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Colorado Springs' music venues, from punk to Puccini

Sound Advice

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Puscifer brought luchadores along for their Pikes Peak Center show. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Puscifer brought luchadores along for their Pikes Peak Center show.
From classic rock to punk to hip-hop to classical, Colorado Springs continues to expand and diversify its live music offerings, with touring artists and local musicians drawing crowds on a nightly basis. To prove it, here’s a guide to some of the city’s most established and active venues, including a representative sample of artists who’ve performed at each.

The Black Sheep

Acts who’ve played here: Waka Flocka Flame, Father John Misty, Fitz and The Tantrums, Wolves in the Throne Room, Rakim, Shaggy 2 Dope, Malakai, Del the Funky Homo Sapien, Flobots, The Blasters, Bullhead*ded, Tech N9ne, Aesop Rock, Lucero, Against Me!

Venue history: The Black Sheep, which opened in October 2005, was the first club owned by Mike Barsch, a music venue booker who started his company Soda Jerk in a Boulder basement with $500 and a notebook computer. The company is also responsible for bringing the annual Riot Fest to Denver.

Why it matters: In addition to being an all-ages club that regularly features well-known touring acts that typically play much larger venues, the Black Sheep is the club of choice when it comes to Colorado Springs artists hosting album release shows, which is one of the best ways to keep track of what’s happening on the local music scene.

Triple Nickel

Acts who’ve played here: The Nobodys, T-Model Ford, The Queers, Supersuckers, Scott Biram, Drag the River, Michael Dean Damron, A Black Day, Gasoline Lollipops, Get Along, Blind Pets, Gringo Star, Tejon Street Corner Thieves

Venue history: Downtown’s most high-decibel hangout is owned by J.J. Greuter, a local music legend who co-founded Colorado Springs punk band The Nobodys and played bass in the dearly dormant Americana outfit Drag the River. The place recently celebrated its 12th anniversary.

Why it matters: For the same reason that punk-rock, in all its various incarnations, still matters. It caters to a local music community that’s as unpretentious as it gets.

Ivywild School

The Haunted Windchimes - BRIAN TRYON
  • Brian Tryon
  • The Haunted Windchimes
Acts who’ve played here: Anais Mitchell, Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience, Stray Birds, Dead Horses, Fruit Bats, Haunted Windchimes, Esmé Patterson, The Cave Singers, Hanni El Khatib, HoneyHoney, Joe Pug

Venue history: The multi-million-dollar renovation of this former schoolhouse has transformed it into an overwhelmingly successful mixed-use cultural and culinary mecca that’s home to the Bristol Brewery taphouse, a wide variety of dining and drinking options and, perhaps most importantly for those of you reading this, a popular music venue.

Why it matters: At a time when the indie-folk scene has grown too large to be confined to living-room house concerts, Ivywild has attracted touring acts who might otherwise have made Denver their lone Colorado destination. It’s also a primary Colorado Springs venue for local acts on the Haunted Windchimes’ Blank Tape Records roster.

Pikes Peak Center

Acts who’ve played here: Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Wilco, Merle Haggard, Puscifer, Barenaked Ladies, Etta James, Ani DeFranco, Earth, Wind & Fire, Goo Goo Dolls, Buddy Guy, Lyle Lovett, Clint Black, ZZ Top, Chicago, Kris Kristofferson

Venue history: The Pikes Peak Center was built in 1982 as part of the downtown business district’s economic development plan. The 2,000-seat concert hall is owned by El Paso County and operated by the Broadmoor World Arena.

Why it matters: The venue offers the best acoustics in town, which makes it the perfect showcase for classical music performances, touring Broadway shows and big-name rock, pop and country acts.

Stargazers Theatre

Acts who’ve played here: Elephant Revival, Tab Benoit, Rosie Ledet & The Zydeco Playboys, Loudon Wainwright III, Leon Russell, David Bromberg, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Richie Havens, Wishbone Ash, Shook Twins

Venue history: Designed by Vincent G. Raney, the same architect who designed Hollywood’s Cinerama Dome, this 40-year-old geodesic dome has, in decades past, been home to a punk-metal club, a church, a movie theater and a country music venue. Current owners Cindy and John Hooton purchased and renovated the building back in 2008.

Why it matters: While the Pikes Peak Center often caters to a similar demographic, its musical offerings are interspersed with performances by comedians and theatrical presentations. Stargazers, by comparison, is virtually all music, all the time.

Zodiac

Chauncy Crandall - AMANDA CRANDALL
  • Amanda Crandall
  • Chauncy Crandall
Acts who’ve played here: Quintron and Miss Pussycat, Peculiar Pretzelmen, The Mostly Don’ts, Joseph Lamar, Chauncy Crandall, Hopeful Heroines, Altas, Widow’s Bane, Vase Vide, Had I Known, Roxy Suicide, Thegoodmorningaccordionterrorist

Venue history: Back in 2011, Zodiac co-owners Christina Stone and Gentle Fritz transformed the rockabilly-inclined dive bar Rocket Room into a more posh space that’s still managed to retain an inclusive neighborhood vibe.

Why it matters: In addition to hosting one of Colorado Springs’ most popular open mics, regular burlesque shows and theme nights, the venue books numerous local musicians and has established itself as a destination spot for some of the most eclectic and arty touring acts on the current indie-rock scene.

And that’s just the beginning…

Colorado Springs is also home to the acclaimed Blues Under the Bridge (bluesunderthebridge.org) and MeadowGrass (meadowgrass.org) music festivals, intimate jazz club Motif (motifjazzcafe.com), the bluegrass-friendly Front Range Barbeque (frbbq.com), all-ages rock venue Sunshine Studios (sunshinestudioslive.com), the Mining Exchange’s art deco Gold Room (goldroomlive.com), the sprawling Broadmoor World Arena (broadmoorworldarena.com), and dozens of other venues that cater to a wide array of live music fans.

The city’s newest concert space, the downtown Knights of Columbus Hall (tinyurl.com/PPLD-flux), belongs to Pikes Peak Library District, which offered the building as a new home for the displaced DIY enterprise Flux Capacitor. You can keep track of them all in the Indy’s weekly Playing Around section and online music listings.

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