Hardcore house shows return to FoCo after pandemic shut downs

Local band Old Skin promotes new album ‘Towering Monolith of Flesh.’


Matt Dooley, vocalist for Old Skin, performs at a house show March 24. (Photo courtesy of Maxwell Hendrickson)

Max Hogan, Arts and Culture Reporter

Local sludge metal/hardcore punk band Old Skin performed an impromptu album release show March 24 promoting their new album, “Towering Monolith of Flesh,” supported by the low, heavy melodies of three-piece band Sludgebroker and the screamed political motifs of hardcore group Watching People Drown

The event, titled “Downtuned Downstairs,” didn’t take place at the sort of venue most people would associate with live music. The hardcore punk community has taken root in all sorts of unexpected places — mostly thanks to the events hosted by local nonprofit Blast N Scrap, which has taken advantage of everywhere from grocery store parking lots to bowling alleys and thrift stores.


Unlike these events, however, “Downtuned Downstairs,” was not hosted by Blast N Scrap and took place in the tiny basement room of a residential home equipped with a drum set, a PA system, amps and not much else. 

Without a stage or even a foot of space to separate the musicians from the audience, the show highlighted how classic barriers between the crowd and performers are frequently absent from the shows happening in the Fort Collins heavy music scene — at the expense, in this case, of narrowly missing a tuning peg to the eye or slamming into the singer while moshing. 

Colin Payne, who opened up his home to the event as The Lake House, said having a house venue is something he’d wanted to do for a long time. 

“I love playing music and I love listening to music, and I just want to incorporate it in my life as much as possible,” Payne said

Before the pandemic, Fort Collins had several active house venues putting on regular shows in their basements and garages. Since the initial quarantine, the scene that existed before has yet to bounce back, and many house venues closed their doors forever. 

“There doesn’t seem to be a house DIY venue these days that’s super active, and I just want my friends to be able to play and have fun,” Payne said. 

Payne said he wants to provide a space for musicians and fans from all backgrounds to enjoy music of all genres, a notion the performing bands valued as well. 

“We’re not just some band that’s like, ‘Oh, we’re just here to party and get drunk,’” said Evan McCracken, drummer for Watching People Drown. “We want to create a safe space, and we want to represent what we really value in the scene.” 

Rosa Bates, vocalist for Watching People Drown, performs at a house show March 24. (Photo courtesy of Maxwell Hendrickson)

With music that is loud, distorted, violent, metal and hardcore, many outside of the community would probably be hesitant to invite a rowdy crowd of punks into their home. But Rosa Bates, vocalist for Watching People Drown, said the friendly aggression of mosh pits and the tempestuous nature of her raw, guttural vocals aren’t meant to elicit a lack of decency that some might expect.


“When you are operating under a violent emotion, I believe that it’s very important to make that distinction and be like, ‘Hey, I’m not trying to be violent towards everyone around me,’” Bates said.

For both the bands and the audience, the release of negative emotions like anger, anxiety and sadness through an intense and primal art form is highly therapeutic. 

“Every time I’m drumming I’m using it as an outlet,” McCracken said. “When I get together with these people, it just improves my mood and it makes me feel better.” 

Old Skin guitarist Hayden Cooley agreed, saying that playing hardcore helps him cope with long days of dealing with difficult customers at work.

“You can go out and you can listen to harsh fucking music and give yourself a sense of relief without having to be violent,” Cooley said

Aaron Nye, drummer for Sludgebroker, performs at a house show March 24. (Photo courtesy of Maxwell Hendrickson)

The members of Old Skin, who described their music as a “beefy” crossover of metal and hardcore, are glad to have found a place in the Fort Collins music scene and support for their debut album. 

“I think we’re definitely really lucky to have this community,” said Gage Christopherson, who uses a slew of pedals and gadgets to create harsh noise for the band. “There’s a lot of places … that don’t have DIY at all, … they’re the only harsh noise or only metal band in their areas.”

Although some bands struggle to find a local community, Cooley said other scenes are so saturated with new bands that the environment becomes hyper-competitive.  

“You look at other communities, even on social media, … and bands have beef with each other — not the good kind; … it’s cliquey and they only want to do like-genre shows,” Cooley said. “I feel like the DIY community has just expressed that you can come out of any genre.”

In addition to being unrestricted by genre labels and distinct factions of hardcore music, Cooley said a spirit of camaraderie persists throughout the Fort Collins scene. 

“Nobody’s trying to be the best here,” Cooley said. “Everyone’s trying to lift each other up, and I think that’s huge in music.”

Aaron Nye, drummer for the technical and melodic band Sludgebroker, echoed Cooley’s statements. 

“There’s certainly a sense of equality with bands, and it is a really good thing because there’s no animosity,” Nye said. “We’re just, like, local boys, you know?”

Reach Max Hogan at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @macnogan.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article misspelled Evan McCracken’s name as Evan McCraken.