Live Review: Rock Paper Zombies @ Strathmore Mansion, 10/28/2011

I'd like to begin by stating that after Rock Paper Zombies!, I'm inclined to think that all shows from here on out should a) be performed in costume and b) happen at Strathmore Mansion. However, seeing as that's probably too much to ask, I'll just gush a little about what made Rock, Paper, Zombies! such a daggum good time.

Billed as "an evening of art, music, and costumes," Rock Paper Zombies! was the brainchild of the one and only artiste extraordinaire Rich Bernett. On the night in question Bernett wandered the halls of the Strathmore Mansion clad in a lab coat and looking more than a little like a mad scientist keeping tabs on his creation, which seemed somehow fitting given the evening's happenings. Walking into the ever so stately Strathmore Mansion in costume (Little Red Riding Hood, for the record) and seeing just about everyone else in attendance in costume felt like a decadent, rather posh thrill, and it only got better from there.

Naturally, my main mission in attending the festivities (other than the whole costume thing) was to take in some great local music, and Bernett put together a pretty fine three-band bill. Fuzzy favorites Mittenfields started the party decked out in their Big Lebowski-themed finest. The grand scale of the wood-paneled ballroom seemed just perfect for the show, and had the bonus attribute of some mighty nice acoustics. The room also made me think of Mr. Boddy's abode in the classic flick Clue, which made me smile quite a bit (Colonel Mustard in the bar with a corkscrew, perhaps). Musically, Mittenfields was on point, loud and scuzzy and loud and wonderful as ever. Oh, and loud.

Once Mittenfields was done, I took up my merch-selling/people-watching post. In truth, there were a few other Red Riding Hoods running around the place, but I espied a pair of Oompa Loompas that knocked my knee socks off. Overall, the costumes were nothing short of impressive at RPZ. I didn't actually see Devin Ocampo's set, but I occasionally found myself getting caught up in some sludgy, bluesy rock that I at times found rather enjoyable.

Bellflur wrapped up the evening's festivities in style, all decked out in costumed splendor (among the band costumes: Bruce Springsteen and Edgar Winter Jr.) and doing their best Flaming Lips impression with a cacophony of ballooned shenanigans, as well as a few Lips covers. It was my third time seeing Bellflur, and they impressed me once again with their evolving, cinematic sound. The mix of Flaming Lips songs with Bellflur songs was a great call for the madcap experiment that was Rock Paper Zombies!. Someone deserves a gold star for this ridiculously awesome idea.

Post-RPZ, I've decided that I'm very much in favor of events, not just shows. Give me relatively opulent surroundings, art, costumes, and great music, and we're cooking with gas. Rock Paper Zombies! was one heck of an event, and everything about the evening made me wish for many, many more in the future.

mp3: Cascades (Mittenfields from the Fresh Sum EP)


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