- Griffin Swartzell
- Clockwise from left: Kate Perdoni, John Spears, Sue Hammond, Bryan and Sean Ostrow.
When the Indy shared news of the closure of local do-it-together venue Flux Capacitor on Dec. 20, 2016, co-founder Bryan Ostrow said they'd be back, better than ever, in 2017.
At the time, he was still searching for a new space, so it was a declaration of will more than certainty. But turns out, he was right.
The Flux team, which consists of Bryan, his brother Sean Ostrow, Nick Pryor, Naboth Gonzales, Josh Austin, Caleb Butcher, Quintin Gamer, and W. Cameron Barrett, has announced a partnership with the Pikes Peak Library District to found Flux 2.0 in the newly reappointed Knights of Columbus Hall at 25 W. Kiowa St. The historic building has already started hosting programming from a variety of community endeavors. But the Flux crew will be PPLD's main partners in making the space a happening place.
"The fact that the PPLD is letting us do this, and is actually opening up a historical building for us to do, basically, punk shows, it's a really cool thing, and we can't thank them enough," says Bryan.
Right now, there's a lot to be determined regarding a full opening date for KCH. But the Flux crew is already testing out the space with trial shows, all strictly limited to a maximum of 49 people due to present capacity limits. The main performance area's capacity will eventually increase to around 300 as the result of a change in occupancy allowance, which will happen as part of the renovations the building will undergo in the coming months.
The brothers Ostrow have no small amount of experience as venue runners, show promoters and touring musicians. Bryan started planning house shows in 2006, using a locale he shared with friends out in Falcon. They ran a few shows and small festivals. Hooked, Bryan started booking shows at various local venues, including the Triple Nickel Tavern, while Sean also lent his house for shows.
"Meeting bands and playing in bands and touring around, you make a lot of contacts," says Sean. "Those contacts hit me up, and we'd book them around town. And once Flux started, Bryan needed my help, so I became a promoter off of that."
They formed the original Flux Capacitor in late 2014, running it with a small but diligent volunteer crew, hosting a variety of acts well beyond the spheres of metal and punk. The original Flux drew rappers, indie rock bands, noise acts, comedians, visual artists — anyone who wanted a show and had the wherewithal to put it together.
Flux-that-was ceased to be last December due to unresolvable fire code issues, just one of many DIY venues that closed across the country after a deadly fire at Oakland's Ghost Ship. Members of the Flux community didn't just grumble and accept defeat; they reached out — including Kate Perdoni and Brian Elyo, who frequently performed at Flux, most prominently with Eros and the Eschaton and as Mobdividual, respectively.
"They immediately came to us and wanted to help," says Bryan. They set up a town hall meeting to look for new venue options, packing the Tim Gill Center with the Flux community and drawing attention from mainstream arts voices, including PPLD's Executive Director, John Spears. Spears and Perdoni came up with the idea to use the KCH building for Flux shows, and broader plans for the venue grew from there.
If there existed a list of players the Flux crew expected to work with on a new venue, PPLD wasn't exactly near the top. The Ostrows have used the library in the past, but it's been a while.
"That's why [this partnership] is so cool," says Sean. "I feel like a lot of this age group [between 18 and 30] don't have a lot [of exposure to] it, but we want to work with them to get people to go back to the library more."
"Us being really DIY and unprepared in the way that we are, and then the library being official and very prepared, I think we're both learning from each other and making something really different and cool," says Bryan.
"I think we're giving each other credibility," adds Spears.
With the new space will come a lot of changes, most of which are still in the works. While it's almost certain that the Ostrows won't be putting offbeat murals on the walls, for instance, they do hope to figure out some way to host visual art components. They also have to figure out what to do with an alcohol policy. Flux's BYOB policy may or may not be viable, but the PPLD has held events with alcohol before.
While touring their bands in Europe, the Ostrows took a few notes on how similar spaces run overseas. European DIY venues get a lot of public support, even government funding sometimes. As a result, venues often offer touring acts a hot meal and a place to sleep in addition to performance space and door fees. While sleep space is likely untenable, the KCH building does have a kitchen, which the Ostrows hope to make use of. "When bands come here to play, we can cook them a meal," says Bryan. "Preferably a vegan meal so everyone can eat." (Spoken like a true community enthusiast.)
To work out the kinks and confirm that the partnership and the space are viable, the Flux team planned three summer trial shows (which are alcohol-free). In addition to a June 24 show, which went smoothly, they've announced acts on July 15 and July 23, each first-come, first-served and all-ages.
"The DIY scene is do it yourself," says Bryan. "It is not trying to get record labels, not trying to have people do everything for you. It's just working together... If you want something to happen, make it happen... It's not about your overhead, bar sales, it's not about anything like that. It's just about a good time and a good show."
It's more than just opportunity, too. It's a nucleation point for community. The Flux hosted and will continue to host bands of every genre, drawing fans and performers of every race, gender and sexual orientation. New arrivals to the Springs came to Flux and were made to feel welcome. Teenagers and young adults had something engaging to do in the evening besides get in trouble. Musicians formed bands with people they met at the Flux. Misfits of all stripes found community, even family. So it was, and so again shall it be.
"We try to be a venue for everyone," says Sean. "If you want a show, and it's hard booking a show in your town, you contact us, and we'll make it happen."
"In a town like Colorado Springs — you know I love it, but it's really no surprise that this city's very well known for its evangelical Christians, [and] its military presence," says Bryan. "I think Flux is there, and DIY culture is there, to show that it's not just that. That there's something else there, and it makes people that live out here feel like they aren't alone in feeling different."