Getting Ready for Our First Concert at Red Rocks

Seeing a show at Red Rocks has been on my bucket list for a while and this year we made the commitment to go. The only question was, who do we see? Among the many great possibilities, we noticed that String Cheese Incident (SCI) is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a three-night stand at Red Rocks, so we opted for one of those shows. And now for the planning…

String Cheese Incident on stage at Red Rocks
SCI at Red Rocks (Image credit: LiveCheese.com)

Ordering Tickets for Red Rocks

The most direct way to order tickets is through the Red Rocks Amphitheater website, which uses the AXS service. After adding their “convenience” fees, a pair of $52 tickets ended up costing $147. Then came the ticket delivery options: Flash Seats (eTicket using the AXS app) was free; printed tickets by mail or printed tickets at the will call window were an extra $15. They don’t offer a print-at-home or a “copy this QR code to your phone” option – it’s the app or pay extra. I opted for the Flash Seats and completed the order. Bad idea.

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When your phone and the ticket app are incompatible
“Everyone.” I do not think that word means what you think it means.

I went to download the app on my somewhat old Android phone and it said it was incompatible with my device. I’ve used this phone for eTickets to several shows in the past, so I didn’t think it would be a problem. I mean, how much processing power does a phone need just to display a friggin’ eTicket? There’s also a ton of negative reviews about their app, most of which have AXS copy-and-paste responses telling us how the app is the most secure way of handling our orders. C’mon, man – these are concert tickets, not the codes to the nuclear arsenal. But I digress…

I looked for contact information but they don’t give a phone number or email address – just a page to fill out a support ticket. So I filled out a support ticket. That was almost three weeks ago and the only response I got was an automated reply saying they’d get back to me as soon as possible. I sent two follow ups earlier this week and got no response to either.

Ticket Problem Resolved

Finally, I went to the app’s page and found an email address to contact their app developers. I got a same-day response from a guy named Cliff. Long story short, he put me in contact with someone who switched my tickets from Flash Seats to paper tickets by mail; they added the $15 fee to my original order. (Thumbs down to AXS as a company, but I raise my beer glass to the front-line employees who helped me!) Lesson learned: make sure your phone works with their app before you purchase tickets with the Flash Seats delivery option.

Origin Hotel offers a Shuttle to Red Rocks Concerts

Hotel or Camping?

Lisa and I both like camping, but we’ve never camped in serious bear country, and all the campgrounds in the area say that you need a bear box to store your food. We also thought that it would be a hassle driving to and from the show, dealing with traffic and parking, so we checked into shuttles. Turns out the official hotel of Red Rocks, the Origin Hotel, offers a shuttle to shows for $25 a seat. That’s a little pricey, but this show is a bucket-list item, so we decided to splurge; we bought the shuttle passes and booked a room at the Origin (very pricey) for the night of the show.

We also wanted to spend some time checking out Denver, since we’ve never been there before, so we booked a less expensive room in downtown, not far from the 16th Street Mall and other attractions, for the night before the show.

Audience at Red Rocks
Image credit: Denver.org

3 Varieties of String Cheese at Red Rocks

String Cheese Incident is playing three consecutive nights at Red Rocks and if money were no object, we’d hit all three. But alas, we’re on a budget, so we’re settling for just one. (I know, we could skip the hotel, camp out, and see all three shows for about the same cost, but we’ll hit a club and catch a band the night before instead; it’ll be cool to check out Denver’s nightlife and be within walking distance of our room.)

It was tough to choose just one String Cheese show because they’ve got a different guest each night, and they all sound like fun, but we eventually opted for the show with Keller Williams. It’s the 20th anniversary of the album Breathe, which Keller recorded with SCI in 1999. Here they are earlier this year playing a song from that album:


Update: We “looked into the finance box just to check our status” and decided to do two of the three shows instead of just one, so we’ll also see SCI with The Del McCoury Band as they celebrate 80 years of Del. Hey, if you’re gonna splurge…

Tailgating at Red Rocks

Red Rocks is supposed to be one of the best concert venues in North America, so we expected that there’d be a good tailgating scene there. According to the venue FAQ, tailgating is permitted, but open containers of alcohol in public are not. (The same is true for “herbal” substances, in case you’re wondering.) Some people like to get trashed in the parking lot before a concert. We’re not those people, but we do like a few pre-show beers to get our “game faces” on.

I did a search of “tailgating at Red Rocks” and most people have said that bottles are strictly prohibited, but you might get away with beer in cans … or red Solo cups. My guess is that as long as you’re not that guy and you keep it discreet and in moderation, there shouldn’t be a problem. (We’ll see.) On the positive side, you can bring empty reusable water bottles, factory-sealed non-alcoholic beverages, and some food right into the venue itself. (See their list of what you can and cannot bring for details.)

Walking from the parking lot to the concert venue
It’s a bit of a hike from the parking lot to the concert venue.
(Image credit: Seth McConnell, The Denver Post )

Dress for … Pretty Much Everything

At over a mile above sea-level, the temperature swings are pretty significant when day turns into night. People are advised to dress in layers and bring a raincoat, regardless of the weather forecast. A good hat will keep the sun out of your eyes during the day and keep your head warm at night.

With the thinner atmosphere at this altitude, sunscreen is a top priority. It’s also a long walk from the parking lots to the venue, so comfortable shoes are a must. (And you’re gonna want those for dancing anyway, right?) Check out the Red Rocks Concert Goer’s Guide for more information.

View from a hiking trail near Denver
Image credit: dayhikesneardenver.com

Enjoying Nature in the Red Rocks Area

One of the reasons that Red Rocks is so popular is the scenery, and Lisa and I are big fans of nature, so while we’re in the area, we plan to do some nature sight-seeing. The concert venue is located in Red Rocks Park, which offers hiking and biking trails. Denver is sort of the “gateway” to the Rocky Mountains, and within an hour’s drive of the Mile High City, there are tons of hiking trails and rock climbing adventures.

We’re psyched for our first trip to Colorado and our first show at Red Rocks. Look for our review of the show around the beginning of August!

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