After getting to our hotel in Colorado Springs I checked my itinerary in my phone to see how far we are from the club to determine our time to leave for load in. The Sick Puppy is a new venue for me in Co. Springs and we’re staying out by the airport, another new area I never get out to in this town. My phone is an iPhone and although I’m completely sold on their superiority in the industry, the Maps app is always just a bit behind in updating its information. The club comes up as ‘Appaloosa Gentleman’s Club’. Hmm, OKaaay….this should be interesting.
Tucked away near the airport as well and on some back streets off the main road it does at least have a sign of permanent fixture out front and it’s a free standing building as well. A bit large and yes I must admit it does bear the resemblance to a strip club; large box building adorned with cosmetic embellishments to the outside and with a grand gesture towards the entrance with large double wood doors and rather exotic oversized handles to give the impression you’re entering into a lavish opulent environment. An ostensible pretentious display is the thought that comes to my mind.
Upon going inside to see how we load in and where the stage is located it’s obviously a former strip club. Hard shiny surfaces all around with lots of couch-like seats combined with the same upholstered chairs coupled along with tables for your drinks and this is all along the periphery of the large dance floor that dominates the middle of this rectangular structure. The dance floor is a ‘step-down’ affair after you’ve entered the club. There’s even ‘private’ glassed rooms that give the appearance of ‘stadium boxes’ lined against the wall on the entrance level, each one with couch and chairs inside that have reclined angles to the furniture as opposed to the 90’angle of the dance floor chairs and couches. I suppose to allow the occupant to recline, so to speak, and give access to someone who might be sitting on them or even hovering near them?,.. Maybe? Yes this place has all the other things, fog machines to accentuate the huge rotating light extravaganza machine located high above the dance floor and a large bar dominating one long side of the rectangle and another bar placed off in a slightly segregated area on the opposite side from where we’re to play. Our stage is but just a corner of this club. There are couches behind where my amp is to go but only the hardiest of guitar nerds would sit there. It’s a clumsy set up but not the first awkward club transition I’ve played in. Not sure who took over this place when they decided to make it a dance/live music venue but it still has some tweaking to do,…a lot of tweaking. There’s been a considerable investment put into the transition because the entire place has the ‘Sick Puppy’ mascot in the carpeting where there is carpet. It’s the picture of what looks like a Bulldog puppy and its tongue is hanging out and I guess it looks a bit queasy like it ate something bad. Like I said we’re in the corner and even though the area is demarked by the monitors and light trees and cables on the ground, the wait staff continues to just come on through as we’re setting up. The traffic does stop during our performance, thankfully, but it was just weird having drinks and attractive girls coming through while I was laying down my pedals and such. Plus the DJ booth was to my almost immediate right and we were to coordinate with the DJ to announce us with each set we were to begin; 3 of them are on the schedule tonight. We’ve done pretty well here in the Colorado Springs area these past several years but location does make a difference and I’m not feeling confident about our usual clientele showing up at this venue. Just a bit off the beaten path and the club is still in its growing phase. Given its large size, unless you’ve got at least 100 people here, the crowd is going to be sucked up and made to appear rather small. I was right. We did have our usual stalwarts and fans that showed up but not the usual size crowd which we enjoyed up in the mountains at Crystola in Woodland Park. The venue changed due to the recent fires in the forests up there that had burned away most of the ground vegetation that held the soil in. So now with this covering being depleted, horrible flooding is the result and the highway department has started closing down US 24 for safety reasons but in turn that also shuts down access to the club.
After our sound check I was a bit worried because the drums had horrible rings and low frequencies standing out and I knew all the hard surfaces inside is going to just wreak havoc with any sort of quality mix. Once more into the breach dear friends, once more….
Well to my pleasant surprise I was having fun at this club. The crowd was small, the light show a bit distracting at times, and the DJ putting on an exaggerated ‘It’s-a-full-ass-party-going-on-in-this-place!’ voice, my amp was sounding pretty good and I could hear everything. When I can hear everything and the tone is good I start to have fun. We blow through our 3 sets and I was just taking more and more musical chances as the night went on. A fitting end to this run, albeit an unusual venue, a fitting end nonetheless.
Before I forget I’ve got to mention it, when we did our load in, since this was Saturday and it was the ‘Run for the Roses’ or the day of the Kentucky Derby, there was horse racing up on the their multi-screen TV’s lined up on the long side behind the main bar that was by the dance floor. These were BIG screens like you see in big casinos in their sports betting sections in Vegas. What was showing was the calling of the races and interviews with the trainers and owners in between the races, as well as the post play-by-play race analysis, all at an almost intolerable volume. But the most ludicrous thing I heard that will stick with me for a long time was this. It came during one of the pre-race interviews where the ‘Horse Racing channel’s lovely interviewer’ was doing an interview down near the track. Yes they appeared live at this track somewhere in America, you know this goes on almost every day in this country, so during the interviewing of these two guys that were the owners of the heavily favored horse for the upcoming race, (it was mentioned that these guys own a lot of horses in the biz), the interviewer asked how they came up their latest name for the horse, something like ‘Solomon’s Mandible’ and the most vocal of the two said – “ We’re always sitting around trying to come up with names and titles and I gotta’ tell you, I’m tired of naming horses!…” Wow, did I hear that right? – I’m tired of naming horses’?, of course he said it in a jocular kind of way like it was a combination of a humorous gripe along with the drudgery in his life of naming horses. I had to stop and think about that statement and how it so stuck out in the lexicon and variety of small complaints in life; – I’m tired of that dripping faucet, I’m tired of that dog barking, I’m tired of telling you kids to pipe down, I’m tired of naming horses. – A bit incongruous I know but wait maybe this, – I’m tired of my driver opening my door late, I’m tired of the SEC regulators barging in unannounced, I’m tired of my marina rents going up, I’m tired of naming horses.’ – Ah that’s all it needed; to be put in the correct context. Much better… *sigh*
Till then – chris duarte