Rafter, Park Gallery: 6/18/2010

Delays, delays… here is a post I compiled almost a month ago about an intriguing little music venue in University Heights. Better late than never. 


Sitting on an old shag carpet in the back room of a storefront that is now the Park Gallery, Thomas runs in circles around the poles that only slightly obstruct my view of the real reason we are here. Music on the speakers harks back to my coffeehouse days, but no food or drinks are sold here. Rafter Roberts entertains the hand-full of people with playful banter while taking a few minutes to play silly games with my son. Bonded over the commonality of red-red hair, they seal their correlation over the auto-tuner. The unnatural sounds of dinosaurs, monkeys, chickens and cats in heat set the stage for the show to come. 

The childish art lines the walls and even the giant duct tape cobra head, offers glimpses further into my teenage years while reminding me that anyone can be an artist and art has many definitions. The place sort of reminds me of the various hole-in-the-wall, living room-style venue seen in documentaries with Sufjan Stevens. 

The live music, set up on the same carpet as the gathering crowd sits, begins with Nick Delffs from the Portland band, The Shaky Hands . The twinkle lights circle over head indicating the imaginary line between performer and audience. Nick’s beautiful, raw emotions take hold of the room and shake your senses. Thomas rushes the “stage” before Nick dedicates a new song, “Passing By” to the little man. 

A short break allows for us all to stretch or legs a bit as Thomas gets another chance to run around through the various small rooms that make up this tiny gallery. Eventually, Rafter jumps into his solo set, an eclectic mix of his songs from Animal Feelings (both the original release and the remix version). I can never seem to get enough of this stuff. Expect to see this album on my top ten list at the end of the year even though Pitchfork only gave it 5 out of 10 something or others.  In the end, the auto-tuner is put to good use and Thomas, tired but still going, makes his journey up to the front for a few dance moves of the bouncing variety. He knows good music when he hears it.

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