Features, Print September 2, 2020

Writing on the Wall, Festival on the Screen: FoCoMX at the Drive-In and On the Web

by Dan England

The organizers of the beloved, 12th annual FoCoMX music festival waited until August 11 to cancel. They know that’s late, but they just couldn’t help but hope.

“Of course, we are super bummed not to be able to do it in person,” said Peggy Lyle, a FoCoMX board member and the director of the Downtown Fort Collins Creative District. “We just wanted to wait until the writing was on the wall.”

Of course, even the anti-maskers would tell you it’s been on the wall since April, when the huge Fort Collins music festival postponed, or since June, when FoCoMX “pivoted,” as Lyle put it, more than outright canceled, and began hosting FoCoMX Drive & Jive. FoCoMX hosts live music concerts to folks in their cars every Tuesday via Drive & Jive, pulling from its scheduled lineup of more than 400 acts as well as offering up a few new bands, which Lyle calls “discovery” acts. 

“We knew we could hire musicians that were needing the work and great ones people wanted to see,” Lyle said.

Flip through the whole issue at www.bandwagmag.com

In lieu of the real, re-scheduled thing, FoCoMX will also offer “A Digital Retrospective” of photos taken by fans as well as rare backstage shots by FoCoMX staff on September 4-5 via the festival’s social media channels. The festival will also have some produced videos which celebrate the music community, but they want to celebrate the fan perspective and involvement as well.

“If anyone just wants to share funny stories or tag us in photos, that would be great,” Lyle said.

Lyle calls the Drive & Jive lineup “a little discovery and a little comfort,” meaning the newer bands she talked about earlier as well as old NoCo favorites like Guerrilla Radio (a tribute to Rage Against The Machine), Sabotage (a Beastie Boys tribute) and Kind Dub, who’s brand of pop hip-hop crossover hits on September 15. Sabotage and Guerrilla Radio play the week before on September 8.

The concerts take place at the Holiday Twin drive-in movie theater in Fort Collins and  feature three acts each night: a discovery band as the sun begins to set, then an opener and main act once night falls. Those two acts get projected onto the Twin’s big screen as they play live. Just like FoCOMX, the juxtaposition of the acts offers a wide variety of music to attendees.

“Honestly the Holiday Twin shows have been a godsend,” Lyle said. “We are still able to connect with people and still provide in-person live music in a safe and socially distanced way.”

Still, FoCoMX already is thinking about what the festival could be like in 2021, and that could mean another virtual offering, only on a much larger scale, with live performances. They are already planning for that incarnation, Lyle just hopes they don’t have to do it.

“We feel committed to having something,” Lyle said. “We miss that broader sense of community, and that goes for life in general right now.”

FoCoMX takes place every Tuesday evening through the end of October at the Holiday Twin in Fort Collins. Go to focomx.org for more information and to holidaytwin.eventsmart.com to purchase tickets. FoCoMX: A Digital Retrospective will take place online on September  4-5.