When it comes to launching a new weekly event, conventional wisdom would argue that choosing Wednesdays -- a wasteland that is neither almost the weekend nor service industry reprieve -- for a late-night showcase of electronic music would be a terrible mistake. But where many would fear to tread, Euphonic Conceptions' co-founder Dave Sheldon saw an opportunity to launch the company's first-ever weekly party.
"After throwing shows around here for awhile, that's the biggest factor -- what else is going on?" Sheldon says. "Nothing else is going on on Wednesdays."
Since launching in February, EC's event, known as RE:UP, has become one of the city's most popular showcases for innovative electronic music. Hosted in the barcade-turned-venue at 1Up on Colfax and featuring headliners from around the world alongside a cast of supporting local producers and DJs, sold-out nights and lines out-front are common. Wild bass frequencies, a microcosm of dance styles and four busy bartenders are the recipe for a revolution against the hump day blues.
On a recent Wednesday, before the music drowned out the clang and jangle of pinball machines, Sheldon is sitting on a couch in the green room talking with Westword and handling a few last minute details. A street team rep, stage manager and sound guys buzz in and out working on final touches. Queries about passes, prices and rider fulfillment intermingle with interview questions. What follows are Sheldon's secrets to getting a big ass crowd to consistently show up in the middle of the week:
Don't rush into it. "We got started throwing parties -- warehouse type shit until 9 in the morning -- after [Sound Tribe Sector Nine's] shows," says Sheldon about the origins of Euphonic Conceptions. "There was some notoriety about it and they asked if we wanted to do it on tour." At the time Sheldon was 21 and hadn't finished college. "I was like, 'alright, mom and dad, I'm dropping out of school.' Luckily it worked out."
Suddenly, he and EC co-founder Josh Pollack were hosting parties across the country, wherever STS9 tours led them, from Los Angeles to Atlanta and everything in-between. After eight years of putting on a regular schedule of shows in Denver/Boulder, the Bay Area and beyond, they finally committed to their first weekly with RE:UP.Find the right spot.
EC has hosted shows at venues throughout the city, but when Sheldon got a sneak peek at the 1Up Colfax's expansion into the former Miss Kitty's last December, it became clear the barcade would be a perfect setting. When the space officially opened, RE:UP was one of the first things on the calendar. After all, video games and electronic music go together like milk and cookies. "I grew up on video games. A ton of that is repetitive beat music. It's drilled into us early," he says. "People would come here anyway. It just makes sense. The space is amazing."
Keep it fresh. One of the unique aspects of RE:UP is the genre-agnostic approach to its schedule, which comes from Sheldon's conscientious approach to booking. "When people come every week, they're not expecting a [musical] niche, they're expecting a party and something fresh," says Sheldon.
By balancing the styles of artists represented, RE:UP has built trust with a larger fan base that is now willing to come out even if they haven't necessarily heard of the headliner, which is crucial because it's not uncommon for these artists to be making their first appearance on a Denver stage. "Once you get into the business side of things, you start equating booking artists with selling tickets," he says. "[That's why] a lot of corporate promoters have a hard time putting stuff on that's not a proven sale. This kind of format let's us put on stuff we want to support, that we think is dope, that people might not be turned onto yet."
Keep it affordable. For many of these shows, admission is free before 9pm and $5 after.
Do it because you love it. "There isn't one formula. I got really lucky," Sheldon says. "I could've gone for it and fallen flat on my face. A lot of people do. It took a couple years. It wasn't a calculated formula. We were young and stupid and doing what we loved to do and it ended up working out... I wouldn't have pushed through the hard times if I didn't love it."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.