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Reviving live music: It’s a struggle 

click to enlarge Doom/sludge trio Worry will be livestreaming from The Black Sheep on Friday. - CHRISTIAN GUTIERREZ/WORRY
  • Christian Gutierrez/Worry
  • Doom/sludge trio Worry will be livestreaming from The Black Sheep on Friday.

The more things change, the more they stay the same? I guess that goes for both the violence of sustained socioeconomic inequality and the uncertain void of what live music will look like in the second half of the year. However, before you quite rightly send me to the Hague of music writers for criminal clichés, I’m pleased to announce there are a few musical developments worthy of your attention for the coming weeks.

Gov. Jared Polis announced on June 15 that bars and concert venues may be able to open by late this month or early in July with precautionary measures in place, which is good news. This development was revealed as part of the third phase of Colorado’s statewide COVID-19 response measures, titled “Protect Your Neighbors,” which will be rolled out on a county-by-county basis.
In the case of live music, the new proceedings will limit indoor events to either 50 people (including the musicians and staff), or 25 percent of the given venue’s capacity, whichever is lower, while attendees maintain physical distancing. For larger indoor venues, the capacity could increase to 75 or 100 attendees (for venues over 5,560 square feet or 11,300 square feet, respectively). Outdoor events follow limit capacities of 50, 125 and 175 at the same physical sizes.

Also, though it probably should go without saying, attendees are expected to maintain 6 feet of distance while they’re waiting in lines. (Hey, if nothing else, you can tell your friends that people were lining up around the block to get into your show.)

This will all be tangible progress, though Denver has already seen a rocky start to live music in venues with restaurant licenses. In a June 13 Westword article by Jon Solomon, owners of jazz venues such as Broadway Roxy (formerly Syntax Physic Opera), Dazzle and Nocturne noted that the city and county of Denver were sending mixed signals on whether they could host live music, which threatens results like disastrous day-of cancellations or outright closure of venues. The beloved Denver venue 3 Kings Tavern has already shuttered its doors in the wake of the pandemic.
Closer to home, Stargazers Theatre owner John Hooton, a fellow venue owner holding a restaurant license, announced that the planned June 12 re-opening of his venue was similarly delayed; El Paso County Public Health informed Hooton that “even when following the restaurant variance regulations and including musicians in the count of [their] allowed number of attendees, [they] could only re-open as a restaurant for dining and could not offer live music or recorded performances.”
click to enlarge Christian Gutierrez of Worry
  • Christian Gutierrez of Worry
Hooton and the staff at Stargazers, who have been diligently undertaking renovations and updates to the venue’s lobby, auditorium and green room in the interim, are optimistic and eager to resume live music in the near future. In the meantime, for all local venues, livestreaming continues to be where it’s at for the moment. Stargazers has offered free “Live from the Archive” streams of past performances, Sunshine Studios has curated online artist “takeovers” and presented livestreamed performances, and The Black Sheep has presented live performances via Twitch, which has brought us some very welcome sets from the likes of Cheap Perfume, False Report, Tigerwine, Salt of Sanguine, and many others.

The Sheep’s next live-streamed shows, set for Friday, June 26, and Saturday, June 27, feature, respectively, local doom/sludge metal trio Worry and Denver-based post-punk act Lowfaith.

click to enlarge Daniel Harvey of Worry
  • Daniel Harvey of Worry
Worry released the absolutely punishing LP Wisdom Through Shame in December 2019, which is a must-hear if you’re into the heavy stuff, deftly straddling the line between punchy metal and noise-rock. (The track “Wisdom” will force you to move, whether you like it or not, while “Ouroboros” will subsequently bury you in the ground. It’s wonderful.) The band recently raised over $1,100 for the National Bail Fund Network with a limited-run T-shirt; kudos to them.

Lowfaith, meanwhile, recently released the single “Waking Moment” and donated all proceeds to Black Lives Matter. Both an excellent gesture and an excellent track, an excellent jumping-off point into the group’s hazy, post-punk-meets-dream-pop sound. While you’re at it, be sure to check out their 2018 LP On Loss, which consistently hits the ideal synthesis between gloomy and danceable.

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