Box Awesome: An Oral History | Part 1

[Editor’s Note: This is an oral history of the defunct Lincoln venue Box Awesome. We’ve gathered quotes and viewpoints from myriad different sources. The expressed views reflect only the opinions of their speakers, not those of Hear Nebraska or Andrew Stellmon. The author attempts to present all quotes in context. Also, everyone’s titles are listed per the Box Awesome being open. Check back tomorrow for the second half.]

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“Without the Box Awesome, things would be different around here. Absolutely no hesitation in saying that.”

—Dustin “Duff” Hunke, door guy, Box Awesome

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Author’s Note: In February 2009, I was a sophomore at UNL, and I was drumming in a four-piece prog rock band called Captain Ben’s Pirate Ship. Even though we were relatively unknown (OK, extremely unknown), we had our first chance that month to play at this club under the O Street bridge called Box Awesome, along with Kansas City latin rock band Making Movies. We had all grown up in the same city (two of us used to take weekly guitar lessons from their frontman, Enrique Chi), and it was a neat opportunity to play with them on their Lincoln tour stop. I remember walking into the venue for the first time, through the lobby doors and into the main room, and the overwhelming excitement I felt about playing there. Sure, part of it was our band being allowed to play anywhere at all. But everything — from the unique, wide-angle stage setting and colorful artwork to the cool vibe and accommodating staff — indicated that there was something special about the venue. Its doors closed in the summer of that same year.

On June 30 of this year, The Bourbon, with assistance from Duffy’s Tavern, held a five-year anniversary Box Awesome show in its Rye Room. The night was almost like something out of a time machine: Two of Lincoln’s most well-established rock clubs collaborating on a bill that included hip-hop, folk and loud rock bands. It was a fitting tribute to a venue that took pride in bringing teamwork and diversity to the Lincoln music scene.

What follows is not just the history of Box Awesome, but of the shows, artists, personalities and crowds that makes its short lifespan resonate five years later.

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The Bar Under The Bridge

The year 2007 marked a key transition for the Lincoln music scene as we know it now. Nick Fitch, Lawrence Chatters (both established local DJs) and Bode Alabi owned the Chatterbox until April 2007, with financial assistance from Nick’s father, John. The venue was largely home to DJs and electronic dance music, but was open to hosting acts of all genres and levels of popularity. Despite enjoying some success on weekends, the trio encountered numerous roadblocks. Unable to keep up with the rigorous demands of running a successful venue, they gradually ceded ownership of the venue to Jeremiah Moore — local musician and a then-manager of Chatterbox — and his wife Leah. Though less than financially prepared, the Moores took over the venue in the summer of 2007.

Nick Fitch, co-owner of Chatterbox, local DJ: I was DJ-ing around town [when] we started in 2003. Myself and [Lawrence] felt like we were bringing these [bars] money, we should open a bar ourselves, not really knowing how much work goes into it.

Lawrence Chatters, co-owner of Chatterbox, local DJ: The vision was just to have a really diverse place where we could have urban nights and we could have techno nights and all these different types of genres that me and Nick specialized in.

Nick Fitch: We didn’t really have the money, so we talked to my dad. We had a meeting with him and … he was like, “Yeah, I’ll give you guys [what amounted to] a $20,000 loan.” And we just walked out of that meeting, even though it was my dad … I remember walking out of that meeting … “I feel like I just got a record deal or something.”

Jeremy Buckley, booking, Box Awesome: I didn’t really go to the Chatterbox much. They did a lot of hip-hop nights and they were into dance club music and stuff. They did rock shows every once in awhile.

Nick Fitch: We had the place packed on Saturday nights with the entire hip-hop crowd. But when we tried to do other things on other nights it just wasn’t happening. We struggled to do anything else because we got labeled as a hip-hop club right away.

Alex Munson, door guy, Box Awesome: My first experience with Chatterbox was as a minor. They had Teen Nights or whatever when it first was opening.

Lawrence Chatters: We’d get 200-300 kids to come through there. I’d usually DJ and we had a street team for that, there were kids that would actually go out and promote for us. It was very successful, and it was something that we did really well. It kind of got lost in the fact that we were having a bunch of issues.

Leah Moore, co-owner, Box Awesome: It used to be really, really busy when it was the Chatterbox. They kept having riots.

Lawrence Chatters: One of our biggest challenges … was dealing with the urban crowd. We had some issues … with fights and things like that. The police would come down there and they would actually stand in the bar for like 30 minutes, just standing around, kind of intimidating people. That was our major issue.

