Heck House revives itself after shutting down last spring

Joel Thompson

Despite shutting down last spring, Heck House finds a way to survive in the Fort Collins music scene.

Heck House is a former DIY music venue in Fort Collins, booking over 20 shows while it ran. Despite no longer being a venue, Heck House is continuing to use its influence in Fort Collins music to showcase local bands at a broader level.

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Run primarily by members of the band The Sickly Hecks, Ray B Heck (Raymond Suny) and Nick Heck, the venue was open to local and touring bands, offering an intimate place to see shows.

“I went to some house shows at older venues here, like Sunset House and Flesh Mall, and after they shut down, I saw the opportunity to make a new venue,” Suny said. “I wanted to have a spot where people could go and check our music and would showcase smaller bands who wouldn’t get picked up by other venues necessarily.”

Quickly after starting, the venue developed a scene of its own. Many regulars and local bands began to consistently support the venue, which then gave the venue a reputation for putting on energetic and chaotic shows.

We got a reputation of having crazy shows, but we had a lot of cool photographers, bands and fans help bring us that.” -Raymond Suny former operator of Heck House

“They put a real importance into booking everyone and being as inclusive as possible, which is huge for a DIY scene,” said Garrett Steinke, lead singer of Trashfest.

Heck House became a central place in the Fort Collins music scene and even became an essential stop for many DIY touring bands.

“It was kinda neat to see; I didn’t grasp how popular it got, but after our first few shows, we were getting hit up from bands from L.A., the East Coast and even Texas,” Suny said. “Word got around fast. A lot of bands that played here said this was their best show on tour. We got a reputation of having crazy shows, but we had a lot of cool photographers, bands and fans help bring us that.”

However, this reputation and popularity would eventually be the venue’s downfall. At around their 20th show, police interaction became a regular occurrence. By the end of the first set of every show, the Fort Collins Police Department started shutting down shows. 

Crowd-surfer during The Beeves play at Heck House
Fort Collins band The Beeves plays at Heck House on Sept. 29. (Photo courtesy of Johnny Leftwhich)

“It was wildly successful for a long time,” Nick Heck said. “We did over 20 shows before we had any sort of police activity, and then I guess they somehow started getting the hint about it.”

Heck House tried to start shows later, book smaller sets and inform neighbors about the shows, but they would still get shut down. The involvement became so consistent that the venue had to stop shows permanently.

“That was unfortunate for us as a house because on the one hand, we really enjoyed having these shows, but Raymond (Suny) was threatened with jail time and even got fined,” Nick Heck said. “By then, tensions were high whenever we had a show.”

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Despite the venue part of Heck House closing down at the end of May 2019, it still lives on in booking local DIY bands to larger professional venues.

After the success of their first hosted show at the Artery, Heck House Takeover, Heck House looks to keep up this style of booking that’s rooted in band-centric thinking.

“The fact that even after being shut down they are still able to throw shows at places like the Artery is super sick,” Steinke said. “It gives smaller local acts like us the opportunity to play on a stage and get to know how large venues work.”

Heck House hopes to continue this takeover series past the closing of the Downtown Artery in November.

“I really want to go with Heck House promotion,” Suny said. “I’m sure I can pursue that at other venues. But a lot of places have promoters already. I wouldn’t want to go somewhere (if) it’s already crowded.”

Tonight, Heck House will host its second local venue takeover show at the Downtown Artery. The concert will have Fort Collins bands Los Toms, King Crawdad and Trashfest, along with Denver band Dry Ice.

Despite the uncertainty of what form it will take, Heck House will remain a strong force in Fort Collins DIY for the near future.

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