When considering the coolest places to see a show in the U.S., Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside of Denver, Colorado, and The Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington, clearly top the list for outdoor venues. But after witnessing Dirtybird player Will Clarke turn Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe, New Mexico, into a house and techno bonanza recently, I really don’t think anywhere else can measure up to the sensorial insanity here that bolsters the concert experience and vibes of the crowd to out-of-this-world levels.
For the closest comparison, imagine the art installations of Electric Forest cranked to maximalist style and extreme interactivity, filling 70+ rooms in a 22,000 sq. ft. psychedelic funhouse, with an exhaustively assembled, mixed-media, mind-expanding sci-fi mystery connecting them. And within this magical realm there’s an intimate stage featuring terrific acoustics and boundless energy. Meow Wolf finds the forward-thinking convergence point of immersive art, amusement park and spectacle-driven concert to revolutionize them in the most exciting ways possible.
Meow Wolf hosts a diverse range of concerts, but the whole exhibit only stays open for the entire show (excluding a few specific rooms) during the dance and bass parties. You’ll want to arrive early for extra time to explore, take pictures and dial into some of the narrative threads surrounding the Selig family’s strange supernatural powers, complex backstories and how they caused a rift in the universe that filled their house with portals to all manner of colorful dimensions.
Fully grasping all the fascinating context requires over three hours of investigating reading and video materials spread throughout the house (100% worth it), and that doesn’t include finding and admiring all the awe-inspiring art rooms that literally transport you to new worlds. A full day trip expedition through these dazzling environments will satisfy your imagination and curiosity the most.
But raging to a techno banger with your friends one minute, then strolling down a bizarre hallway of alternate dimension oddities, wandering into the blacklight forest, through the glowing crystal caverns and various other vivid wonders on the return to the dancefloor elevates the concert experience into a mind-blowing journey. Adventurous detours during songs thoroughly enhance the music, because sliding through a jaw-dropping, shimmering outer space-like washing machine and then coming back to a dirty bassline is like going through a hype machine.
Justin Martin had a ridiculously wild residency at Meow Wolf last year, Chris Lake will produce electro house pandemonium there March 16 and Will Clarke got all the booties percolatin’. Moving through the crowd to different vantage points is easy enough, with the most enthusiastic dancers freely climbing onstage to groove in communion with the party gods. I know I certainly did.
I haven’t ever had such enthralling and fulfilling fun at a concert, so I’m already planning a return for another show. As far as venues are concerned, I’d take Meow Wolf over Red Rocks any day.