Denver's Itchy-O Blasts Off With Intergalactic Masquerade | Westword
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Itchy-O Blasts Off Into Parts Unknown With Intergalactic Masquerade

The collective of masked drummers brings its immersive extravaganza to Summit on Saturday, May 18.
Denver's itchy-O remains cloaked in mystery, which is just the way its sixty-plus members like it.
Denver's itchy-O remains cloaked in mystery, which is just the way its sixty-plus members like it. Courtesy itchy-O
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\Whether or not Denver collective itchy-O is of earthly origin is still up for debate. The sixty-plus members who make up the performance drum corps have never publicly revealed their human identities and only speak to the press as a collective.

But one thing’s for sure: The eleventh annual Intergalactic Masquerade on Saturday, May 18, at Denver’s Summit is certain to be a unique experience, as all itchy-O shows invariably are.

We recently chatted with itchy-O to ask what people should know about what the group is calling the Arcane Nexus.
click to enlarge people in masks playing drums
These itchy-O performers look human, but we're not so sure.
Courtesy itchy-O
Westword: The longstanding Intergalactic Masquerade is certainly a unique event within the itchy-O universe. For the uninitiated, what should newcomers expect?

itchy-O: Newcomers venturing into the itchy-O exocosm (the universe in which itchy-O was spawned, in which it thrives and to which it will return) should come ready to have their senses flipped inside out.

Our events are more than just mere concerts; we deliver a full-bodied spiritual experience that envelops attendees in a tidal wave of poly-sensory synesthetic rapture. Be ready to immerse yourself in pure exaltation, and forget what you think you know about the concert experience. As you enter the Summit Denver, leave the mundane at the door and enter this year's Arcane Nexus, where science is about to reckon with the mystic, and where the extraordinary reigns supreme.

How has the masquerade shifted and changed since its inception?

Since its inception as a May the Fourth Be With You party behind City, O’ City eleven years ago, the Intergalactic Masquerade has continuously evolved, growing in scale, richness, inclusion and a depth of meaning. Pushing boundaries, expanding communities and delivering a transcendent experience via music, performance, technology and metaphysics — that is what we’re about. Over the last fifteen years, we’ve been dedicated to one core mission: to create spiritual experiences that challenge and expand perceptions, putting attendees in direct contact with their higher selves through art and music — something we believe everyone needs, especially in these current times.

Itchy-O has a loyal following, despite maintaining a veil of anonymity. What keeps people coming back time and again?

Since 2009, itchy-O has grown a fiercely loyal following, thanks in part to our rejection of egocentric personality cults clamoring for attention on social media. Anonymity also adds power to our events, focusing fans on their profound communal bond with the music and each other instead of the individual performers. The group's ability to remain faceless yet impactful creates a unique synergetic collective identity that empowers fans to enter into with abandon.

Speaking of remaining anonymous all these years, are the members of itchy-O what us humans would call aliens?

Itchy-O stands on a rich foundation of mythos, lore and legend, as our inner-circle supporters can attest. Part of that lore speaks to the power of art and ceremony to serve as conduits to extra-human dimensions. The group is more than the sum of its members, working together on a mission to transport our audience into transcendental dimensions that defy easy earthly definition. "Alien?" Not exactly. "Interdimensional" is probably a bit more accurate.

Should we be scared?

What a great question!

When approaching any depths of the unknown, some level or degree of fear is natural.

However, our immersive ceremonial concerts are designed to meet folks wherever they are at. Some might say it’s difficult to escape being challenged or even overwhelmed with itchy-O’s powerful auditory, visual, physical and metaphysical input, but we are definitely not interested in trapping anyone. We are all about agency, consent and inclusion, and you’ll find a whole spectrum of engagement — from our Patreon supporters, who come ready to dive in deep after receiving their preparatory pre-event workbooks we call the “Resonant Primer,” to folks that just want to check it out from the sidelines. But if you are sensitive to loud music, strobing lights and rocking the fuck out…maybe this is not for you.

We’ll also just add that at every all-ages show, you will see kids with big wide eyes (and hearing protection) on the shoulders of their parents channeling how we feel on the inside. This show will have Carnivale de Sensuale on the bill, though. They are certainly the wildest sci-fi-centric burlesque group in the world, so this one is appropriately [for ages] eighteen-plus.

After the time-warping masquerade, what does itchy-O have planned next?

Over the last year, our keen-eyed followers will have noticed the roll-out of our new umbrella organization called Mettle Institute. This is a new nonprofit arm, dedicated to delivering access to sonic arts that support creative, spiritual and health potential for all. With it, we are leaning deeper and deeper into something we call “wellness for weirdos.” We’ve been experimenting with the power of meditation and brain entrainment through sound for many years now, and those that were at our debut of Söm Säptälahn at the Fiske Planetarium recently got to experience a more hypnotic and mind-expanding version of itchy-O.

Without sounding too pretentious or lofty, we have big plans for revolutionizing live entertainment that is less extractive and more restorative. We are also very proud to have just announced our new Public Benefit Coop. We are excited to be among just a few leading-edge arts organizations taking on the challenge of operating in ways that are the most equitable and impactful for our crew and our community. We all want a better world. We believe art is essential, and the intentional impact we can create together also matters. It fuels this beast.

itchy-O, 8 p.m. Saturday, May 18, Summit, 1902 Blake Street. Tickets are $25-$107.
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