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Backwash

Denver clubs face a fight for the ages.

"So many bands rely on all-ages audiences for their survival. They absolutely require that that be part of their contract. When you limit the number of places that can offer that to them -- or you let them offer it, but at the expense of any alcohol sales -- they are likely to just pass us over completely. And that is really sad for this group of kids -- the ones who are in those weird twilight years between eighteen and 21 -- because it means their options of live music just go way down. There will be way less that people in local music can be exposed to. We'll get nothing but radio bands that everyone knows and who can sell out any room. And that's just sad. What do they want kids in that age range to do? Go to the movies for three years?"

Barsch foresees a more sinister outcome.

"I think what you are going to see, realistically, is really small shows moving into basements and warehouses," he says. "They're going to revert back to illegal operations."

Of course, the most bothersome part about all of this, for Barsch, Roberston and many, many others, is that the city, in its haste to eradicate a little pill called Ecstasy, is sticking its mitts where they don't belong -- in establishments that don't have even a tangential relationship to the club-drug community. Considering that two of the most high-profile X-related accidents of recent memory -- the deaths of Brittney Chambers and Jared Snyder -- involved drug use either at home (Chambers) or in an all-ages setting where no alcohol was served (Snyder), the city's efforts seem misplaced, if well intentioned. Neither incident would have been the slightest bit affected by the change in policy, and there's no evidence to suggest that, say, a Blonde Redhead show at the Bluebird Theater is the kind of place where Denver's X-hungry kids are going to score.

"It's frustrating to me, because the point is that this whole thing is being motivated by a desire to stop drug activity," says Robertson. "And I don't believe all-ages shows are the place where that activity is really going on. I just see it as two different issues. All-ages shows and teen drug use are two separate issues."

"I almost think it's funny, because [the media] is showing images of clubs that don't have anything to do with the scene that's being most affected by this," adds Barsch. "In the soundbites on TV, you see some guy doing drugs and pounding beers. That just does not go on. For as long as I've been involved in this, I've rarely seen drugs in this scene. I can think of maybe one time that I smelled pot in a [rock] club. It just doesn't happen."

Obviously, this is not the end of the discussion. Backwash sincerely welcomes general reader feedback on this issue.


Arriving at the office Monday morning, Backwash was surprised to note that the security guard was sporting a shirt with "This Is Not a Fugazi T-Shirt" on it -- but then figured he'd snagged the shirt off eBay during the tedium of the pre-dawn hours. Deeper in the building, things grew more curious: The dry erase board in the business department was adorned with the likeness of Fugazi vocalist Ian MacKaye; in the conference room, a series of pamphlets lined the table, embossed with the slogan "Dischord Records and Westword Newspaper: A Partnership for a New America"; and in the kitchen, the publisher was humming the melody to "Promises" while refilling his coffee cup.

Sensing that something was up, Backwash snuck into the security surveillance tower and began screening tapes from the weekend. Hours of nothing, and then pow! -- caught on video was a live performance by Fugazi, the prototypical D.C. DIY band, in town for two nights of triumph at the Ogden Theatre and now smack dab in the middle of the Westword office. It was a slightly disconcerting show, with MacKaye quipping from his microphone-headset (borrowed from the Classified department) about how much he hoped Denver could land the Boeing operation and how he kills time in the tour van by reading segments of the Savage Love column out loud. Still, everyone in attendance -- from mayoral spokesman Andrew Hudson to furniture maven/ad-rate crusader Jake Jabs and Go-Go Magazine editor Chris Magyar -- seemed to enjoy the proceedings, which had been publicized only in an April Fool's mention in the most recent edition of Go-Go. Next time, Chris, can we get Captain Beefheart, or maybe Cat Stevens?

The Fugazi fete wasn't the first time a Go-Go staffer has appeared at a Westword event, mythical or otherwise. A young fellow hauling a stack of that freshly printed tabloid dropped into last week's Best of Denver bash at Vinyl, apparently oblivious to the purpose of the party in progress. He was congratulated on his bravery by Colorado Music Association president Dolly Zander, who identified herself to the young courier as editor Patricia Calhoun. The paperboy fled quickly (obviously forgetting to check for telltale cowboy boots).

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