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Two major rock bands Neon Trees and Imagine Dragons are coming home to Provo next week, to help an old friend who helped them get their start.
"Corey's one of my close friends," said Tyler Glenn, lead singer for Neon Trees. "Corey gave us our first headlining show ever, and that was before he even heard us."
Glenn is referring to Corey Fox, the founder and owner of Velour Live Music Gallery, the all-ages venue at the center of Provo's vibrant music scene.
But while Fox has spent the last decade running Velour, he just recently went public with news that his chronic kidney failure which he has dealt with since he was a teen has worsened to the point where he needs a transplant.
"After several years of being told 'your kidneys are still bad, but not getting worse yet,' you kind of start ignoring it," Fox said, adding that for years he "was pretty determined to not let it slow me down or dictate what I could do or couldn't do."
When Fox let the word out, in a Facebook post on March 29, his friends rallied behind him.
"Of course, we were more than happy to help," said Wayne Sermon, guitarist for Imagine Dragons.
Some of that help will come from a one-of-a-kind benefit concert, with acoustic sets by Neon Trees and Imagine Dragons, set for Friday, April 29, at Velour. Tickets for the show at $300 each, cash only, limit of four per person will go on sale Saturday at 2 p.m. at Velour, 135 N. University Ave., Provo. (The line starts forming at noon.)
Both bands are on a break from touring, and it will be the first time they will appear on the Velour stage in the same show.
"The support has been very overwhelming in a positive way," Fox said this week. "I expected some reaction [about the Facebook post] from the local music scene, but never could have expected the reaction I got."
Glenn said, "It really just comes from our love for him, and our love for what he's done to that town."
Fox has been part of Provo's music scene since 1991, first as a concert promoter and band manager, and as manager of three venues from 1997 to 2005.
That's when he decided to open Velour, which has a capacity of about 300.
"I felt that for the scene to really grow and thrive, there needed to be a higher-quality venue that could exist long enough for bands to develop," Fox said. "I had lofty goals, but I had no idea of the level of success that would launch from the Velour stage."
Besides Neon Trees and Imagine Dragons bands that fill arenas internationally Velour has been home for such national acts as the alt-rock band The Moth & The Flame, rock band Fictionist and pop violinist Lindsey Stirling.
"You gotta start somewhere, right?" said Sermon, who grew up in American Fork. "The room sounded so good. There's always so much energy at the Velour. There's always an awesome vibe.… The first time I got to play on that stage was a really big deal. It was a validation of a lot of things, to have Corey say, 'Hey, come up and play.'"
"What attracted people to Velour was the music," Glenn said. "If you were there, you were there to meet your friends and to watch the band play."
Velour, Glenn said, "was really the place I would hang. That became my church when I felt kind of disconnected with [the LDS] Church. That became my local place to feel welcome."
Neon Trees was one of the first bands Fox booked for Velour when it opened in January 2006.
The band played there frequently, so much so that Fox reserved a special microphone for Glenn because he has a habit of throwing them onto the stage in his exuberance and breaking them.
For Sermon, Velour was also where he met Dan Reynolds, who is now Imagine Dragons' lead singer.
"We talked about music, we talked about our goals and it seemed like they lined up," Sermon said. "That all happened in Velour, so we owe a lot to Velour."
Imagine Dragons played at Velour for a couple of years, Sermon said. Sometimes the band drew big crowds, sometimes just five or six people.
"That first time we saw a line that was actually curved around the block it's hard to describe that feeling as a band," he said. "It's such a big deal to us. It was everything."
For Brandon Robbins, guitarist and vocalist for The Moth & The Flame, Velour was "the place that inspired me to do music."
Robbins recalled visiting Provo from Washington state when he was 18, and attending a show at Velour with about 200 other people. "When the first performer came out, everyone got quiet," Robbins said. "The respect the audience gave the musicians made it seem like we were watching a famous artist, and in turn the musicians lived up to that."
The experience was so powerful, it prompted Robbins to move to Provo two weeks later, "so that I could be part of what was happening there."
Robbins credits Velour's vibe to Fox. "Corey has this beautiful ability to see the potential in others, and he constantly uses that ability to inspire people to be better," Robbins said.
(The Moth & The Flame will perform with Fictionist at another benefit concert for Fox, on Saturday, April 30. Tickets for that show, at $20 each, are on sale via 24Tix.com.)
Fox, Sermon said, "is always very fair with bands. He's very encouraging, too, very nurturing, as weird as the word is to use. He was very willing to go above and beyond things, to make sure a band thrives. It wasn't just a job for him.… This is his passion in life."
Glenn called Fox "one of the more unique people I've ever met.
A lot of people have a lot of misconceptions about Corey because he's quiet, and sort of odd in that way. He's quite misunderstood, and I felt that way in my life a lot so there's a kinship there."
"He's not the kind of person that draws a lot of attention to himself," Sermon said. "He's a cool guy. He would never ask for a handout."
The fundraising campaign bearing the hashtag kidneyforcoreyfox.com
A benefit show">#FixTheFox aims not only to help with medical expenses, but to pay Velour's bills after Fox's transplant.
Fox said the anti-rejection medicine he will take weakens the immune system. For up to 6 months after the transplant, he will have to avoid crowds, like the ones found at a rock show.
Fox said he hopes the timing will work that Velour will close for a few months during the slow summer season though it will remain available for private rentals, like weddings and photo shoots.
The campaign has also prompted dozens of people to volunteer to be a living kidney donor. (The average wait for a kidney transplant in Utah is more than four years, Fox said.) So many people signed up, Fox said, that the transplant center asked his supporters to stop until the first wave of applicants can be tested.
Fox said he was most humbled by the many messages of support, from people describing Velour's effect on their lives.
"For some, Velour has been a sanctuary for them during tough times. For others, it introduced them to their best friends or guided their career paths," Fox said. "I even received a message from someone who met her husband at Velour, and then named their baby girl 'Velour.'"
A benefit show">#FixTheFox benefit
A benefit show for Velour owner Corey Fox, featuring acoustic sets by Neon Trees and Imagine Dragons.
Where • Velour Live Music Gallery, 135 N. University Ave., Provo.
When • Friday, April 29, 8 p.m.
Tickets • $300 per person; for sale Saturday, starting at 2 p.m., at Velour. Cash only; maximum four per person. Line starts forming at noon.
Also • A second benefit concert featuring Provo-based bands The Moth & The Flame and Fictionist will take place at Velour, Saturday, April 30, at 9 p.m. Tickets, at $20 each, available at 24Tix.com.
Information • Go to kidneyforcoreyfox.com for details on Fox's health, and for ways to donate directly.