A Mostly Harmless Guide To Riot Fest Denver: Things To Do Sober

Welcome to the last part of our Mostly Harmless Guide To Denver. My name is Damian Burford and I am a ridiculous drunk that is host of the Mostly Harmless with Dammit Damian (mostlyharmlesspodcast.com), punk rock podcast.

The other day I confessed to you that I don’t know a goddamned thing about how to write a top list of places to go, and instead just gave you a list of places where I have vomited in the last year that I have lived in Denver.

In this second part of our adventures through Denver, I thought I would take you on a journey to places I like to visit while sober (or while working off a hangover.) We’ve also talked about after parties and visited with some friends about their love of Denver’s new (legal, bro) recreational marijuana scene here. Are you ready for this trip? Because this edible I ate is already kicking in and I’m ready to have a good time. Let’s do this!

Things To Do In Denver When You Are Sober

Record Shops!

So you are in Denver for Riot Fest (riotfest.org) and why you’re here you’re looking to do a little record shopping. Wax Trax and Twist and Shout rule the roost for new and used records. These are the guys who have been doing it the longest and have the largest collections. If you’re looking for some places off the beaten path, may I suggest Mutiny Information Exchange?

The former Black Cat Books is snugly planted in the middle of the South Broadway neighborhood of Baker. Jim Norris, co-owner of 3 Kings Tavern; my number one bar destination in Denver, is co-owner of Mutiny and it shows. Mutiny is one part book store, one part coffee shop, one part record shop, and one part live music venue. It’s a one stop shop for a good time, especially if your good time includes reading Marvel Comics and listening to Sam Cooke LPs.

New to the Denver area, and I must confess I have yet to visit their hallowed halls, Chain Reaction Records in Lakewood, was opened by best friends forever, Val Landrum & Josh Lent to emulate the small record shops they would find across America on tour. When the two were looking for to find a place for their band to practice they stumbled upon the small shopfront they needed to make their record shop dreams a reality. What a great story. They stock punk, hardcore and metal records from tiny distros as well as used records from across the spectrum. Rumor has it they also have pinball. Who doesn’t love pinball?

Comic Books!

When I first moved to Colorado, I was thrilled that I lived just hours away from The Mile High Comics. You see, as a young man growing up in the 90’s, each and every comic book had an advert for Mile High Comics. I would pour over each and ever add and try to find the rare and the unheard of amongst their $1 & 50 Cent comics. Of course there were no rare comics in those pages, unless you count NFL SuperPro #11 with the rare appearance of John Elway traveling back in time with SuperPro to meet his father, Captain America (Spoiler Alert: this was a fever dream I had when I was six and never really happened.) But those years of reading comic after comic after comic had a gigantic effect on my childhood psyche and when I first came to Denver, Mile High was the place to go.

Regardless of the scars upon my psyche the numerous Mile High ads within the pages of my favorite comics of the 90’s left on me. There is one Comic Book shop that stands above the rest. Kilgore’s Used Books and Comics. It is the home of local Alternative comic hero, Noah Van Sciver and his infamous Blammo Comic series. The small book store serves those of us who worship Kilgore Trout as a hero. They not only publish their own comics, but sell many, many other independent comics and zines. Plus, it’s in between the two halves of the Wax Trax record store collectives!

Also don’t forget the aforementioned Mutiny Information Exchange for a number of hard to find comics and an excellent selection of Graphic Novels.

Diarrhea! Cha Cha Cha!

If you are a fan of the ever popular cable television program, South Park, you have undoubtedly heard the tales of Casa Bonita. Casa Bonita is indeed a real place. It’s an experience rather than a restaurant. The food is terrible and more along the lines of what you would find in a grocer’s bargain frozen food section. No, you don’t go to Casa Bonita for the food, although that is the price of admission, you go to Casa Bonita for the experience. It’s a carnival ride in the guise of an amusement park. You have the cliff divers, you have Black Bart’s Cave and you have a puppet show and a magician. Are any of the attractions any good? No. Not at all, but that’s part of the charm.

