The Fort Collins Music eXperiment brings local music to the spotlight

Julia Trowbridge

Sam Mouton performs with Write Minded at the kick off event for FoCoMX in the RamSkellar on April 19. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

“The Biggest Little Festival in America” is going strong for its tenth year.

This year, the Fort Collins Music eXperiment is presenting 360 artists at over 30 locations on Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28. Created by the grassroots nonprofit Fort Collins Music Association, FoCoMX gives the community an opportunity to hear aspiring local musicians in the Northern Colorado area.

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Created ten years ago, the idea of FoCoMX came from the responses of FoCoMA’s peer review awards, which determined the community’s favorite bands by genre. After the first year of the awards, peer reviewers expressed that they wished they had seen more local bands live. This lead to the creation of this weekend-long music festival, which Eric Romero, vocalist and guitarist for Autumn Burn, compares to Austin, Texas’ South by Southwest.

“On the band side, it’s a celebration,” said Josh Rivera, guitarist for Autumn Burn and I Am The Owl. “This is our once a year big family celebration where we get to go and see all of our buddies. So just having one weekend where we can just hop around and see everything is really amazing.”

To purchase tickets: focomx.focoma.org/tickets

For artists and music lovers alike, it is an opportunity to support and find new local music, said Terrah Schultz, vocalist for Rat Doctor

“FoCoMX for me is the music community movement to get everyone playing music on the same night, and that’s something magical,” Schultz said. “I’m freaking stoked to be a part of it.”

FoCoMX has expanded enormously over the past ten years. When the idea originated, the beginning plan was to have 16 artists perform in four venues, but because of positive feedback, they hosted 112 artists performing in 12 venues. Just this year, FoCoMX had around 7,100 artists apply to perform in the festival.

“We try to be really diverse in genres and we want to have a mix of everything to represent all parts of the scene right now,” said Greta Cornett, one of four founders of FoCoMA. “The other part of the diversity we go for is supporting established acts and up and coming acts in the festival. We’ve got younger performers from this new generation and we’ve got some older performers that have been making music in this town forever and honoring them.”

Special Features for 10th annual FoCoMX:

Silent Disco: Old Town Square both days from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

Partnered with 53:14 film festival

Keynote conversation and Incredibly Strange Dance Party with Jello Biafra from the Dead Kennedys

Partnered with Little Kids Rock

When the festival was first created, FoCoMA didn’t have any money to create such a large festival, so they looked to the community for support. The Downtown Business Association was one of their first supporters, that also couldn’t offer money at that time, but offered their printing facilities. That first year, the volunteers for FoCoMX realized they needed to make tickets, so they gathered materials for the tickets and wristbands from Office Depot and cut and laminated the tickets all by hand.

Jakob Muller performs with Slow Caves at the kick off event for FoCoMX in the RamSkellar on April 19. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

The only way they accomplished such a feat was through the help of local businesses and local musicians offering up their time and donations, Cornett said.

The first year they would make 20 tickets at a time and sell them at local head shop Rock N’ Robin’s. After those were sold, they would use the money to purchase supplies for making more tickets. 

“The last week it was crazy because of how many tickets were being sold, and we just couldn’t make them fast enough,” Cornett said. “We were like working round the clock.” 

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For its tenth year, FoCoMX is celebrating with a few extra additions. Some of those additions include a Silent Disco in Old Town Square, where the dance party can only be experienced with headphones, and an Incredibly Strange Dance Party with Jello Biafra from the Dead Kennedys.

Fort Collins music lovers and music performers encourage everyone to check out the local music scene. Whether you meticulously plan out your weekend or go wherever the wind takes you, Rivera saidyou’re bound to find something you love.

“Even if you’re not open minded and you only want to see one type of music, there’s still 25 acts you can go see,” Rivera said. “On the flipside, expand your mind.”

Collegian reporter Julia Trowbridge can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on twitter @chapin_jules.