With venues like the Aggie Theater and the Back Alley Lounge closing, the number of places local bands can play in Fort Collins is becoming limited.
The Starlight, one of the few music-only venues in town, has been in existence for five years, and existed previously as The Mountaintop. It changed management at the time Fort Collins experienced a change in the music scene – bands had stopped playing multiple shows and focused energy more on playing the few larger concert venues in town.
Kenny Lene works at the Starlight and said that they make it relatively simple for bands to book a show there. They just need to bring in a recording and a promotional packet and speak with the booking agents.
“If you come in on the right day, and we’re in the right mood, you can walk away with a 45-minute opening act. If that goes well, then it can lead to a headlining show,” Lene said.
However, any businessperson looks to make money, and concert venue owners and bookers are no exception.
The Starlight rewards bands that bring in larger crowds by giving them a percentage of the ticket sales. If a band can’t bring in a large crowd, they don’t get paid, Lene said.
“There is great music in Fort Collins with such a huge talent pool, especially in the punk scene,” Lene said.
There are studios like The Blasting Room, labels like O & O Records and bands like All and the Descendents that attract a lot of music to this area.
Another thing that allows local venues to support local bands is the willingness of the people that live in Fort Collins to pay to see live music. Lene believes it is because there is such a diversity of music, with few cover bands.
Local bands depend on managers or production companies to book their shows. Dan Kozlowski, of the group Delicious Hot Dogs, said that local venues are more willing to work with the local bands and give them a chance.
“The band has to prove to the venue owner that people will show up.
The owner takes a big risk when they book a band for the first time. If the show doesn’t go well, it affects a band in a negative way if they can’t bring a crowd in. It comes down to the drawing power of a band,” said Zach Cook, manager of Denver band Carolyn’s Mother.
Local venues can make or break a band, Cook said. When national acts come through town, the owner of the venue looks for people to perform before the larger band. They look to the local bands they have a good relationship with.
National acts frequently come to the Starlight, since it is currently the largest venue open in the area. Lene commented that while well-known acts like Reel Big Fish and Anthrax have played the Starlight, there are great local bands that play there as well.
“The Starlight is a good place for local bands because they can fill it up as much as they want, but if they don’t have a large crowd, it doesn’t look empty,” Lene said. xyz