Pennywise Returns to Mesa Theater
By Greg Hartman
The Grand Valley music scene has been through many phases and changes through the years. Sometimes they are marked by a popular band or popular genre. Others by the success of a venue, such as the Tenacious Brothers years. One of the darkest periods started on March 15th, 2015 when Mesa Theater’s doors were locked and the property was taken into possession by the bank. The closure was a long time coming, as bills, taxes, and even payroll went unpaid. The interior had become neglected and the restrooms were flooding.
Two days before the doors were locked, the theater had a big sendoff. Punk rock legends Pennywise rocked out to a near capacity crowd. The venue’s liquor license had been pulled weeks before, but that didn’t stop the crowd from celebrating and singing along. Bassist Fletcher Dragge commented on the lack of beer sales, stating had he known they would have moved the show to a park. The band may as well have, as they were never paid for the gig. Mesa’s last hurrah also left the final insult to its reputation.
Several months later, after various rumors swirled around, Mesa Theater had found a new owner. Brett Strong purchased the venue in late 2015 and began a thorough overhall. The bathrooms and plumbing were fixed, the sound system replaced, and the entire venue cleaned up. The venue reopened in January of 2016, much to the relief of music fans. The slow process of rebuilding the Theater’s fan base and booking reputation had begun.
General manager Rick Christensen hit the ground running, chipping away at the venue’s reputation. Soon, acts big and small were gracing the stage and new traditions were born while negative ones were tossed away. The less than reputable college night was gone and most shows became all ages. After nearly four years into the work, Mesa is pulling in bands who are headlining Red Rocks the next day.
The final step to heal the old wounds is the return of Pennywise to Mesa Theater on September 30th. After two shows in Denver with Rancid, the Grand Junction stop off marks the start of Pennywise’s headlining tour. Booking that event and convincing the group to return after being stiffed in 2015 shows the results of Rick and Brett’s hard work. Their upcoming lineup looks impressive, including Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Mushroomhead, Yellawolf, and comedian Brian Posehn.
Pennywise hasn’t been idle in the past four years, either. The band released Never Gonna Die in 2018, which was a well received return to their hard core roots. They have also released remasters of their earlier work, entitled Yesterdays. Joining them will be Grand Junction’s favorite duo from the front range, In The Whale. Opening the evening will be local punk rock champions The NC-17’s. Tickets are going fast and can be obtained for $35 at the Mesa Theater box office. They increase to $40 day of show, but chances are unlikely any will be left to sell at that price.