The Avalanches Made the Gothic a Sacred Space

The Avalanches Made the Gothic a Sacred Space

October 2, 2022 Off By John Cargile
The Avalanches make the Gothic Theatre a Sacred space. (Photo: Gerardo Federico)
The Avalanches make the Gothic Theatre a Sacred space. (Photo: Gerardo Federico)

Photos: Gerardo Federico

After The Avalanches played an amazing show in Los Angeles at the Greek Theater, my son (who runs the Lost Bay music blog) told me “… you have to see their show!” I looked and saw they were playing the Gothic here in Denver, and was fortunate enough to secure a ticket.

Last Wednesday, the duo showed up to burn the Gothic Theatre down. Tony Di Blasi and Robbie Chater – the last two original members of a group that used to be as many as six members strong – appeared tremendously happy onstage together as they danced and smiled amid flashing lights and in front of a hyped crowd, always moving.

Just a few days later, the band announced that the tour was over, due to “serious health issues.”

The Avalanches delivered their own style back then

Flashback to 2000.

Some of the crowd at the Gothic show that night remember The Avalanches bursting on the music scene with “Since I Left You,” the amazing and unique debut they dropped in 2000. Their debut echoed the Beastie Boys “Paul’s Boutique” and DJ Shadow‘s “Entroducing,” two unequivocal classics from the previous decade. But the group’s debut record also channeled “So How’s Your Girl” by Handsome Boy Modeling School – another act I saw play at the very same Gothic in 2000. The Avalanches delivered their own style back then, a style that mixed so well in the midst of a world morphing from the sharply divided Indie Rock and big sounding Electronica of those days.

The Avalanches make the Gothic Theatre a Sacred space. (Photo: Gerardo Federico)

These were days of listening to full CDs, song choices 100% in our own control, instead and endless chain singles that so many streaming services play for us to hear in whatever order they want. In that place, we had many drug- and booze-filled nights listening to this brand new, unmatched ear candy to no end.

That Avalanches CD twisted through our ears and meandered into our brains, taking the MDMA we’d taken (or now – what do they call it – Molly?) to an even higher, more sacred place. Vodka red bulls kept us going, and the dance floor kept our feet, and bodies, on the ground, and in the moment. The sweet music also filled unmatched, beautiful interludes where we gazed into the eyes of those we loved, in that same endless moment.

We were never really heard from the duo much after “Since I Left You,” besides a few festivals, up until about 2007. It was a true, heavy disappearance from a lost-but-not-forgotten, premium act.

Then they were back in 2016, after an unimaginably long break, with “Wildflower.”

According to a December, 2020 NY Times article, the 16 years between “Since I Left You” and “Wildflower” were a “… dense maze of left turns, overthinking and abandoned songs,”

It’s too tempting to think what those “serious health issues” might be

At the heart of delay was an addiction issue that Chater spoke about in Under the Radar magazine.
“I didn’t realize how negative I was toward myself internally,” Chater told Under the Radar. “My thinking was very self-critical, no self-love whatsoever. It took a long time for that to grow in me. That was part of the work of recovering. How can you be part of the world when you’re disconnected from yourself?”

It’s too tempting to think that the “serious health issues” that canceled the rest of the tour shortly after that night at the Gothic may have reared its ugly head in Chater, yet again.

“Talking about it now, I realize it was all in me,” Chater continued. “I was able to express it in art, even when I didn’t have the skills to connect with the world in any other way.”

The Avalanches draw so many amazing recording artists and poets into their unique tracks, whether recorded for the album, or mixed in as samples, obscure as they may be. David Berman, Leon Bridges, The Bee Gees, The Folk Implosion, Denzel Curry, MGMT, Perry Ferrell, The Isley Brothers, John Cale – the list never seems to end.

The crowd that night at The Gothic was filled with a variety of people – fans, music lovers, Avalanches worshipers – all brought together to dance and sing. And all of us had so much deep, beautiful fun. Thank you, Tony. And thank you, Robbie. Please take care and know we are sending prayers just like the vibes you delivered to us. One can only hope – whatever it is – that this brilliant duo of musicians can find its footing again and get back on tour.

They were truly amazing.

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  • John Cargile

    John Cargile teaches and DJs for hundreds of Denver yogis and his power yoga classes. His southern roots of soul and pop music melded with indie and dance music in Colorado over the years.