The Powerhouse was packed to the gills last night for the fourth installment of RAW, the running multi-disciplinary arts series that began in Los Angeles in 2009 and launched in Boise in May.
The fancy dress event featured displays of art from many local artists including street-art style paintings from local emcee Arthur Maddox (Chris Collins), a wide selection of animal prints from Katherine Grey of Grey Fox Studio in Eagle and a display of ray guns and other steampunk-themed sculptures from Rusty Retro in Nampa, plus a full docket of performances on the stage.
The first performer was singer/songwriter Cassie Lewis, who opened with a loud blues wail, to which the PA responded with high-pitched squeals of feedback that Lewis battled for much of her first song. But once through the sound gauntlet, she plowed through a 20-minute set of bluesy folk songs on the acoustic guitar. It was hardly unique, but Lewis' voice had a rich tone teetering between blues and country that was well suited to the bricks of the Powerhouse.
Not that many seemed to notice. The crowd, all gussied up in their Saturday night best, mingled and chit-chatted through most of the performers. Between sets, host Dylan Haas offered shout-outs to the various performers and requests for anyone within the sound of his voice to shout out "RAW." Some did. Most didn't. As is typical for events in which the artists are the ones primarily responsible for ticket-sales—RAW artists must each sell 20 $10 tickets or be financially responsible for the difference—audiences seemed to pay the most attention to whatever friend or family member it was who sold them the ticket. It certainly brought in a crowd, but coupled with the wide variety of distractions on site and the troublingly reverberated sound in the space, it also meant that no more than one-sixth of the audience were actually engaged in performances at any one time.
And that's a shame. There was a decent set from local rockers Muffalo, whose German tour last summer was well received, as well as a ninja-like pole-dancing demo from the ladies of Ophidia Studio and a compelling performance from Off-Center Dance that featured its members gyrating and writhing through large sheets of latex like larvae about to sashay in the world. Performers like the event because it is a large audience and a high-profile event to be a part of, something they can use to promote their craft. But it doesn't work very well if no one is paying attention.
For example, a screening of Crawlspace, a short film from local filmmakers Tom Hamilton, Christian Lybrook and Chris Brock, looked great projected on a large screen in the back of the Powerhouse, but it struggled with sound issues in the high-ceilinged din, making it fall somewhat flat.
The audience trickled out over the course the evening, meaning that it was down to about half its girth for the main event. Top billing for every RAW event goes to a show from a local fashion designer. Aug. 16's featured artist was Brianna Allen, from local boutique Piece Unique, who showed a line of tasteful dresses featuring a general lack of flair. The pieces were primarily from single smooth pieces of fabric, which, instead of being dressed up in bells and whistles, let the tasteful cuts do the talking. Several of the dresses featured a single exposed shoulder with a sort of wizard sleeve on the other side. One drop-necked top could have used some double-sided tape to prevent a doozy of a wardrobe malfunction.
Hair and makeup for the show were done by the crew at Lunatic Fringe.
After the fashion show, the audience thinned a little further, though some stayed to cocktail it up and dance to the DJ. It was a raw-tastic evening on the whole.