Goggle tans in January, knowing more beers than you do people and seeing some of the greatest music on planet Earth can offer are all things that just sort of happen when you live in Colorado. Do you ever wonder if there is the perfect place to indulge in some of the most profound musical performances as you drink your top favorite beers whilst nursing your limited area sunburn? Why, the Fox Theater in Boulder, of course! When better to do it than during the month of March, which will involve a whopping 20 shows to celebrate 25 years of operation for the venue.
The Fox Theater stands tall as one of the most prolific venues in the Denver/Boulder area. A staple for so many acts, even gargantuan ones like the String Cheese Incident, the Fox has been entertaining its attendees for a quarter of a century. This is an outlandish milestone for any business or audio haven, even one recently named the 4th best club in the country by Rolling Stone, and especially one in a town the size of Boulder.
Don Strasburg, co-owner of the Fox, explained that even back in 1992, he knew the theater would see many years of success. “The intention all along was to be here for the long run, not the short run,” he said. “I always imagined that I would be having this conversation. It feels really good. It makes me proud that I am part of a team that offers so much to the community.”
Something very notable about the Fox is the amount of praise the establishment receives in regards to the “team” effort exuded by the staff. In several interviews, from past and current employees, musicians who have performed there and other personnel involved, the subject of the hard-working man power and willingness to welcome those from afar came up every time. Eddie Roberts, member of British funk/soul group The New Mastersounds, reflected that it was the Fox Theater that first made them feel like rock stars.
“The way they train all of the staff is always a really high level of production. Way more than any other venue that we’ve ever been to. Just the way they take care of you, it stands out. You can sometimes walk into a place where they don’t treat you very well, and the Fox is the exact opposite of that. They make you feel really special and welcome there,” Roberts said. “I feel like they preserve the community. They build relationships with people. Again, not all venues do that and now that I live here, it is great to be a part of that growing community.”
Roberts moved to Colorado after meeting his wife at the Fox Theater, obviously making for a special place for it in his heart. The New Mastersounds have played the venue yearly since 2006, causing fans to expect them to play there, despite their origination from across an ocean. Local bands, however, do not feel slighted by the nest made for out-of-towners. Jacob Sproul, of the rock trio Rose Hill Drive from Boulder, feels a connection to the stage at the Fox that stems from his musical beginning, referring to it as his “local stage,” and explaining how he and his band grew there with a great support system in the community. “It sounds great, but more than anything it feels great.”
“There’s a special artistic under current that permeates life here. I think it’s always on the radar as a place to visit for traveling acts, so I think it’s necessary to keep places like the Fox functional,” cites Jacob Sproul of the Fox’s importance to the Boulder music scene.
The emphasis on The Fox’s quality assurance does not stop at green room goodies and providing a place for the Boulder community to grow artistically. The actual production quality of the sound is noteworthy as well, something that can often be over looked. Strasburg commented on the long hours put into each individual show before and after the crowd comes and goes. “What needs to be offered is a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of love. What you see the night of the show, while enjoying the show, is just a tip of the iceberg into making it run seemingly flawlessly.” And flawlessly it does. Dave Watts, of The Motet, elaborates on the sound and layout of the venue by dishing on his first time playing there.
“It was my first time in Boulder, playing at this new place called the Fox Theater. Playing to a sold-out crowd, thinking you know, I could live here. And that was the beginning of my exodus from Boston to Colorado.”
“ They’ve always done it right. As far as layout of the venue, the sound, the staff, hiring good bands and always trying to keep every aspect of their production and the music that comes through there successful. I’ve seen it from the top down. The management of that venue has always been fantastic,” Watts says of the Fox.
In fact, many years of work has gone behind obtaining the excellent acts that jump on that stage. Ben Baruch, a former talent buyer for the venue, remembers the ever-on-going workload that it took to create the relationships with these bands. “The great thing about the Fox and these upcoming March shows is the history and the people behind it from day one. So many artists have played there and so many artists look up to the venue. Some people playing in bands used to come to see shows at the Fox, some of them I know worked at the Fox or their first big shows were at the Fox. Each one of these shows are special because the bands have a special place in their heart this place.”
The fact that the Fox, a room for just over 600 people, has remained up in the ranks with Red Rocks, the Fillmore and the like, is a huge feat. Bands that have made it far above and beyond intimate settings choose to come to the Fox to provide that unique experience for the fans who have followed them for years, which often includes members of the team that put on their gigs. David Weingarden, the Director of Concerts for Z2 entertainment in the Greater Denver Area, found his “dream job” at the Fox in 2013. “The live music business is definitely a lifestyle and I don’t see it as work,” Weingarden states. “I love what I do and it’s the best feeling to go to a show at the Fox, or one of our other venues, knowing we played a part in bringing people an amazing experience that they’ll never forget.”
“Bands like String Cheese, Big Gigantic and Primus play much larger venues like Red Rocks…multi-night runs…and the fact that they still want to play the 650 capacity Fox Theatre shows how strong their bond is to the place and incredible nod to the professionalism of our team,” says Weingarden.
When asked about favorite nights at the historic palace of tunes, none of the stories were alike. For Strasburg, a Strokes performance with a raging party. For Baruch, it was a first time glance into the fast wielding upcoming scene of EDM when they booked Deadmau5. For Watts, it was a night of riots on the streets of Boulder, pushing their Prince tribute until the wee hours of the morning. All proof of the eclectic opportunities one could live through the vehicle of the Fox, opportunities that arrived because of a community’s love for music and a dedicated group of fanatics who always knew what it took to make it happen.
The upcoming wave of shows are selling out quick, with such limited space and names that blow the marquee off of any lineup, tickets should be snagged quickly. While a lot of the bands are of epic proportions, there are other special shows that should not go unnoticed. “One of the shows coming up at the Fox that I feel like people may not realize is a band called From Good Homes. It was Todd Schaefer from Railroad Earth, which is his original band that hardly ever play,” explained Strasburg.
“One of the reasons they are playing is that they actually played the Fox the first year we were open, in 1992. They haven’t been back to Colorado in at least 20 years. That is just one of those cool things the Fox brings to the area and if people need a tip, they should come out for that.”