Category Archives: Comments

Recent Developments

As we approach the end of yet another concert season, let’s take a look at what’s happening in the noise world.

Yes, Bassnectar did not appear at Red Rocks this year, after his demonstrated disdain for the Denver noise restrictions last year. Where did he go? Ask the folks at Commerce City:

Angry Residents Thought Bassnectar Concert ‘Was An Earthquake’, CBSLocal, August 1, 2016

Since April 19, Morrison area residents have posted 175 “surveys” reporting their experiences with this year’s concerts. Of those, 150 qualify as complaints, with ratings of 3 and higher on a 5-point scale. For comparison, 2015 was the first year Denver Arts & Venues managed the new surveys: 170 reports were filed during the same period (April 19 – Sept 16); 140 were complaints (including 30 complaints received just on Bassnectar). In 2014, when our group used a simple survey, 480 reports were filed on 96 concerts.

Denver noise clampdown gets support, but some event organizers say fines are unavoidable, Denver Post, September 16, 2016

To date, at last report to us, no fines have been levied at Red Rocks Amphitheatre this year, despite 150 complaints.*

A few resident comments:

“It is after 11 and once again we have an extremely loud concert. If this is within the limits then something is wrong. I don’t think the county would allow this amount of noise to spill over from a concert venue.” (July 20)

“I just put in a complaint on the survey for loud, pounding noise from Red Rocks @ 2:30 in the afternoon. I hope this doesn’t mean we are in for a loud night/weekend!” (August 31)

“Seems like it’s getting worse, now that we’re inside, ready to TRY to sleep. … We’ve had complaints up here since the sound check this afternoon.” (August 31)

“Loud pounding again tonight. It is 10:30 and we can feel the percussion and hear the noise.” (August 31)

* Yes, there has been some improvement, largely because earlier concert ending times are being observed.

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2015 Schedule updates

We have updated the 2015 schedule as of May 30. Six concerts have been added, for a total of 116 for the year. This is a new record for a concert season at Red Rocks.

When we first posted the schedule, on April 18, concerts were booked on 60% of the days between April 15 and October 15. For peak season (June-July-August), 79% of summer evenings were occupied by concerts. With the revised schedule, those numbers are up to 63% overall. There are 78 concerts, so far, in June-August, for 85% of nights booked during the summer months. That leaves, for peak summer months, only 14 days we can enjoy our backyards without being subject to concert impacts.

Reports from last night’s concert

Tipper really made a bad impression. Here are some comments we received:

“Last night we heard the music clearly until quite late. Friday we did not hear anything. [Last night] must have been very loud since we generally do not hear any music when our windows are closed.”

“It was fine until around 10 and then turned up to overdrive after that.”

“I filed my first survey/complaint at 10:30 and a 2nd one at 11:30. It was horrible inside and outside.”

“Nothing like a concert that amps UP at 11.”

“It is 11 pm tonight [Saturday] and the noise and constant banging are horrible. I can’t sleep.”

How can I help you save Red Rocks?

A commenter writes “I am a bit confused. You claim in your title Save Red Rocks. Help me to understand how I can help you Save Red Rocks??”

Dear Confused

Thanks for your comment. It’s a nice change from all the ones we’ve received that tell us we should move or shower us with expletives. We are happy to answer yours. Let’s start by clarifying what we mean by “Save Red Rocks.”

Our twitter tagline says “Encouraging great concerts in a great place to be great neighbors– sustainable and respectful.” That pretty much says it all.

Yes, sustainable has gotten to be an overused buzzword lately, but it’s the best word we have. We question whether the rapid increase in number of concerts* just in the last few years and the related impacts on the Park are sustainable. Our primary concern now, however, is the noise generated by concerts, which has increased dramatically in recent years as well.

Concert numbers vary by year, but the 3-year rolling averages show general upward trend. Data from Westword.com and RedRocksOnline concert archive.
Concert numbers vary by year, but the 3-year rolling averages show general upward trend. Data from Westword.com and RedRocksOnline concert archive.

