Concert Reviews

Denver's Newest All-Ages Venue Is Inside a Skate Park in Englewood

There's a lot of distinct sounds echoing through a vast warehouse hidden at the end of residential street in Englewood: the scraping of wood against metal, the gut-wrenching thud of bodies hitting plywood, the rolling of wheels on concrete, and on a raised stage, the voice of the lead singer of Marathon, a screamo band from Golden playing its first ever show.

See also: The Ten Best Unexpected Places to See Live Music in Denver

Skatuary, where all those sounds are colliding, is an interesting space. It's a massive indoor skatepark that serves the youth of the south Denver suburbs and hosts competitions. It also serves as a youth ministry, where members meet to worship and skate. And in an area adjacent to some rails and boxes, Narrows Productions has rented out and created a little venue, called Narrows Stage at Skatuary. They have a pretty simple idea.

"The idea behind Narrows Productions is to provide a place for bands to play," says Kelvin McDaniel, head of company.

That means any band that wants to play, and that means the shows, which start early, are all ages. It's rare for shows to be all ages, and even rarer that the venue is somewhere where you can catch a metal band you like while practicing kickflips. In a music scene where most new bands play dive bars to drunk twenty-somethings, this is a much needed place.

On Wednesday night, it's freezing in the warehouse. It's a balmy negative something outside and the place doesn't have heat. But that doesn't stop the lead singer and guitar-player of Marathon from stripping down to a tee-shirt halfway through his set. It's Marathon's first show at a "real venue," and the group is playing to a little over a dozen bundled up teens, friends and the other bands on the bill that night. The band's members are clearly inexperienced, but they have potential, are enjoying themselves and the long screamo songs are the perfect soundtrack to the kids nearby trying to jump over a couch without breaking their legs.

Sure, it's not a sold-out show at one of Denver's bigger venues, but another one of Denver's venues probably wouldn't give this band the time of day. But Narrows Stage is providing a place for them to play and is providing a place for the youth of Englewood to hear some local music. For brand new bands like Marathon, booking a show can be next to impossible. Here, the bookers are clearly open-minded "any band coming through thats wants to play," McDaniel says of their requirements. They mostly book metal, hardcore, and screamo bands like Marathon, but McDaniel says that's not a requirement either. That should really be the philosophy of every booker, but sadly that's just not how the business works at places not this chill. On top of that, if you're under eighteen and bored on a Friday night, you could probably walk over to Skatuary with friends and check out a decent band, and probably a local one at that. The next generation of Denver music fans and music industry folk could easily come of age here.

For those reasons alone, not to mention the fact that saying you played an indoor skatepark in the suburbs on a frigid Wednesday at 7 p.m. will make a great story some day, it was an amazing show.

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Isa Jones is an editor in Jackson Hole; her writing has appeared all over the Internet and occasionally in print.
Contact: Isa Jones