Last Saturday will go down as a historic night for music in the Mile High: We paid our last respects to Planes Mistaken for Stars at the Marquis, watched the Flobots turn in the performance of their young career before a sellout crowd at the Gothic — and heard that Cricket on the Hill, that venerable institution on 13th Avenue, could soon be closing for good.
As word of the Cricket's imminent demise spread throughout the scene Monday, the disappointment was palpable. While the closing might seem like just another bar going under, countless local acts will remember the Cricket as the place they got their start, earned their keep or made their name — all within the dingy walls of the storied dive. The Cricket has been a part of so many lives here for so long that for Denver, losing it is almost the iconic equivalent of CBGB closing in New York. (Relax: I said almost.)
Word has it the bar's being sold to an unnamed buyer. On Tuesday afternoon, we reached Chris Rawles, who, along with Bryon Woodard, purchased the place from Thom Salturelli back in December 2003, but he wouldn't confirm whether a sale is pending. Just the same, we've heard from several unnamed sources who seem confident that the Cricket is indeed on the chopping block.
"It's sad," offers Brice Hancock, guitarist with Rubber Planet and former talent buyer for the Cricket. "I just think it's sad, man. The club's been there forever. All of us old-timers came up there, and now it's going to be gone. We played our first show ever and had our first sold-out show at the Cricket. And I've been hanging out there once a week for I don't know how long — ten years. I'm going to miss it."
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"Denver is like the drummer for Def Leppard," adds Decibel Garden Studios owner Haylar Garcia, whose bands, Hippie Werewolves and Johnson, were also regulars at the Cricket in the '90s. "Losing the Cricket is sort of like the severed arm: The music will still go on, but it won't be the same."
Julian Anderson — formerly of Dogs of Pleasure, which helped solidify the Cricket's infamy and whose memorabilia adorns the bar's walls — is more reticent to weigh in until the news is solid. "There's just a vicious rumor that's going around," he says incredulously. "No one really seems to know. It's an institution, obviously, and a great place for people to hang out and hear great music. I will sadly miss the Cricket if it does indeed go away."
He's not alone.