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The aroma of illicit substances was hard to ignore when I arrived at Gold Leaf Studios late on Saturday night, and the whole place felt ready to burst. The Mount Vernon Square warehouse of artist studios has always felt raw and chaotic, but the space’s impending demise had now removed its occupants’ remaining inhibitions. Shit was wild, basically.
Like several other folks there, I’d just come from the Sockets Records showcase at the Black Cat; Shark Week and Hume had already played sets in Gold Leaf’s Red Door area by the time I arrived, at which point well-dressed rock classicists (and now former Gold Leaf renters) U.S. Royalty were in full swing beneath a web of laser lights, sounding a lot more vital and urgent than I’d honestly expected. Reckless fans threatened to stumble into mic stands.
With several send-offs going on at once, the evening was basically a Gold Leaf open house. Down the hall from Red Door was one of the more chilled out spaces of the night: a dark former art studio, augmented by mellow red and green laser lights and deep grooves courtesy Washington Post pop critic Chris Richards, who DJed via his iPod and an ad hoc sound system.
Down on the first floor, the apparel company Durkl was hosting its own purgative farewell. One former storage room contained a few paint brushes and some acrylic ready to be spread across the wall. Visitors happily vandalized the white brick interior with blue obscenities, dirty orange goodbyes, crass proclamations in green, and the occasional money symbol, lotus flower, or pot leaf. For some reason, printouts of Washington City Paper‘s infamous Dan Snyder cover were scattered across the floor. One or two rooms over was a raging party replete with DJs, percussionists, video projectors, candles, and still more paint (this time on both walls and bodies).
It was loud, strange, and intense, but it was also late and I was tired, so I took my leave around 2 a.m. As I was walking down the alley, I caught sight of a Gold Leaf guest urinating with voluminous force out a glassless window. Yep, the unsustainable catharsis was near its end.