Denver Rock Atlas: Garageland

Our Denver Rock Atlas feature is precisely what it sounds like, a compendium of storied Denver venues, past and present, in which we pick a place and share our favorite memories of the joint. After you read our memories, please feel free to share some of your own.

The summer of 2003 was a rough one for some of us. It was filled with constant rock shows, night after night of local bands, tons of screaming hardcore, experimental noise making and jumpy dance parties. Why? Well, because of Garageland of course. The venue for absolutely anything, the place where crust-punks drank PBR with hipster wannabe's, and underage kids found solace with other Locust belt-buckle toting kids.

It was the type of place where everyone would stop by at some point, whether to drink a beer from the twenty-foot high tall stack of thirty-packs or to mosh aggressively with a band sure to have "cunt" somewhere in the song repertoire. As far as memory serves, we all got along rather well, despite the differences, which is an amazing feat likely derived from the two gals in charge of the place, Tuyet and Melissa.

The venue itself was a disgusting pit of despair. Piss stains lined the out-of-commission bathroom, random carpet adorned the walls and puddles of beer marked the floor as though a drunk dog with a bladder problem lived there. It's exactly what you'd expect from an open warehouse. Nobody lived there, so unlike Monkey Mania, it never needed to be cleaned up, exactly -- not that it could have been.

Between the dance parties, impromptu after-hours shows and random bands practicing was a carefully knit together crew of touring bands, local openers and party-folk. Nearly any local band could get a show at the drop of the hat, and, because of that, weird collaborations and one-offs would frequently fuel the opener spots.

Chaos happened on more than one occasion, though, and while a lot of it remains fuzzy and perhaps a bit muddled together, one show stands out particularly well. August 14, 2003 featured a bill of An Albatross, Dead Like Dallas, Sick Lipstick and Hipster Bloodbath. It was utter chaos for about an hour and a half as each band rocketed through remarkably short sets.

It all came to a head with An Albatross up last. Now, it's entirely possible we're mixing memories here, but if we remember right the following things happened during their fifteen minute set: The lead singer from Sick Lipstick purposely tossed her drink in someone's face, the lead singer of An Albatross may or may not have been wearing pants, there was a kiddie pool in which someone was cleaning themselves and some type of foam was coming from some unknown origin.

The music? Who the hell cares about the music? This was ridiculous over-the-top dancing-screamo-crap. It didn't matter. It was high-energy crazy fun with not a single bit of comprehension. In order to try and bring back some memories, we even tried listening to the An Albatross LP, and only made it about two minutes in before we had to turn it off -- but at the time, it was perfect. It encapsulated everything that was great about Garageland, fans from ages fifteen to thirty, beer flowing freely, and loud, aggressive music. What more could we have asked for?

Now the Garageland building is gone and in its stead is an empty lot, probably on its way to becoming a high-rise or loft, but we can't help but wonder if its spirit still lurks in the empty dirt space.

How about you? Got a favorite fuzzy memory of your own? Let's hear it.

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Thorin Klosowski
Contact: Thorin Klosowski