With Mission Ballroom, Denver finally has the concert venue it deserves

About an hour to the show at Mission Ballroom, The Lumineers’ Wesley Shultz shared with a poignant anecdote. It was about a decade ago that he and drummer Jeremiah Schultz were fine-tuning their first tunes before the bar in the Meadowlark’s open mic nights, a clinic that he likened to listening through others’ ears.

On Wednesday, playing just 2 miles north of this Meadowlark at Denver, Schultz was readying himself to do that back with a setlist that included all 10 tunes from the group ’s forthcoming third record, “III. ” Only this moment, he was borrowing the ears about 3,000 fans inside the room, and many more flowing the concert online. 

For the city, as much as the band, it turned out to be a dizzying moment of context.

“I recall leaving and coming back (from tour) and these new areas are here,” Schultz said to the audience, looking like a sandy-blond Jesus in white apparel shoes. “I recall seeing The Source for the first time and thinking, ‘What a cool location. However, it’s in the center of nowhere. ’ Well, if you build it, they will come. ” 

Those who have been around shows off Brighton Boulevard before may feel the whiplash. It wasn’t long ago that adventuresome DIY music venue Rhinoceropolis held court here, a bastion of no-gatekeeper art experiences for town ’s many promising weirdos. The only thing more memorable than these displays — believe screeching sound rock matched with projected drone attack footage — was that the walk back into your vehicle, beyond spooky warehouses at a deserted part of the city.

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As a dozen traffic cops waved a stream of cars into $20 parking areas on Wednesday, it was apparent just how much things have changed. 

The place is a turning point for Denver, a physical area to get promoter AEG Presents to proudly own. Its own hopes, as promoted, would be to be the be-all and end-all for mid-sized, high-budget concert adventures from Denver. True to that, on Wednesday, Mission Ballroom was breezy as any concert experience I’ve had to date. The place is huge, but it just feels that way when it wants you to — especially, from the concert hall. It ’s a colorful hug of pubs, art and additional curricular amenities (finally, a music place with good java ) that’so as well-curated as it is smartly designed.

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Thoughtful touches abound, such as the walls of posters advertising upcoming shows, that can be all done up to look like gallery paintings, right down to the paintbrush Photoshop filter on Herbie Hancock and Kamasi Washington’s confronts (They play with the place Aug. 14).

It’s also a little surreal. Mission Ballroom’so brand — all neon signs, selfie murals along with Instagram gifs — feels on-the-nose, such as somebody set a giant backward hat on a shipping container. Between the Nelly music movie projected on the wall and the hipster pretzel stand (City Pretzel, the most current New York City food staple ranging from the people behind Rosenberg’s Bagels), it seems like a teenager center for twenty- and thirtysomethings. You will purchase a three-serving, $30 bottle of wine, walk a point to take selfies facing a psychedelic mural (this one by Denver’s own RumTum) and, I don’t understand, likely flash a “hang loose” signal to the guy in the cold brew cart upstairs. As a millennial, I believed significantly less seen than I did examined. 

In the end, this is experience-economy window dressing on The Mission’s no actual mission: putting on concerts. And on that front, the place is a hit. The sold-out opening night match 3,000 Lumineers lovers in closely without needing to shoehorn into struggle to get a sightline, even in the back, where the audience rises like a tide within the Red Rocks-inspired miniature seats. If anything, set beneath acoustic panels, these seats improve on the Red Rocks experience. 

In actuality, the Mission is one of the best-sounding rooms at the city, no small accomplishment considering its size. From a mid-set “Ho Hey” into the catastrophic, near-whispered tunes from this group ’s new album — such as “Left For Denver,” that showcased just Schultz and his guitar — it felt like the air was the only thing separating the ring ’s music and the lovers.

And when Schultz threw his tambourine on his shoulder to wade in the audience, there wasn’t even that. It may be more of a credit to The Lumineers, but the room managed to make a 3,000-person show feel intimate, maybe religious, in the event the couple of teary-eyed fans encounter together were any indication. 

That’s essential for the Mission, as on paper, the place looks like a monument to what culture-loving Denverites have started to hate about the city: a 10 million-plus music place concealed as a giant shipping container that anchors a industrial development blocks in the center of Denver’s DIY community. With no group or lovers, that’s exactly what it could be a programmer ’s representation come to existence. With them, as Wednesday night revealed , it can act as a epic altar for one of those city’s proudest passions: live music. Either way, Denver finally gets the concert place it deserves. 

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