Pikes Peak Library District steps in as new home for Flux Capacitor concerts

By Jen Mulson Updated: July 12, 2017 at 7:40 am • Published: July 11, 2017 0

Long live the Flux Capacitor.

Thanks to the Pikes Peak Library District, the DIY music group has a new venue. The group was booted from its concert space in an industrial warehouse because of fire code violations in December. But now Flux Capacitor has moved its home base to the Knights of Columbus Hall, 25 W. Kiowa St., at the west edge of the Penrose Library campus downtown.

"We'll offer all the support we can," said John Spears, the district's chief librarian and CEO. "Our biggest thing in the community is creating exposure to things they might not be exposed to, and that these groups have a voice. It's a natural growth of what we already do; it's just different from what we've done in the past."

Audience capacity is 49, as decreed by the Colorado Springs Fire Department, though library administrators hope that number will expand to 200 to 400 by the fall.

More than 49 people came to the group's first all-ages concert there June 24 for four bands and a DJ. Some had to wait in the hall for others to leave.

"I'm really happy and optimistic," said Bryan Ostrow, Flux Capacitor's co-founder. "It's cool that an organization like the library is reaching out to help kids like us."

The suggested donation per show is $5 to $7, though nobody will be turned away because of lack of funds, Spears said. None of the proceeds go to PPLD; any money received goes toward paying the bands.

Kate Perdoni, executive director of the Pikes Peak Arts Council, invited Spears earlier this year to a meeting about the Flux's future. It turned into an "aha moment" for him.

The Knights of Columbus Hall - with its old basketball court, exposed brick and vaulted ceilings - seemed an ideal place for live music and a smart partnership.

"It's an audience that libraries have always had difficulty reaching," Spears said. "The 18-to-30 age bracket is the Holy Grail of readership. They stay with us through their kid and teen years, then disappear until they have kids of their own."

He began talking with Perdoni and Ostrow before bringing it to PPLD leadership, which approved the partnership.

"I've been a librarian for 20 years," Spears said, "and I haven't been as excited about anything else as I am about this."

Other groups also have used the space in recent weeks, including Non Book Club Book Club and Peach Press, a small press that held a zine workshop.

At a news conference Tuesday, Spears announced PPLD's intention to eventually fill the Knights of Columbus Hall with a regular schedule of events.

"It's a building programmed by the community for the community," he said. "It's a new chapter for PPLD."

The hall was designed by architect Thomas MacLaren and built in 1928. During the Great Depression, the Knights could no longer afford the payments and in 1937 sold it to the city for $13,000. It housed the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum from 1937 to 1977, until architect Robert Muir turned it into Muir & Associates Architects from 1978 to 1988.

PPLD bought the property in 1991 and used it for storage, book sales and the technical services department, until the last moved to Library 21c in 2014.

"I love it," Ostrow said about the venue. "The potential is amazing, with the acoustics and historical value to it."

Flux Capacitor began operating its somewhat secret concerts in December 2014 and has hosted bands from around the world.

Even after the warehouse space was shut down, the group continued to hold shows at local clubs, including Triple Nickel Tavern, The Black Sheep and Urban Steam. Ostrow estimates the group has held more than 500 concerts altogether.

"It gives kids of all ages a place to go and see shows," Ostrow said. "The point was to not be a for-profit bar, but an experience that kids could have and be able to leave with a smile on their face."

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