Review — Mk.gee Brings Impressionistic Pop to Meow Wolf

Downtown buzzed with activity as crowds from various sporting events and the lingering excitement of the Kentucky Derby flooded the city with energy. Guests made their way to The Perplexiplex, the venue inside Meow Wolf, nestled between the bustling highways of Denver.

Mk.gee was headlining the night. The New Jersey-born artist has made a name for himself in recent years by working behind the scenes with acts like Dijon and Omar Apollo. However, with the release of his new critically acclaimed project, Two Star and the Dream Police, Michael Todd Gordon has found himself captaining the ship. Under his guidance, he weaved a shocking, beautiful, and inspiring show.

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Mk.gee has crafted an aura of mystery since he began his time in the spotlight, which this show only amplified. Held in a separate room from the main exhibit at Meow Wolf, the concert space — known as The Perplexiplex — allowed full immersion into the music, free from distractions like noisy barbacks or clinking drinks. The stained glass backdrop emitted a soft glow while darkness and smoke enveloped the stage, where three musicians emerged. With two backlights casting a halo on the musicians’ silhouettes, the dimly lit stage set the mood. The music feels so personal, and performing mostly in shadows seemed to take the focus off the individuals and explore the collective. Billows of smoke accompanied sweet ambient noise as faux clouds sporadically illuminated the ceiling like a gentle night storm, complementing the electrifying instrumentals.

The music flowed through your veins, delivering every intended emotion, each song bursting with new life in the live setting. Mk.gee’s music is shrouded in unpredictability, a quality masterfully captured in the live show. The pure musicianship allowed for spontaneous musical tangents, concisely brought back together to deliver the choruses and hooks that got us hooked in the first place. Mk.gee’s jazz guitar background and unique ear are a major compositional point to every song. The rich tone of his guitar, paired with the unique voicing and play style, has given us proof of how versatile the instrument can be. We’re living in a golden age for the guitar, and Mike is another musician pushing the instrument’s boundaries. His approach is refreshing and sonically addictive.

Tracks like “Candy” transported you back to the glory of the ’80s but with strange morphing textures. It’s the song Marty McFly plays in some alternate reality prom. The crowd sang “Candy Is All in My Business” as Mk.gee decorated the silent spaces with trickling guitar lines, which morphed into distorted echoing power strikes.

He shyly asked if they were okay to try a new song, which was met with the night’s loudest cheer. Diving into a slow ballad, the heartfelt lyrics and sweet gliding guitar lines rustled emotions, bringing couples together and evoking tears from various audience members. The set explored the fusion of natural and technological elements of music, blending classic electric guitar lines with distorted layers, live drums, and DJ work. The whole experience became a totally shocking journey through impressionist pop music that blew the crowd away.

Describing his music as a liminal space between the familiar and the alien, Mk.gee’s live show embodied this energy, captivating the audience with his talent and presence. Fuzzy baselines and washed-out instrumentation created walls of warm noise that would hit you and wash over you in ecstasy. Each moment felt massive, an impressive feat for a trio. The show felt special, like watching old concert clips of Jeff Buckley, where his talent would immediately quiet a room. Mk.gee’s writing is too good to deny, striking a balance between profound and unbelievably catchy. He delivers vocals earnestly, with passion, and youthful energy. You can tell he values the words he’s written and carefully considers how he presents his ideas.

Closing the set with a vivacious performance of “Are You Looking Up,” Mk.gee left the audience screaming for more as his band exited. As they re-emerged for an encore, he requested the backdrop be lit up for the final song, “Alesis.” The song progressed into a triumphant end, during which Mk.gee broke away from the mic and let the audience finish the tune, creating a truly unifying finale.

Mk.gee is exploring unusual realms of pop that require more from his listeners. The abstraction defines the sound and forces the audience to connect its own dots. Existing in nostalgic and ethereal realms, his sound is refreshing indie pop. Every person you ask has a different favorite song of his, and that’s just another quality that makes him so special. Mk.gee is going to change music, so get on the hype train now and watch the beauty unfold.

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