Concert Reviews

Bocumast Records takes over Lost Lake with mixed results

08.05.10 - 08.26.10 | Lost Lake

Over the last month, Lost Lake handed over the booking keys for Thursday nights to Bocumast Records. During that time, the imprint was tasked with scheduling shows and providing rock, all while keeping it fresh -- a complicated endeavor, and one that, for the most part, the Bocumast folks pulled off. There were a few hiccups here and there, but the month pretty much seemed to go off without a hitch, with an ebb and flow of different people attending each night.

WEEK ONE | 08.05.10

Astrophagus • Wire Faces • Bottesini Project

To kick off the month-long festivities, Bocumast decided to go with its main project, Astrophagus. It had been a while since I'd actually seen the band play -- so long, in fact, that I was confused by the fact that there was no drummer. The outfit's sound is in the process of changing dramatically -- switching between the pop-friendly riffs of the old days and a new, jammier electronic set.

It was interesting to see a band in the midst of change, something you're not generally privy to. The members' freeness was still hindered by their pop sensibility, though, often droning into a poppier son, then fading out again. Astrophagus is on the verge of becoming something interesting, but still a bit lost.

The members of Bottesini Project were their usual unpredictable selves -- but when I saw that Doug Anderson was playing with them, I was hoping to see some accordion action. Unfortunately -- for me and probably only me -- he was playing stand-up bass, which still sounded great. The Project's free-jazz/rock fusion/experimental/whatever was a perfect fit for Lost Lake on a Thursday night.

In between the main Bocumast bands, a few travelling bands got slotted into the show. I never actually caught their names, due to the fact they were screaming-loud hardcore acts that didn't state their band names at any point -- that I could understand, anyway.

The hardcore drove me out, causing me to miss Wire Faces playing a remarkably late set.

WEEK TWO | 08.12.10

Nightshark • Hollagramz • Vairbur

I got to Lost Lake a little late in the night for this one, catching the tail end of Vairbur, Jason Cain's new side project. It's a bit weird that a guy in a band (Astrophagus) has a solo project (Jason Cain) and a side project, but who am I to judge? Vairbur is, for lack of a better word, an experiment. Jason's vocals are still present, but muddled between layers of sound. It's not noise, but it's close. If anyone remembers Bird Show, an old Kranky band, you'll get the gist of what Cain was up to here.

Hollagramz played next, which was rather confusing, because the music of Hollagramz was indistinguishable from what was being played between bands. Not that it was a bad thing; it just took me a minute to realize someone was actually playing. The retro-future vibe that Hollagramz lays down is great beer-drinking, dance-party-popping tuneage, but it felt a little out of place at Lost Lake. It's great that Bocumast kept things varied, but at the same time, it consistently felt like we were all in the wrong place at the wrong time -- like Hollagramz should have been playing somewhere else besides within the wood-paneled walls of Lost Lake.

At this point, it was revealed that Andrew Lindstrom, Nightshark's drummer and principal gear carrier, had locked his keys in his car. There was some heckling from the crowds outside, some groaning and a bit of cursing. I stuck around for a while, hoping the situation would be resolved, but it didn't seem likely. After I took off and settled in back at home, I was notified that the members of Nightshark had indeed retrieved their gear and would indeed play -- but I couldn't bring myself to get back out there.

WEEK THREE | 08.19.10

Tommy Metz (luengliss) • Milton Melvin Croissant III • Hunter Dragon • Jason Cain • Patrick Lee

The lineup for the night seems a bit full at first glance, until you realize it's just a collection of one-man bands. It's also a weird collection of electronic and "traditional" musicians. It moved at a blinding pace, to boot, making it difficult to remember who played in what order and when.

The first person I distinctly remember seeing was Patrick Lee, who was kicking around some whacky mash-ups that sounded something like DJ Shadow on crack. His sounds had more finesse than the likes of Girl Talk, relying more on his own ingenuity than the hook of an already popular song. I was told this was his first show, which, after digging around his website, seemed absolutely bizarre, since he's been making music for a while.

Tommy Metz brought his usual acid-soaked-Boards-of-Canada-on-speed sound -- which, is to say, faster than 40 bpm. It's always a delight to hear him play; though It's not exactly the most pleasurable thing to stand and watch. Still with the ample seating at Lost Lake, it was the perfect atmosphere.

Hunter Dragon was somewhere in the middle of all this -- and to be honest, his usually quirky and pleasurable sounds were a little stifled. He was rocking with two backup singers, and everything ended up getting a little lost in the P.A. That, or it was just slightly unwieldy, a little too hectic for me, at least. His bizarre songwriting and quirky lyrics still stood tall, but there was something that just wasn't sitting right.

Jason Cain played Jason Cain songs for a change -- which was nice, but also highlights the problem with a label-centric residency: You see a lot of the same faces playing throughout the month. This is not necessarily a terrible thing, though, and the Bocumast crew did a great job of mixing and mashing sounds throughout the month.

WEEK FOUR | 08.26.10

Hideous Men • Married in Berdichev • Astrophagus • Gumdrop Lollipop

Holy smokes! Could you ask for a better lineup? The last night of the Bocumast residency was the crowning achievement -- saving the best for last, I guess.

Gumdrop Lollipop, who I missed because I was stuck dealing with other obligations, kicked the evening off. Immediately after, though, was Married in Berdichev, which offered a phenomenal mix of early '00s Kranky with a smooth, distinctly Denver sound. Like Bjork in slow motion, the music was ethereal, cognizant and calming.

Next up was Astrophagus, which seriously rocked -- and I mean rocked -- the fuck out of the Lost Lake this round. Whatever they were holding back in the first week was gone, and a complete and total rock set was there. I could have done without the sappy sing-song parts, but overall, it was an amazing blend of the experimental and the expected.

Hideous Men closed, and holy shit! I'm not sure how I missed these two coming up through the ranks, but Hideous Men are phenomenal. Basically, they're a little Gang Gang Dance, with a dash of Blonde Redhead and a hint of Black Dice. Offbeat and a little wacky, the act is a whole lot of fun!

CRITICS NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: Jason Cain gave me a Bocumast shirt for attending all four weeks, but I tried not to let the swag taint my view. Random Detail: With bands playing, Lost Lake seems like it should be smack-dab in the middle of West Virginia, as opposed to Denver. By The Way: The WaterCourse Foods' Steamin' Demon food cart turned up a few times, providing some excellent midnight snackage.

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Thorin Klosowski
Contact: Thorin Klosowski