It was on my desktop calendar in giant letters: GRAYS + TORREYS / PHOENIX @ RED ROCKS.
Wednesday was the first vacation day I’ve taken in 2013 and I had plans. On Tuesday night, my friend Gary and I packed up his car with camping gear and food, and started driving. A look at the weather forecast was the first problem. Thunderstorms were predicted for Grays and Torreys, so we needed a new fourteener. We re-routed to Quandary, which was only supposed to get light rain.
We woke up at 8 a.m. to a downpour and snowfall on the peaks, which we tried to wait out, but it never let up. Fine. I shouted obscenities at the clouds for trying to ruin my day off before making a new plan: hot springs. Off we went to Hot Sulfur Springs.
After a couple hours of smelly relaxation, we were back on the road to Red Rocks and the sun was coming out. We arrived at the entrance where a small sign informed us that the Phoenix and Dinosaur Jr. show had been moved to the 1stBank Center. More obscenities.
It was like being told you’re going on a trip to Paris and getting off the plane to find yourself in Detroit. Actually, that’s not fair. Detroit probably has more character than the 1stBank Center.
But wait, there’s more. Our expensive reserved seating tickets for Red Rocks did not get us on the floor. We were only allowed in the bleachers and we got stuck in the back (though we managed to get down there for the encore).
It was a great day and a fun show, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how I wasn’t at Red Rocks. Part of that was just the vague, lingering frustration of trying to salvage my plans, but mostly it’s because the venue matters.
Granted, anything would have been a downgrade from Red Rocks, but you could frame it more broadly. Do you want to see a band in a building with character and history, or bland, all-purpose room named after a corporation? Yeah, that’s a no-brainer. I have to wonder why we even bother with these sad places. OK, fine, I know it’s the nature of society and there’s financial necessity and a whole bunch of other things involved that bum me out, but can’t we at least make our corporate event spaces look cool?
I’ll just futilely throw some remodeling ideas out there:
New color scheme: All black everything. Definitely no beige anything.
Chandeliers and fancy molding. That fancy stuff looks badass when it ages and starts breaking down.
Cheaper beer. This is more of a remodeling of principles than looks. Seriously, a $9 beer is absolutely outrageous.
Dimmer bathroom lighting. There are few things as soul-jarring and blinding as walking out of a show and into a restroom that resembles the one in your office building.
Scary lookin’ dudes. Just hire them to hang around and make the place cool by association.
Water fountains, but with whiskey. (Dibs on the patent.)
Drug vending machines.
Fine, sorry, no drugs.
Or, it could just stop raining so much so I can climb a damn mountain and enjoy Red Rocks. Just spitballin’ here.