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Denver Outside Festival 2024: Music, Adventures, and Vendors

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CultureDenver Outside Festival 2024: Music, Adventures, and Vendors

Denver Outside Festival 2024: Music, Adventures, and Vendors

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What do you get when you combine exhilarating outdoor adventures, vibrant and unique vendors, and groovy music? Denver’s very first Outside Festival! This exciting event gave us all a weekend filled with unforgettable experiences, from watching the thrilling climbing wall and cold-plunging to live performances that will get everyone dancing all night long.

I had the pleasure of attending The Outside Festival which was put on by Outside Interactive Inc., The State of Colorado’s Outdoor Recreation Office, and Visit Denver – all with the goal to bring together everything that makes Colorado so exceptional. The festival took place in Civic Center Park in downtown Denver and brought a crowd of around 8,000 people to witness the inaugural fest.

The festival featured five distinct components, offering a wide variety of activities and ensuring there was something for everyone to enjoy. Each day there was a component of music, film, ideas, experiences and vendors that kept us all engaged and entertained. While I dabbled in a few of the experiences and went around the entirety of the park; I found myself staying near the main stage to see each and every performance the festival had to offer.

Denver Outside Festival 2024

DAY ONE

Starting off the day with wandering around the festival grounds prior to the sets, I found myself in awe at the range of booths there were present. Big brands such as SunBum, Liquid Death, Columbia, Fjallraven, and even Lyft had their extravagant booths set up with goodies for everyone attending. In addition to all the bigger brands, there were also a lot of local businesses that are born and bred in Colorado, all of which had me interested. If that wasn’t enough – there was a huge bike ramp and bike pumping competition as well as a place to pet dogs and even a cold plunge station! All in all it seemed like everything and everyone there were very well placed, appealing to the broad spectrum of Denver’s population.

I had not gotten the chance to catch any of the headline speakers that included Shaun White, Jeremy Jones, Quannah Chasinghorse, and Diana Nyad, but I was told that they were very well received by fellow festival goers and that they were all at 100% capacity! Many of these speakers have ties to Colorado itself and definitely connect with the vibe the Outside Festival was curating.

Denver Outside Festival 2024

Saturday started off with DJ Rich Cacao taking the stage and keeping the environment lively with both recent and throwback bops. The crowd began to form when Los Mocochetes, a local Chicano Funk band took the stage with their spirited and energetic music. It was definitely really refreshing to see representation of Xicano culture presented on the big stage and be able to hear and enjoy music from different parts of the world. The colorful band adorned masks on stage and are known to use their music to inspire and encourage positive social change, with a lot of their songs incorporating socio and politically charged song lyrics (all with an infectious melody).

After Los Mocochetes concluded, we had the most talented female-led group Say She She graced the stage. Composed of Piya Malik, Sabrina Mileo Cunningham and Nya Gazelle Brown – SaySheShe absolutely captivated the crowd from the moment they stepped on stage. Wearing matching-but-different gold and black sequin outfits, they began their set with enchanting melodies and harmonies.

Denver Outside Festival 2024

One of my favorite songs they performed was called “C’est Si Bon“, where they start the song with, singing “C’est chi-chi” which sounds very similar to the band’s name itself! During their performances, the group often synchronized their dance moves and steps, creating a seamless set and operating like a well-oiled machine. Again, it was really cool to see a female-led group on stage, especially one with women of color as they are less represented in the music scene.

Denver Outside Festival 2024

Next, we had the funk band Lettuce perform! They did not skimp on the funk – the entire set was very groovy and the crowd was definitely feeling it. There was someone in the crowd holding up a big fake lettuce head with sunglasses as well as someone holding a real lettuce head while the band performed. Lettuce hails all the way from Boston, Massachusetts and includes guitarist Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff, Nigel Hall (keyboards, Hammond B-3 organ, piano, vocals), Adam Deitch (drums/percussion), Erick “Jesus” Coomes (bass), Ryan Zoidis (saxophone) and Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet).

Denver Outside Festival 2024

Many of the songs they played were lyric-less, but that didn’t stop the crowd from dancing their feet off to Lettuce’s tunes. Many Denver-natives even went barefoot on the grass and really seemed to let the music move them during the set. My personal favorite from Lettuce was a song called “The Force”.

Denver Outside Festival 2024

Last but not least, the crowd was very eagerly awaiting the arrival of the one and only Thundercat, aka Stephen Lee Bruner who closed off our first day at the Outside Festival. The sun was setting and the crowd was quite literally shaking in their boots as soon as Thundercat took the stage. Everyone seemed to be basking in his talent and grooving along to each and every song. Stephen took time between some of the set to express his gratitude and excitement for being one of the headliners of the fest. I saw couples spinning each other around, children jumping in the air and others even lying down in the grass listening to the grand set.

Denver Outside Festival 2024

Thundercat closed off the night with two of his most popular songs, “Funny Thing” and “Them Changes” which both had everyone busting a move. And thus – Day one of the Outside Festival had concluded!

Denver Outside Festival 2024

DAY TWO

I started off the day wandering the park yet again – stopping by some booths I had already seen and some new ones as well! Prior to heading to the main stage, I spent some time with a few friends from school and checked out the huge climbing wall present at the festival. There, I found groups of professional rock-climbers who were all competing to climb the incredibly difficult looking climbing wall for a prize.

