The Fillmore Auditorium
1510 Clarkson Street
Clarkson and Colfax
Capitol Hill, Denver
*Updated: see end.
Last Wednesday was the closest I’ve ever come to rock stars.
I suppose at a concert or two I’ve been as close to the stage as I was to Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz, when I was driving into Uptown Denver trying to find parking near Colfax, and he came out from behind a bus and gave me a flashback to the day in high school when I hit a girl on a bike who’d just done the same thing on a busy street in Kansas City.
One of the other band members had already crossed. Wentz stopped and waited for us, and I waved him on. He looked very skinny in his tight black pants. It was a good thing Sex was there to identify him for me, or I might have thought he was just another concert-goer.
In fact, I wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for Sex. She picked the band so that I could get a glimpse of the Fillmore (formerly Mammoth Events Center). It was a big place, though it seems much vaster in my imagination. You walk in after getting frisked and carded by any number of people and either head down a set of red-lit stairs to the main level or stay on the top level that rings three sides of the hall.
Since it was an all-ages show, those of us who wanted to spend $7 on beer (or, in my case, a small gin and tonic) had to stay upstairs. They wouldn’t let me take my drink cup downstairs to fill it with water, even though they could see it was empty. I had to buy a bottle of water for $3, which I later refilled with water from the bathroom faucet.
I really enjoyed Cobra Starship, who started playing soon after we arrived around 7. Lead singer Gabe Saporta was dressed like he’d teleported from the 1980s and did not take himself seriously at all, which was fun. Cobra Starship had a female keyboard player—the only woman in all 4 bands—and a good sound mixer. The crowd was into them.
I have less to say about the next two bands since, quite frankly, their music bored me. But two of them were the occasion for our second close encounter with rock “stars.” We were hanging out and drinking by the recycling station, which happened to be right by a staircase descending into the depths of the Fillmore, and two really skinny, black-haired, tattooed young men raced by toward the stage. One of them was Trace Cyrus (brother of Miley Cyrus from Hannah Montana) of Metro Station, the second band of the night.
Metro Station and the next band have blended together in my memory. All Time Low’s idea of working the crowd was to say, “Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!” and then urge the crowd to say it backward.
“Are we twelve?” Sex asked.
Actually, some of the concert-goers did look about twelve. Most were in high school or college. And then there were a few people “our age,” but I didn’t feel totally out of place, the way I did at the very last Nirvana concert ever (also in Denver, but I can’t remember the venue).
The Fillmore definitely knows how to get bands in and out quickly. I never once felt that a band was taking too long to set up, but I did get tired of standing after a few hours. There are hardly any seats in the Fillmore, the better to create a mosh pit or a great big dance floor. Some people sat in chairs along the left side of the auditorium, and some sat in groups on the floor.
Sex told me Fall Out Boy would put on a good show, and she was right. They came on in suits, guarded by “Chicago cops.” Lead singer Patrick Stump’s Newt Gingrich wig gleamed as he launched into some song I’ve never heard before. I did recognize “It’s Not a Scene, It’s an Arms Race” and “Thanks for the Memories,” so I’m not completely hopeless.
At one point, they played a cover of “Beat It” by Michael Jackson. That was weird.
Fall Out Boy had a wall of video screens that they used to open the set and illustrate their songs. During one song the guitars started flashing white in sync with the lights behind them. But my favorite video was of the guitar player changing out of his suit into another outfit. That got the crowd going.
I’m not sure why the band did two shows in Denver. We went the second night, and twice as many people could easily have fit. According to this review in Westword, they didn’t sell out the first night either.
Since posting this review, I’ve been to roller derby at the Fillmore. Rocky Mountain Roller Girls have their bouts there, and I recommend them. Not just for the fun of watching RMRG skate, but because the venue is so intimate (and sweaty!). I much prefer it to the 1st Bank Event Center in Broomfield, my old stomping grounds, which is a nice arena but lacks the atmosphere. If you want to see the Denver Roller Dolls skate (I know I do!), however, you’ll probably have to go to Broomfield.