Big Freedia, Photo by Kate Russell

Support National Independent Live Music Venues From Folding From The Coronavirus
By Carsen Greene

Published Issue 082, October 2020

A show at an independent venue is a rite of passage.

Do you remember the first time you packed into a mildly musty, dim, dusky venue with 75 strangers and listened to a band you’d never heard of? That first experience hearing music that your parents or the radio didn’t play, that can trigger the beginning of a lifelong chase to join the elect few who can brag, “Yeah, I saw them before their album came out.”

For some, that first show may have been at the venue in Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return, known to some as Fancy Town.

NYE 2019 Photo by Shayla Blatchford

Though we all miss live music and the palpable bond it brings, Meow Wolf has made the decision to push all our remaining 2020 live shows into 2021 and beyond. There is, unfortunately, too much uncertainty around safety for both audience members and touring acts to present live music this year.

Some of our fellow independent music venues have closed their doors permanently. We urgently need to #SaveOurStages to help others keep their doors open.

Cuco, Photo by Kate Russell

“Without venues, we lose a sense of self-discovery, we lose connection in a community intrinsic to music, and weaken subcultures spawned by those spaces. We need these sanctuaries, these dance floors, these community containers, as they have given birth to something bigger than just a stage or building,” says Meow Wolf’s Experience Art Director, Sofie Cruse.

The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) has brought over 2,000 venues (including us) together from all 50 states to fight against the closure of these small venues by lobbying Congress for federal aid with the #SaveOurStages Act and #RestartAct. These acts were submitted to Congress back in July, but do not have a vote date yet, so we urge you to join us in sharing this hashtag and writing your representatives now.

Ask your representatives to support the #SaveOurStages bill; it only takes a minute, and your support could provide a lifeline for independent music venues across the country.

Evan+Zane, Photo by Kate Russell

“It’s more than losing a venue,” says Cruse, “it’s losing the connective tissue to DJs, performers, promoters, industry professionals, dance floor enthusiasts, and takes away the moments that can form and shape a subculture, town, genre of music, into a lasting language.”

Austin-born and raised Cruse was quick to rattle off some of her favorite hometown independent venues: The Mohawk, The Scoot Inn, Cheer Up Charlies, The Parish, Antone’s, Stubb’s, Hotel Vegas to name a few. And we’d never forget Empire Control Room where we took over for three days of art installations and daytime and nighttime dance parties dubbed Fractallage for SXSW 2018.

STRFKR, Photo by Kate Russell

Our friends and fellow NIVA members at House of Yes provide a safe space in Brooklyn for the LGBTQ+ communities to throw parties, host yoga, perform burlesque, and remix films like when HOY premiered our documentary Meow Wolf: Origin Story with a flying George R. R. Martin and rap battle between Art and Money. At Elsewhere (also in Brooklyn), folx find rotating immersive art experiences in each cranny of the building, plus The Rooftop, a pretty rad bar and venue.

Denver staple Oriental Theater, where RUMTUM recreated an incredible mural inspired by the faded original from the theater’s 1927 opening, are also NIVA members. This Colorado stage, along with Red Rocks, Mission Ballroom and so many others need our support.

STRFKR, Photo by Kate Russell

At home in New Mexico, we are proud to have worked with (or partied in) so many venues: Launchpad and Sunshine Theater, who both play a huge role in the promotion of local bands, Taos Mesa Brewing Company, who are dealing with the aftermath of a fire, The Lensic, a space for all ages, and the Santa Fe Opera, home of 16 world opera premieres, to name a few.

Every city has their beloved independent venues, and everyone in that city has their favorite.

Have a favorite independent venue? Head to to donate directly to that venue.

Orville Peck, Photo by Kate Russell

(Note: Meow Wolf does not accept donations. We only want to signal-boost other independent venues in need. Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return supports live music’s eternal post- COVID-19 return!)

“It goes beyond dance floor epiphanies,” says Cruse, “venues give support to artists to continue their craft and a home for the listener. #SaveOurStages for the sake of that connective tissue, in this time of great separation, when a sense of community is needed most.”

Join Sofie and all of us at Meow Wolf in supporting the #SaveOurStages campaign!

Poppy, Photo by Kate Russell


Carsen Greene is the Community Manager at Meow Wolf and the co-host of Movie Mavens Podcast featuring two deeply intellectual (pending) and curious women examining two films that are (sometimes) related in genre. Call it a spicy double feature.

Kate Russell is a photographer and artist. Her only salaried job was when she worked for a circus, and then Meow Wolf happened. Growing up in a town of 2000, with only 2 paved roads, she prefers not to eat vegetables that start with the letter A, can be compensated with fresh raspberries, and loves a good handstand. She tried to re-name herself Ace at age 6, though it didn’t stick. At one time, she was among the top 20 best female mogul skiers in the country, was a professional furniture maker, ran a marathon, without training for it, in under 4 hours, has jumped out of planes and off bridges, successfully, and can offer a good shoe shine, when needed.

Shayla Blatchford is a documentary and commercial photographer, based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has a BFA from Santa Fe University of Art & Design and is the lead product photographer at Santa Fe Dry Goods since 2015. Her work is propelled by her Native heritage and her her journey to establish a connection with her ancestors and their ways of living.