Denver Outside Festival 2024

Staying there for quite some time, I learned a lot about the bouldering/rock-climb lingo and got very invested in some of the athletes competing. The crowd was getting bigger and the sun was absolutely boiling down on all of us – but no one could take their eyes away from the wall. Unfortunately, I did not get to witness any singular team’s victory but it was quite an exhilarating watch to start the day!

Denver Outside Festival 2024
Denver Outside Festival 2024

DJ Quiet Light started us off on Sunday, warming everyone up and getting the vibes high and bright for the rest of the day. She even played an Arabic song in her mix which I was not expecting but thoroughly enjoyed! Again – the representation is so lovely to hear & see.

Starting strong with Selasee Music & The FaFa Family taking the stage to bring ultra-high energy and plenty of soul with their tunes. The crowd is definitely piling in and getting ready for the rest of the night.

Denver Outside Festival 2024

Following, Nathaniel Riley – another Colorado native arrived on stage and showcased some simple yet authentic folk music. While day one felt more groovy to me, day two was going in on the folk side of things. Nathaniel performed his album “Bird Songs” with the crowd appreciating the story he told with each strum of his guitar.

After Nathaniel Riley, the 5 piece retro inspired rock band – TheHeavyHeavy arrived on stage. With the group all wearing seemingly coordinated vintage clothing, the band kicked off their set with a strong upbeat 60s vibe. Reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac and Kate Bush, the group had no problem bringing us all back to the past with their jazzy beat and fuzzed-out guitar work. This had to be one of my favorite sets of the weekend, the energy on stage was contagious with each member of the band dancing and appearing to have the best time ever. With a fun incorporation of instruments such as the tambourine, the crowd could not help but sway to the sweet melodies.

Some of my favorite songs they performed were, “Go Down River” and “Miles and Miles”. Towards the end of their set, The Heavy Heavy performed a rendition of Father John Misty’s “Real Love Baby”, infusing it with their own unique style. As they played, the crowd’s energy surged, with everyone around me singing along to the lyrics with wide grins on their faces. I even overheard someone in the crowd express they enjoyed the cover more than the original! I actually had the opportunity to vocalize how much I enjoyed the set to the band themselves a little bit later which was such a surreal experience.

Denver Outside Festival 2024

Subsequently, the legendary Andrew Bird took the stage to share a glimpse into his extensive repertoire. With his unique style of playing his violin, to the various genres his music encompasses (including swing music, indie rock, and folk music), Andrew’s set had me hooked from start to finish. There was even incorporation of loop and effect pedals, whistling, and of course, voice; which added a lot of dimension to each song and the whole performance.

Denver Outside Festival 2024

Bringing day 2 of the Outside Festival to a spectacular close was the highly anticipated performance by Fleet Foxes. The indie folk band currently consisting of Robin Pecknold (vocals, guitar), Skyler Skjelset (guitar, mandolin, backing vocals), Casey Wescott (keyboards, mandolin, backing vocals), Christian Wargo (bass, guitar, backing vocals), and Morgan Henderson (upright bass, guitar, woodwinds, violin, percussion, saxophone) all took their places on stage as the crowd trembled in anticipation.

Denver Outside Festival 2024

Fleet Foxes exudes a timeless quality, resonating with audiences of all ages and seamlessly fitting into any stage of life. With the beautiful harmonies to the heartfelt lyrics, it seemed that everyone was resonating with the performance and truly taking in the end of the weekend.

Denver Outside Festival 2024
Denver Outside Festival 2024
Denver Outside Festival 2024

The band members exhibit remarkable synergy, complementing each other impeccably and crafting a sound that is both elegant and captivating. My favorite performance of theirs was when they performed the song “The Shrine / An Argument”. The song feels like a narrative in two parts, with the plot rising and falling in tandem with the melody and rhythm, creating a mesmerizing journey for everyone witnessing it.

Denver Outside Festival 2024
Denver Outside Festival 2024
Denver Outside Festival 2024

As the set came to a close, so did the entire weekend, marking the end of the unforgettable Outside Festival. People are drawn to the state of Colorado for a multitude of reasons, from its picturesque hiking trails and majestic mountains to its renowned slopes and iconic Red Rocks. This festival ingeniously fused all these beloved characteristics, providing a space where community could flourish and revel in the delights of good music and sunshine.

Denver Outside Festival 2024

The people I had the opportunity to speak with were already planning to attend again and were keen to see who might perform next year. I think the city of Denver was long overdue for a festival that took place within the city and celebrated everything the people here love and are known for! If any of this sounds interesting to you, I would highly recommend paying Colorado a visit and wandering over to the Outside Festival next year. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to cover and experience this amazing festival this year and am looking forward to attending in 2025!

Show Date: June 1-2, 2024 // Denver Colorado @ Civic Center Park // Denver Outside Festival 2024: Music, Adventures, and Vendors
Photos & words by Azza Abid

Azza Abid
Azza Abid
just a silly girl from california who loves photography, the beach, microorganisms, iced lavender lattes and of course experiencing live music! currently based in denver, co <3

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Meet The Author

Azza Abid
Azza Abid
just a silly girl from california who loves photography, the beach, microorganisms, iced lavender lattes and of course experiencing live music! currently based in denver, co <3

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