- Robbie Petersen
Ask any concert promoter or venue runner what it's like maintaining an all-ages concert hall. They'll tell you it's a labor of love—it has to be, in a notoriously volatile industry. As Provo's all-ages club Velour celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, it's clear there's a lot of love behind the venue, both from its staff and the community it entertains.
"It's a very satisfying accomplishment," says owner Corey Fox. "Over the last 25 years in this music scene, I have watched countless venues open and close every couple of years. This always seemed to stifle the growth of the scene and the bands in it. I wanted to open and sustain a venue that had some stability, where these bands had time to actually grow."
Prior to Velour, only a handful of Provo venues survived more than five years; the vast majority shut down over time due to audience decline. Having prior experience in managing venues, Fox was able to take the lessons he learned and apply them to Velour when it opened in January 2006. Over the years, Fox pushed to bring in acts that both commanded the stage and developed a buzz in both the rock- and pop-music circles. The talent, the atmosphere and the staff all combined to make Velour a standout within the Utah music community. The public responded by consistently helping to sell out shows and support new music over the past decade.
"The community expresses their appreciation in so many ways, and Provo has been very supportive as we have sought out a stronger local footprint," Velour's manager Kaneischa Johnson says. "We really couldn't function without their support and engagement."
Plans for Velour's 10th anniversary celebration started small, but quickly escalated. Rather than simply throw a single-night celebration, Fox decided to turn it into a massive, eight-week event, reuniting many of the mainstay acts that helped forge Velour's history. Many of these bands, such as Polytype, Kid Theodore and Eyes Lips Eyes, haven't played together in years. Others, like Fictionist, have brought back former members to play old songs.
"One of the bands just called me the Maury Povich of the Provo music scene," says Fox, "for all of the mediating I've had to do ... to help mend the broken bridges. It has been really fulfilling to see some of these friendships rekindled. Some of these bands are making huge sacrifices to play these shows."
The shows coming down the pike for the next few weeks are dream combinations for local music fans. The array of bands between Feb. 5-18 include Location Location, Code Hero, Shark Speed, The New Nervous, John Allred, A Film in the Ballroom, Kissed Out, Abby Normal, Broke and Al Deans.
But the occasion itself isn't just about the bands. For the first time ever, Velour has merchandise, specially made for the event with the help of artist Travis Bone. The items include a limited-edition T-shirt, screenprinted posters and a double-album compilation featuring tracks by many of the bands that have played at the venue over the past decade.
Fox wants to emphasize that Velour may have started with his vision, but reaching this milestone is due to the efforts of many. He credits Johnson, who he calls "basically a personal PR company for all of these upcoming bands," as well as Velour's employees and volunteers for accepting "way less [compensation] than they deserved to further a cause." Fox also applauds the community, and Provo Mayor John R. Curtis, for embracing Velour as a positive influence, "rather than the bad element they were originally [concerned it would be]." Most of the credit, however, he saves for the bands and their fans, who continue to frequent Velour and "keep our doors open." CW