Nick Fitch: It got to the point where, look, this isn’t even making us enough money to justify being open, even with the bands and whatever … My dad and I were at the point where we pretty much needed to move on.

Lawrence Chatters: I had finished my masters degree, I got a job, I was working as a mental health practitioner. My first child came along. And so it was becoming more and more difficult to be down there every weekend and do everything that needed to be done to maintain the place.

Leah Moore: They had this lease that they couldn’t break. They were, when we went in, three months behind on rent. They had been doing open mic nights, and that’s how they kinda came up with having Jeremiah. They were like “Hey, will you manage it?”

Jeremiah Moore, co-owner, Box Awesome: The Fitches were awesome. [Nick’s] dad, who was the primary caretaker of the place at the time, was super encouraging and appreciative of what myself and my friends … [had done] at the Chatterbox … I understood that this is not what he wanted to be doing.

Leah Moore: I was really nervous, actually, in the very beginning, because it wasn’t anything at that point. It needed all these things. It needed a sound system. We had no money. Every step of the way it was this little investment, but it always seemed like so much money.

Jeremiah Moore: It was quite exhilarating, and scary as hell, too, just to put all of our names on it. We didn’t have any big financial backers or anything. I’ve always been a hard worker and just had a good credit score. I was able to do my Best Buy card, do my Menards card, do my Home Depot card, Guitar Center card, balance all that out … which, looking back on it is pretty unwise to do it like that, but somehow we made it work.

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The goal for the Moores from the beginning was to create an environment that would foster creativity from a diverse, ever-growing pool of Lincoln musicians and artists, as well as from traveling acts. Because of Moore’s connections from booking shows at the Chatterbox, they were able to hit the ground running, immediately hosting a wide variety. They ran the gamut from hip-hop artists, like Lincoln’s Thoughtless Poetz, to guitar bands, like hard-rocking Ideal Cleaners, as well as touring acts, like the now-electronic-star Bassnectar. Though finding quality shows was rarely an issue, the Moores did experience some of the growing pains of owning and operating a music venue.

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Leah Moore: [John Fitch] put a lot of trust into us … because their name was on the lease at the time. We were gonna honor all of that. US Properties eventually let us take over the lease with the promise that we were gonna get them caught back up.

Jeremiah Moore: Our whole vision was to have a place where people could come play and share their artistic creativity, and to be able to treat not only the bands right, but the people who came in right. I’ve played music around Lincoln for awhile before that and just about every place except for Duffy’s and the Zoo Bar … there was always something that … left a bad taste in your mouth.

Leah Moore: I used to live above where Subway [on O Street] is now. I would watch all the downtown people move around and what they would do at night. Kinda like how you watch birds fly, I’d watch the patterns of where they would flock. I realized … nobody is wandering down off the street to go to a bar under a bridge. You gotta make it into a music venue.

Jeremiah Moore: We wanted to be the best of the Zoo Bar and the variety that was happening at Knickerbockers and Duggan’s and combine it and have it all in one place where all sorts of music could happen, and everyone is treated fair.

Josh Hoyer, Son of ‘76, booking at The Zoo Bar: When the Box Awesome started, they had a different philosophy that I really liked. The Zoo has actually been like that for years and years, it was just harder for us to implement it, because we’re known as a roots club. What Box Awesome brought to the table was any genre, any skill level, was welcome. It was more all-inclusive, which was pretty cool.

Leah Moore: It’s so hard to do because the ratios are against you, to be able to get that many people in there. Pretty much your entire profit margin is made off of bar sales. You can try doing ticket sales, but ticket sales really turn around and go right back to the band. Then there’s the guarantee. It’s like high-stakes gambling everyday. And say there’s a tornado. You just bid a $2000 guarantee, and nobody shows up because there’s a tornado, you’re out. I hate gambling, but somehow I’m totally OK with this (laughs). I’ve made the house, you know? So I’m trying to structure the reality that is the house to work in my favor.

Jeremiah Moore: Whether it was hip-hop, whether it was screamo music, whether it was acoustic songwriters that had never played for anyone before … we kind of filled a void, but no one really knew what that void was at the time, and we had no idea what was going to happen.

Leah Moore: Jeremiah pretty much did everything himself. I was working full-time, so if I wasn’t down there painting or trying to fix something, then he was the one handling booking the shows, trying to figure out who was playing.

