Music Festivals

Lafayette Electronic Arts Festival Showcases Denver DIY Acts

Page 27 at Rhinoceropolis in 2015.
Page 27 at Rhinoceropolis in 2015. Tom Murphy
The spring 2017 edition of the Lafayette Electronic Arts Festival takes place this weekend, May 5 and 6, at the Center for Musical Arts. The event, which showcases musical and visual electronic arts, started in 2016 with both a spring and fall edition.

On Friday, May 5, LEAF will present local and national music acts spotlighting artists associated with the Denver DIY music world, including Bios+a+ic, Page 27 and Sister Grotto.

Festival co-founder David Fodel knew people involved in Rhinoceropolis, a DIY space shuttered by the City of Denver for fire-code violations in the wake of Oakland's Ghost Ship fire; he wanted to help that community.

"We wanted to do something supportive of that whole idea of a self-managed art space,” says Fodel. “The emerging arts in America are really built around those kinds of spaces.

He reached out to John Gross of Rhinoceropolis and invited him to help program the festival.
click to enlarge Sister Grotto in 2016. - TOM MURPHY
Sister Grotto in 2016.
Tom Murphy
Fodel himself was no stranger to underground culture. He lived in and operated the DIY space Hour Haus in Baltimore, hosting art and music shows from 1983 to ’86. He moved to Boulder in ’87 and then Lafayette in 2001; he was attracted by the blend of punk and avant-garde culture coupled with a spirit of artistic experimentation, and started building a network.

“You come from somewhere else and you want to connect with people, so you go out to many different things and meet different folks and make stuff happen," Fodel says.

The Friday program of events will kick off with a performance from Bios+a+ic, the solo ambient project of Wesley Davis, who curates the long-running ambient showcase Textures the final Sunday of each month at Mutiny Information Cafe. That will be followed by sets from Page 27 and Sister Grotto. Each of those acts will be accompanied by the work of video artist Travis Sturm, who works under the moniker Orchidz3ro and often provides his services to shows in the Denver experimental music world and beyond.

click to enlarge Ariadne - GRAHAM CLARK
Graham Clark
Following the Colorado-based artists, New York's Lori Napoleon will offer up her audio/visual performance as Antenes. Napoleon builds her own hardware out of old telephone switchboards with a vintage look.

click to enlarge Antenes - HARVESTWORKS
The night will close out with New York duo Ariadne, which comprises Christine Papania, an opera-trained vocalist, and Benjamin Forest, a digital audio/visual artist who writes his own software that the two use to integrate their sound and visual presentation.

Saturday, May 6, at 10 a.m., also at the Center for Musical Arts, John Rasmussen and Travis Sturm will conduct a circuit-bending workshop, so that attendees can have a hands-on experience building and then using gear similar to what they saw used the night before on stage. That same afternoon, the festival will end with a short film program that runs 75 minutes and explores electronic music and digital audiovisual art in theory and practice.

Lafayette Electronic Arts Festival, featuring Bios+a+ic, Page 27, Sister Grotto, Antenes and Ariadne, May 5-6, Center for Musical Arts, 200 Baseline Road, Lafayette, free.
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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.