New Urban Fest Highlights Changing City

Photo: Sarai Nissan


Photo: Sarai Nissan
Photo: Sarai Nissan | CU Sentry

Four years ago the RiNo district (the area north of the Platte River) was home to the only two places any sane person would dare venture to: the beloved DIY venue Rhinoceropolis and The Source, a trendy artisanal food mart. Over the last few years, this area has been the target of mass gentrification that exploded what neighborhood has to offer.

Most recently, RiNo embraced its inaugural music festival; the RiNo Music Festival, featuring names like The Silversun Pickups and St. Lucia on Aug. 26.

“There has been a thriving underground of music in RiNo for a long time, and now with the explosion of new indie businesses and life in the neighborhood, it truly has established itself as a magic place to hangout and a true community of artists working together.” Scott Campbell, the mind behind Denver’s newest festival and a booker with AEG and Lost Lake in Denver, said.

While certainly intrigued to see a once deserted and decaying open lot nurtured into a place to harbor and perform music, viewers have to wonder about the outcomes of RiNo’s burgeoning transformations. River North—dubbed RiNo by locals— was the domicile for factories and warehouses; scattered amongst the acreage of the Pepsi Factory, independent business, dive bars, and even more upscale establishments have begun to emerge.

Campbell said the inspiration behind the RiNo Festival came from its location. “We found this super cool festival sight in the heart of RiNo, close to the river, light rail stop, bike path, parking and were like ‘What can we do here to make Denver better?’”

The Denver music scene is nowhere near the capacity of Los Angeles but that is not to say that it has less of a following than, let’s say, the Midwest. Denver has bred a slew of accomplished musicians, being a modest but adept hub of music in the west. Denver is not short of music festivals by any means, having UMS in July and Westword Music Showcase in June, brings many big names in music to the Mile High City.

The addition of the RiNo music festival could introduce Denver into a larger realm for musicians. “RiNo has always been super underground and central,” Campbell said. “It always had a lot of warehouse spaces and divy bars, all which made for great live music venues, art galleries, and indie restaurants now that the neighborhood has changed so much.”

It is never a bad thing to introduce more opportunities in a city and community like Denver. The materialization of the RiNo music festival could not hinder Denver’s recent development, but it is too early to tell whether or not it may aid it either.

Campbell noted that many thought that an event like the RiNo Music Festival was past due and this neighborhood is eager to see the outcome. Campbell also describes how the growth of the RiNo neighborhood, and the Denver music scene in general, is benefi cial for young musicians in Denver. “Being out there on the scene, playing clubs and festivals of Denver and getting to know the people in the scene, it’s thriving with a lot going on,” Campbell said.

Denver’s music scene is often compared to Austin, Texas or Seattle, Washington. According to Campbell, these communities all share an authentic and vibrant momentum that makes them   significant music cities.

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