by Soraya Rozkuszka
Trying to pick one memorable FoCoMX moment to write about became a blur, a high-speed carousel of moments that I can truly no longer pin to a specific year. Five years of amazing memories behind me, with the anticipation of FoCoMX6 in my sights on April 25 and 26.
Of course, FoCoMA is paying me to say this. As the nonprofit musicians association’s new press, marketing and volunteer coordinator, I now provide one of the official voices of the Fort Collins Music eXperiment (FoCoMX). Which is strange because in past years, I lived FoCoMX by many more informal roles: fan, friend, volunteer, partygoer and band wife helping with load-in.
I remember running down College Ave. in platform heels after a few beers, trying not to miss a friend’s showcase. When there are 200+ bands, even if you run, you’re going to miss something. I remember warm April afternoons in Mom mode, feeling grateful for the free, public kids’ programming. My son even learned to laminate. He was five, helping a friend and founding board member make VIP passes at her house the night before it all began. (Yes, we are grassroots). I recall the lump in my throat when my stepson’s very first DJ gig almost ended in disaster, as his equipment malfunctioned the moment his set was to begin. I expected his turntable to explode through a plate glass window, but a fellow DJ stepped in with a loan and saved the night. For any emerging artist, that first gig is a mix of terror and exhilaration. FoCoMX, being born and bred of musicians, provides a safe place for those first experiences. It even offers free educational panels and pays 80% of net profits back to the musicians.
FoCoMX is the place to see a slew of local bands you’ve been meaning to see, but you’ve been too busy, broke or out of the loop. You might come for your favorites or for bands that are nationally recognized. But when your wristband buys two solid days and nights of music, you can take a few risks. In one weekend, unless the memories are blurring again, I remember seeing Halden Wofford rock the murals off the walls at Avo’s. I marveled at local women channeling the blues as if they were born to that legacy; loud, proud and delightfully raunchy. (That would be Mama Lenny and the Remedy and the Three Twins). I watched Shatterproof at the Aggie, impressed that those guys were still in high school. I saw a guy dressed like a cat playing French pop electronica (White Cat Pink). I watched silent movies with piano accompaniment (Adam Bodine). Fierce Bad Rabbit pleased my hipster friends at Hodi’s. At some point, I wandered in to a blisteringly loud punk band thrilling a pack of college kids. (Mercifully, I don’t remember the band’s name – my martini may have been the best part of that half hour). But the opportunity to discover new local favorites was worth every cent.
If you’d rather research than wander, visit focomx.org. Every artist has bios, videos and as much media-rich deliciousness as you’d like to ingest. Sign in using your email or Facebook account and hand-pick bands, creating a “My Schedule” to print or carry on your phone all weekend long. Or wing it. There’s no wrong way to experience the eXperiment.
So what’s new in 2014? A lot of new bands, for one. We also concentrated our venues in Old Town, allowing concert-goers to walk between venues. Those looking for family-friendly programming can see Fort Collins Museum of Discovery exhibits alongside live music, all included in the price of the festival wristband. Some venues will have food and drink specials, including special FoCoMX craft brews.
But for me, what’s new is knowing the incredible amount of hometown effort that’s required to make FoCoMX happen. Sustained by local grants and sponsors, FoCoMX gets its backbone from an all-volunteer board, finds passion and dedication in its crew of almost 300 volunteers and shines the spotlight of those efforts on the music. Months of planning include booking meetings which pare down 1300+ submissions through weeks of listening. Popular bands line up with emerging artists offering experimental music, DJs, hip-hop, singer-songwriters, rock, jazz, metal and R&B. Just like the bigger festivals, FoCoMX boasts diversity in genres, except it’s all local.
My own FoCoMX memories are a jumbled array of good times. It seemed so effortless before I saw what it takes to make a festival from scratch. But for the public at large, it’s still quite simple. Look at the program guide inside this issue, get excited, and go to focomx.org for details. Buy a wristband, or volunteer for a four-hour shift, and have a great weekend. Do it for local music.