17 Best Venue
The Mesa Theater was the run away choice for best venue of 2017 among our readers. The venue has a long history and not all of it is positive. When the previous owner and manager hit a financial wall, the venue was shut down from March 15th 2015 until it was reopened in January 2016. New owners Brett and Jeni Strong made sure to use the downtime productively, fixing plumbing and cosmetic issues, as well as hiring Snob Productions to install a new $200,000 sound system.
The Strong’s lifetime love of live music was the foundation that brought back Mesa Theater. He hired Rich Christiansen as General Manager and pulled in an experienced, hard working staff that knows Downtown Grand Junction well. The new sound system became well known for quality, under the direction of Rob “Hodown” Woltjer. The success was not instant, as a previous reputation had to be overcome, but Rick is now booking bands who play headline shows at Red Rocks (Leftover Salmon, Atmosphere) while also giving touring bands a shot as they pass through town.
Rick has pulled off one thing that is unheard of in the Grand Valley - not losing money on shows. While the Theater began using a booking agent, Rick actively seeks out bands traveling through the area and finds the balance of price and payout that keeps the theater busy and profitable. There have been some nervous times, such as a Zolopht show that had only 17 presales, but understanding the community pays off. That same show ended up with over 500 people showing up day off.
The Mesa Theater was also home to the 17 Best Concert, a Halloween show featuring Zolopht, Tim + Richard, Mount Orchid, and The Hollow Hearted. Tim + Richard played in a nook of the sky bar between bands, Mount Orchid dressed as Ninja Turtles, and Zolopht dressed as skeletons with an added part of the male anatomy. The show was already memorable with a strong line up, then Charles King joined for an encore of “Running with The Devil” and “Ghostbusters”. A finale brought out Allen Bradley of Tight Thump to crush “The Next Episode” with lyrics updated from California locations to Grand Valley locals.
2018 looks great for the Mesa Theater, as more large shows become available. Make sure to keep an eye on their calendar, as they are showing how well music can be managed when you understand your community.