Meow Wolf has been in the business of creating unique experiences for years now. When Meow Wolf opened Convergence Station (its Denver location) only two short years ago, it became a huge attraction, bringing creatives of all kinds to downtown Denver. In 2018, Meow Wolf first announced that they would bring their immersive art experience to life in the form of music festival. After two years in Taos, New Mexico, the Vortex festival took to a new home in Denver in 2021.
For this second iteration of the Denver festival, we knew we had to check it out! Meow Wolf Vortex was an amazing experience featuring artists and musicians of all kinds. Keep reading to hear more about what made this experience so special!
Entering The JunkYard
Vortex took place from August 25th to 27th at The JunkYard outside downtown Denver. The JunkYard is a recently established outdoor venue that feels like an old car junkyard with many modern twists. There are old clunkers and retro cars everywhere — on top of entrances, at the bars, and above the merch stand.
In addition to the rustic atmosphere of The JunkYard, Meow Wolf added their artistic, imaginative flair. Beautiful installations transformed the venue into their own psychedelic playground. From the moment patrons entered through security, they were transported through a portal of hanging colorful art. The entryway featured disco balls, giant hands, illuminated inflatable tunnels, and even more immersive art. Once inside, there were giant crystal-like structures that lit up, as well as two large towers with an interactive “Empathy Revolution” booth for attendees to explore.
Exploring the Vortex
Once beyond the entrance, Vortex-goers had easy access to the main stage, VIP area, merch, and vendors. The Arā stage (the main stage) was heavily-decorated in true Meow Wolf fashion, featuring bright colors and dangling abstract lanterns. The VIP spaces featured art by Andrea Fischer that set a creative and cozy tone to the lounge areas. The merch and vendor booths allowed us to shop to our hearts’ content, carrying everything from rave gear to colorful hair braids to jewelry.
As we moved further back into the venue, there was even more to see! A large shade structure called The Living Room offered shelter and couches, creating a cozy place to hang out. Theatric entertainers on stilts would stop by and put on fun shows for those relaxing in the area. There was also a “Dream Line” mailbox with energetic entertainers, who mixed up shapes in a bowl on which we wrote our wildest dreams. It was up to the individual whether they wanted to hold on to their dream or leave it behind in the mailbox.
Another feature of The Living Room was that it had not only a good view of the main stage but also of the second stage, called Atriā. The second stage was decorated colorfully, but was much different from the other stage — better suited for a DJ booth and non-stop dancing. Though this stage was smaller, it was full of energy and personality. Better yet, it was angled perfectly to catch the sunsets, allowing the crowd to enjoy Denver’s late summer weather.
Music at Vortex
Last, but certainly not least, Vortex featured diverse musical performances representing countless genres. Friday night kicked things off with talented house and rock artists. Jean Dawson and Claude VonStroke were a few of our favorite sets. Once it turned dark, indie musician Remi Wolf showed off her jazzy vocals and ended the night with a bang.
Saturday was a beautiful day that was teeming with energy. Armani White and his team hyped up the crowd with his popular rap tracks, like the TikTok-famous “BILLIE EILISH.” Zingara took the stage right after, playing her floor-shaking bass from start to finish. To the delight of thousands of fans, GRiZ closed out the night with a glorious mixture of saxophone, ground-shaking bass, and his crew of live musicians and vocalists.
On Sunday, Vortex treated attendees to a more mellow vibe. Parkbreezy and Thought Process started things off with their chilled-out bass music. Then, GRiZ played a Chasing The Golden Era set at sunset, during which he gave a heartfelt speech to honor the city he has called home for over a decade. Other favorites such as The Funk Hunters, Mindchatter, and Dusky brought the perfect energy to close out an incredible weekend.
If you didn’t have a chance to attend Meow Wolf Vortex this time around, don’t worry! Meow Wolf puts on a multitude of events around Denver. Learn about what’s coming next on their website!
Photos by Kyle Weiss