Music News

The last days of The Treehouse: Is Denver losing another iconic piece of the underground?

In what appears to be the last days of The Treehouse, the downtown warehouse where dozens of bands have formed, practiced, lived and crashed over the years, a few of the last guys are sitting around reminiscing.

In six years, some good stories are bound to come out of a place, like the one about the bum who wandered in as Planes Mistaken for Stars was practicing. Or there's the one about the guy who jumped off the parking garage across the street to his death.

"He fucking exploded," recalls Luke Fairchild of Git Some and Kingdom of Magic, leaning forward in his seat. "It was right before Red Cloud practice."

"Listen, there was blood spatter rays of probably fifty feet," Clayton Counts, half of the duo that makes up noise project Bowl of Heaven, interjects. "I looked. I went across the street after it was all over, and it was from one end of the block to the other. Terrible. I felt so bad for that guy."

"I believe everything," says Bryce McPherson of Snake Mountain, fiddling with a guitar and looking up at Counts, "except for you felt bad for the guy."

It's obvious there's history in this place. Mountains of gear is piled up around the cavernous space of the main room. Art lines the walls and is stacked up by the door. And the guys, smoking cigarettes and drinking beers on a couple of couches in the center of the room, look like fixtures here--like if this space were a museum, they would be the wax sculptures that inhabit it.

But they won't all be here much longer. "We still don't have any closure," says Fairchild. "We had a verbal agreement with our landlord that he would give us three months' notice to move out. And then one day our friend Chuck French, that used to live here forever, he was on Craigslist, and he saw that our landlord was trying to sell or rent this place from underneath us."

That was about three months ago. Since then, the guys say, the situation has been touch and go, with the landlord telling the guys he might sell the place, then telling them no, he wants them to stay, then changing his mind again. Friday, he left a voicemail asking them to be out by the end of the month.

"I called and flipped out," says Fairchild. "Like, you can't just give us two weeks' notice. We've been here for six years. One of our roommates [Ian Douglas Moore] is out of the country. You know what I mean? Like, what are we supposed to do?"

For now, they're not sure. They're trying to get a two-week extension, and Fairchild says after that, he's fairly certain their stuff is going to go into storage somewhere until they can find a new place. "It's just hard to find warehouses and people that want to live in them," Fairchild notes. "Unless they're this cheap."

And it has been ridiculously cheap -- not that it's been easy, especially considering the building has no heat. But it's a low cost of living that allows the people who live here to devote their lives almost exclusively to music, from going on tour to recording and practicing. The legacy has been a rich one: Bands like Snake Mountain, Oblio's Archers, Git Some, Kingdom of Magic and Bowl of Heaven have recorded here -- and that's just recently. In the past, the roster has included Red Cloud West, Anger Throne, Planes Mistaken for Stars and a ton of others.

"With the amount of music Bowl of Heaven's put out," says Neil Keener, the other half of the duo, "there have been literally thousands of hours of music coming out of this place." Which is kind of cheating, since Bowl of Heaven records two-month-long compositions, but still.

"End of an era, guys," says Counts.

Until the bands that currently rehearse at the Treehouse -- and it's a lot of them -- can figure out new practice space, they say they're on sort-of hiatus. But Fairchild and Counts say they're working on finding a new spot to keep doing what they're doing.

And the landlord? He apparently wants to use the space "to start a weed dispensary."

"I never thought," says Keener, "that my favorite thing in the world -- weed -- would throw me out of my place."

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Jef Otte
Contact: Jef Otte