How Box Awesome Got Its Name:

“My daughter at that point in time calling everything ‘awesome.’ That was kinda like the premise of why we called it the Box Awesome … I had worked at the Chatterbox for maybe a year and half, two years. So we kept the box part and called it Awesome. So every time I hear Box Awesome I just think of my little girl being silly. Now, she’s quite older and in junior high, so its kind of a trip down memory lane.”

—Jeremiah Moore, owner, Box Awesome

Jeremiah Moore: When I learned how to delegate … that was the hardest thing to learn how to do. I came from a family where neither of my parents went to college and they both worked two jobs and I always learned how to do things on my own.

Leah Moore: Brenton [Neville, sound, Box Awesome] was definitely one of the fundamental people that was there a lot. I have photographs of Jeremiah and him building the stage when we had to move and stuff like that. He was there [for time that] we couldn’t pay him. He just did it as a labor of love himself.

Jeremiah Moore: Hiring a couple sound guys so I wasn’t doing sound at night … that was huge.

Chris Johnson, sound, Box Awesome: When I started I didn’t know as much as I do now, and I didn’t really go to school for any of that type of stuff. So I was pretty much just like problem-solving at the beginning.

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Jeremiah tried to take on the brunt of the work required to run the venue, but it became too much for him to handle on his own. Jeremy Buckley, then a student at UNL, was booking the multi-venue festival, Lincoln Calling, downtown.

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Jeremy Buckley: I was like, “I’m not in a hurry for a job, but if you ever need help here, this would be my favorite place to work in this town.” He had his initial staff and was figuring how to be a business owner through the summer, but hit me up in October while we were working on Lincoln Calling stuff for that year. I think Jeremiah was starting to get [stressed], keeping up with all the stuff he had to do to be a good dad and a good husband and booking. I was like, “Dude, if you need help with this, I mean, you’ve seen the music festival…”

Jeremiah Moore: It definitely helped for him to already have his chops on what it takes to make a show work. And I think in the beginning he was a little bit bewildered at the variety of what we did. Jeremy would never admit it, but I think he was a little intimidated by what we had going on, but it worked out really well where I was able to ease him into booking and we were able to work together and push it to the next level.

Jeremy Buckley: We had our routine, our process for most shows. Friday and Saturday nights, we made sure we had awesome shows because people mostly go out on weekends and a lot of the music venues downtown didn’t really do shows on the weekend. Duffy’s doesn’t do Friday/Saturday shows for the most part. The Zoo Bar caters to a bit different of a clientele than Box Awesome, generally.

Dustin “Duff” Hunke, door guy, Box Awesome: [We booked] stuff that [Jeremiah] wasn’t necessarily into, but we’d try something out and if it worked, then we have this other audience that we’re pulling in. For so many different crowds of people in this town, completely different pockets of people that only go to [certain shows], you started to see a little bit of crossover.

Jeremy Buckley: It was easy to get really strong local shows on the weekends because that’s when bands made money and that was the only place they could really play. The Killigans of the world … Machete Archive, Eagle Seagull, UUVVWWZ, Columbia vs. Challenger, Triggertown … any of these given bands could have a show there on a Friday night and draw 100+ people.

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By Artists, For Artists

Whether it was a band redecorating the stage, or an employee shuffling the arrangement of the house, the Moores encouraged creativity at every turn. Through playing shows in his own band, Norm4Eva, Jeremiah realized what he liked and didn’t like about other venues. Physical, musical and communal aesthetics played a huge role in maintaining an environment in which artists and patrons felt some form of ownership, and helped give the venue its own identity.

Leah Moore: When we first got into it, it was just like “this is a bar.” It’s going to get destroyed. Don’t put any money into anything that people are going to touch, because it’s just going to get destroyed. People write on things. They run into things. They throw a fist through a wall. They shake a bathroom stall off a wall for no apparent reason. They destroy things. So as long as it looked like it was supposed to look that way…

Tim McMahan, Lazy-i, Omaha music blogger: The main club is flat-out swank — oak floors, cool artwork, vivid colors, a funky modern big-city vibe. The stage is oddly located in the center of the long, narrow room. There are no sight lines to the stage from the tables along the front of the building where the stage used to be when Box Awesome was The Chatter Box. —published in Lazy-i,  May 28, 2009

Saber Blazek, bassist, The Machete Archive: [Performing at] The Zoo is really nice, but it’s a straight line. You can see if people aren’t paying attention, don’t give a fuck. If you played at Box Awesome, all you could see were people who were there to see the show.

