Photo by Annie Lesser

For April’s installment of First Fridays at the Natural History Museum Of Los Angeles, the lineup included Japanther, Dan Deacon and a DJ set by Kisses. While some audience members paid extra to be able to watch the show close up, as Japanther and Deacon played amongst the taxidermy displays of North American mammals, those who paid a smaller cover had to watch the performance projected on the walls of an entry hall where two giant dinosaurs were prominently displayed. Although it was visually fascinating to watch Japanther projected above a T-Rex, the acoustics were not exactly built for speaker systems blaring DIY alt-punk.
During Deacon’s set he tried to do his signature dance tunnel, which required a little extra work given the circumstances. The dance line went out of the North American Mammal room and around the entryway dinosaurs, but as soon as the crowd started to diverge from a path that went directly toward the prehistoric behemoths, the museum security shut it down. This administrative disruption sent fans with all-access wristbands back into the North American mammal room, away from the general admission crowd.
Between sets, as well as during performances, audience members were allowed to wander through the museum, seeing dinosaurs, nature displays, Incan art, lots of birds and many other fascinating exhibits. This unique venue, despite having an annoying separation of audience levels for security purposes (as well as the limitations as to which rooms you could drink in), was a great backdrop for both Japanther’s abrasive punk and Deacon’s communal pop.
Seeing either of these bands in a normal music venue is just not the same as seeing them in a repurposed space. The contrast between the music and the surroundings added to the uniqueness of the performances. Though Deacon leads audience members in similar variations of dance games at every show, he always allows the space to influence the proceedings.
All photos by Annie Lesser
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