The underground music scene in Denver is a thriving place. The DIY (Do It Yourself) scene would not do much without Aaron Saye. Saye owns and operates a small venue off Federal Boulevard, called 7th Circle. He has been foundational in building and supporting the local Denver music scene here for over 10 years. He fills the week by attending local concerts, mentoring up and coming artists, and facilitating much of the logistics so artists can do what they do best, make music.
7th Circle feels different than other venues. The place has no intention to please or offend its audience. It simply is. Saye and friends saw a hole in the community in Denver when the Blast-O-Mat (a similar venue) closed in 2012. He values the opportunity for artists to pursue whatever they feel even if it is not popular or lucrative. Thus came 7th Circle.
“7th Circle is a DIY community-run music space… it gives unknown new local bands a place to spawn out of, and a place call home, to cut their teeth, play their first shows, experience and learn how to play live shows, and become ready to play ‘bigger’ shows if that’s the route they want to take!” says Saye. When you walk in the front door a volunteer greets you and asks that you make a small donation, usually 5 or 10 dollars. Then you are free to go back to the stage which is basically a repurposed auto garage.
The scene is iconic. The venue embodies what one would expect from the underground scene. Soft green lighting lights the stage, and drum sticks poke out of every inch of the ceiling’s insulation. The walls have band stickers rather than wall paper. Each sticker symbolizes a unique moment of music. The whole place overwhelming a music goer with the astounding amount of memories.
The space tells a story. It screams to be exactly who you are and to feel precisely what you feel even if it is uncomfortable or unpopular. The community at 7th Circle adamantly professes how they accept all art and all people, and its importance cannot be overstated. Saye describes the vibe like this, “This scene are not constrained by the trappings of worrying about who they’re ‘supposed to be,’ or living up to some status quo. They just are who they are and they’re proud of it.” This kind of freedom really allows for a special kind of creativity to flow. As with all experimentation, not all are successes, but some of the most forward thinking bands shred into the future because of the freedom Saye and 7th Circle provide.
Saye said it this way, “This type of free thinking allows for the best music to be created too, which is what we really thrive off of here. The best music (in my opinion) comes straight from the heart and soul, and doesn’t take into account what might sound popular or get radio airplay or get signed to a record label or what have you. The truest music is played by musicians who write and play what they want to, because they want to, and that’s what makes for our best shows here.”
The last aspect of 7th Circle that is integral to the community of DIY is the mentoring. Much of what Saye does is encourage young talent. His kind words nudge the younger musicians to set goals and meet their potential. “If you think your band sucks, practice more and get better, don’t quit. Every band’s first show is bad, for the most part, and you’ll get better if you keep at it. Don’t get down on yourself, stay positive and be stoked!”
Another aspect to his role that is particularly inspiring is his impact on the youth personal lives. Many teens and young adults turn to music as a healthy outlet for angst, and the underground scene is not always a safe place. Luckily for Denver it has Saye who many turn to for sage advice. When confronted about this aspect of his reputation, Saye responded humbly, “It means a lot that I’ve been able to be such a mentor. I think the most important thing I’ve been able to impart onto anyone who looks up to me is this: always stay true to yourself, and be who you are without shame or guilt. These things combine for the recipe for true happiness and fulfillment.”
Photo by Jack Doherty