Aaron Saye rolls up to Seventh Circle Music Collective in his 1977 Volkswagen Transporter, or as he calls it, his “hippie bus.” Okay, so it’s not modern and the white and brown color scheme is not stylish, but Saye is anything but ordinary. Just like Seventh Circle, which he’s owned for five years now.
It’s synth-pop night at Seventh Circle, a genre that the DIY venue has explored before, though not as familiar for a location usually associated with an angsty punk atmosphere. Saye prepares for this night like he does every other. Resting against a bench in a hideaway room full of records, books and the all-important coffee maker, he hasn’t even begun the setup process– but that’s fine. It’s a Thursday night and no one is in a rush, he’s relaxed.
He needs to train a volunteer on running sound, but he might end up in the booth doing it himself–he has a tendency to do that.
Despite setting up a show that requires extra visual displays and lights, Saye never strays from his charitable self. Imagine the demeanor of Santa Claus who also listens to punk rock and progressive metal. He interrupts our interview to greet every guest as they walk in, some for the first time, some for the 100th.
“That’s a core value of our place here. We don’t want to exclude anybody generally, unless they’re Nazis,” he says, half-jokingly.
Saye is adamant about allowing everyone, no matter their age, admission to enjoy music. Of course, fascists are the exception, as the writing on the walls in the venue attest to.
Seventh Circle is one of the last DIY venues left in Denver. They’ve put on 1,209 shows since they opened five years ago. The
importance of the venue lies in the community of people who attend and run the shows.
It isn’t merely a place to go see live, local music, It’s a home for many kids who don’t feel they have one and a place for music enthusiasts to meet other like-minded individuals.
“We just try to make a conscious effort to be a very welcoming environment where anybody can just come here and have a community of friends and compadres,” Saye says in an earnest tone.
One could call him a purveyor of local music. Many of the performers are playing their first live show. The garage and concert stage are designed with painted images of a cityscape with muses in the foreground – this is his storefront. All are welcome, except for Nazis, of course.
Aaron Eash, lead singer of the San Francisco-based pop band Shark Jackson, downs another Dale’s Pale Ale. He’s ready. Bandmate Will Georges is just as pumped, brimming with confidence. One more song and it’s their turn to give the crowd – no more than twenty people- a show they’ll never forget.
“These places are amazing,” Eash says. “They’re what keep any sense of local music alive.”
This is Shark Jackson’s final performance of a nearly 40-show tour. Funny enough, neither are musicians by trade. Eash works as an electrical engineer and Georges taught seventh and eighth grade math before running data analysis for school districts in San Francisco. In the midst of making ends meet, the two decided to finally fulfill their dream of going on tour.
As Shark Jackson takes the stage, Eash’s electric stage presence, paired with Georges’ tone-setting drumming grabs the attention of the small crowd. Toward the end of their set– two beers in and nothing to lose– Eash jumps into the crowd, burrowing his head under a man’s black shirt, lifting him up while the drumming continues.
In what might be their last appearance on this side of the Rockies as Shark Jackson, the two feel vindicated. They’ve lived their dream.
“You know, fuck a job. You can be on the road playing music,” Eash says. “That’s what he said and then I quit my job and he didn’t quit,” Georges chimes in.
The friendly banter between the duo is reminiscent of a married couple or Statler and Waldorf from The Muppets. They bounce off each others’ thoughts seamlessly.
“We went on tour to not only play for people, but meet cool bands and have real human moments. That’s getting harder and harder in the internet age.” Perhaps in the future they will play some shows in the bay area, but for two months Shark Jackson lived like rockstars– tired and drunk.
For more stories in the Metro section