The hype on art/music/culture collective Meow Wolf [MW] has been building at an exponential rate with their full-frontal assault on the art world in their hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and planned expansion into Las Vegas in 2020 and Denver in 2021. Their ascension from a ragtag group to a multimillion-dollar outfit has proven the art world needs some of that FU mentality again.
Last weekend (Nov 22-24th), the MW collective got started a bit early here in Denver to begin teasing the locals as to what was to come when they open up their HQ in a couple of years.
Dark Palace was a three-day micro music festival/art exhibit/rave at the National Western Complex just outside of Downtown Denver that packed in weirdos and tourists alike. Upon entering the warehouse-like building, it immediately felt like 1995 again, with exposed brick and industrial vibes giving it that stripped-down feeling of an old school rave.
Was it strange being in a building that is usually used for stock shows and RV conventions? Yes, but MW dialed in the vibe perfectly and made this venue work in every way.
We only went to Friday's show but heard that the rest weekend was packed out as well. Here are some of the highlights.
What Meow Wolf got so right was the integration of performance art, and a large variety of interactive installations and chill out rooms. Everywhere you went, there were neon-colored alcoves with small groups of people assembled inside of them just hanging out and vibing on one another. Instead of today's typical DJ worship, where one just stares blankly into a massive LCD screen with their phone out, people were actually connecting - talking, enjoying art, and dancing with their phones (get this), put away!
What the big festivals and clubs miss these days is the intimacy quotient that people need to connect appropriately; the old school chill-out room was a place that you would recharge, regroup and take in the sensory overload of the rave. By merely bringing this idea back into play, they made the event something so much greater for the attendees.
It's hard to convey the feeling entirely of what it was like to attend raves back in the day, but the MW crew came about as close as you can get without doing a full-blown illegal all-night party.
The art, performers, and decor were done in that ravey late 90s early 00s vein of low budget high impact type of installation using bright colors, inexpensive materials, and clever lighting techniques to create that blacklight psychedelic vibe.
Some of the standout performances that we saw were J.Worra, MK, and Jimmy Edgar.
J.Worra laid down a fantastic tech housey, bass-heavy, ass shaking set, very similar to her mix for Diplo & Friends below. Keep an ear on this DJ/Producer; she's on the come up fast.
MK dropped his signature housey grooves but also dropped in some harder stuff to keep up that energy that J.Worra had whipped up. This legendary artist never disappoints, and his DJing has just gotten better and better over the last couple of years.
Jimmy Edgar was dropping an electro-tinged type of vibe and bringing some energy but was probably on a little too early, in our opinion. He was followed by the dope, but very experimental Jlin, who was doing more of mind fuck type of set very much in the vein of an Aphex Twin or Autecher.
You can watch how everything came to be here - Meow Wolf: Origin Story