Heck House takes over the Artery for last hurrah

Joel Thompson and Leo Friedman

The Downtown Artery hosted its last Heck House Takeover this past weekend — an energetic end to an equally ambitious era of supporting the local DIY scene.

While the beloved music venue closing is tragic news for local bands, Heck House regulars King Crawdad, Los Toms and Trashfest, joined by Denver band Dry Ice, livened up the atmosphere for one of the last several shows that will take place at the Downtown Artery. 

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Among its many charming features, the Downtown Artery has established itself as a special venue to many local bands and music fans alike. The majority of the bands are used to playing house and DIY shows, but the Artery gives them a chance to work with professional sound systems, a higher quality stage and a larger audience. The Heck House Takeover similarly provides an opportunity for exposure that house shows can’t always deliver on.

“House shows are definitely still super, super important as far as networking and just … supporting people locally. DIY is everything, and to have someone who’s really into DIY in the local scene taking it to a bigger venue is amazing.” –Olivia Booth, lead singer of Dry Ice

“From an artist’s point of view, playing house shows all the time can kinda get played out,” said Raymond Suny, the founder of Heck House. “You’re always playing to the same people. It’s always really fun, but it doesn’t feel like you’re growing necessarily. So there is that merit with a more established venue like (the) Artery.”

The success of Heck House continued to grow with the second show, drawing in a large range of people, while still having the support of regulars. The timing of the Downtown Artery’s closing presents a challenge to Heck House in booking shows, but it is also a rightful show for a venue that presents local artists to the community.

“House shows are definitely still super important as far as networking and just … supporting people locally,” said Olivia Booth, the lead singer of Dry Ice. “DIY is everything, and to have someone who’s really into DIY in the local scene taking it to a bigger venue is amazing.”

While house shows present a good starting point for local performers, they tend to have issues with longevity. DIY venues constantly face issues with police due to noise, and Heck House was not any different, with shows exceeding normal noise levels for house parties.

“DIY venues sorta have a short-lived time anyway because once word starts getting out and they start becoming bigger, then cops start showing up, and it starts being a problem,” said Garrett Steinke, the lead singer of Trashfest. 

The first performer was Fort Collins band King Crawdad, which brought an emotional rock-and-roll style to the takeover show. The two-piece band somehow managed to evoke the feeling of a full band, with their aggressive riffs and high-speed beats mixed with moments of emotion and sincerity. 

Los Toms followed with a more psychedelic rock approach. Along with their drawn-out atmospheric core, they frequently experiment with folk and western music. Los Toms’ set was full of danceable jams that mesmerized the audience.

Denver-based band Dry Ice brought a combination of shoegaze, the aggression of punk and the vulnerability of emo music. Their set entranced the audience in dance for nearly its entirety, leaving the crowd wanting more songs past their set. 

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Olivia Booth plays for the Heck House event at the Downtown Artery Oct. 24. The bands King Crawdad, Los Toms, Dry Ice and TrashFest performed to an energized crowd. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

Fort Collins locals Trashfest finished the concert with their unique blend of thrash, metal and punk. The high energy and heavy songs Trashfest brings end up causing one continuous mosh pit. The energy built up through the rest of the show exploded within their set. 

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With local venues like the Downtown Artery closing, booking Heck House Takeover in the future could certainly be a challenge. However, the newly-gained exposure that bands get with events like Heck House Takeover will open further doors for more shows at venues around Fort Collins.

“It definitely kinda helps get bands legitimized in the eyes of other venues,” Suny said. “It’s probably easier to get booked for Hodi’s (Half Note) or something if they see that you have played an actual venue.”

Leo Friedman and Joel Thompson can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @leofriedman13 @probably_joel.