Paint Party

Life in Color douses the Arena in electronic music and neon paint — and no one gets in trouble

Daniel Brenner

People will be walking out of the Spokane Arena covered in paint and sweat on Friday night. They’ll have paid to be in such a state and most likely delighted for having done so.

It might seem crazy to some, but to others dancing your ass off to electronic tunes while cannons fire neon-colored paint-like product onto you and a couple thousand other revelers is a perfectly fun way to spend a Friday night. And the thing that will provide this to the young (and self-described “young”) concertgoers is Life in Color. This is a touring electronic music show that, in addition to blasting the sounds of some of the most high-profile DJs in the genre and purveying majestic light shows, also sprays neon paint on attendees. Those partiers are, in turn, encouraged to toss paint on each other.

If it seems weird, it’s because it is. If it sounds fun, well, that’s because it is. If it seems like electronic dance music (EDM) lends itself well to something like this, it’s because it does — and more so all the time.

David Carlson is the director of operations for Living Social, the Columbus, Ohio-based company that’s been putting on Life in Color (formerly called DayGlow) shows around the country for the past few years. Spokane has been one of the best selling shows of the entire tour, something he attributes to their team of young street promoters who’ve been publicizing the event mostly word of mouth, getting the Inland Northwest’s dancing populous amped. Carlson says the event sells itself pretty well because it makes revelers part of the show, rather than mere spectators.

“I think in terms of interaction it’s one of the crazier shows you’ll see. You’re actually involved in the whole event. You’re not just going to see it, you’re going to participate in it,” says Carlson.

Here’s how it works, according to Carlson:

1) You show up wearing white, but not nice clothes.

2) Or nice shoes or anything nice, really.

3) You start dancing to the sounds of, in this case, LA Riots and Felix Cartal.

4) A countdown begins to the first paint explosion.

5) You get doused in paint and douse others in paint that you can buy at the show (don’t bring your own).

6) You continue to dance.

If you’re a Chiefs or Shock fan, or maybe just saw Disney on Ice, this is where you might be concerned for the future of your hometown arena. Don’t be afraid. Hell, the management at the venue isn’t even worried.

“It’s no different than a monster jam or a rodeo event where we get dirt all over the building,” says Spokane Arena General Manager Matt Gibson, who admits that in his 13 years at the venue he’s never seen anything like this roll through.

“We’re going to make sure the place is covered in plastic. The fans aren’t looking to hurt anything, they’re looking to just have a good time and dance,” he says.

Gibson says an event like this is aimed at expanding the Arena’s accessibility. Spokane’s population isn’t just about Nickelback and minor league hockey, he’s realized.

Also, so you don’t have to worry, it’s not really “paint,” but rather a water-based cornstarch-like product that cleans up easy and won’t end up turning you blind right before the bass drops. And, again, your favorite Chiefs seat will be protected with plastic “like in Dexter,” as Carlson puts it.

But that’s enough about the logistics. This mostly young crowd of college-aged dancers isn’t coming because they hear the clean up is going to be a breeze. They want to be a part of something crazy.

The videos on the Life in Color website from past parties reveal an event that’s not just about paint: there’s also all sorts of other weirdness. Mind-winding light shows. Confetti. Balloons. Beautiful people. Not-so beautiful people dancing beautifully. Stuff that will have some of us thinking the “raves” of our day were child’s play. It looks absolutely bonkers and the organizers think Spokane is going to love it.

“The new sort of fan wants to be a part of something. It’s not the passive, sit down and watch someone play sort of thing,” says Gibson. 

Life in Color featuring LA Riots and Felix Cartal • Fri, Nov 30, at 7 pm • Spokane Arena • 720 W. Mallon Ave. • $30-$45 • ticketswest • Ages 18 and up