The Walls Were Thin, and We Would Listen: #1
When most people think of Denver, they don’t think of its stellar music scene. Typically the first things that come to mind in that department are the Fray and an endless number of hippie jam bands, but beneath this shining exterior, in a shady neighborhood just north of downtown near the intersection of 35th and Brighton lies an area that has become a “weird music” mecca of sorts. At this strip of industrial buildings and warehouses, on any given night, you can see any number of amazing bands who are pushing the boundaries of music. This is an island that lies in Middle America, somewhere between Chicago and the sea, and these are stories of what happens here.
The main venue is a place known as Rhinoceropolis, and for this first feature I have chosen to interview Warren Bedell and “Buddy” (also known by his birth name of Milton Melvin Croissant III) who are the longest residents of this warehouse.
Warren: We moved in in May 2005. After having looked at warehouses every time our lease ran out each May, we finally found one. By coincidence a friend of ours (Ryan Wheelbarrow) had leased it a few years before, where he had an art gallery. Originally it was Buddy and I, with Harry Walters and Jeremiah Teutsch. Buddy and I had wanted a warehouse for some time to do shows in. Harry and Jeremiah wanted to set up their own gallery. I think the two pairs of dudes kind of had very different ideas of what we wanted to do at first.
Buddy: Well Rhinoceropolis started in May of 2005. I was desperate at the time to find an alternative living space to have shows. After months of scouring the cities underbelly, I found this place. I then found Harry Walters, Jeremiah Teutsch and Warren Bedell to move in. We moved in because we saw an impending doom of DIY warehouse spots on the horizon.
W: Too many to list. Ones that stand out for me are Quem Quaertis, Gowns, Coughs, Lightning Bolt, Breakdown Books benefits, Monotonix... too many great shows.
B: How many shows? Well on average we've had about five a month, for three years, so roughly, probably 180-200, maybe more, maybe less. Of course, our most insane show was Lightning Bolt, for obvious reasons. We learned that night what our maximum occupancy is 380 or so.
I've had a lot of favorite shows; it's hard to recall any in particular. For some reason the worst shows tend to stick out in your mind.
W: There have been many... we have/ have had members of Witch Doctor, Spellcaster, MMCIII, Toilet Humor (Man//Beast), Hog Splitter, Mister Sister, Zombie Zombie, MVP, The Ultra Boyz, Jaws, Yamahama, Frozen Body, Brainbow, Married in Berdichiev, Dream Wig, Mannequin Makeout, Caldera Lakes, Pictureplane, Diamond Nights Crystal Palace, V8 Pussy, Vampire Pussy, Kitsch Club....
Not to mention a host of joke bands that only played at Rhino one or two times.
B: I hope Warren answered this question, because I don't want to.
B: The one story I love to tell is when we had a drive-by in front of our house and had a couple bullets go through our window. There was this way late after-hours spot that was happening at the big white building. Our neighbors (John) had just moved in, and after we heard the gun shots, Warren (drunk) started chasing people away with a broom. John was outside, and that's how we all met.
W: Cleared the rooms? I guess you're right. I think a lot of the art rock scene kind of ebbs and flows. It was real big when we were wide-eyed 17 year olds at Monkey Mania. We've always been into the art rock scene, and I think it took having another place to really support it and encourage kids to come up with their own weird, fun bands of their own to start bringing it back. I think it takes awhile for a place to gather that notoriety. It's nice to see more heads at shows just because I know that's what it takes for the kids to get inspired and start new bands. Denver is kind of a rock town, and to me the bands that play most other places are boring and predictable. I don't want to be bored! The only thing that makes living in Denver tolerable is that people are willing to get something together and entertain each other.
B: Well, I believe there is a myriad of reasons for why we have a larger audience. First of all, it takes awhile for people to find out what we are doing. What I really think it comes down to is the music community. By serving as an incubator for new bands, we bring different groups of friends into the fold. I think in the beginning, people saw us as some elitist dudes who live in a warehouse. As more national bands began playing our place, more of said bands' friends caught wind of our spot. Repeat this ad nauseam, and you eventually have a lot of wonderful bands knocking on your website’s door. I think that eventually different young people communities began to see our place as a public forum for new music. Or at least I hope so.
Of course, once our house became cool, people started to come just to party. It's kind of annoying, but even the party animals are still exposed to the music, and they eventually turn around.
W: Dugoutcanoe. I think the one man band is making its resurgence, and I think a lot of that has to do with loop stations. Jacob does it very well though.
Weird Bone is one of my other favorite locals. Jason is the wave of the future.
B: Hmmm. Hot bands? ME! Siiike!
No, really, uh, I think that Collin from Alphabets is a very talented upstart. I love to see younger kids out of high school with that kind of energy and creativity.
I feel I have a bias toward my roommates' music. I live with these people for a reason, and I respect their art immensely.
As far as touring acts, just check out any show we have. We don't book bands that suck, unless we owe them some huge favor [not often].
B: Dumb is the new cool.
-- Kevin Richards (25 June, 2008)