I became a Lost Church disciple back in January, when an invitation to see local alt-country idol Paula Frazer came with the additional intrigue of watching her perform in a mysterious venue. Something about the place being named The Lost Church gave the space a theatrical flair in my mind, and when I walked off cracky Capp Street and through the unmarked door, I felt like I was entering a scene in a David Lynch film.
Once I got up the steps and into the main room, I noticed naked lightbulbs glowing all old-timey in a bright line from the small stage, and red velvet curtains framing Paula and her cohort Jesse Jackson. The words “The Greek Chorus” twinkled in gold glitter on an arrow hanging down the wall, and below tiny rose-colored lights were sprawled like ivy. The room was so intimate, holding just 50 people, it was like I’d crashed someone’s (supremely awesome) house party as my friend and I took the last two folding chairs available. We were front row, a couple feet from Paula and Jesse.
The affable tattooed guy who’d taken our money at the door double-timed as the emcee (he’s also, I learned later, one of The Lost Church’s co-owners, Brett Cline). He made announcements between acts with the dramatic delivery of a sideshow barker, and I almost expected Tom Waits to snake out as the headliner – there was that wacky kinda vibe in the room. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by a different rock ’n’ roll character, Jonathan Richman, taking the stage. The former Modern Lover curled over his guitar as part of an acoustic trio, making funny faces the whole time. (How could I not notice? I was perched close enough for shy eye contact.)
By the end of the night, I’d been baptized by a new underground venue that made the evening as much about the space as it was about the people on stage. I proselytized to my friends about The Lost Church until I’d brought back a dozen new converts for the next big gig – Sonny Smith’s zany spoken-word musical about being a broke dude and banging aliens. And, I should add, that show was awesome.