The Lost Lake Lounge is an unsuspecting music room that sits on the bustling main vein known as Colfax Avenue in Denver and offers a max capacity right around 200. The avant garde wunderkind Lil Peep had sold out the divey room 4 weeks in advance to no one’s surprise, but an unexpectedly intimate vibe for the hyper buzzing rap/emo/90s pop punk/goth/trap/r&b genre bender resulted in a uniquely captivating and surreal performance lacking nothing of nothing. In spite of the minimalistic venue choice, Peep travels with heavy duty production including an LED wall and set props that lend themselves to his exactly 45 minute emotional roller coaster of a performance which called on a number of tracks that have long surpassed a million plays on SoundCloud.
Starting off by quickly juggling snippets of fan favorites such as the Xavier Wulf collaboration “Drive By,” and the overtly melodic “The Song They Played (When I Crashed Into The Wall),” a hooded and somewhat reserved Peep seemed to be greasing the wheels of the audience before moving into a noticeable act 2. As if not correlated to the rising temperature of the room, but more a symbolic shedding of a reticent persona, Peep gradually removed his outwear until shirtless and dove into some of the rawer lyrical compositions in his catalog such as “Worlds Away” and “Lil Jeep.” Back tracks phased out and outros were stretched with sing-a-long a cappellas by literally every person in the building. The connection between artist and audience was vivid and palpable – to them these are the anthemic world views they identify with and it was powerful to witness.
Wasting virtually no time between numbers, the young songster transplanted his rock cadences from the digital to live with ease, and often appeared to channel the demeanor of noteworthy and darkly enigmatic frontmen such as Trent Reznor and Maynard James Keenan. Guys known for appearing the most comfortable and confidant while on stage, reciting poetic narratives of their darkest memories and most painful thoughts. Yet the effects of the art were the reverse for those baring witness and expressing peaks of joy, a poignant psychological juxtaposition rarely seen except for maybe when 200 of the most loyal gather to revel in it.
While not quite yet at a level of personifying the eccentrics that made early David Byrne one of the most iconic song crafters and live performers of all time, Peep has overtly mastered efforts to be a reflection of his current environ both sonically and societally, much like the Talking Heads maverick before him. These drastic comparisons seem far fetched for allocation to what some might label a lowly SoundCloud rapper, but Peep is a rare find in an era of clone waves that are unfamiliar with returning to the source – be that anything from Blink-182 to Gucci Mane to Nirvana to anything that calls upon trap snares to Dashboard Confessional to inaudible identifiers that seem to exhibit themselves when he drops into well executed versions of “Hellboy” or “OMFG.” The influences are exhausting to contemplate but the music itself is anything but, and in his most hypnotic moments on stage Peep seems to find tranquility in the fan connection that runs as deep as anything I’ve seen in music.
After exiting the stage and leaving the eager crowd in wait for 10 minutes, Peep waited until the last somewhat comfortable moment to rush the stage and launched into a mosh pit instigating “Switch Up” to ice the last time we’ll ever see him in a room this cozy.
Photos by Milo Lee