At last night's Rhinoceropolis show a friend of mine brought up a great point: at Rhinoceropolis conventional club/venue wisdom goes out the window. At just about any other venue anywhere else, there is a sort of code - a set of rules whether written or unwritten that everyone needs to follow to participate in any of that venue's events. But in that respect, Rhinoceropolis is not that kind of place, as this D.I.Y. venue has none of that at all. As long as people are generally considerate to each other everything else pretty much does not matter. People can be exactly who they want to be, and that is perhaps what creates the unique atmosphere of this particular setting - a setting that after this night one of its most beloved inhabitants would no longer call home.
It is not unusual for Rhinoceropolis to host a variety of different acts for a show and party on any given night, so Tuesday's party wasn't really all that out of the ordinary, but what set this night apart from others in the past was that it was a farewell party for Travis Egedy, the man behind Pictureplane. After spending years living and creating in the art space/venue, Pictureplane is making the move to New York, so Rhinoceropolis did what they know best - put on a show - as a farewell party.
Even with a late start on a Tuesday night, people came in steady streams, with a healthy crowd before the opening set from Alphabets. Alphabets is the solo electronic music project of Colin Ward, who creates a sound that is self described as "high altitude dance" and "tree-punk". His performance was a mixture of experimental noise, highly distorted vocals, and highly effective tribal-like beats. Upon seeing Alphabets' performance those self-descriptions made sense - a high energy combination of clunky sounds with an underlying savage attitude - a sort of wild and rebellious punk-rock form of electronic music. Check out Alphabets if you seek the complete opposite of the electronic music that exists in the majority of clubs.
Next up was a DJ set from another local experimental electronic group, Hollagramz. Hollogramz is the production/DJ duo of Cory Brown and Ron Cole, who create an electronic sound with a raw tropical aesthetic and heavy, sometimes grimey, world inspired beats. When they aren't sharing their original productions, the two collaboratively share their catalog of found sounds that inspire and/or embody the music they like to create. Tuesday night's performance was just that, as the duo took turns laying down two songs at a time, seeing what they could come up with to not only work the crowd, but feed energy off of each other. I'd say they were very successful at accomplishing those goals. Check out a Hollagramz set if you're looking for electronic music that's a little bit darker and a little bit funkier.
Narky Stares followed next with a DJ set of her own. Narky Stares is Lauren Zwicky, best known for being a co-founder of the monthly all ages queer dance party Damn Gurl - a now award-winning party. Like any good DJ, Narky Stares understands being versatile and adaptable to any situation and can play a variety of sounds. On this night, she provided a set of what she does best - a mid to uptempo mix of high energy dance music that regularly causes sweat fests on the Damn Gurl dance floor that is just one door over from Rhinoceropolis.
Rapper ASiEL came on next, another artist with a Damn Gurl connection as he was a featured performer at the last Damn Gurl party. His performance on this night was very much a reprise of what occurred a couple weeks before - a captivating exhibition of his original songs about queer life driven by heavy beats, earnest presence, and undeniable pride that got the crowd hyped. Not even technical issues could cool down his performance, as he kept his composure and thus the audiences attention through his set.
If this were a conventional venue, it'd be about time for everyone to head home, but even on a Tuesday night, the party was still well under way at about 2:00AM when Pictureplane was ready for his farewell performance. The energy in the venue was still incredible, and there were still plenty in the crowd to witness Pictureplane's set. The lights went out, save for a pair of flashing tri-color LED light bands on the floor, as Pictureplane went into selections of songs from across his catalog.
Pictureplane's unique electronic sound consisted of a combination of dark wave, synth-pop, hip-hop, and trance house music that kept the crowd dancing while Pictureplane seemingly poured his all through the microphone. Even though songs would sometimes cut out due to a faulty wire, the party wouldn't stop, somehow growing with more energy as the music and lights came back on after the few brief interruptions. One sure sign of a good party is an audience sprayed with champagne, a trick Pictureplane kept up his sleeve until midway through his set. In between standout songs like "Trancegender" and "Post Physical", Pictureplane was sure to express his love for the crowd and his home, Rhinoceropolis, praising the place for being unlike anywhere he's seen in the world. He ended his set with a song he called the Rhinoceropolis anthem, "Day Glowwwed" from Turquiose Trail.
As much as I wanted to party deep into the morning hours, I wasn't able to stay for the closing set from DJ Dirt Girl, who likely kept the party as long as people could possibly stand. Still, I was able to see enough to really drive home the fact that Rhinoceropolis is a very unique place - a true departure from conventional club/venue environments. It is just as much a venue as it is a place for like minded do-it-yourself individuals to congregate and hang out. A place where you can watch artists throw amazing performances in the front and then lounge with those same people in the back while chatting by a fire pit. As much as people of Denver will miss Pictureplane, there is no doubt that this place is dear to his heart and he will miss Denver just as much if not even more.
See more pictures from this show in the Facebook photo album. Like the Concerted Effort page to stay up to date.