Competing for limited soundspace, a hardcore venue makes a move
It was Chase’s first time singing in a real venue with a real sound system and live band. The 15 year-old female vocalist stepped up to the mic to mentally prepare herself for her big moment. She wanted everything to sound perfect, she had been practicing her songs for months and tonight a crowd of potential fans was in attendance. Her red and white blouse/shirt combo matched her red heels perfectly. Her band dressed the part as well, accenting her red and white with dark dress shirts and black attitude glasses. Everything was set for a great night. Sound check hadn’t started, yet she could hear a whole lot of noise coming from somewhere. It wasn’t the guitars or drums from her band though, it was the sound of distorted guitars and high octane drumming seeping through the walls. She realized her light pop voice would be competing against a screamo band that would be playing on the other side of the brick wall in the new heavy metal venue The Deathstar. Chase can infuse intense emotion into her songs, but against the backdrop of a much louder, much more piercing style of music, her performance is lost. Next door in the cramped space of the Death Star a band like The Lunatics shakes the graffiti covered walls with their dark sound, unaware of their affect on Chase and her first concert as a lead singer.
A heavy metal enthusiast has squeezed a Deathstar where it doesn’t fit. Tyler Foisy, an enterprising young man has recently occupied the once vacant space in between the Muse and Velour music venues with a hardcore venue of his own called The Deathstar. 100 South and University in Provo has been home to two rival entertainment venues for years. Not 100 feet from each other, Muse Music Café and The Velour have long competed for local music attention.
Built from the remains of the Legion skateshop that occupied the small, bathroom-less space, The Deathstar is unassuming and almost hidden at first glance. Some local musicians like Chase don’t even realize it’s there until they find themselves competing for sound space on nights when two or more of the venues is booked.
The Deathstar is conveniently located right between the other two venues, causing people to scratch their heads and wonder why another venue is necessary in such a small area. The venue shares two walls with different music joints.
Foisy is all about the hardcore scene. Punk, garage rock, death metal, you name it they’ve got it. This is the kind of hard stuff that the other places usually won’t book. The problem though, isn’t the hardcore scene itself. The issue is the location choice.
Local music venues struggle enough with the competition they are up against. Finding a place where you can make noise all night is not easy. When your music is forced to compete against the noise and crowds next door, part of the experience is lost. Bands loading and unloading behind the venues have noticed a problem with crowding – the three business’s back doors practically touching each other. Matters become worse when The Deathstar patrons use the back door space, normally reserved for band use only, to escape the claustrophobic atmosphere of their hardcore concerts. In essence, the Deathstar is like the fat, sweaty guy that chooses to sit right in between you and your friend on the airplane.
The night of Chase’s performance her band mate waited almost a half hour to get past the van of the Death Star’s booked band en route to the back entrance of the Muse. In the one-lane alleyway behind the three venues, crowds – including members of bands and roadies – create a frustrating traffic jam for bands of the other venues. A 30 minute wait to get their truck in and an even longer wait after their concert to escape past the same people from The Deathstar that were clogging the lane earlier.
The hardcore scene needs a place, it just seems like they went out of their way to find an extremely inconvenient place for other local music afficionados. Parking, backdoor access, competing sounds, no restroom, and a lack of mutual respect are some of the problems The Deathstar has created. According to one band member about to play a show in The Deathstar, the place is “too small for a good hardcore venue anyway”.
As an added sound issue, the summer rooftop concert series in downtown Provo can usually be heard from the location of the three venues. If you stand in just the right place on the street you might be able to rock out to four different songs all at once.
The Deathstar is the product of Darth Foisy. Where’s Luke Skywalker when you need him?
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