Alibi V.27 No.31 • Aug 2-8, 2018 

Music Feature

The Vortex Beckons

A young man’s dream is finally realized

I grew up in the heart of Albuquerque, soaked in sunlight and surrounded by a tight-knit crew of neighborhood amigos. We lived on the brink of the “War Zone,” close enough to hear gun shots but far enough to know they never posed a personal threat.

We embraced that badass-sounding title with naïve braggadocio, boasting that our little band of coyotes were the top dogs of our barrio, and thus of the city. It isn’t that we thought ourselves above danger, above repercussion; truthfully, the thought just never crossed our minds.

To us, the down-and-out park-dwellers peppered beneath trees were not a blight on or a menace to our ‘hood (as our more sheltered friends seemed to think); they were a testament to its welcoming embrace. We were just happy the park was being used and loved.

As we grew older, the radius of our adventures expanded, but the mindset of the pack never changed. We trusted in ourselves, in one another—in the city itself. We lived with a blissful dual awareness of the freedom of safety, and the safety of freedom.

In short, Albuquerque provided us with the perfect childhood. The city showed us the reality of a world that is simultaneously beautiful and ugly, and is all the more beautiful for it.

Looking back, there’s nothing I would dream of changing, no place I would rather be. But that appreciation took some time to develop and mature, and for much of my youth, I wanted to be anywhere else.

That wanderlust wasn’t driven by anger or discontent towards the Duke City or my life here, but a simple, deep feeling that I was missing out on the action taking place in the rest of the country. It all boiled down to music.

The flames of my jealousy were stoked every day as I hopped online and scoured the internet for tour announcements from my favorite musicians, for mouthwatering lineups to festivals I knew I could only dream of attending. But time and time and time again, New Mexico missed out.

I resolved that one day I would live somewhere that was a bona fide destination, a place that could not and would not be passed up. I dreamed of a day that my hometown would replicate the music scenes of lore, that we could host our very own ACL or Coachella.

But what we have, at long last, is something so much better than I could ever have envisioned as a young, dumb kid.

This weekend’s Taos Vortex Music Festival is a festival that stands proud among the rest; it promises to be extraordinary, unforgettable. And it will do so in a way that is uniquely New Mexican.

Taos Vortex boasts a stellar lineup featuring the divine talents of The Flaming Lips, Thievery Corporation, Emancipator Ensemble, Washed Out, Poolside, Dr. Dog, Cashmere Cat and more (including eccentric local luminary REIGHNBEAU). These are artists who embrace and embody the weird and the otherworldly, who exist at the curious intersection of the natural and the supernatural.

They are the perfect foil to a festival that promises to be much more than a festival. Taos Vortex will be an experience that melds the best of all worlds (our own and far beyond) and thrusts Kit Carson Park into a new dimension.

As one would expect from the creative minds behind Meow Wolf, the Vortex features mesmerizingly interactive artwork, stupendous sculptures and a litany of opportunities to grow closer to oneself, one another and the natural beauty all around us.

Many of those opportunities are free, including yoga classes, slack-lining, and more. If you’re feeling a bit more intrepid, there are also a series of “Taos Adventures” that bridge the span between the absurd and the exciting. A full list can be found online here, but highlights include racecourse rafting, llama hikes, hot air balloon rides and “splaggles, racking and baching.” I wouldn’t dare ruin the surprise for you by telling you what that is.

Those who enter the Vortex have the choice of attending for the evening concerts, or throwing caution to the wind and committing to a weekend of camping with fellow travelers.

There are no wrong choices when it comes to Taos Vortex—except the one that ends with you sitting around lamenting the lack of excitement in New Mexico.

Taos Vortex is pushing the envelope of music, art and community as we know it, creating beauty in new and unbelievable ways. I believe that the New Mexican people will do their part to make the Vortex everything it promises to be and more.

You best believe I’ll be out there in pursuit of the ultimate experience, howling at the moon with my neighborhood pack of coyotes and basking in the knowledge that, at long last, our beautiful homeland is being used and loved to, and for, its fullest potential.