Recently, I was hanging out at a favorite local bar, Dock Street Brewery, talking with one of the bartenders. I asked him what his favorite local venues were, and the first out of his mouth was “Lava Space”. I should have asked him why, but instead we continued talking about his other favorite venues. The thing is, I already know why Lava is one of his favorite venues. Ever since I went to Lava to see Try the Pie on April 23rd, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.
As I described in my venue review, they’re doing something right at Lava Space. They have created this judgement-free zone where people from utterly different walks of life can come together, enjoy good music, and maybe even break out a little jig. Even the night that I was there, each artist greatly differed from the next. Lava brings in artists of many genres all in one night, from punk-rock to experimental electronic. Yet, what each artist has in common is that they are unique, promising, and a little bit fringe-y.
It seems like a requirement for appearing in a Lava Space show is to be a little different. Take Philly’s own Shakai Mondai for example. She’s this seemingly sweet, free-spirited individualist who just does whatever the hell she wants. At the show on the 23rd, she humbly admitted that although she’s usually behind a computer, she’s going to “do something a little different” and play more laid-back un-released songs with just her electric guitar. And boy did she know her way around an electric guitar, with a simple looping mechanism and pure creativity, she made sound combinations with her voice and guitar that I didn’t even know were possible. That’s the kind of original artists that Lava brings in for their shows.
Up next was Ramona Cordova, another talented individual. He had his Casio keyboard along with a few accessories and made beautiful music. As evidenced from many of his songs, Cordova is a very talented keyboardist and my favorite part was watching him feel his music. Eyes closed, body moving, Cordova was vibing out to his own concert and it was awesome to watch. You can find promising talent like this in the musical underbelly of Philadelphia.
I say “underbelly” because that’s exactly what Lava is. Not everyone knows it exists, I didn’t even know until an artist led me there; but once you experience it, you know that this is something magical, real, and a little bit fringe-y. I mean the location itself is rather unexpected. In one of the most dangerous stretches of Lancaster Avenue, Lava exists as a safe space. And you won’t find kitschy pop music playing at a venue like this.
Bands like Try The Pie is what you find. And Bean Tupou (the meat of Try the Pie) put on a great show. She also played some unrecorded music, which is apparently another treat you get at Lava. And Tupou’s raw unadorned sound was even better to experience in person. Having reviewed her most recent album, Rest, not that long ago, it was great to get to see her live where she beautifully matched her recorded energy. Watching her set felt like we were in her home, viewing her as she played for no one but herself. That doesn’t mean she did not interact with her audience, but for the most part she let he music speak for itself. It was a lovely, raw performance, one I would surely recommend going to, if Try the Pie comes to your town.
If you haven’t gone to a show at Lava Space, I surely advise that you do. And I also recommend that you check out each artist I mentioned above; click on their name to hear their music!