Living Spaces Was a Feast for the Ears, the Eyes and the Heart

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The drive to Conifer for the Living Spaces showcase offered a preview of the spirit and quality of the event. To get there, we took I-70 to highway 285 and into a neighborhood without pavement called Aspen Park, a small town next to Conifer. While they weren't quite log cabins, the houses in the area, including the one hosting the event, were reminiscent of the rustic yet modern houses one finds on the fringes of skiing destinations like Winter Park, except that everything was green. 

The rainstorm the night before the festival kept me from making the trek to the mountains for an overnight stay without the appropriate gear. When I showed up on Satuday, I learned that the rain had come in full force for an hour or two, and only briefly delayed the evening's festivities, which included Denver's Sister Grotto, Cross Record from Dripping Springs, Texas, and Brooklyn's Mutual Benefit alongside experimental films from roughly eight visual artists. Once the skies cleared, the stars were especially bright, according to Denver-based artist and attendee Jamie Knowlton.

None of the rain threatened the following morning and afternoon. The humble, calm and enchanting setting was perfect for the opening act of the day, Sound of Ceres. Something about that band's music suggests a mysterious woodland setting. so that even if the full effect of its colorful stage setup might have been lost in the daylight, the backdrop of lightly clouded, bright-blue sky, evergreens, grass and clean air couldn't help but enhance Ceres's ethereal, gently evocative melodies. After its performance, the four-piece stood for various photo shoots, because the festival offered the perfect visual backdrop for the group. 

Emily Yacina, of Cross Record, put in the final performance of the day on the house lawn. She provided a delicately introspective yet playful set of music, giving the daytime performance a  campfire feel. It was a fitting way to end that portion of the event (there was a hike accompanied by music later in the day) — a kind of friendly farewell to the site at which a few dozen people had gathered together for a night to eat communally, sleep in tents and share each other's space and company away from the usual concerns of everyday urban living. It sure felt like a shift for something better.

After Yacina's performance, one of the owners of the house got up and graciously commended everyone who showed up for being respectful and kind. She and her husband had their adult child in attendance and knew Jake, Sam and Ben Martin — the guys behind Portals, which put the event together. It truly felt like a positive family get-together. And that's what made the experience special and interesting and definitely worth the 45-minute trek outside of Denver. A personal touch goes a long way.

Critic’s Notebook

Bias: Jake Martin was one of the main people behind the first Goldrush Festival and he's refined and honed his vision for what kinds of events can be put together and how and it's been good to see his development as not just a blogger but as someone who wants to create memorable events for people who decide to show up.

Random Detail: Ran into the mighty Reed Fuchs of Moon Magnet and déCollage.

By the Way: Portals and Hype Machine curate these Living Spaces events, and this one, the fourth showcase, was sponsored by MailChimp, which had some great free “merch” available, including a knit hat that looked like a stylized chimp of some kind, as well as a detailed plastic figure of the company's mascot.

If you'd like to contact me, Tom Murphy, on Twitter, my handle is @simianthinker.

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