Please understand that most of us have lived in the Red Rocks/Morrison area for many years. We have always heard the concerts, but until about 2010, we have had little or no reason to complain. Only rarely did they exceed levels that we could tolerate at least for a few evenings a year. We welcomed Red Rocks as a neighbor.

Now, however, many concerts have become MUCH louder and there are many more of them! The music itself has changed and become more intrusive. Noise levels in surrounding communities now exceed legal limits, but those limits are not being enforced as they would be elsewhere. By 2012, many of the concerts were noisy well beyond midnight. (End time restrictions in 2014-15 are helping a lot with that concern.)

Those of us who live in the area have enjoyed Red Rocks Park for a variety of reasons. We hike there and walk our dogs there. We enjoy showing the Park off to out-of-town visitors. We are lucky to be able to appreciate the incredible scenery year-round. We believe Red Rocks is far more than a popular concert venue.

Red Rocks is an important and valuable PARK, soon, we understand, to become a National Historic Landmark. But its park values are being slowly eroded by its excessive use for concerts that generate revenues for the City of Denver. We believe those revenues have become so important to decision-makers that the Park’s other values, including its scenery, rich history, natural landscapes, vegetation, and wildlife are being excluded or impaired. When we say “Save Red Rocks,” we are suggesting that, unless concerts become sustainable and respectful of those other values, everything else we love about the Park will end up being sacrificed to the increasingly dominant use as a concert venue.

So when we say Save Red Rocks, we are working to Save Red Rocks as a Park, not as a night club.


* See Westword, which notes there were 57 shows in 2006 and 83 in 2011, for a 31% increase. From 2009 to 2014, concerts increased 50% (70 to 105). It’s only April, and already there are 110 concerts on the schedule for 2015. At this time last year, there were only 85 scheduled concerts. More noise, more often.

Previous concert noise comments

Online, in response to KWGN News article, May 16, 2014:

With the Red Rocks EDM shows we need to be concerned with how the rocks hold up, too. If this is shaking peoples windows imagine what it is doing to the rocks around the natural ampitheatre. It could ruin it which I think would be a shame and or injure a person. Be responsible!

Also measuring the decibels will not address the problem it’s the base waves that are causing the problems! Most people that live in the area are fine with concerts it’s the base waves in which are disturbing the peace and have the potential to significantly alter the natural ampitheatre and cause serious injury to a patron!

Long-time resident writing to Jeffco commissioners, April 28, 2014:

Until these last 10 years a variance for noise levels was appropriate, but with the constant upgrades to sound technology and the installation of more speakers in the Amphitheater, a different set of decibel limits needs to be applied and enforced.

Comments from Morrison Board minutes, fall 2013

Gradually over the years the noise levels have increased and within the last 5 to 6 years, these levels have reached truly obnoxious proportions with several of the bands. Others I don’t hear at all.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the worst, many evenings rate a 20++. The most obnoxious to date this year have been Global Dub Festival on May 17, BassNectar on May 31 and June 1, Global Dance Festival on July 20-22 lasting and beating against my house until 2 a.m. … the bass pounds and actually vibrates my house. Sleep is an impossibility, as is any kind of relaxation.

Morrison letters to Denver

Entire letters are available at the links.

Morrison Mayor Early Auckland to Kent Rice, Manager of Arts & Venues, August 1, 2011

The Town’s elected officials have received complaints from residents of the Town concerning the apparently later hours and louder volumes of the concerts this season. The sense is that the concerts are going later than 12:30 a.m. or 1:00 a.m., and the music is being broadcast at a higher volume than in the past.

Morrison Mayor Earl Auckland to Kent Rice, Manager of Arts & Venues, August 14, 2013

In the time between my last letter and today however, the problem has grown significantly. The kind of music and sound now frequently heard at Red Rocks, the “techno sound” is different, and its impacts on the residents greater, than has been the case in the past. These concerts are also going later.