Jerry Paper The Smiling Buddha, Toronto ON, June 27
Published Jun 28, 2016The Smiling Buddha's cozy confines were the setting for a very interesting Monday evening last night (June 27). Setting the tone early, Lucas W. Nathan — better known by his stage name, Jerry Paper — came onstage in a full black spandex suit, white socks, thick black sunglasses and a headset microphone. After lightly narrating his band's equipment difficulties, Paper jumped into a set made up almost entirely of his new album Toon Time Raw!, a record made in collaboration with Toronto's own BADBADNOTGOOD.
As soon as the band began to play the introductory riff of "Kill the Dream," it became immediately obvious why Paper insisted on wearing a headset rather than using a standard mic stand: he was going to, as he put it, "groove the fuck out." Despite the oppressive humidity within the venue, Paper enthusiastically shimmied and danced hands-free for the entire set, apologizing at one point to the first few rows of audience members who he was sure could smell his unwashed unitard.
The theatrical performance was interposed by Paper's witty banter, which drew attention to the ridiculous combination of his odd stage presence and the existential themes of his songs. His habit of emphasizing this juxtaposition was most effective near the end of his set, when he humorously admonished the idea of a disingenuous encore, paused for a beat, and said "Anyway, this song is about death" before immediately jumping into "Nirvana Mañana."
Paper is a gifted songwriter with a knack for performance. So although the band's playing lacked the sonic and instrumental nuances that made the recorded Toon Time Raw! such a unique piece of work, and Paper goofed around with the delivery of his own lyrics, the performance was nonetheless intimate and memorable. And it'll only get better with time.