Jim Schroeder, guitarist, UUVVWWZ: The aesthetics were nice. What Leah did to the interior was tasteful. Some other venues would try artsy stuff and it [wouldn’t work].

Leah Moore: I was constantly just slathered in paint. Most of the time, I’d walk around town looking like I just got off a job doing construction.

Alex Munson: The Box already was growing as a place that people just knew they could go and express themselves, whether they were on the performer or audience side. The energy for it was very supportive.

—photo courtesy of Lincoln Journal-Star

Jeremiah Moore: I think its legacy is that it was a blank canvas that was repainted seven nights a week … It had many different artists painting it. It wasn’t just one artist’s interpretation. It was a blank canvas that so many different hands sketched, drew, dropped, threw up on, erased, scribbled, rewrote … seven days a week, sometimes twice a night.

Raws Schlesinger, Plack Blague: Every kind of band could play there. If you wanted to learn how to play a show, that was your place to learn. I’m sure a ton of people got to grow up and learn how to be a band [at Box Awesome].

Chris Johnson: You’d go to people’s basements or you’d go to random venues and see shows. But like, having a place that [was] not far away, just slightly off the beaten path … it was nice. It was a little escape. It wasn’t far, but it wasn’t super close to everything. It was more like, I think, kinda [how] Omaha is, where it’s a destination, you know?

Jeremiah Moore: Some of the venues … you’d walk in there and you’d feel like you were interrupting them or something. It was like, we just brought all of our friends in here. Why are you being rude? [We decided] we are not going to do this.

Brendan McGinn, Her Flyaway Manner/Dirty Talker: Some of the perks of [playing] some other venues would be that you get so many free drink tickets or a bottle of booze or something like that. [At the Box,] it was the creative expression, creative freedom-type environment.

Brett Smith, guitar/programming, Somasphere: It helped a lot of smaller bands and artists get their foot in the door.

Brendan McGinn: Honestly, [we] did not try to book any shows anywhere else. [Jeremy Wardlaw] would message me and [say], “Hey why don’t you guys set up a show here at Duffy’s?” and I didn’t blow him off – we’re pretty damn good friends – but it was like, why leave my couch, you know? We’ve played shows at Duffy’s and we’ll play shows [there] again, but we’re in tune with this room and the people.

Casey Welsch, music writer, Daily Nebraskan: What always struck me there was, after I came a few times and they kind of recognized my face, they were really cool about it. “Oh, this kid is 18 and he can’t drink, but he clearly just loves being here. We’ll make him feel welcome.”

Eric Gilbert, Finn Riggins, band from Boise, Idaho: We were added to the early show at Box Awesome on this particular Sunday just over a week earlier, and thus had very low expectations and were up for anything. Right away, we were greeted by awesome staff and a really cool room and were thus psyched we’d made the effort to get there. —published on Finn Riggins blog March 10, 2008

Dustin Hunke: It just had this vibe about the place. Kind of this DIY nature. We [were] just the music fans that are now running this venue, and having a great time doing it.

Raws Schlesinger: It was the only venue in town that I thought was almost like a punk venue for punks.

One Night at Box Awesome: 

After they kind of got to know me there, I came up with this scheme where I could get in free to every show even if I didn’t have to write about it. Jeremy Buckley worked there and he was heavily involved there, and they knew that I knew him. So I would simply walk up to the door man, jangle my own keys, and say, ‘Hey, I got Buckley’s keys, can I run in and give them to him?’

And they were like, ‘Sure, go ahead,’ I would just walk in and never come out and they never remembered it. I’ve worked for Jeremiah since, and it took him like a year … before he put that together. He’s just like, ‘You never had Buckley’s keys, did you?'”

—Casey Welsch, music writer, Daily Nebraskan

Jeremy Buckley: We had a home. In the way that a lot of Zoo Bar regulars consider Zoo Bar their home. Or The Bourbon, their crew is pretty tight, they take care of each other. We were all a family together in the larger sense.

Chris Johnson: It wasn’t just a sideshow attraction, where you’d come check it out and then boogie. People made a night of it, which was cool.

Dustin Hunke: We did an outside event called Outside the Box right before the place closed that had DJs, had indie bands, reggae bands, all across the board, and it was super weird, but it worked.

Chris Johnson: I was being paid to work [the sound booth], and I made money from it, but it was also what I was genuinely curious about. It was what I wanted to do.

Dustin Hunke: There’s a lot of high-fives at my work. That’s the kind of environment we have around [The Bourbon] and it was the same thing at Box. It’s kinda cheesy to say, but it really was a family down there, ya know?