The Colorado Rockies

The Baseball season is almost over and the Colorado Rockies are, well, far from the top. It doesn’t matter in Denver. We love our sports and the Rockies may not be anywhere near the behemoth that our football brethren in the Denver Rockies might be, but we still know how to have a good time, while still amidst the 300 days of sunshine we have here in Denver! There are still beers to drink and hot dogs to eat! And while you are here for Riot Fest, The Colorado Rockies will be playing home games at Coors field against the Arizona Diamond Backs. So if you’re tired of having your ears bleed from the awesomeness of Riot Fest, check out a cheap seat at Coors Field!

I wants to party all the time!

You are in Denver to PARTY. I know that, you know that. So let’s party.

In years past, the best part of Riot Fest Chicago were the after parties. If you bought a three day pass, you were almost certainly admitted into the official Riot Fest Chicago after parties. In recent years those three day passes have lost a lot of their luster and you now have to purchase after party passes. While in Chicago for Riot Fest 2012, I found myself looking for a cab outside the Liar’s Club, I somehow ended up jumping into a cab with Victory Records owner Tony Brummel and SSD lead singer Springa to another party at another bar.

No longer do those of us who bought three day passes and supported the festival granted access to the official Riot Fest after parties. Those shows and events cost even more money, and will limit those of our adventures.

I’m on a budget just like you. Here are my prize picks of those unofficial events going on Riot Fest weekend that we think you should check out:


#1. Arliss Nancy, The Larimers, Jack’s Smirking Revenge & Then I Fly @ Scruffy Murphy’s!

First off, 50 cent PBRS. Second off, 50 cent PBRS. Third, free show with Fort Collins’ Arliss Nancy, a Bruce Springsteen soaked punk band who have been described as, “What if Lucero had stayed punk rock?” They had one of the top rated records of 2013 on Punknews.org and this is their last Colorado show before appearing at The Fest in Gainesville and before they head off for their next European headlining tour. They’re kind of a big deal.

Friday’s Unofficial After Party of Choice:
3 Kings Tavern and Suspect Press Magazine present: Joy Subtraction (featuring members of Wretch Like Me), Accordian Crimes, Pretty Mouth & Veronica!

Friday night at 3 Kings features some of the heaviest of hitters in the Denver music scene coming togetether to celebrate the release of Suspect Press Magazine! Not to mention, Joy Subtraction features Abe Brennan of Wretch Like Me. Wretch was formerly on Owned and Operated Records, a small record label based out of The Descendents run Blasting Room recording studios. They are a powerhouse of a band, and with Abe’s pedigree, you might run into a Descendent or two at this unofficial after party!

Saturday’s Unofficial After Party of Choice:
The Skylark Presents: Gentlemen Crow, Plates & Trash Canyon with Special Guest DJ Ronny Chablis

Gentlemen Crow are members of Tin Horn Prayer, Blackout Pact & The Photo Atlas singing songs about lost loves, cocaine and the joys of trying to drink yourself to death.

Not in the mood for music? Why not check out the Sexpot Comedy show at the Oriental Theater with Dan St. Germain and David Huntsberger headlining and support from Brock Wilbur and Haley Driscoll?

Secret Shows?

My favorite place for last minute secret shows in Denver is the 7th Circle Music Collective, as DIY Music venue, record store in the heart of Denver and incredibly close to the action that is Riot Fest. They are already planning a hell of a pre-party with The Wheelz, Violent Affair (OK), Spatgasm, Criminal Mischief, The Kaotix, Living Victim on Thursday September 18th, Donations at the door. This is the same venue that just weeks ago hosted The Suicide Machines & Mourning Glory playing practice sets.

7th Circle have hosted bands such as Agent Orange, The Hotel Year, Joyce Manor and oh so many other bands. 7th Circle is also known for it’s impressive amount of last minute shows. 7ThC has the weekend blacked out with no events officially planned with the hope that one of the many bands playing Riot Fest will want a secret show or after party spot.

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