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

"Our goal has always been to be engaged soup-to-nuts with the artists and the fans," says Strasburg. "Starting from Scott Campbell's Larimer Lounge with the relationships we have, obviously at the Fox and Boulder theaters, the Ogden and Bluebird and now the Gothic, this gives us the best framework to offer artists to enjoy their time in Colorado -- and therefore, we think it only helps develop the music community, because we can have the most flexibility in offering the customer, the fan, the exact perfect place to see the band they love.

"Inherently," he goes on, "if that's done, the artists can put out the best product...they can put on the best show possible. If the band puts on a great show, the fans have a great time. We know this is how you develop the community. This is how we create the highest level of enjoyment of live music, thereby helping everybody grow and get to the next venue, and the whole community flourishes."

Community is the key element here, says Strasburg, and that involves not only striving to create a top-notch live experience, but also continuing the Gothic's long-standing commitment to local music, which it shares with some of AEG's other rooms, such as the Bluebird and Ogden. "Local bands have a relationship with the local community," he notes. "This is where they will get their start, and if they have the ability to bring out enough people, then we should be using these great venues that we have."

While adding the Gothic Theatre has added perks (while state liquor laws still apply, obviously, the ordinances in Englewood allow the venue to stay open later, making it an ideal spot to host the occasional after party, like the upcoming Winter on the Rocks shindig) and is clearly a great business move for AEG -- which launched its local outpost here just half a dozen years ago with no properties to speak of at the time -- Strasburg prefers to focus on the music. For a company like AEG to continue to thrive and for the music scene to stay vibrant, keeping the fans' interests and experience in mind has to be at the core of any plan.

"Instead of thinking of it from a level of business," says Strasburg, "we think of it from a level of music and from experience. The business will all work -- that's fine -- if you do it the right way. I like to say, 'We're not in the music business; we're in the business of providing entertainment for our community.' If we do that job correctly -- if our job is to bring the best music and create the best musical experience for the Colorado community -- the business will work.

"The energy that we all put into creating a great experience to see a concert, to see a live performance, helps make our community appreciate it more, and I think that helps bring a more open-minded and a more focused mentality on live music as something that's part of how we enjoy ourselves in Colorado," he continues, "because the quality of the experience is really good, people enjoy it more maybe here. And because they enjoy it, more people want to go to concerts, because it's fun -- and then more people want to play music at concerts because of how much fun it is. I think it all flows from the effort that we put into the experience.

"And by the way, this isn't just AEG Live. I think all of the people who are involved in bringing concerts to Colorado do this at a really high level. And this is what separates Colorado from almost every other market in the country. The rooms that we have in Colorado," he concludes, "most major cities -- mid-level to major cities -- would be 1,000 percent better, in terms of their musical experience, if they had a quarter of the quality venues we have here. It's true. What we would consider the weakest venue in Colorado would be the absolute state palace in most other markets."





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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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