Alex Munson: Jeremiah was a great boss because he was right there with us, doing everything from cleaning the bathrooms to bartending to booking shows and enjoying them, and that was a great thing to see in a boss.

Jeremy Buckley: There were people that worked there from the time it opened that still work at The Bourbon. It’s a bunch of people that know how to work together and know how to leave the petty [stuff] at home, or when you’re having a bad day don’t bring it to work.

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Box Awesome Unleashed: Opening the Basement

The DIY aesthetic of Box Awesome dug deeper, when, on April 18, 2008, the venue hosted its first multi-story event. With additional basement space, Box Awesome could host as many as four separate billings per night, which quickly became a regular occurrence.


—photo by Andrew Bedrous, (band: Attitude Problem)

Leah Moore: We had a different name for it. The Ox Bar!

Casey Welsch: Once the basement opened up … I feel like that’s when the Box really started just to really bump. When you got that basement filled up and there were a lot of people moving, it was a sweaty, good time.

Tim McMahan: Once through the door, you’re met with a choice — either go into the main club or downstairs … the lumpy cave-like walls were painted in a weird silver-gray paint that made them look like the surface of the moon as viewed from an orbiting service module. The decor was second-hand trailer-park — ratty couches, kitchen dinette sets and a velour La-Z-Boy — all had seen better days. The cave had all the charm of the rec-room of a neighbor who likes to have his friends over for house shows. —published in Lazy-i, May 28, 2009

Leah Moore: We had no money, so we would just go to the Home Depot or Menards and buy the mis-tints. Whatever they had around, the weirdest colors we could possibly find, and try to make it stretch it as far as we could, as consistently as we could, but make it look like it was on purpose. That was my entire tactic. Make it look like I meant to do that.

Jeremiah Moore: There were two parts to opening the basement: it was A) to allow more bands to do shows, and B) to get more hours for the people that we had working there.

Dustin Hunke: [One of the] first shows in the basement was a band called Barbie and the Hookers. That was kind of testing the waters. It was a punk rock show. It was pretty bare bones, Jeremy Buckley bartending with a cooler of Old Style. 

Alex Munson: That was really always an interesting endeavor. We became more efficient. I mean, the first time we did that was pretty hectic, trying to keep track of it. 

Teal Gardner, vocals UUVVWWZ: Those [basement shows] were just crazy because you are at floor level with people, and I really like that setup, where you’re not on a stage at all and you’re just completely face to face. That’s a challenging performance setup. 

Brendan McGinn: Some of those double-decker shows were pretty insane. [I remember] playing shows where there’d be upwards [of] twelve bands playing on a Friday night, and there’d be five or six bands playing downstairs, and it was all kind of staggered so you could go with your tallboy up and down these stairs and catch all these bands.

Dustin Hunke: It was not something I had seen in Lincoln before. It just seemed like a really cool concept that you could now run two shows at a time.

Leah Moore: Some nights, we had polar opposite worlds happening upstairs and below. I think one night we had a very Christian group upstairs, and we had this hardcore death metal thing going on in the basement.

Casey Welsch: That really took off, especially when there were festivals like Lincoln Calling and Lincoln Exposed. You could have two different stages at one venue and that was kind of a big deal.

Dustin Hunke: At one point Buckley had this “Wii Wednesday” thing going in the basement, where it was cheap pitchers and a Wii on a projector.

Chris Johnson: I have super fond memories of staying after work and playing RC Pro Am or Mike Tyson’s Punch Out. It was in the basement, too, so there was no light. I remember one time just sitting there playing video games after work and you’re like, “Oh, it’s six in the morning, I should probably go home.”

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Once established, Jeremiah began taking fliers to other venues around town, offering to display their fliers in his windows in turn. Other venues preferred to stick to themselves. Eventually, communication between Lincoln venues became more and more commonplace.

Jeremy “Dub” Wardlaw, booking, Duffy’s Tavern: [Lincoln] had its ups and downs like most music scenes. I think Lincoln was on the cusp of exploding into a fucking crazy music machine that would be unstoppable for a while, once it reached maximum momentum. 

Josh Hoyer: I was [working] at the Zoo Bar, but I’d hang out at the Box or I’d hang out at Duffy’s. There were a lot of the same people that would hang out at all three clubs. 

Jeremy Wardlaw:When I took on booking [at Duffy’s] I noticed that there was a simple element missing in the Lincoln music community: communication between venues and a collective goal in mind.

