Photo: Ari Marcopoulos
As an accomplished artist and musician, Lizzi Bougatsos permeates multiple creative circles. Several of her artworks, like Good Hair (2010), In God We Bust (2012), and Pussy for Rent (2010) have been on view at Dikeou Pop-Up: Colfax since 2014, at which time she came to Denver for the official opening and DJ’d and a sang a few notes for the event. This little performance was just a glimpse into her talents as a musician, and we got the full experience last Saturday when her band Gang Gang Dance played at Denver’s Underground Music Showcase. The group is hot off the release of a new album, Kazuashita, and their show in Denver was one of the first to kick off a tour that will cover the Eastern U.S. before heading to Japan in October.
We linked with Lizzi (vocals, percussion), Brian DeGraw (keys/synth), Doug Shaw (bass), Josh Diamond (guitar), and Ryan Sawyer (drums), as well as their manager Rich and Moses Archuleta of Deerhunter for dinner at Domo Japanese Kitchen on Friday. They had just arrived in Denver and needed the kind of sustenance only donburi and sake could provide. Lizzi asked if I happen to know any newborns and what their names are, as they have a song where she gives shout-outs to “all the babies of the world.” Dinner later led to drinks at Pon Pon Bar where Brian played a DJ set featuring an eclectic mix of reggae, dub, 80s synth, and other slinky jams. They managed to slip out before witching hour, as they had an 8am load-in and sound check the next morning – plus leftover saba nuggets to consume.
The Underground Music Showcase is a multi-venue event that spans about 6 blocks on South Broadway. Gang Gang Dance performed at the Imagination Stage located in the back lot of an auto mechanic shop. Their music sounds just as otherworldly and ethereal live as it does on their albums, with a fluid yet lively stage energy to match. At one point, Lizzi declared the next song was dedicated to the future and all the little ones out there who will one day be that future (hence the baby name question earlier). The 40-minute set was a teaser to what the band could pull off within in a full-on concert, and certainly got the crowd eager to get more Gang Gang action the next chance they can.
Thinking about Lizzi’s work as both a visual and musical artist, there are some interesting parallel’s and differences in her output. In both she is collaborative, experimental, eclectic, and versatile. Though her art possesses sensuality, there is a sense of abruptness that is absent in the softer textures of her musical output. The visual art by DeGraw, comprised mainly of mixed-media works on paper that blend the abstract with the figurative, reflects the balance between improvisation and finely tuned technical skills prevalent in his instrumentations. It is crazy to think that the term “interdisciplinary” is still sometimes looked down upon in the creative world, due to this unsubstantiated notion that the artist is not dedicated enough to a specific outlet and deemed unfocused. If one were to look at the bigger picture instead of categorizing each element of an artist’s work, then the dedication, thoughtfulness, and complexity of their craft(s) can be understood as something greater than the sum of its parts.
- Hayley Richardson