For anyone unfamiliar, FoCoMX is an annual music festival to showcase the Northern Colorado music scene. With more than 35 venues and more than 300 bands, it’s kind of like a hyper-local version of Denver’s UMS. For two days, almost every venue, bar, coffee shop, art gallery and even a movie theater was filled with musicians and music fans of every possible genre. In its fourth year, the young festival is surprisingly well run with a bus system to venues around town and a smartphone app to create a show schedule. One of the many local breweries, Equinox, even made a special beer called Sound Wave Pale Ale for the festival –– a nice touch for a town that takes pride in its brewing culture.
When You Me and Apollo took the stage on Friday, the group was considered the first must-see act of the two-day Fort Collins music festival. At 8:30 p.m. at the Aggie Theatre, the band came on stage for what would likely be a show to set the tone for the young festival. Most of the crowd, who had only heard buzz around town, didn’t know what to expect of the band’s lead singer, Brent Cowles, who is about 5’5 and maybe 130 pounds. But when he opened his mouth to sing, his voice filled the venue and proved that, like the Fort Collins music scene, something not so big can pack a lot of talent. For their 45-minute set, You Me and Apollo, played through folk rock tracks (think Fleet Foxes, but louder) and brought in a crowd that nearly filled the Aggie, despite an early time slot.
Friday also featured Wire Faces, who filled Hodi’s Half Note to capacity, leaving a long line of unlucky latecomers to try to hear the music from outside. Wire Faces is what you could call an inverted power trio with vocalist and drummer, Shane Zweygardt, at its chaotic center. Zweygardt is a spectacle to behold behind the kit, not just in terms of musical talent, but also showmanship. With his hair flailing, flinging sweat across the stage, he raised his arms to the ceiling with each hit. His assault on the kit sent chunks of drumstick flying like shrapnel, and his energy had the packed audience headbanging along. If the audience was fatigued from a day of music, it was impossible to tell when Wire Faces worked them into a frenzy with their percussion-led rock.
Fierce Bad Rabbit wrapped up the first day of the festival after Wire Faces at Hodi’s. The transition to FBR’s emotional indie pop music was rather jarring, but the venue stayed full to capacity to hear one of the biggest bands coming out of Fort Collins. The audience sang along with the four piece’s pretty hooks and graceful melodies.
Saturday brought day two of FoCoMX along with dreary weather and scattered rain, but the music fans kept coming. WhiteCatPink played early in the evening to a handful of fans at Rendition Gallery. The big man, dressed as a white fuzzy cat with a pink tie, used his less-than-serious “music from Saturn” to cheer the audience up. The one-man band played through a few songs of electronic pop flanked on either side by scantily clad cat dancers.
Candy Claws, the Fort Collins act that has garnered a national fan base and hype in the blog world, played at the cozy coffee shop Everyday Joe’s to a crowd that wasn’t quite as big as they are used to seeing. The group’s sound was superb as they moved through some new and old dreamy pop tunes. Their stage presence was a different matter though. They seemed to be utterly bored on stage, frowning and motionless as they played.
Just down the street at the bicycle bar, Crankenstein, a line halfway down the block had formed to see Sour Boy, Bitter Girl. Every possible pole was occupied by a bike, and in line hip-looking fans sipped on growlers from local breweries, held in specially designed growler koozies. Inside, with bikes and artwork hanging from the walls, Benjamin (BJ) Buttice of Sour Boy played an acoustic set of smart Americana folk with hipster swagger. No one said a word as they connected to his honest lyrics about evil and coming to terms with one’s self. He played like a hometown hero, and when he ended his set he ended with a scream that hopefully will get him, Northern Colorado music and FoCoMX heard.
Matt Miller is a Fort Collins-based culture writer. You can follow him on Twitter
Nic Turiciano is a writer and student in Fort Collins. You can follow him on Twitter at @nic_turishawno or email him at email@example.com.