Jeremiah Moore: I don’t think we realized that at the time, but looking back on it, it feels like it was that catalyst for everyone working together. When we opened up, it was tough to go take posters to different venues.

Brendan McGinn: I think that was a major prod, a push [in the right] direction. Now, that’s totally normal. Between The Bourbon and Duffys, if you have a show flier, you can post it up [anywhere]. I’m pretty confident in saying that was not the case before that.

Jeremy Buckley: Me and Dub met during that time because he had the same job at Duffy’s, and we would meet and talk about the trials and tribulations of our jobs, and getting frustrated when a band books a show at Duffy’s on Wednesday and Box Awesome on Friday… it kills both shows. We started communicating to make sure that we both didn’t try to do a huge heavy metal show on the same night of the week

Jeremy Wardlaw:It was one of those why-didn’t-I-think-of-that moments for me because it was so simple. After bringing it up to Buckley, it was smooth sailing, for the most part, after that. Simple communication was what made it work. Making sure that we aren’t competing with each other every night of the week. And when there was friendly competition, it was done tastefully.

Jeremiah Moore: Some of those venues never changed their ways, but some of them started to, and then other venues started booking other kinds of shows … we were proud of that. We were proud to see hip-hop shows happen at the Zoo Bar, metal shows happen at the Zoo Bar.


photo by Andrew Bedrous, (band: Wasteoid)

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According to Knickerbockers’ Chris Kelley, his venue was neither hostile toward other venues nor particularly chummy. Knickerbockers’ owners preferred to stick to its philosophy of carving out its own slice of the Lincoln scene, trusting that they could meet the needs of their business, regardless of the current condition of the local scene.

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Chris Kelley, co-owner, Knickerbockers: It’s kind of what we’ve always done, look for the up and down waves of everything.

Jeremiah Moore: Those guys had been doing it for so long and they were the only place in that area, and they were the only place doing music seven days a week, and they were doing a pretty wide variety. At that time, that was the place to go see music in that end of Lincoln.

Saber Blazek: Before Box Awesome was really running and doing shit, Knickerbockers was the place to go for like pop punk bands and all these big major acts that they had come through.

Chris Kelley: I think [the scene] was fairly strong. Stronger than it is right now. There were more bands, and we had a lot of stuff coming through the area.

Jeremiah Moore: They were pretty much closed-door to us. I had approached them several times and was like, “Hey do you have any show posters? We’ll put them up in our windows.” And they were like, “Why?”

Chris Kelley: My partner and I always did all the booking. Early on, we worked with some of them. We participated early in Lincoln Calling. And it’s good to a degree, that there’s people who work with each other and get to know each other that way, but we’re all in business for ourselves. So it’s kind of a mix in our view.

Dustin Hunke: They viewed us more as competition than as someone that we could work together and build things. Which makes sense from a business perspective and they’ve been around a long time. They want to protect their business.

Chris Johnson: Us, Duffy’s, Zoo Bar … we [didn’t] see it like that.

Jeremiah Moore: I always looked at it like the more people that are going to music the better because someday they’ll walk through my doors, somebody will walk through your doors. They didn’t really look at it like that.

Chris Kelley: I think we pretty much co-existed. There were probably shows, similar ones, locally, that we both could do … but I don’t think it was a strong [conflict], where one of us was getting in the other’s way.

Jeremiah Moore: I think at the beginning, they weren’t worried. We’re not going to support you, but we’re not going think about it. But then they slowly, it seemed like they started getting … more defensive. I always just kind of backed off from it. I figured, [they] are gonna do what [they’re] gonna do, we’re gonna do what we’re gonna do. 

Saber Blazek: It was really crazy to see what was going on between Jeremiah, Dub, Buckley, Spencer Munson, Josh Hoyer … they totally came together and were like this powerhouse. [The Box] had like a trickle down effect into the community.

Josh Hoyer: We tried to work together as much as possible. It’s the only healthy way to build the scene, I believe. If you’re cutthroat, you’re out there by yourself. Nobody likes to be like that, right? 

Jeremy Wardlaw: Box Awesome was the missing cog to this machine. I’m not sure if it was the new location, ownership, emerging group of freshly [turned] 21 [year-olds], or what exactly, but it just came together, felt right, and just made sense.

Jeremiah Moore: It was pretty cool how that aspect … was something that blossomed … and may be missing now.

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Check back tomorrow for Part 2, which chronicles some of Box Awesome’s most noteworthy shows and performers, as well as its closing and legacy.