Pop-ups have officially become a millennial cultural fixture — at least in Denver. This weekend’s Far Out Factory was no exception. Sponsored by O.penVape and Meow Wolf and in conjunction with Two Parts, the immersive art and music experience inspired by cannabis took over the Denver Rock Drill for one night only, bringing with it curated munchies, art installations and electronic music. The Instagram-worthy rainbow explosion was over the top and absurd. It featured a spin-the-wheel donut wall, DJs And art installations from 20 different artists that were both inspired and at times painfully rehashed. But, at its best, Far Out Factory was a much-needed escape from the norm.
Food trucks lined the one side of the corridor leading into Denver Rock Drill, boasting everything from fish tacos and fried chicken to falafel cones. Though a non-consumption event (in terms of cannabis), vendors specializing in marijuana accompaniments and inspired gear lined the other side — a welcoming party of sorts for those who indulged beforehand. Inside, the versatile warehouse opened up to reveal colorful lights and metallic walls — a carnival of sounds and sights, an otherworldly visage awaiting the click of a camera phone. Various art installations were scattered throughout the adult funhouse, none more exceptionally executed than that of the main stage. Created by Hunter Leggitt and dubbed The Luminaria, the stage was composed of floating fabric boxes with glowing lamps dangling inside and was nothing short of a visual feast. Musicians Erin Stereo, RUMTUM, Hotel Garuda and Louis Futon took over the stage transporting the audience to an electronic fantasy.
Elsewhere, Jeff Merkel’s 360-sound system, Nicole Banowetz’s inflatable art, an earthly living room created by Reroot, and Alt Ethos’ balloon-inspired silent disco stage amongst others served as some of the freshest and immersive elements of the event, and most Denver events thus far. However, for those who attended the Underground Music Showcase (UMS) earlier in the year, some of the remaining art on display served as a déjà vu of the festival’s Imagination Stage. Quite literally, various art elements from the Imagination Stage were copied and pasted from the stage’s location at Import Mechanics to Denver Rock Drill, but with far less intention in their second iteration.
Turning towards the music, on the Luminaria stage, RUMTUM floated amidst sparkling sound samples and computerized beats, Erin Stereo and Hotel Garuda dived into house heavy sets and pulled out a truly soulful set. Multi-instrumentalist and DJ Louis Futon backed by his trumpet player capped the night with a rousing live set as the winter weather set in. While the Luminaria stage was gorgeous and the acts vibrant, the real party went down in the silent disco. In a flicker of channels coordinated to a specific color — red, blue and green — the DJs chosen to head the stage absolutely threw down the gauntlet for each of their respective sets. For much of Far Out Factory, the number of people in the silent disco dwarfed that of the main. From Andy Immerman and Joey Burton to the God of Groove, all of the DJs kept a nonstop party rolling full throttle from the start of the festivities to the end.
As with many Meow Wolf-backed ventures, Far Out Factory was an art overload and one with substance. From the art to the music, Far Out Factory was a passion project of otherworldly ambitions, that for the most part, managed to take on the weird without losing the plot. Though not completely anchored to its cannabinoid intentions, Far Out Factory took on the concept and immersed Denver in a wild trip of an experience. Whether it’ll return is yet to be known, but for Far Out Factory, the sky’s the limit.