Meow Wolf could soon be howling in Denver: The Santa Fe sensation has been exploring expansion to a number of cities, including Las Vegas, Austin and the Mile High City, where organizers of the decade-old artists' collective have made a couple of scouting missions.
But long before Meow Wolf puts its paws down here permanently, Denver will be sending one of its most beloved acts there: Avant-ritualists Itchy-O will offer a special, one-night-only performance at Meow Wolf on Saturday, March 25. It's an ideal match: Meow Wolf's House of Eternal Return — a 20,000-square-foot art installation in a former bowling alley in an industrial area of south Santa Fe — is an immersive art experience, and an Itchy-O performance immerses the audience in incredible sights and sounds. But isn't that stage a little small?
"We understand how a lot of people that have been to Meow Wolf and have seen the small venue space are scratching their heads," Itchy-O says (the group speaks with one, anonymous voice)/ "Confusion, mystery and wonder are our mistresses, but we can say this... we will be engaging every dimension of this inter-dimensional complex as we can penetrate."
The forty-piece percussion-centered electronic performance troupe has been taking its show on the road lately, having toured for four years running. Itchy-O released its first full-length LP on Boulderite Jello Biafra’s famed record label Alternative Tentacles in 2014 and has played with David Byrne & St. Vincent’s band as well as at Riot Fest with Iggy Pop, Bad Religion and Public Enemy; it even hit the Mofo Fest in Tasmania last summer.
"Last year while 'down under' in Tasmania we played in a number of interesting spaces, including a funeral home where partygoers roasted marshmallows in the crematorium," the unanimous, anonymous Itchy-o continues. "Another interesting space we occupied a couple Halloweens ago took place inside of a massive horse barn with hundreds of livestock stalls, where a couple hundred itchy-O 'virgins' were indoctrinated through an experiential initiation, dressed in purple shrouds, and then lead through a tube that stretched out into the heart of our die-hard audience to start the show in a rodeo arena But, possibly the most bewildering shows happened at one of our first performances for a four-year-old's birthday party at the now-closed Fantastic Fun Lollipop Park in Englewood. Confusion, wonder, terror, tears, the smell of pee, joy, etc., etc."
In a perhaps less smelly engagement, Itchy-O will be back at its home base of Denver on May 6 for a gig at the Oriental Theater.
Meow Wolf feels at home in Denver, too; it considers Denver a "homie-city," says Meow Wolf co-founder Vince Kadlubek. In the wake of the Ghost Ship tragedy, Meow Wolf gave $20,000 to Rhinoceropolis and Glob to make repairs so that the suddenly-closed venues could reopen, and the ties go beyond personal relationships: Meow Wolf is now handling applications for another $20,000 in grant funds for Denver's DIY spaces provided by Denver Arts & Venues. (Meow Wolf also set up a separate $100,000 fund for venues across the country; deadline for all applications is March 31.)
What will Itchy-O encounter in Santa Fe? Here's a look at Meow Wolf:
Guarding the entrance to Meow Wolf, and all the delights inside (below).
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Now just imagine the members of Itchy-O winding their way through those art installations. It's a show you won't want to miss; find ticket information here.