Sand blankets a warehouse floor in west Dallas, a space aglow with the fluorescence of artificial tree-life. There's three bikini-clad women bathed in blood. An audience convulses like spirits locked in exorcism pangs. On the horizon sits the Dallas skyline, shimmering and stoic, like massive sticks of studded jewelry. At the center stands an artist at one with a concept, a musician named George Quartz. Tonight he's a cult leader. Tonight he's a Roman God. Tonight he's in control, the master of this hedonistic knot of human bodies and sensory blitz.
This was the scene at DIY music venue, Vice Palace, roughly one month ago. For two nights over the last two months, musician-in-residence George Quartz and artist/curator Art Peña have transformed various warehouse spaces into a series of imaginative, conceptual settings. This peculiar three-part string of shows, entitled The Last Resort, sees each night represent a different element of a rather complex fantasy destination called Château Zodiac, an overgrown, other-dimensional vacation resort, complete with a spiritually perverse discotheque. Or so they tell me.
Although Quartz is the face of The Last Resort, none of it would be possible without Peña, whose management savvy and passion for Dallas' underground arts form the heart of the project. "I want to help give Dallas musicians the space and resources to put together the show they've been dreaming of. It's a completely DIY approach," Peña explains. "These shows are borderline 'happenings.' [They] appeal to the art scene, the music scene, and the in-between."
Given Peña's eclectic ethos for his DIY spaces, it's no wonder he chose an artist like Quartz to work with. "In my opinion George Quartz is the best live show out there, and when I approached him I told him that he could do anything he wanted in my warehouse spaces and that I would support his ideas," Peña explains. "It's all about the opportunity to give an amazing artist like GQ the flexibility to exercise his creative muscles."
Exactly how The Last Resort concept took shape would seem to be something of a curiosity. Luckily, Quartz was willing to give us some perspective. "It's a way for me to begin dipping my toes more into the cinematic world, and exorcise some of my biggest influences...to expunge my more obvious influences." What influences, you ask? "I won't mention the stuff that may inform Part 3 as to not create any preconceptions, but the first two were riddled with shades of Logan's Run, Fellini Satyricon, Caligula, Miami Vice and The Source Family," Quartz shared.
In other words, retro-futurism, paganism, pop-culture and cultism all play a firm role in The Last Resort vision. It goes without saying, no one in town is doing anything remotely like what Quartz and Peña are cooking up out in west Dallas. Which, of course, makes their collaboration one of the most deliciously inventive threads in the Dallas music scene.
If the previous two events are any indication, tomorrow night's final installment is sure to be one hell of an experience. The closing chapter of the project takes place at 500 Singleton Boulevard in Dallas, a crumbling warehouse space meant to represent the dilapidated resort that George Quartz's cult character is said to inhabit. It's refreshing to see the measures that Quartz is willing to explore in order to flesh out his visual-musical concept.
Or, as Peña puts it, "I think we made history with these shows and anybody who saw them knows why I would say that." You heard the man; you better make it out to 500 Singleton on Saturday night. History's at stake.
THE LAST RESORT STARRING GEORGE QUARTZ with Orgullo Primitivo, Little Beards and Benjamin White takes place at 10 p.m., Saturday, May 31 at 500 Singleton Blvd. $5. BYOB.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.