Velour Live Music Gallery: A Home, a Church and a Venue
Velour Live Music Gallery
Wed.–Sat.: 8 p.m.–12 a.m.
135 N. University Ave. Provo, Utah
801.818.2263 | [email protected]
Velour Live Music Gallery, a beloved, all-ages concert venue in Provo, recently celebrated its 15-year anniversary. However, the moment was bittersweet due to COVID-19 forcing the venue’s temporary closure during this celebration. Owner Corey Fox opened the venue in 2006 and has continued to bring life and glamour to Velour and the Utah Valley music scene since its inception. Those who know the venue understand how remarkable it is—in terms of being an event space, Velour is in a category of its own. From stained-glass portraits to velvet artwork, enchanted chambers and mysterious oddities, Velour provides a home to many. Despite reaching this 15-year milestone, Velour’s year-long hiatus has meant the venue is on the brink of closing its velvet curtains for good.
“I opened Velour with just a goal of bringing the scene back to its ’90s glory days but was quickly inspired to set my goals higher.”
A newsprint article hung in the venue reads, “The Fantastic Mr. Corey Fox,” and there is no better way to summarize Fox. He has a 30-year tenure in music management as a band manager, concert promoter and venue manager. “I opened Velour with just a goal of bringing the scene back to its ’90s glory days but was quickly inspired to set my goals higher,” he says. Though Fox is seemingly modest of Velour’s success, he is truly the lifeblood of the venue’s past and present.
The legacy of Velour is well-known. Renowned musicians Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees and The Moth & The Flame (among other recognizable names) began on the Velour stage. And if not for the pandemic, Velour would be putting on a slew of live shows with the hopes of finding even more aspiring artists. “We do a lot of cool, annual events but the most important are probably our annual Les Femmes De Velour shows that showcase multiple nights of female talent, our biannual Battle of the Bands that has been a proven launching pad for new young bands into the scene (past winners include Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees, The Aces, The Backseat Lovers, etc.) and our weekly open-mic nights that help cultivate new talent,” says Fox. “Many of the biggest artists in the scene started as solo, open-mic regulars.”
Fox notes open-mic nights as being essential to Velour’s ecosystem. Normally, dozens of musicians would pave a line outside of the venue in hopes to play in the weekly show—open-mic nights have created a community of artistic camaraderie. “The pandemic has been horrible, but one bright spot about Velour’s doors being closed has been the flood of messages from people telling me how much Velour means to them. It’s a safe space for some, the equivalent of church to others,” Fox says. “Many others have told stories of meeting their spouses there, finding their love for music, and for bands, a steady, consistent platform to launch their music from.”
“The pandemic has been horrible, but one bright spot about Velour’s doors being closed has been the flood of messages from people telling me how much Velour means to them. It’s a safe space for some, the equivalent of church to others.”
Kaneischa Johnson, the previous Marketing Manager for Velour, first became involved with the venue after frequenting live shows and deciding she wanted to help out in any way she could. Though no longer located in Utah, Johnson still feels a significant connection to Fox, the music community and the venue. “Corey has managed to generate ongoing experiences for us to lose ourselves in, provide a stage for us to express ourselves, advise us [and] create with us,” she says. “The truth is that Velour gave me a reason to get out of bed some days, and I know I am not the only one who has used it as a reason for living when a reason was hard to find.” With Velour enduring repeated hits during the pandemic, Johnson has helped raise awareness to alert community members of its current struggles.
“[Velour] is truly an experiential space providing [a] less-common opportunity for a true listening experience,” she says. “Although Corey has an incredible instinct for making things happen, everything he does is rooted in a creative ability to create any world he envisions.” Johnson gives the example of the annual slumber party shows hosted at Velour, during which Fox essentially creates a giant blanket fort, or as Johnson puts it, “the magic of walking through a wardrobe into Narnia,” she says. “Velour is art, and being at a show there feels like witnessing an art show. Corey may be at the helm, but Velour is bigger than all of us, and significant to all of us.”
“[Velour] is truly an experiential space providing [a] less-common opportunity for a true listening experience.”
In challenging times, Velour has received hundreds of donations from those who recognize its value. The venue’s Instagram, @velourlive, is up to date with ways to support, including its Venmo, @velourlive, and a recent GoFundMe, “Vaccinate Velour,” set up by Scott Wiley and Provo business June Audio Recording Studios. Though having already received many donations—including an anonymous donor who will match all donations up to $20,000—the venue is still on its knees.
If you’re interested in supporting Velour, there are many options to provide relief from referrals to donating to renting. Fox says, “Until we can open our doors to full-capacity shows, the best way people can help Velour is to spread the word about renting the venue for small private events, as a film and photoshoot location, for daytime corporate meetings, pop-up shops, etc.” Velour also consistently posts about these events on social media, so if you can safely attend, rent out the space and/or raise awareness, please do so! You can also aid Velour by renting the venue for small and distanced music school recitals/showcases, smaller and private birthday and holiday parties, and other special events. If interested, email [email protected].