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Recaps and Reviews - February 18, 2019

Temple of the Jaguar | King and Queen Presents a Ferocious Envision Festival Pre-Party

Temple of the Jaguar hosted by King and Queen Presents was ferocious!

Being a recent convert to world bass (or whatever it’s called, I’m no expert), I found myself at Enter the Prism with the Dimond Saints, The Librarian, Atyya, Anna Morgan, Goopsteppa, and Yaarrohs for a packed New Years Weekend show at Crystal Ballroom. It was a fabulous event hosted by King & Queen Presents who brought in Rose Entertainment for co-promoter collaboration. I thoroughly enjoyed not just the music, but the immersive experience of art installations, talented dancers, and a unique stage backdrop. King & Queen Presents’ name and mantra is based on community, collaboration and giving equal male and female opportunity to the “Kings and Queens”of the music and art scene.” How could you not love that?!? So when I saw King & Queen Presents were hosting Temple of the Jaguar, I knew I had to check it out! We were lucky to get the Envision Festival Pre-Party in Portland, OR, and since I’d been tempted to attend the event in Costa Rica this year, I cleared my schedule for Temple of the Jaguar.  Sure enough, it blew all my expectations out of the water!

It was my first time at The Redd event space, and whenever I go to a new venue, I like to do a bit of exploring and observing before focusing myself on the music.  The first thing I noticed was the open-beamed, soaring ceilings that provided a feeling of tremendous space for all forms of creativity and self-expression. In direct contrast to this lightness was the massive, ancient machinery that had been left in the warehouse from when it was an Iron Works, Foundry, and Machine Shop back in 1918.  The colorful lights illuminating these massive machines while the bass rumbled through my body from the Funktion One sound system was nothing short of magical.

Speaking of wizardry, the winged jaguar stage was breathtaking!  It was designed by Lucas Schwartz, whose work has been featured at Burning Man, Symbiosis, Oregon Eclipse, and many other top artist’s traveling stages. Each laser cut wood piece was a giant wing perfectly framing the DJ booth, and like the wings of the goddess Isis, they transported me to another world. Smack dab in the middle of the wings was a man-sized jaguar centerpiece behind which the DJs played.  I’m exceedingly happy to report they did next to no talking on the mic, rarely appeared from behind the centerpiece, and let their music speak for them.

The stage wasn’t the only phenomenal art on display in the Temple of the Jaguar.  There were beautiful pagoda-like structures covered in a mystifying array of jungle, wildcat, and religious-themed paintings.  Artistic works from the likes of visionary painter of the Amazon Alfred Zagaceta, world-renowned spiritual leader (and creator of TOOL’s 10,000 days album cover art) Alex Grey, and those of roughly 20 artists were displayed throughout the event space.  Ingeniously placed multi-colored lights moved over the artwork, creating a sense that the art itself was breathing and moving before your eyes.

The progression of DJs and their styles of music throughout the night was sheer perfection.  I’d never seen any of them live (cause I’m a bass newbie), so I listened to many of their sets on Soundcloud in the weeks leading up to Temple of the Jaguar.  EPs and albums are great, but in my experience, DJ sets give me a better idea of what to expect as they’re often so different from their produced works. Edamame started off my night with subtle and soothing beats, which were perfect for connecting with friends and perusing the art while sipping specially crafted jungle-themed cocktails from Black Rabbit Bars.  

After getting my fill of the art displays and moving onto the dance floor, Tor began to fill the massive warehouse with bigger bass vibes.  His set was like a massage; smooth, yet firm in feel, like sweeping caresses over your body. Each DJ played perfectly into the next with a growing succession of volume and intensity throughout the night.  I’d lost my roomie at some point in the night and found her dancing on one of the boxes set up throughout the room. She said one of the event creators told her they were built for people to dance on, so I joined her for the end of Tor’s set.

Though the warehouse had slowly been filling throughout the night, I never once felt crowded and had plenty of space to dance with movements and contortions as big as the bass beats and drops.  The Jaguar and Temple dancers that appeared on stage were decked out in animal print and cat ears and were some of the best performers I’ve seen in a while. They rotated often so there was always someone new to see (as if there wasn’t so much already). In keeping with the music, they were the perfect mixture of graceful, weird beauty.  Towards the end of the night, more and more dancers joined those already on stage. This worked perfectly with the growing volume and energy of the night. As the crowd focused less on the art hanging on the walls around them, their attention was focused on the art happening on stage.

By the time an-ten-nae took over, there were few in the venue who weren’t moving and grooving.  Setting the stage with some beautiful Sanskrit chanting backed by booming beats, I was overjoyed to see him dancing and chanting along.  Having grown up Hindu, it’s always shocking for me to see someone else singing in Sanskrit. Whatever gods may be answered an-ten-nae’s prayer and his set built beautifully upon the foundation the DJs that preceded him had brought to the stage.  His dancing and energy were infectious and I absolutely LOVE when DJs really get into their own sets. The funny thing is, where I’d looked at the stage set-up earlier in the night and been perfectly content that I couldn’t see the DJs (cause I’m of the opinion that their music should speak for them), I suddenly was bummed I couldn’t really see an-ten-nae jumping around and singing along.  ESPECIALLY when he dropped “War Pigs” and I could just barely see him fist pumping in the air, head thrown back, singing that unmistakable opening line “Gen’rals gathered in their masses, Just like witches at black masses.” Having seen this track played by all kinds of live bands and by several DJs, for whatever reason, this may be one of my favorite times I’ve ever seen it dropped. Perhaps it’s our political climate, or maybe it’s just cause an-ten-nae hit us with it when the beats and the track blended effortlessly.

Next up was Of the Trees, who I heard of for the first time from contributor Erik Sisco, whose sheer enthusiasm and praise of Tyler Coombs’ mixing abilities and sets had me excited to see him for weeks in advance.  As Erik had promised, Of the Trees’ set was a lush blend of the mechanical and natural. It paralleled beautifully with the former ironworks plant we were dancing in that had been filled with bamboo and jungle-inspired art.  It felt as if Of the Trees and IHF created the perfect energy towards the end of the night. They didn’t go quite as hard as an-ten-nae before them, which worked perfectly for me as I was beginning to get tired and my feet were feeling a bit heavy.  When I begin to sway, rather than move my feet, that’s my cue to head home for the night.

There are so many things happening around me at shows that I have to take notes or I’ll forget the little drops of oddity and beauty that seem to happen when least expected.  For years I’ve been a self-described trance purist and house lover, and other than techno and some old school drum ‘n’ bass, I didn’t do a lot of exploring outside my beloved genres. So when I opened my notes from the bass-only Temple of the Jaguar show and saw “There’s something different about these parties.  Maybe a more open expression of self? Definitely more unhindered freedom of movement and an anything goes with the music,” it made me very happy that I’m breaking out of my own confines. My inner musings at the end of the night remain true as I write this a day later. So you’ll definitely find me at more King & Queen Presents events in the future.  From what they’ve said on the Temple of the Jaguar FB page, the next one they throw will be a two-day event and they’ve already begun asking for input from their attendees (always a great sign). Whatever you’ve got happening next, count me in–this music and art enthusiast is definitely a YES!

Alfred Zagaceta: Facebook | Instagram
Alex Grey: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Edamame: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Tor: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
an-ten-nae: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Of the Trees: Facebook | Instagram
IHF: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter