The Santa Fe-based arts and entertainment group Meow Wolf is dedicated to creating "immersive, interactive experiences to transport audiences of all ages into fantastic realms of story and exploration," said John Feins, the group's vice president of communications.
Taos thrill-seekers have flocked to Meow Wolf's House of Eternal Return, described by Feins as a "multidimensional mystery house," from the day it opened its doors in 2016.
Earlier this year, CEO Drew Tulchin brought a taste of Meow Wolf magic to a presentation at Taos Ski Valley and hinted at more Taos events to come. Now, Meow Wolf is teaming up with New Mexico music impresarios AMP Concerts to bringa weekend of music and adventure to Taos. It's called Meow Wolf Taos Vortex.
The two-day festival takes over Kit Carson Park Friday and Saturday (Aug. 3-4). Main stage music begins each night at 5 p.m., featuring all-star lineups headlined by Thievery Corporation on Friday and The Flaming Lips on Saturday. After the headliners, DJs will keep the party going from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m. in the Dance Tent, with local talent like Taos (and Burning Man) favorite DJ Kanizzle ruling the Shake Monster Stage outside.
Out-of-town visitors can choose among nearby hotels orcamp under the stars in Kit Carson Park with options ranging from basic campsites to move-in-ready glamping tents stocked with snacks.
During the day, attendees can sample performance art, installations and yoga classes in the park. The presenters have also curated a selection of Taos daytime adventures that can be added on when purchasing festival passes.
Outdoor types can sign up for rafting, hiking, llama trekking, horseback riding, hot-air ballooning, stand-up paddleboarding, rock climbing and more. For those who prefer a more relaxing afternoon, a spa treatment and tours of area breweries might suit.
Poet and musician Feins lived and worked all over the United States before bringing his talents to Santa Fe.
"My pleasure is to relate Meow Wolf truth and beauty to planet earth and anywhere else listening," he said. "We're visual artists and storytellers, but we have always loved music, and we always evolve to do things bigger.
"Better and bigger," he said. "Just being at a show is fun, but it isn't the maximum potential of gathering a crowd of like-minded and free-spirited people united by music. So why not make a full-spectrum experience of it, immerse and interact -- and do it in one of the most beautiful locations in the world? We want people to know all that Northern New Mexico has to offer, which is a whole lot of life's best. Personally I just love to be in Taos, for any reason. I'm always deeply moved by the ways that nature expresses herself there."
Feins gave us the full musical lineup, with his personal reflections about each artist.
Friday (Aug. 3)
5 p.m. Poolside
The Los Angeles-based duo of Filip Nikolic and Jeffrey Paradise has a sound that has been described as "daytime disco." Said Feins: "This will be the more discofied part of the weekend. They are L.A. cats, understand ye olde power of acid-synth, brought it to Coachella (Valley Music and Arts Festival), and now you can shake your bag of bones at Kit Carson Park."
6:30 p.m. Emancipator Ensemble
Douglas "Doug" Appling, the artist better known as Emancipator, is a Portland, Oregon-based producer and DJ. "A prolific dude, multi-instrumentalist," Feins said. "He was dropping beats at an age when most people are still figuring out how much beer they can handle. Talent pours out of the Pacific Northwest, and this will be a deep set."
8 p.m. Thievery Corporation
Rob Garza and Eric Hilton formed Thievery Corporation in the summer of 1995. They list Brazilian music as one of their primary influences and are known to add a wide range of global sounds into the mix. "That blend of styles from all around the world is a mouth of the ocean where the Great Creator wants all rivers of music to flow," said Feins.
10 p.m. Dance Stage: The Librarian
Andrea Graham, another Pacific Northwest DJ/producer, is known as The Librarian. Graham is the co-founder and chief music curator of Bass Coast Music Festival. "She is a new one for me," Feins said. "Pure discovery -- and all about that bass."
11:30 p.m. Dance Stage: Cashmere Cat
Magnus August Høiberg, known professionally as Cashmere Cat, is a Norwegian DJ, record producer, musician and turntablist. "Norway gets our music in a big way, often more knowledgeable and devoted than our own," said Feins. "People like Cashmere Cat remind me to be a DJ in another lifetime."
Saturday (Aug. 4)
5 p.m. Washed Out
Ernest Weatherly Greene Jr., known professionally as Washed Out, is an Athens, Georgia-based singer, songwriter and record producer. "This will be one of the more chill sets of the weekend," said Feins. "He got a masters in library sciences before going into music."
6:30 p.m. Dr. Dog
The Philadelphia rock band combines a range of influences from Beatles and Beach Boys to 1990s indie rock. "Who'd have imagined a mix of '60s power pop and '90s lo-fi?" quipped Feins. "They are more than that and prolific too. Good one to keep the vibes diverse and driving at the Vortex."
8 p.m. The Flaming Lips
Lead singer Wayne Coyne formed The Flaming Lips with his brother Mark (who has since left the band) in Oklahoma City. The multiple Grammy-Award-winning group is known for psychedelic stage extravaganzas like floating down to the stage in a bubble released from an extraterrestrial mothership. Feins gave them the ultimate compliment: "The Meow Wolf of bands." Coyne is a filmmaker and multimedia visual artist as well as a musician. His "King's Mouth" immersive installation is on view in the lobby of the House Of Eternal Return (at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe).
10 p.m. Dance Stage: Oona Dahl
Dahl is a graduate of the International Academy of Design and Technology for Digital Media and Recording Arts. "Music created on laptops with dials and not instruments can really be devoid of soul even as masses will dance to it regardless," said Feins. "Oona brings some of the mystic, the sacred and even the long lost art of melody into her creations."
11:30 p.m. Dance Stage: Matthew Dear
The festival wraps up with producer, DJ and electronic avant-pop artist Matthew Dear. Said Feins, "This is someone who paid close attention to the maestro, Brian Eno, but also brings in the thrust and lust of the Motor City, more righteously unbridled."
"Some will love the music, others the community, the dance scene at night, the adventures or just camping out with peaceful, special people," Feins said. "In general, everyone will love a sublime midsummer setting for celebrating life in the moment wherever your spirit guides you and your friends. Bring some love and respect for Taos and your fellow adventurers, and we will have an unforgettable weekend of a lifetime."