Feature: Alternative venues enliven Colorado’s music sceneBy Ricardo Baca | November 18th, 2011 | 4 comments
A few years ago, the female contestants from the VH1 reality show “Rock of Love” came through Fort Collins for a challenge that would bring them closer to rocker Bret Michaels’ heart.
“They must have been told they were going to a biker bar that also had live music,” said Greta Cornett, who books bands at Road 34, a northern Colorado rock club. “Because when they got here, they were looking everywhere for motorcycles.”
Road 34 is one of Colorado’s great rock ‘n’ roll gems – a biker bar in the straight-spoked, bicycle-wheel sense.
It’s also a bike shop. And a deli. And a rock club.
Need to drop your mountain bike off for a tune-up and grab a locally brewed craft beer and maybe stick around for a show? This is likely the only place in Colorado where you can do it all — and grab a Fire in the Disco Cajun chicken sandwich, too. Its location just off the Colorado State University campus makes it one of the best nontraditional venues around.
As much as Coloradans love their storied live music venues — from Red Rocks’ natural drama to the intimate, ornate Bluebird Theater — some prefer to see their shows in places where unprogrammed craziness can take hold. Warehouses. Bike shops. Living rooms. Garages.
A few summers ago, a small, day-long festival played a janky Lipan Street basement, on Denver’s west side. A renegade trailer stage has been known to crash multiple area music festivals just by finding an open parking meter and firing up the generator. The Whomp Truck is a mobile sound system that brings insta-dance parties to a street corner near you.
Local rocker Kurt Ottaway (of Twice Wilted and Tarmints fame, and currently of Overcasters) has long thrown thoughtfully curated rock shows in his warehouse living space in the shadow of Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
And do you remember the days of Club Inferno, the metal club next to strip bar PT’s Showclub — the same space that housed the legendary 1960s Denver rock club The Family Dog?
A few of these nontraditional spaces are committed to a consistent schedule of live music, and in most cases, they have inspired an entire community around them.
At north Denver warehouses Rhinoceropolis and Glob, the DIY scene thrives. On a particularly sweaty night last summer, Israeli punk band Monotonix took over Glob with a reckless ferocity that is rarely seen in rock ‘n’ roll.
Was that Monotonix frontman Ami Shalev riding a bicycle on top of the crowd? Pretty much. Did a young woman grind on the band’s drummer, who was set up in the middle of the crowd, in the middle of the song? Indeed. It was that kind of wild night.
Kind of like Defiance, Ohio’s show at Blast-O-Mat a while back. The venue sits inside the old mechanics garage to the left of the house space, and there were kids swinging on the heavy-duty pulley — originally intended to help move giant engines — throughout the crowd.
Here are our favorite non-traditional music spaces in Colorado:
Who: A collective of artists live here, including Travis Egedy, who is best known as Pictureplane — the indie electronic sensation behind this year’s release “Thee Physical.”
What: A few of the legendary shows over the years include Lightning Bolt, Matt + Kim, Health, Thee Oh Sees and Dan Deacon.
Where: 3553-3551 Brighton Blvd.; myspace.com/rhinoceropolis, myspace.com/globglobglob
In their own words: “We began this space because we saw a void forming in the DIY scene. … Since then, we have hosted hundreds of shows for bands from all over the world, and many art shows for local up-and-coming artists.”
ROAD 34 BIKE SHOP, DELI AND TAVERN
Who: Owners Willy Owens and Will Overbagh manage the space, while Greta Cornett books the bands.
What: A show here is more of a normal experience than Rhinoceropolis, but still, its package element and bike-friendly nature make it a unique excursion.
Where: 1213 W. Elizabeth St., Fort Collins; road34.com
When: Bill Smith, James and the Devil, tonight at 9, $5
In their own words: “Riding is more than just two wheels and a tour-winning fitness program. We feel that the sport of mountain biking is based on a lifestyle that, more or less, revolves around three things: Partying, riding and living.”
Who: A collection of volunteers who run the record store, gallery and venue, and make sense out of the chaos. (There’s even storage space and practice space for bands.)
What: A hub of metal and punk music, filling a void in Denver’s live musicsphere
Where: 2935 W. Seventh Ave.; myspace.com/blastomat
When: Touche Amore, Pianos Become Teeth, Seahaven, Citizen, Sunday at 8:30 p.m., by donation
In their own words: “Blast-O-Mat is an all-ages community space! We have a policy of no racism, sexism or homophobia, etc. We are in the process of becoming a self-sustaining entity dedicated to the production and promotion of all kinds of art and music.”