Words by: Nick Boeka | Images by: Chad Fahnestock
Cosmic Consciousness :: 10.17.09 :: City Hall :: Denver, CO
The sacred space of the lens is in which you view God
But also how God views you. -Alex Grey
The works of visionary and psychedelic artists like Robert Venosa, Alex and Allyson Grey are nothing new to many music fans. From Tool to The String Cheese Incident, Alex Grey has provided album covers and posters which inspire people to discover their own reality and seek that iconic transcendental state of being that is depicted in so many of Grey's works. Often though, lost in the translation from brush to print and distribution is the intention behind the art; the story behind the images, and the memories behind the actions.
| Cosmic Consciousness :: 10.17 :: Denver|
On a special evening in Denver, the CoSMos collided for what began first as an intimate passing of knowledge from Grey on his pivotal works, a fashion show with Goodie, and meet & greet with the Greys, then into a non-stop dance party until morning. Todd Smith, owner of Boogie Down Productions said, "My vision for Cosmic Consciousness was to fuse together visionary elements of art, theater, music, and fashion to create a unique experience that each person could walk away from radiating." Those who attended left radiating wildly, vibrating together on a universal plane of oneness.
Hosted at City Hall and 2 AM, Denver's newest multi-functional events space, the sold out Cosmic Consciousness featured three floors of art and music installations with over 12 artists live painting, including the Greys, J-Garcia, MARS-1, and Michael Garfield on the main floor. Add aerial dancers, a multitude of vendors, and a dual level outdoor amphitheater featuring fire dancing, and the event came off as more of an urban festival than a show. Where the venue normally has a warm ex-textile factory look, with red brick, concrete and exposed wood beams, on this evening pieces of incredible art, video wall projections, and sculpted lighting took center stage to invite visitors to escape from the bustling city and unify to celebrate incredible talent.
Beginning at 8 p.m., an early crowd of nearly a thousand listened to Alex Grey give a sit-down presentation on his evolution as an artist. Introduced by his wife Allyson, who shares an extremely visual and palatable connection with Alex, he provided a revealing profile that was more "True (Hippy) Hollywood Story" than PowerPoint presentation. Grey guided us through very personal photos from his early, uh, performances. He openly discussed his experiences with the mind enlightening chemical LSD and the influences it had on his early obsessions with polarity and the dominance it has as a theme throughout his work. He invited us all to the family's land to visit the Chapel of the Sacred Mirrors, a sanctuary of art and love. Grey's voice put the large, close-quartered crowd at ease for over an hour, and everyone gave their utmost attention, focusing and some straining to hear every word that was spoken by a knowledgeable yet very personable being.
| Alex & Allyson Grey :: 10.17|
At the end, Allyson offered her thanks for being a part of the event, then said, "Now we're going to paint!" with an eagerness that embodied the spirit of the night. The addition of massive banner sized versions of many of Grey's most famous works, like "Theologue," "Painting," and "Cosmic Christ," which was combined with multicolor LED lights on a DJ driven pulse, had a steady gathering of 40-50 people getting weird nearby, all transfixed every time I walked by the installation.
The music lineup alone, featuring the hottest DJs to get people swerving, would have drawn a sizable crowd on a busy night in Denver. By the first sets thrown, the 3,000 capacity space was packed and every act played host to a dance party. Upstairs and downstairs for hours, fans heard the boom-bips and wobbles from Shen and Kilowatts, Emancipator, EPROM, and Heyoka, who each immediately brought their A-game. Shen's work transcended the level he had achieved with his Moonshadow Beats release, and fans of Bluetech that haven't caught on yet better pay attention. Kilowatts and Emancipator both took their heavy beats and stimulated the room with crisp high range melodies that cut through the air. Watching Emancipator is a bit more fun than your typical DJ set, as he incorporates live guitar playing. Speaking with him later, he mentioned an upcoming collaboration that will feature more live instrumentation.
Speaking of instrumentation, Boulder's Big Gigantic stole the show with the evening's most captivating set. Dominic Lalli (sax) and Jeremy Salken (drums) tore through many of the tracks off of their latest album, Wide Awake. Live "Light of Day" incorporates more Lalli sax work, as he blazes the main lines and opens up the middle section. Definitely the hometown favorites, their sound continues to grow as the two find their place in the hyphy scene. As the evening picked up intensity, both EPROM and Heyoka delivered dirty track after track, like a grease-garage working the late shift, and had the capacity crowd dripping sweat and begging for more as the last beats echoed through City Hall's sound system.
| Big Gigantic :: 10.17 :: Denver|
Catering to the late night crowd, the after party began in the same building's basement space, Club 2 AM, and immediately flew off the hook with CrowdRock taking people by storm with their acid crunk, powered by intense bass, the type that vibrates you and sends your body into a frenzy as you beat match to the groove. San Fran favorites Mimosa and An-Ten-Nae also reminded Rocky Mountain fans what sounds are being produced on the Left Coast.
Looking around, people's eyes showed the wear and tear that dancing for so many hours produces, and yet everyone was driven to stay up and witness the talent of these two artists. Mimosa's latest, Flux for Life, catalogs the noises and beats of S.F. and NorCal, and rang through Denver until after four in the morning. The evening ended, but for many the memory of the experience is still resonating and this writer in particular was glowing for days after the experience and meeting the Greys. The event was truly special, and we have to hope it wasn't just a one-off event.
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