Denver has an incredible amount of culture. It’s truly a mile-high lifestyle here in one of the fastest growing cities in the country, and there’s a lot to be said for the music and arts scene that has developed alongside it. of the population over the past decade. Of course, there’s Red Rocks and the iconic Comedy Works, one of the top comedian destinations across the country. What makes Denver so admirable is the local music and arts scene. There are literally thousands of admired musicians and visual artists scattered throughout the metro area, and every year that number grows. With dozens of new festivals popping up in the city after the lockdown, it can be difficult to stand out in the sea of expansive line-ups and big-budget performances. Luckily, Denver’s newest festival experience, the Animas Music and Arts Carnival, is shaping up to be a unique and exciting experience that will celebrate local creators in an authentic way. The self-proclaimed “Carnival” takes place October 22-23 at the new River venue in RiNo, and promises a weird and spooky experience that will delve deep into Denver’s musical and artistic culture.
Animas has been a long time coming. Alexandria Rowan, the main force behind the event, planned this festival for most of 2021. The festival was actually supposed to take place in August, but Rowan’s vision was too big and multifaceted for the place to originate. can accommodate it. So instead of sacrificing her creative vision, she decided to postpone the event until she discovered the perfect space. She eventually found everything she was looking for in the new River Concert Hall located in Denver’s River North Arts District, known as RiNo. “What we liked [River] was their commitment to the independent arts community, ”Rowan explained.
“For every work of art in their place, one hundred percent of the commission goes to the artists. We loved hearing this because it shows that small businesses and small venues can have a relationship with artistic communities and with this small creative community in a symbiotic way so that we can all elevate and grow together. This is the main mission of Animas.“
The Animas Music and Arts Carnival is more than a music festival. It’s a two-day, multi-faceted creative endeavor with tons of surreal and exciting activities. Whether it’s an augmented reality scavenger hunt, silent nightclubs, and fire fliers, there’s a lot going on. Rowan needed a place open to the weird and experimental nature of the festival. More importantly, she needed a venue more concerned with supporting the independent arts community than adhering to the traditional grounds of a festival experience. Animas and River share a mutual respect for the independent arts community and an appreciation for the less corporate approach to festival planning.
“When working with the independent community, you don’t want to have to bypass all of this red tape just to deliver something magical and meaningful to an audience. River just allowed that to do that.
Animas sponsors and partnerships have also been carefully chosen to match the spooky and psychedelic vibe of the carnival experience. For example, Full Body Sounds – a Boulder-based music technology company – will bring interactive sound sculpture to the festival, and that’s as strange as it sounds. Basically, Full Body Sound uses TENS technology, which is traditionally used for pain management and physical therapy, to electrically stimulate muscles to the beat of the music you listen to. It allows you to literally feel the music throughout your body. Best of all, this technology works in a group setting simply by tying your hands with a neighbor.
All the extra stuff is great, but what about the music? True to their focus on the local community, Animas’ programming features a strong representation of the Denver electronic scene. Headliners include Psymbionic and jackLNDN, but the majority of the roster is made up of awesome up-and-coming DJs and producers like AZTEK and Freddy Rule. There’s a healthy mix of deep-house, bass music, and ambient deep-dub sounds from all over the electronic world, a perfect cocktail for Denver’s status as the “Bass Capital of the World”.
Each artist represents the collective sound ambience of Denver, but more importantly, Animas will showcase the rare collaborative spirit and experimental nature of our city’s creative culture, something Rowan would be sure to point out.
“I love that Denver’s music community isn’t afraid to experiment and think outside the box. this is the first thing I noticed [about Denver] when I really integrated into the bass and electronics scene. Artists just want to play the music they love, not so much the music that they think people want to hear, and the people of Denver are really receptive to that. It’s such a beautiful symbiotic relationship between the music community and the people who enjoy music in Denver.
While this sentiment has always been true for the Denver music scene, this synergistic culture is more important than ever in the post-pandemic world. We need live music to feed our souls and feed our economy. The stability of Denver residents, from small business owners to live artists to blue collar workers, is often tied to the city’s vibrant music scene. Without it, our economy and our demographics could be very different. This is why it is so important for us to support the local creative community in any way possible. It’s good for them, it’s good for your neighbor, and it’s good for the city.
While the live music industry has struggled to stay afloat over the past 18 months, it’s also important to tackle the narrative that our creative industry is powerless in the face of adversity. There is a lot of talk about the “new normal” in a post-pandemic world. For the music industry, that means (hopefully) giving more to artists and supporting local venues.
“It’s like when there’s a forest fire and flowers grow out of all that death and rot.” I just want the local community to know that we don’t have to wait for government programs. We don’t have to wait for handouts or big business to create these spaces. It is something that we can do on our own. Platforms like Patreon show that we don’t need to have thousands of followers to create something meaningful in our city and your community. Just through the support of the locals and your friends and family, it creates this gravity that people can truly grasp because it comes from a genuine desire to see our city grow for the better.
The music industry is infamous for the slimy and unethical nature of gatekeepers and executives. Thankfully, the Denver scene is constantly questioning these traditions, and people like Rowan deconstruct this distasteful narrative by hosting events and festivals that represent the more positive side of the business. The Animas Music and Arts Carnival not only represents the spirit of Denver, but the festival also aims to contribute to a new post-pandemic music industry focused on creativity, collaboration and compassion.