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DIY scene takes over Downtown Artery, ‘Heck House Takeover’

The Sickly Hecks, owners of the former Heck House venue, take the stage at the Downtown Artery Sept. 7. (Megan McGregor | The Collegian)

Fort Collins’ local DIY venue and collective, Heck House, took over the Downtown Artery for a high energy, mixed genre show Sept. 7. 

Heck House, formerly a house venue in Fort Collins, brought some of their regular acts to the venue, including local bands The Red Scare, Janet Earth, The Sickly Hecks and Denver-based Easy Lovin’.  

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This DIY takeover of the Artery was due to repeated shutdowns of Heck House shows by Fort Collins Police Department, which initially led to the temporary hiatus of Heck House as a venue. Eventually, police involvement with the venue became so frequent that the collective had to find ways to relocate into a more established venue space.  

“After about 20-25 shows, every night we had one, the police would be at the door by the end of the first set and demand us to stop playing,” said Nick Heck, lead guitarist of The Sickly Hecks and former host of Heck House. 

Instead of giving up on a scene they created, the Heck House hosts looked toward other local spaces. The Downtown Artery is a natural fit for the DIY bands in Fort Collins and provides them with a chance to expand past the limitations of a house venue.  

“I played my first four shows at (Fort Collins DIY venue) Hotel Hillcrest,” said AJ Frankson, known by her stage name Janet Earth. “It was just incredible to have the opportunity of putting my foot in my door, … and once we got booked at the Artery, it was a huge step for us.”

Where to find the artists:

This takeover show was a rare opportunity for DIY bands because the complexities of booking shows at larger venues are usually too much for beginning artists.

“Here in Old Town and near campus, there’s no place where you can reach out to and book a show there without a following to do it,” Heck said. 

The combination of the DIY scene and local venues, such as the Downtown Artery, benefits both parties. This collaboration offers the venue a chance to bring in a dedicated following and a type of show they rarely get. 

“The DIY scene is really fun and interesting, and people love putting together house shows and making spaces really interesting,” said Larson Ross, lead singer and guitarist of The Red Scare. “But at the same time, those spaces are very temporary. … The thing that local businesses and non-profits give to this kind of scene is that they allow it to have longevity and (a) resource base.” 

Longevity is key to a music scene, especially to one that relies so heavily upon collaboration and the sharing of resources. Having spaces that can last and are willing to accept bands without a large fanbase is key to ensuring the growth of the scene. 

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The DIY scene in Fort Collins has been gaining momentum over the recent years, mostly due to the tight-knit community that has been developed.

“The scene here in Fort Collins has really come together into something f*cking beautiful,” said Ryan Nash, drummer of Easy Lovin’. 

This community leads to shows that offer a full spectrum of unique bands that all support each other. Despite differences in genre, artists have developed beneficial bonds with each other. Those bonds between bands led to a show that brought not only the typical DIY energy but also something more subtle: a genuine appreciation for everyone in the scene. 

The scene here in Fort Collins has really come together into something f*cking beautiful.” -Ryan Nash, drummer of Denver band Easy Lovin’

Each of the bands played a show far past what one would expect from obscure bands. They brought a lot of energy to everything they did with a perfect execution of each of their styles. It is only after a slew of DIY shows that bands could bring a combination of expertise and utter rawness to a live set. 

The Red Scare’s performance combined intricate psychedelic inspired breakdowns with moments of high aggression. They end up reaching energy near that of hardcore bands, but they reverted to slow, methodical feelings in a way that felt entirely natural. 

Janet Earth claims to be crying music. That is true, but it’s more like angry crying. The lyrics were reminiscent of dream pop artists but with a unique edge. Their style is well thought out and purposeful, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. 

The Sickly Hecks shred through frustrations with a lack of care and an emphasis on chaos. They had slick solos and something deep down that makes you dance. Their performance is chaotic but precise and flies by like a tornado. 

Easy Lovin’ is a band that feels timeless. They perfectly combine old and new into something that will keep you guessing but leave you satisfied. They found a sound that is hard to pin down: obviously inspired, yet wholly their own. 

Editor’s note: The name of a source within this article has been changed to a pseudonym to due to privacy and safety concerns. 

Joel Thompson can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @probably_joel.

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