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Music Venues Making Sound Investments

By David Goe

If you take a look at the area’s live music venues you’ll notice a discouraging trend.

Of all the venues that consistently host shows, only a few have a vested interest in proper sound equipment. Most “music venues” can hardly stake claim to that title because they don’t even own a simple public address, or PA, system, let alone the essential gear needed to make sure bands sounds good and crowds are happy.

Most venues contract out the work or rely on bands to scrape together the necessary gear, which leads to inconsistent sound and a less ideal experience for fans.

If you’ve had enough of poorly mixed sets and feedbacking mics then try a show at one of these locations: Fruita’s Cavalcade, Mesa Theater & Club and KAFM’s Radio Room. They’ve got the gear and personnel to provide the best live sound experience in the valley.

You’ve probably been to a show at the Mesa Theater, or are at least familiar with its offerings (Bret Michaels this Monday anyone?), but how many of you have checked out Cavalcade or Radio Room? Both venues are small, intimate listening spaces ideal for music fans who don’t want to battle with sloppy drunks and late night debauchery.

The Cavalcade always surprises me with great shows. The venue has hosted some of my favorite shows including last March’s Radiation City, Brainstorm, Social Studies gig.

“With Cavalcade we lucked out,” said Ken Kreie, Cavalcade’s talent booker. “Almost everyone involved in starting and operating Cavalcade is a musician. Our product is the experience of listening and participating. That is what we provide. So [the sound] can’t be mediocre. And our audience and the artists are very thankful for it.”

Next to take advantage of Cavalcade’s pro sound system and crew is Idaho-based indie folk rockers Hollow-Wood. The band opens the Youth Open Mic Night with a 30-minute set July 19.

Across town another aural oasis sits. It’s the Radio Room at KAFM, and your next opportunity to see a show there is Wednesday, July 24, with Deerpeople, of Stillwater, Okla., and Grand Junction’s own Dreamboat.

Deerpeople is a mutant race of ambitious musicians. Sometimes, they rip plain old indie rock guitar licks, but more often than not the band blasts off tuneful music beams aimed straight into the heavens, as if trying to hail down unidentified flying objects.

“Ulysses” is a perfect example of the band’s ambitions. The song is no doubt an auditory journey fitting of the ancient Greek character. The first track on the six-piece psychedelic pop outfit’s latest, and fantastically named, album “Explorgasm” features the usual reverbed guitars and fuzzy bass lines. The track also is heavy with synthy sirens and roaming modulator sounds. It sounds like the result of a sci-fi rock ‘n roll lab experiment gone terribly wrong, yet somehow still right.

It’s a complex sound that needs a proper sound system to flourish.

In many ways Deerpeople mark the start of a new beginning for the Radio Room.

“Occasionally, we get artists wanting to play (the Radio Room) that really stand out and Deerpeople (is) one of those bands,” said Cash Kiser, KAFM’s new event and outreach coordinator.

Both Kiser and KAFM plan to expand the Radio Room’s offerings by bringing in more music with greater diversity.

“The Radio Room really shines as a cozy, intimate venue with great sound quality,” Kiser said. “Our goal is to keep the shows coming for our current listener base and add new shows to attract new and younger demographics.”

With the Mesa Theater continuing to book mainstream performers, and both Cavalcade and Radio Room in a perfect position to attract musicians looking to play a gig-ready room, these venues buck the trend and are worth your attention.

If you want some sound advice, seek out one of their shows. Your ears will thank you. 

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