PHOTOS: Titwrench Music Festival bids adieu

By Karson Hallaway

//Denver band Milk Blossoms perform at the last Titwrench Music Festival in City Park on Oct. 3. Milk Blossoms band members left to right: Michelle Rocqet, Harmony Rose and William Overton. Photos by Karson Hallaway | karsonhallaway@gmail.com

The Titwrench Music Festival began as an obscure Denver institution 13 years ago, borne from a need to foster a creative space that didn’t yet exist. In 2008, Sarah Slater gathered some friends, community members and artists to put together a festival distinct from those that dominated the summer music scene—one that was far more inclusive. The volunteer-based event would focus predominantly on underrepresented women and queer musicians, artists and performers.  

Now, the Titwrench Collective has bid farewell to the festival scene with its final show on Oct. 3. Slater confirmed that, while this may be the last festival for the foreseeable future, it won’t be the end of Titwrench. 

“We may start a bike shop, who knows—or maybe start a feminist bookstore,” Slater said. “It’s always dependent on our venue, [it] depends on who is involved, and their strengths and their vision. We try to co-create together. But I also think that we’ll be OK if this is the last festival, ‘cause we’ve done so much as a community and we’ve grown together. I do see endings as beginnings because I see it as cyclical, how most creative growth is; it opens new doors.”

The free and all-ages event featured live music from Nacha Mendez, The Milk Blossoms, Machete Mouth and My Name Is Harriett. Other entertainment included a poetry reading by Suzi Q. Smith, a movement activation workshop with Denver-based Sol Vida Worldwide, the Maiz Denver food truck and an artisan market led by the Witch Collective.

Photos below by Karson Hallaway. 

//Nacha Mendez from Santa Fe, NM performed the second-to-last set at the final Titwrench Music Fest. Mendez said she didn’t know about Titwrench prior to this year, and that it was bittersweet playing the 13th and final show. 

“It saddens me because I think this is wonderful work that a lot of women are doing with help from the city and other artists and activists who are involved,” Mendez said.

//Attendees of the final Titwrench Fest dance in City Park. The event drew a crowd of around 200 people to celebrate 13 years of Titwrench Collective and the accomplishments the organization achieved in Denver’s music community.

“I feel like we did it,” said Katie Rothery, who handles the financials and logistics for Titwrench. “I feel like we were trying to do something special for the community after a really tough year and something special for us that still felt like Titwrench. We did it. It’s kind of bittersweet. I don’t think I’m going to have dry eyes at the end of the night but didn’t start the day with dry eyes either.”

//Screen printer Emily Moyer printed official Titwrench shirts in real-time at the music fest for patrons to buy at City Park. 

“It’s sad that [the festival] isn’t going to continue,” said attendee Oliver Holloway, who plays guitar and vocals for the Denver band Knuckle Pups. “Hopefully this inspires the young people to start taking the mantle and do it themselves. A lot of times, scenes are built on one person’s back just doing labor, and it’s unsustainable fundamentally. I hope that this is not the last incarnation in this name and that the reverberations of this last for generations here in Denver.”

//Michelle Rocqet, singer for the Denver band Milk Blossoms, performs at the last Titwrench Music Festival. The crowd was lively as the night wore on, despite the bittersweetness.


“It’s always been super inspirational because it brings together a lot of different parts of the community,” attendee Bruce Trujillo said. “There’s the punks, the hippies—just a ton of people coming together for music. It’s all of these different people coming together and enjoying each other and like being in community. And that’s really what it’s all about.”

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