When an artist performs at Red Rocks Ampitheatre, they face a breathtaking sight of a 100-foot wall of fans in a venue nestled between colossal crimson rocks on the edge of the Rocky Mountains. The amphitheatre, which is the only naturally-occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheatre in the world, was constructed between two 300-foot monoliths and has a seating capacity of 9,525. The view from the stands is no less breathtaking, as the top of the amphitheatre looks out over the rest of Red Rocks Park and the plains west of Denver.
Red Rocks originally hosted an Easter-Sunday Service in 1947. It has since been host to live performances from artists of all genres, and the setting for music videos and films, graduations, weddings, yoga and fitness classes, and a must-visit spot for tourists and locals alike. In the past decade, however, the renowned amphitheatre has become home to an increasing number of electronic music festivals and concerts, and now annually hosts festivals such as: Global Dub Festival, Global Dance Festival, Hard Fest, and artists such as: Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, Big Gigantic, Zeds Dead, Tipper, Skrillex, and countless others.
In response to the growing EDM culture making a home out of Red Rocks, the residents of Morrison have begun to report complaints concerning noise levels and late-night music and traffic. In January 2014 the city of Denver implemented rules pertaining to both sound and bass levels, as well as performance end times. For the summer of 2014 performers were informed that they could face a $10,000 fine for exceeding the new decibel limits for more than five one-minute increments, and a $5,000 fine for each 30-minute increment of curfew violation. Many artists, to the appreciation and gratitude of their fans, agreed to pay the fines and continued to play their sets as loudly and late into the night as they desired.
Consequently, the residents of Morrison have continued to complain and the city of Denver has responded with a more strict set of rules for the upcoming Summer. The 2014 decibel limits were only in effect after midnight on weekdays and after 1 a.m. on weekends and holidays. But decibel limits for 2015 will now be in effect for the entire show, and the city of Denver will be able to ban any artist who violates those limits or curfews for the following concert season.
The new laws state that the average decibels may not exceed 105, and bass levels may not exceed a mere 125. Such a reduction in noise levels will require most electronic artists to make considerable changes to their live sets. The laws will especially place constraints on bass-heavy artists like Bassnectar, Tipper, and Zeds Dead, all who have shows already scheduled at Red Rocks in the upcoming months. Unfortunately for performers and fans alike, these new laws present artists with a choice: play shows that end earlier and don’t meet their preferred sound level and quality, or continue to play their music the way they mean it to be heard and be banned from a beloved venue for the following season.
Some fans of Red Rocks and the electronic music shows played there have already begun to take initiative against these new laws. A group identifying themselves as “Respect the Rocks” has started a petition via Change.org and is asking for the removal of the noise restrictions, based on the premise that the residents of Morrison were aware they purchased homes near a concert venue and that the noise restrictions hinder the musical experience of concertgoers.
Though some artists have responded to the restrictions saying they may consider moving their concerts to other venues around Colorado, many concertgoers will argue that Red Rocks is not just another “venue.” Red Rocks is an experience. To see one’s favorite musical artist at a naturally-made venue as magnificent as Red Rocks is an experience that music-lovers from all over the world travel to have, and that locals look forward to every year. Hopefully, for the sake of the electronic music genre and the people who consider Red Rocks a home away from home, this summer will not end with many of EDM’s favorite artists being banned from Red Rocks.
Written By Ashley Poindexter