FoCoMX: A Snapshot 4.13.12 & 4.14.12
Fort Collins, CO
Words & Photos By Summer Camp Counselor Nicholas Stock
FoCoMx or the Fort Collins Music Experiment is a festival, which began just four short years ago. It’s a celebration of all of the music that bubbles out of Northern Colorado. It ends up being a massive melting pot of bands representing every possible genre under the sun. With over three hundred groups in thirty venues over the course of two nights it is the choose-your-own-adventure of music festivals. The price tag of $15 pre sale and shuttles whipping across town to get patrons from show to show it is also an incredibly affordable and doable event. The point of the fest is to expose local bands to new fans and give almost any group the opportunity to play live. The Fort Collins Music Association teamed up with Bohemian Foundation as well a slew of sponsors to make it all possible. My main criticism of FoCoMx is that it lacks a main stage and main act to really draw people in. There are plenty of big groups from Denver and Northern Colorado such as Pretty Lights, Northern Way, Big Head Todd and The Monsters or The Fray who all could have been the big draw to put this festival on the map. Even the Denver Post can be quoted as saying this about the Fort Collins music scene, “Thanks to a solid number of small venues, a ready audience of college students and an evolving sense of confidence, local bands are making a mark far and wide.” And while this is true, the festival needs that headliner draw in people outside of the community to really make an impact. That being said it was still a great celebration of Northern Colorado musicians.
I was personally battling a cold so what I have for you is a small snapshot of the event. Catching just a couple acts on the bloated schedule was all I accomplished. I saw Dead Floyd performing their Dark Side of the Moon set and The Holler at Hodi’s. There were mobs of music fans adorned with green wristbands roving around from venue to venue. While most of the stages were within the confines of Old Town, some of the rooms were as far out as the Bar Double S in Laporte.
On Friday night I headed down to see Dead Floyd at The Aggie. This was a show that was a headliner for the fest and had been buzzed about for several weeks leading up to the night of the event. Dead Floyd was performing the Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety synched up The Wizard of Oz. Dead Floyd brought in Walter Hannah, the keyboardist from The Grippe as well as a saxophonist and two backup singers. They upped their normal stage setup with a giant screen for projecting Oz and a slew of new lights. It felt like a massive production that could go on the road and be successful. The musicianship was at a whole other level than when I've seen Dead Floyd previously. They obviously felt the need to step it up for this show in a big way. The set began with a screen lowered from the top of the stage and as the MGM lion roared the music began. Like the album the music built, as did the crowd and opened with “Speak To Me.”
SET I: Speak To Me> Breathe> On The Run> Time> Great Gig In The Sky> Money> Us And Them> Any Colour You Like> Brain Damage> Eclipse, Truckin’> Drums> The Other One> Turn On Your Lovelight, Brokedown Palace, Samson and Delilah, St. Stephen
ENCORE: Outside The Wall, Touch of Grey, Run Like Hell, We Bid You Goodnight
This show being part of the festival, you just needed a wristband to get in, but it wasn’t long before the room was completely packed. The rest of the night it was one in one out. Highlights from the DSOTM section included an amazing “Money” and a powerful “Us and Them.” The rest of the set was all Grateful Dead, which only made sense. “Other One” and “Brokedown Palace” were both awesome to see proving that Dead Floyd is not a greatest hits group. They dig deep into the repertoires of both bands to create an insane fusion of two my favorite acts of all time. The encore went back to their old mix and ended the night strong. Playing until almost two in the morning Dead Floyd was a fun and energetic way to close down night one of FoCoMx.
On night two of the festival I headed down to Hodi’s to catch local Americana stalwart The Holler!. Now there were a ton of great shows throughout the day on Saturday at FoCoMx, including some special events at breweries and a workshop with Speech from Arrested Development. I was still battling a serious cold so I opted to take it easy with The Holler!. They are an incredibly talented group, focusing on bluegrass with a rock twang. The most striking aspect of their sound is the intricate songwriting in their tunes. They opened with Tom Petty’s “You’re So Bad,” in honor of their arrival in Denver this week.
SET I: You’re So Bad, Wildwood, Beyond, Reply, Come On, Gratitude, Path, Climb, Mind Is Moving, Memory
With new drummer Garret Evans on the kit the group sounded fresh and pretty tight given the latest direction. Michael Kirkpatrick who is the primary songwriter and lead singer of The Holler! makes quite the impression with his velvety vocals and his quick hands on the mandolin. It was nice because both Brian Adams and Brad Poto took turns at the microphone showing that this band was not a one trick pony. They are as talented as they are diverse and have truly created a niche for themselves in Northern Colorado. They have a new album entitled Gratitude, which they played the title track from at the show. Check out these guys if you want to just relax and feel the classic groove. So while my experience at FoCoMx is best described as brief, it was a fun experience. Next year I may actually make it to more than two shows; let’s just hope I’m not ill.
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