These days, shows are pretty easy to find out about if you want to and relatively easy to get to. There is rarely true mystique surrounding a concert anymore. But over the weekend, Thug Entrancer played a show at a secret location, and it felt like something from the '90s, before not everything was on the Internet. The flier itself had no address listed, just "VENUE TBA" and a phone number, the last four numbers of which corresponded to the word "RAVE." It even listed the start time as 11:30 and "going late." The flier looked like something Peter Saville might have concocted, had he gone even more minimalist in designing a poster for an early Factory gig.
A call to the number on the flier got a recorded female voice that gave the address and some directions to a place north of the RiNo district. The evening's wind and light rain added to the quasi-clandestine atmosphere. It took some exploring once the map route failed, but finding the road there was half the fun. I eventually found the place on a road that once led to an old practice space/DIY venue in the '80s utilized by Thinking Plague and other legendary old-school Denver weirdos.
The buildings nearby seemed semi-abandoned -- or at least not in use -- and there were others that had been repurposed from some bygone use, long forgotten. Urban decay, so common in Denver eight years ago and going back, is a little hard to find these days. No trace remains of places like the short-lived DIY venue The Office, which was located in the same building as the offices for Modern Drunkard Magazine. But there are still some forgotten blocks.
A line of parked cars marked the right warehouse. Soft but strong techno music pumped out through the cracked doors. Inside, the white painted walls served as a stark visual contrast to the cloud-darkened night outside. Attendees had to walk down a hall, duck under the half-closed roll-up door and pay the donation inside. The sound system was good, set up so that the music surrounded you, much as it did at the Apex Movement vibe at Communikey 2014. A lighting rig cast projections on the walls and hanging columns. The event flier had indicated that the music would be techno, house, acid and juke, and it was obvious that the performers were not necessarily making those distinctions in their respective sets.
Whether largely a computerized set or a combination of Ableton and hardware -- or almost entirely hardware, in the case of Thug Entrancer -- the artists displayed various aspects of the more experimental electronic music going today. Not that it waxed into the avant-garde, per se. With the exception of a few Morton Subotnik-esque moments in Thug Entrancer's set, the music was along the lines of the recent wave of Berlin chillout electro and the minimalist techno and house favored by musicians like those out of the Modern Love catalogue.
Plenty of people were dancing heartily with the music. It wasn't the kind of crowd you would see at the typical underground show, but it also wasn't just the kind of dance-music crowd you're likely to see at some big EDM show at a large venue. It had a low-key vibe to match the low lights. Overall, it felt like being somewhere special before a lot of people find out about it.
The show was reminiscent of Monkey Mania in the late '90s, where it felt mysterious but was open to anyone willing to take a chance on the experience, the music and the crowd. Even at a time when it seems like most rocks have been uncovered and there are few real surprises left, there is still mystery and freshness in the music scene.
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If you'd like to contact me, Tom Murphy, on Twitter, my handle is @simianthinker.