in a sudden change of heart – we decided to stop in Denver, Colorado to see Phish.
Denver is a city that’s close to our hearts. We first visited in 2015 and immediately fell in love and planned to eventually move there. Obviously, there’s never a good time to uproot your life and move across the country – so we hadn’t quite gotten to it before we decided to build Yoda and hit the road for a while. I guess you could say it was a trade off.
A Music Filled Weekend in Denver
Anyway, when we arrived – we were immediately enamored by the city of Denver, once again. Two of my closest lady friends moved to Denver after undergrad… so when we finally arrived (after 3 days of driving from Virginia) – we were immediately spoiled. My childhood best friend, Courtney, graciously let us take over half of her one bedroom apartment for 5 nights… and my college roommate, Ally, provided us with a safe place to park Yoda for the duration of our stay (have I ever mentioned that I have the BEST friends? That’s an unbiased fact!)
If you’ve never called a vehicle your primary residence, you probably wouldn’t understand how luxurious it feels to have unlimited hot showers, ice cold water on demand, and a washer/dryer combo steps away to tackle the mountain of laundry that we’d been ignoring for weeks. To say that our stay in Denver was restorative would be an understatement. Having spent the previous weeks in the sticky inferno that is the southern United States – we REALLY needed a few days of civilized (aka sweat free), indoor living to set us back on the right path.
A Music Filled Weekend in Denver: Sancho’s Broken Arrow
Pretty much all of our activities during our Labor Day Weekend stay had to do with the music that we love (the music that dictates our life haha). If you’re just joining in on our journey – we’re huge deadheads, and all-around improvisational music enthusiasts. So to drive 1600 miles across the country to see Phish (a band that neither of us love, admittedly) seemed like a reasonable choice. We were heading that way anyway, so why not make an extended stop to catch up with friends and connect with the music community in Denver.
Our first stop, was Sancho’s Broken Arrow on Colfax Ave in Denver. It’s a Grateful Dead themed bar in Denver that we’d been hearing about for years and had been dying to check out.
Upon arriving, we saw a mural of Jerry Garcia and several other members of the Grateful Dead, as well as a cool stealie adorning the front of the bar.
Upon entry, it’s definitely closer to a dive bar than an upscale establishment – but that’s kind of what one would expect. The room itself was pretty incredible. Every inch of wall space was covered in show posters and other art. Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia Band, Widespread Panic… you name the iconic jam band – it was probably up on these walls.
The staircase and bathrooms were painted masterfully, with murals featuring the Grateful Dead, Alice in Wonderland, Jimi Hendrix and more. The whole place was basically a museum, as well as a bar. We were really excited to finally visit, and add Thriving In Tie Dye stickers to the huge collection covering all open surfaces.
A Music Filled Weekend in Denver: Phish Dicks
The main event of our weekend was seeing Phish at Dicks Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City (very close to Denver). We hit the road with the intention of attending 1 or 3 nights in their Labor Day weekend run. We thought Saturday would be enough… but once we were there – we decided to bite the bullet and but a pair of tickets for Sunday as well. (Never miss a Sunday show!!!)
The venue was really cool, and had a great parking lot scene. For those of you out there who’ve never experienced the phenomenon that is a Grateful Dead or Phish show (or something similar) – tons of vendors set up in the parking lot and sell their wares. “On lot” (also called shakedown) you can buy anything from grilled cheese… to tie-dye shirts… to massages. You name it, and there’s probably a hippie selling it on lot somewhere.
The shows themselves were brilliant. The energy of the sold out crowd was amazing… and you could tell that the band was having a great time too. Although I listen to Phish occasionally, and have seen them 3 times prior to these shows – they aren’t my favorite band by any means. However, after attending their biggest multi-night run of the year – I have a lot more respect for what they do. As a band, they couldn’t be any tighter… and as musicians, they’re likely some of the best in the game. Also, despite my resistance to the playful nature of their music…. a lot of it is infectious and undeniably catchy.
Needless to say, we had a great time at the Phish shows… and getting to spend them with our good friends whom we never get to see (long distance friendships are hard!) made the whole thing so much sweeter.
A Music Filled Weekend in Denver: Fire on the Mountain
On our last day in Denver, we were all pretty exhausted after spending the weekend dancing in the heat. We spent most of the day napping… but when we needed nourishment – our friends brought us to a cool restaurant called Fire on the Mountain in North Denver
The restaurant was small and packed… but was really cool inside! When we arrived, String Cheese Incident was playing over the speakers, and we were seated at a handmade table featuring dozens of old concert tickets under the clear resin tabletop.
The food was pretty incredible (mostly sandwiches, salads & wings), and they had a great beer selection (on Monday they have some cheap beer specials!). They carried a variety of cool grateful dead and phish related t-shirts and other merchandise… and also had some cornhole games set up outside to play while you wait.
Fire on the Mountain was a great little place that was obviously run by music fans like ourselves. We do what we can to support our fellow deadheads, so this was a no brainer for us!
We Love Denver!!
The decision to drive 1600 miles to attend a concert may seem a little crazy… but our musical weekend in Denver easily one of the best weekends of my life – so I’d say it was worth it. To get to connect with so many friends, old and new, in such a beautiful place, AND to some incredible live music was the experience I both wanted and needed. We left Denver feeling rejuvenated and ready to experience the beauty and peacefulness of nature. I’m so grateful for this life!!
Have you ever traveled a great distance for an event? Was it worth it? Tell me about it!