The past year has been a bit odd as far as music trends go. An apparently unknown -- seriously? -- indie rock band won the Grammy for Album of the Year (Arcade Fire), rootsy rock 'n' roll got a mainstream spotlight (Mumford & Sons, Lady Antebellum), and dubstep simultaneously baffled and hooked us.
Boulder concertgoers didn't miss a beat of it, and the team behind the Fox Theatre and Boulder Theater have a finger on the pulse. Headed into 2012, they've already got a diverse selection of shows planned through April, with the promise of more to come.
"I think we're just amping up for another great spring and we're still doing a lot of the booking for March and April," said Shannon Bock, marketing manager for both venues. "I know that the guys try to maintain a balance, you know, because obviously not everyone loves dubstep."
To find that balance, they're focusing on their biggest market: college students. The results are exactly what anyone might expect.
"Electronic and dubstep is obviously the huge thing with the college kids right now," Bock said. "Jam bands -- being in Boulder, that's still one of our number one requests. [We're] lining up with the bluegrass scene. And college kids still love hip hop."
Sure, it's predictable, but that's what it takes to fill large venues and please the largest chunk of the population as possible. Besides, the lineup is reflecting some excellent taste in the masses and looking pretty good so far.
Over the next four months, the Fox Theatre will host People Under the Stairs, Cults, Bonobo (for a DJ set), fun, and local favorite Greensky Bluegrass. Meanwhile, the Boulder Theater will present shows from Big Gigantic, Dr. Dog, and Blind Pilot. And that's just a sampling from each venue.
The booking team doesn't just want to appease, though. The talent buyers are intent on introducing Boulder to the next big thing this spring, or at least just some new things. The most exciting prospect so far is the Alabama Shakes -- a four-piece band with only a short EP to its name, finally getting the attention due to it thanks to the sudden resurgence of interest in bluesy, rootsy rock and powerful female vocalists.
"Our talent buyer Ben actually discovered them down in Alabama," Bock said. "They bring that rock/soul/blues sound and they just have a sound that everybody enjoys and haven't heard in a while. It's the stuff you wanna hear and totally jam to."
In case you're still skeptical, here's what Paste Magazine had to say about the Alabama Shakes when it named them 2011 New Band of the Year:
"At some point, God decided to take the voices of Janis Joplin, Robert Plant and Tina Turner and roll them all up into the body of Brittany Howard. She also happens to front a band that sounds like it just sprouted fully formed from the clay of Muscle Shoals."
This show is definitely a can't-miss for the Fox this spring, especially because the ticket price will be only $5. When they inevitably blow up, the ticket prices won't be so low. Plus, there are the "I saw them before they were big" bragging rights.
Of course, the usual fare will be back for 2012, too.
eTown will continue to host live recordings at the Boulder Theater while they prepare for the opening of eTown Hall. The first of the year were Boulder originals Leftover Salmon and singer/songwriter Darrell Scott on January 15. A week later, they'll have "confessional folk-pop singer Joshua Radin, and the soul duo Sarah and Christian Dugas.
Looking a bit further ahead, into the summer, there's the FMQB Triple A Conference. This year, From August 8 to 11, they'll celebrate 20 years in Boulder. The event is officially held at St. Julien Hotel & Spa, but there will be a show each night at the Fox. Last summer's headliners set the bar high, with Brandi Carlile, Matt Nathanson, DeVotchka, John Butler Trio, NeedToBreathe, Fitz & The Tantrums, Jeff Bridges, and Trombone Shorty.
It's early, but 2012 at Boulder's largest venues is already looking good, and more shows are being booked and announced all the time. Keep an eye on the Colorado Daily, plus bouldertheater.com (which is getting a makeover soon) and foxtheatre.org.