AEG Live Rocky Mountains to take over booking and operations at Gothic Theatre on January 1

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Eric Gruneisen

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."


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8 comments
OnTheRoad
OnTheRoad

Haters gonna hate, yay Denver music scene! Best of the west!

patricia.calhoun
patricia.calhoun moderator editortopcommenter

I would like to publish some of these comments in our print edition -- ideally with the commenter's full name. If that's okay, e-mail me at patricia.calhoun@westword.com.

adam
adam

strasburg.  don't piss down my leg and tell me it's raining.  this is all about ego, power and greed.  trust me this will not be good for music fans.  get ready for higher ticket prices, higher "convenience" fees on your tickets and $8.00 beers.  AEG is destroying the denver music scene.  parasites.

AntiDespotic
AntiDespotic

As someone who performs at many musical venues around town each year: AEG is the kiss of death; they are a bunch of greedy promoters who don't care about local music. The Gothic was one of the last venues its size that really opened-up to local music -- often testing the waters at Moe's first, and then stepping-up to The Gothic. Almost every band I've been in has had to argue with AEG at every show to get their fair share at an AEG venue. Danny Sax should be ashamed of himself for selling-out to AEG.

It bugs me how promoters will tell you until they are blue in the face that they are in this business because they love music and want music to thrive, but when you put them in a room with a bunch of musicians and a pile of money the promoters don't even care if the performers can BREAK-EVEN for their travel expenses (even if it's just local driving), or something equivalent to minimum wage; their primary concern is stuffing their own pockets with as much cash as possible and getting out before people start calling "bullshit" on hidden fees like "insurance" and "catering" that are rarely discussed, hardly necessary, yet always pop-up at the end of every show when it's time to count the pennies.

@mrsbrown03: You hit it on the head when you mentioned "The Lumineers," as AEG thinks "supporting local talent" means booking The Fray at one of their venues on a nation-wide tour or putting time aside for 3OH!3.

@Cblast: Yes, AEG will always have local acts as headliners to fill-out the dead spots in their schedule, but even those bands are limited to people are have a connection to AEG, and/or "safe" bands which AEG knows will have a built-in crowd which will be profitable. It's all about profits and favors, just like any other corporate monopoly, but in this case it's in the guise of "supporting local music." What a load of shit. Air Dubai is managed by Red Light, and Red Light has a long history of relations with AEG. It's just the same group of people and their friends under different names to limit their liability.

Anyhow...

Years ago it was not uncommon for musicians to get a percentage of the bar as well as a percentage of the door (some venues give 100%%%% of the door to musicians AND a cut of the bar, but those venues are increasingly fewer) as the logic was that people were there drinking because the band brought them to the venue. AEG stopped this at The Bluebird when it took over, and many venues (even non-corporate venues) are following suit. Corporate fat-cat organizations like AEG are the enemy of real working musicians, and only care about lining their pockets with the same old corporate bullshit that's pollutes mass media. AEG forces ticket prices to rise by forcing musicians to pay more to play in their venues. Denver has seen a rise in national cookie-cutter acts (some even claiming Denver as their home) since the AEG monopoly took-hold, and the intellectual well-being of Denver is much worse for it.

Goodbye, Gothic Theater.

mrsbrown03
mrsbrown03

Community? They are a community of billionaires. Local bands? When was the last time AEG booked a a local show? And I'm not talking about The Lumineers. AEG is like Walmart except with higher prices and fees.

Sadly, it sounds like they are just trying to create a monopoly on the clubs in town and make it harder for independent promoters to compete, those who actually book local bands and are in the business of building great acts in this city. If you care about the Denver music scene, support local businesses including the indie promoters in this town.

RevBF
RevBF

@AntiDespotic I'm sure everyone can see your point, and I'm sure local musicians can empathize with everything you said. Fact of the matter is though that these venues take money to operate and... if a local act can't fill a venue then why run at a loss just in the name of 'supporting' local music? There are very few local bands that can even get The Gothic at half-capacity, let alone sell it out. (There's a few, but even now the 3oh3 / Epilogues NYE show still has tickets left - both bands who would be able to (and have) sell out the venue.) 

Places like the HIDive support local things all the time, but they can because 50 ppl through their door is a lot to them, but how would that look in The Gothic? Shit, you could bring 200 ppl to the Gothic and it would still look like a ghost town. Denver musicians can't, and don't often bring 200 people to venues. Selling out is such an archaic term for people just trying to get the most out of what they have. If local musicians always think "well I have 1,000 Facebook likes so I should be headlining bigger venues" then quite frankly THAT'S the downfall of the scene here. I think we can all agree that making good music is the best way to get noticed and placed in these bigger venue places. 

As for payment to the bands, your right - people get screwed. It's nothing new and something everyone knows about, so, if you choose to be a musician this is something you need to be aware of and get your ducks in a row to be able to take care of it when the time comes. I've heard of a lot of interesting ways that bands have gotten back at door guys / venues / staff for being treated like trash. 

AntiDespotic
AntiDespotic

@mrsbrown03

Well said with the Wal*Mart comparison, too; if we have any doubts about Wal*Mart's contribution to the world of music: we only need to peruse their fascist, overly-censored and conservative music selection to see how supportive of expanding the world of art and ideas are they. AEG is having the same kind of impact on local music. It's all profits first, and if that's achieved easiest by lowering the bar, playing it safe, eschewing new sounds and ideas, and screwing hard-working independent musicians then so be it.

Cblast
Cblast

@mrsbrown03 Looking over the AEG schedule for local headlining acts, found a couple: Air Dubai, Railbenders, Nuns of Brixton, Faceman's Waltz, Last Waltz, Yamn, etc.

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