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It takes only one psychedelic-looking iPod commercial soundtracked by Wolfmother -- those wailing, Aussie rock fakers -- to make it achingly apparent to underground nerds everywhere that the '70s revival has been co-opted. It's gone mainstream as the eBay value of crappy vinyl records inflates and, my God, white-guy 'fros become cool again. Since "Don't Stop Believin'" is the feel-good hit of the summer, you might as well run with it and hit up Rockbar, inside the All-Inn Motel at 3015 East Colfax Avenue.
3015 E. Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80206
Region: Central Denver
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The very '70s pad -- which, under its former name of Perry's, happened to be a hot spot early in that golden decade -- is set to open this weekend. Rockbar is the latest late-night bar/restaurant option offered by party mogul Jesse Morreale, who also owns Mezcal, La Rumba and Sketch(see Café), and is everything the name suggests. "It's like if every child of the '70s took their parents' rumpus room and turned it into their own," says project manager Jerri Theil. And that means orange-patterned carpet and silver-and-gold foil wallpaper, complemented by black-leather booths and chandeliers. And as if that ridiculous color scheme weren't enough, the decor is all vintage.
Morreale inherited the treasure trove as part of his million-dollar-plus purchase of the motel and its attached parking lot. "I don't know if I'd call it a theme bar," he says. "We're trying to honor the history of the place. It was like a time capsule when we opened it, and all this stuff was already here. We're not building a retro bar to look like the '70s; this place is the '70s."
But the bar boasts some modern innovations, too -- including plasma televisions and lit-up band logos hanging above the booths that give each seating area its own historical rock reference. "It's what I considered to be real rock music," says Theil, who picked out the bands and gave the nod to Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Pink Floyd and Mötley Crüe? Club Scout won't rock-fight on that last one, but it's not much better than Winger.
Jump ahead a decade, and you have Off the Wall, a popular '80s dance party that's been a Wednesday-night staple since the hi-dive (7 South Broadway) opened nearly three years ago. DJs Jason Heller and Big Al brought the night to life and, like the shoulder pads of the power decade, it got big. Really big. But now it's time to pass on the Flock of Seagulls and Soft Cell records, because Heller is growing up. "I got a real job," explains Heller, now editor of the local edition of The Onion. "It was killing me. On Wednesdays I was out partying all night, my head blasted at three million decibels, and drinking a lot, too. I couldn't sleep in the next day anymore, and it was fucking up my job."
When Heller called it quits, Big Al also bowed out. But despite the departure of the two founding fathers, the night will go on with DJs Wesley Wayne and Bella taking over the turntables. And elderly as they are, Heller and Big Al haven't given up the game entirely: They'll continue spinning at Chit Chat, a sweet '60s and '70s soul night every Saturday at Old Curtis Street (2100 Curtis), where the vibe is much more intimate and mellow. "We make one-tenth of the money, but it's much more my speed," Heller admits with a laugh. "I'm getting old."
Not getting any older is the Starlight, a venerable live-music venue in Fort Collins that shut down with little warning. The website (www.thestarlight.com) indicates that a "pending change of ownership" was behind the closure and promises that further details will be released soon. In the meantime, all scheduled shows have been canceled.
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