Pop music is shorthand for popular music and, as any cool parent aghast at their child's favorite song could tell you, the definition of popularity is fluid and ever-changing. The first documented concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre was a 1906 show thrown by the venue's then-proprietor John Brisben Walker that featured Denver bandleader Pietro Satriano and his 25-piece brass band.
112 years later, Red Rocks will again host a large brass band but the style of music they play hadn't even been invented when Walker threw his olde tyme rave. Jazz, blues, country, rock, disco, punk, rap and now EDM have all been part of the popular music canon over the past century but the actual sound of these genres is as disparate as America herself.
We're neck deep in these musical semantics because this is the article previewing the pop concerts coming to Red Rocks in the 2018 season. For the purposes of this piece--and in deference to our alternative/ rock, jam/ folk and dance/ hip-hop previews--we're including the classic rock cover bands coming to Red Rocks as well. You may also take issue with the characterization of artists like Khalid or Paramore as pop, but, as the preamble hopefully conveyed, pop is simply popularity and when your streaming tally crosses into nine-figures, you're pretty freaking popular.
Read on for more about some of the best pop concerts coming to Red Rocks in 2018 and follow the links at the bottom to get your tickets:
The pop schedule pops off with a tribute to one of the greatest artists in history, when the Prince tribute The Purple Xperience performs on May 10. He may no longer be an "American Teen," but 20-year-old singer and songwriter Khalid has a bright future ahead of him; a limited number of tickets are still available for his May 14 concert. The HAIM sisters may not fit comfortably in any one genre, but their May 28 show should feature their unique mix of rock, pop and indie sounds. And touring behind his new album Nation of Two, Vance Joy hits the Red Rocks stage on May 30.
The tribute series to classic artists continues on June 7 with a performance from Brit Floyd, widely considered the best Pink Floyd tribute act. '80s favorite Bryan Adams will perform on June 12, followed by the versatile singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne on July 10. Seal enlisted the Colorado Symphony Orchestra for his performance on July 15. Imagine Dragons is arguably the most popular band in the world at the moment and the Vegas-based group will celebrate with a July 16 concert at Red Rocks. Jackson Browne will perform his literate classic rock the following night, July 17.
Fittingly, a performance from the Queen tribute act Killer Queen on July 25 is sandwiched around a trio of female-fronted concerts; Hayley Williams and Paramore come to the Rocks on July 24; Sarah McLachlan will borrow the Colorado Symphony Orchestra from Seal for her performance on July 26; and Halsey is bringing her empowering electronic pop to Red Rocks on July 30.
The first concert announced for the 2018 season was the Red Rocks debut of former One Direction star Niall Horan. The blue-eyed soul of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats isn't exactly pop, but he's certainly Denver's biggest rock star, so we had to include him here; catch the band on back-to-back nights Aug. 22-23. 1964 The Tribute will perform their annual Red Rocks showcase of The Beatles' music the next night, Aug. 24. And by popular demand, former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne added a second Red Rocks show; he'll close out his tour in support of American Utopia on Aug. 27-28.
The pop schedule wraps up in September with the funny and talented Jason Mraz on Sept. 2, followed by NEEDTOBREATHE on Sept. 12. After his tremendous performance last year, Beck returns to Red Rocks on Sept. 24 and 25, when he'll be performing with Jenny Lewis. And the tribute band series benefitting Colorado Public TV 12 wraps up on Sept. 27 with a set from the Zeppelin tribute act Get The Led Out.
So clearly there's plenty to check out at Red Rocks this summer. And regardless of your own personal definition of pop, there's one thing we can all agree on: 100 years from now, our great great grandchildren will no doubt find it odd and embarrassing. Find tickets to all of the aforementioned concerts below and keep it on AXS.com for plenty more throughout the Red Rocks season.
Thur. May 10 - The Purple Xperience (Get tickets)
Mon. May 14 - Khalid (Get tickets)
Mon. May 28 - HAIM w/ Maggie Rogers, Lizzo (Get tickets)
Wed. May 30 - Vance Joy w/ Alice Merton (Get tickets)
Thur. June 7 - Brit Floyd (Get tickets)
Tue. June 12 - Bryan Adams (Get tickets)
Tue. July 10 - Ray LaMontagne w/ Neko Case (Get tickets)
Sun. July 15 - Seal with the Colorado Symphony w/ Corinne Bailey Rae (Get tickets)
Mon. July 16 - Imagine Dragons w/ Grace VanderWaal (Get tickets)
Tue. July 17 - Jackson Browne (Get tickets)
Tue. July 24 - Paramore w/ Foster The People (Get tickets)
Wed. July 25 - Killer Queen (Get tickets)
Thur. July 27 - Sarah McLachlan w/ the Colorado Symphony (Get tickets)
Mon. July 30 - Halsey (Get tickets)
Mon. Aug. 20 - Niall Horan w/ Maren Morris (Get tickets)
Wed. Aug. 22 - Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats w/ Tank and the Bangas (Get tickets)
Thur. Aug. 23 - Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats w/ Slim Cessna's Auto Club (Get tickets)
Fri. Aug. 24 - 1964 The Tribute (Get tickets)
Mon. Aug 27 - David Byrne (Get tickets)
Tue. Aug. 28 - David Byrne (SOLD OUT)
Sun. Sept. 2 - Jason Mraz w/ Brett Dennen (Get tickets)
Wed. Sept. 12 - NEEDTOBREATHE w/ JOHNNYSWIM, Forest Blakk (Get tickets)
Mon. Sept. 24 - Beck (SOLD OUT)
Tue. Sept. 25 - Beck w/ Jenny Lewis (Get tickets)
Thur. Sept. 27 - Get the Led Out (Get tickets)