Denver is growing so fast that two years here can feel more like ten. So Travis Egedy -- better known as Pictureplane -- has missed plenty since he packed up and moved to New York in 2012. Still, he's practically a native. He spent the better part of a decade here, going to art school, making music, and helping to put local all-ages show space Rhinoceropolis on the global DIY map.
Egedy was back last week, playing a pair of shows in Boulder and at the 1up Colfax for the Red Bull Sound Select Series. He was also in town to meet with old friends, including Tim Holland (aka Sole). The two recently collaborated on "The Helen Keller of Dead Cops," from Pictureplane's just-released The Alien Body Mixtape, which is available as a download for $5 on Bandcamp. "Talk about an inspiring dude," says Egedy of Holland. "It would be cool if he was mayor, because he's such an anarchist."
The track with Sole is just one of many collaborations and remixes on the mixtape -- which is downloadable for $5 through bandcamp. Egedy says he is also about three-quarters of the way done with his first full-length album since 2011's Thee Physical. He just needs to find a label to put it out.
Egedy isn't sweating it though -- he's been putting out songs as they are finished, including "Self Control," a collaboration with Skin Town's Grace Hall. It was released recently in the form of a Hackers-esque video. He was connected with Hall through mutual friends in the band Rainbow Arabia, who were working Hall's band on a release for their label, Time No Place.
"I was staying with them (Rainbow Arabia) for a night or two in L.A. and they were just starting their record label; they were like, you have to hear this girl we've been working with, Grace Hall," says Egedy. "They played me some of her music and I thought her voice was amazing. They said she liked what I did, too." The result was "Self Control" and another yet-to-be released track.
Last week's wasn't Egedy's first return trip; he was in Colorado last year, on tour with Crystal Castles. He says that he noticed the state's evolution at the time -- but in the interim, there's been an even bigger change, one with ramifications large enough to be felt all the way across the country.
"The weed legalization happened, and Denver exploded," he says. In particular, Egedy is interested in the role marijuana revenue has played in growth along Brighton Boulevard, where Rhinoceropolis has maintained a healthy existence as a countercultural staple in a nondescript building since his early days in Denver. He played shows in the space and even lived there for a while, watching the gradual evolution of the River North district firsthand.
"We kind of always knew it was happening," he says of the area's development, "but it seemed like there was a stall in the money." When Rhino first opened, there wasn't much along the industrial strip. Now, apartment complexes with fancy fitness centers, art galleries and doggie-daycare joints have popped up all along it, aided, in Egedy's view, by an infusion of revenue from marijuana dispensaries and recreational stores. In many ways, Rhinoceropolis is becoming a stranger on its own block.
"Things change; nothing can stay the same forever," muses Egedy. "It's amazing that Rhinoceropolis is still there." He's seen the effects of changing neighborhoods on DIY spaces in his new home town, as well: Gentrification was partially responsible for the demise of 285 Kent in Williamsburg, where Pictureplane once played a show that was shut down by the cops. Egedy doesn't feel much resentment, however. Kent, like Rhino and most DIY venues around the country, was built with the understanding that it couldn't last forever. Still, he hopes the contributions of the warehouse on Brighton Boulevard are recognized. "It needs to be given some sort of fucking award. The city needs to recognize Rhinoceropolis as an important cultural institution of Denver," he says. "But I don't think that will ever happen."