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Howl of the Underground is at Casa Coyote

By David Goe

In downtown Grand Junction there is a house. You’d barely notice it walking down the sidewalk as it looks like any other downtown house. Appearances, however, can be deceiving.

More often than not, this ordinary house is the location of Grand Junction’s indie music scene. It’s the Casa Coyote, the howl of the underground.

Just inside the back door, steep stairs lead beneath the surface down into the cellar. It’s a small room, hardly updated for modern use. There’s not much headroom and the exposed ceiling reveals the house’s guts that zigzag from one unfinished wall to the other. A large, unused coal-burning furnace sits behind its modern brother in the corner, cutting the space in half.

Graffiti-covered walls peek through a doorway cut into the far wall, offering little escape from the empty, cold atmosphere. At first glance, it’s hard to imagine spending a lot of time here. One has the distinct feeling of being underground. It’s dark, claustrophobic, generally uncomfortable, and that’s before the music starts.

On any given night a touring or local band might try to cram their gear into Casa Coyote and play a set for Grand Junction’s most passionate fans of live music. Once the amps click off standby and the warm hum spreads, the room takes on a noticeably different temperament. A few quick hits on the kick drum and Casa Coyote is suddenly alive and brimming with possibility.

Here, bands can play and be more than a soundtrack for barflies to drink to. It’s a den of temporary refuge, and a place where musicians are appreciated. As all-ages crowds gather, they embrace the only truism that matters: today you are the youngest you will be for the rest of your life.

Grand Junction’s indie scene is a pack of individuals starved for creativity and originality. Collectively, they are musicians, artists, photographers and sometimes just lost fans looking for a place to fit in. They are nocturnal creatures creating a music scene of their own from thin air. No financial motives, just selfish pursuit of a good show.

DIY style music venues such as Casa Coyote have always played an important role in the growth of the local scene. It’s where musicians meet and form bands. It’s youth forcing the issue and creating something organic and special before it’s too late.

Before Casa Coyote it was Le Garage. Before Le Garage it was the Pop Up House. While the underground hot spot is ever-changing, shoulder-to-shoulder these fans are forever bound by music.

Crowds at Casa Coyote act on impulse, dance wildly and treat every show like it could be the last. It’s the perfect venue in that way. This atmosphere, the kind that bands thrive on, rarely exist at proper venues. Where else could a psychedelic surf rock jam band such as Wooden Indian Burial Ground play and be appreciated for their nonconformist sound?

Playing along with Casa Coyote regulars Bronco Country and ‘70s style crunch rockers Dirtylektric on March 20, Wooden Indian Burial Ground brings the weirdness of Portland to an unremarkable house near you.

At the end of Bronco Country’s most riotous song and embodiment of the DIY scene, “The Fuzz,” the local indie favorites sing “we’re just having fun/ having some beers/ what’s the big deal?”

The big deal is the culture of Casa Coyote. It’s worth much more than face value to Grand Junction.

Casa Coyote is at 526 Belford Ave. Look for it on Facebook

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