As the season’s first snow fell in Denver, I made the trek to the capital’s Lost Lake Lounge to see Jerry Paper. It was my second time at Lost Lake; the staff were just as friendly as I remembered, the venue just as intimate. I came just in time for the last opener, Kiefer. Although a bit bummed to miss his predecessors, Prophet and Stimulator Jones, I easily got carried away with Kiefer’s rhythmic, floating keyboard-and-drum kit melodies. Citing J Dilla, and covering him once, Kiefer swayed his shoulders, letting his eyes close and his head fall back, as he grooved with the crowd. At the end of his set, he slipped off stage and stuck around to chat and enjoy the rest of the show.
I had seen Jerry Paper once before at a converted Free Mason lodge in Los Angeles this past summer. Then, the band had just finished recording Like a Baby, their newest and most accessible record. They were just introducing it to a live audience. Now, two days before the worldwide release of Like a Baby, the band had grown into the new songs. On the record and in concert, they had traded in synthetic instrumentals and muffled vocals to explore a funkier, organic sound that matches well with Jerry Paper’s jovial, live crooning.
Now, in Denver for the first time, wearing a purple t-shirt, Nathan Lucas, the songwriter, producer, and bodily vessel through which Jerry Paper is experienced, strolled and spoke with concertgoers. Minutes later, he was on stage, this time wearing a silky green dress. Joined by a tight, able five-piece backing band, Jerry began to do what he came there to do. If you’ve never been to a Jerry Paper show, it’s a sight to see. Jerry dances with a looseness and a focus like no one else. I would be hard pressed to find a performer whose enjoyment is more contagious.
The set was largely new material. For me, that was wonderful. The new songs feel made to be enjoyed live. It’s almost like the energy Jerry brings in every step and swing was transcribed into a song. However, his lyrics don’t come from his hips but from a deep, scary place in his head. On Grey Area, he sings: “Grey area come and find me/ In the cereal aisle/ Which corporate mascot/ Will bring me joy or paste me up a smile?”. Jerry’s newest songs are nihilistic anxieties of consumerism, society, and the afterlife, and, when you listen closely, the messages are every bit as contagious as his joy. But Jerry didn’t come to make anyone ponder their existence. He just wants people to get lost for one night.
“Right now, you’re experiencing pleasure and ecstasy. It’s what I do for you with my little song and dance”, he reminded the crowd. “Hope you like it”.
The crowd did like it, and the band seemed to like us. By the end of the show, Jerry was comfortable enough to ask the crowd at-large if he could use anyone’s shower.
“No funny business”, he warned. “I just feel dirty and live in a bus”.
After a beautiful rendition of “Reprogram Ourselves”, Jerry appeased the crowd with an uncharacteristic encore.
“Personally, I hate encores, but we’re never here”, he told the crowd.
With great songs, a fantastic band, and a truly lovable leader, I had a wonderful night. Jerry, you’re welcome in Denver anytime!