AEG Live Rocky Mountains to take over booking and operations at Gothic Theatre on January 1
On Tuesday, January 1, when most of us are still sleeping off the last good times of 2012 or steeling ourselves to tackle resolutions for the new year, our city's live-music scene will mark a major development: This is the day that the iconic Gothic Theatre will be put in the capable hands of the folks at the regional headquarters of Anschutz Entertainment Group. According to Don Strasburg, vice president and senior talent buyer for AEG Live Rocky Mountains, the promoter has reached an agreement with Steve Schalk, longtime owner of the Gothic, to take over operations, booking and management of the esteemed venue at 3263 South Broadway in Englewood.
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Unlike other facilities that the AEG team has taken on, including the 1STBANK Center, where there were immediate improvements to be made, the Gothic "doesn't need a lot of work in regards to decor and vibe," says Strasburg of the iconic venue, which was one of the city's original movie houses and has been a part of the local landscape since the 1920s. "The room is gorgeous. It's been maintained wonderfully."
"However," Strasburg adds of the space, which was completely renovated in the late '90s, "there may be things that the customer may not see or the artist might not recognize on first glance that we can add to the room to make it an even better experience than it is now -- whether it be in sound, whether it be in lighting, whether it be in sight lines. These are things that we're always looking for. Look, our goal -- number one, in the highest level -- is to bring all of the love we can to this room, and that comes from paying attention."
With that in mind, the plan now calls for getting a feel for the Gothic before any major decisions are made, then completing the work within the first six months of AEG management. "We feel we really bring a really high level of attention to detail to the rooms we operate," explains Strasburg. "The Gothic is already a phenomenal room, and we feel with the love and energy we'll put into it, it will only make it that much better for the community.
"We realize the quality of a venue starts with the sound, because the first and foremost thing we're involved with is music, and music is heard," he continues. "And then the second is the look and the feel. And then, obviously, the comfort of room and the patron experience -- that all goes hand in hand. It will take us a little bit of time to get comfortable and feel the Gothic in action to understand where we can enhance the experience."
"The room now just looks so incredible," says Scott Campbell, who will be handling booking duties when AEG takes over. "I'm so excited to be a part of the Gothic. I did a couple of one-offs there in the last decade, but this will be a nice, permanent integration with the Gothic, and I'm really looking forward to it. I mean, I'm a huge fan of the room. It's got the architecture, the enclaves, the entire presentation of the room is just absolutely beautiful."
While Strasburg declines to discuss the specific terms of the agreement, he notes that it's similar to the arrangement that AEG has worked out with the Bluebird Theater and the Ogden Theatre. A number of Gothic staffers will join the AEG Live Rocky Mountains team, including Danny Sax, the current talent buyer, who is slated to assist Campbell with booking duties at both the Gothic and the Bluebird.
Adding the Gothic to the stable of venues that AEG already books and operates effectively gives the promoter a rather unique opportunity to cultivate an artist's career from the nascent stages in a small club on up through larger theaters -- with a capacity of 1,100, the Gothic falls neatly between the Bluebird at 550 and the Ogden at 1,600 -- to sizable venues such as 1STBANK Center and Red Rocks.
"Generally," says Campbell, who began seeing shows at the Gothic as a fan in high school, long before he was booking acts into 15th Street Tavern and then later at his club, the Larimer Lounge, and now with AEG, "we have artists play the Bluebird and then we do the Ogden or they do Bluebird and maybe they go on a support slot at Red Rocks or something like that, but now we'll have a nice sort of well rounded option for the thousand capacity space in Denver."