“The Lost Church a haven for adventurous souls hungry for new thrills in unexpected
I became a Lost Church disciple back in January, when an invitation to see local
alt-country idol Paula Frazer came with the additional intrigue of watching her perform
in a mysterious venue. Something about the place being named The Lost Church gave
the space a theatrical flair in my mind, and when I walked off cracky Capp Street
and through the unmarked door, I felt like I was entering a scene in a David Lynch
Once I got up the steps and into the main room, I noticed naked lightbulbs glowing
all old-timey in a bright line from the small stage, and red velvet curtains framing
Paula and her cohort Jesse Jackson. The words “The Greek Chorus” twinkled in gold
glitter on an arrow hanging down the wall, and below tiny rose-colored lights were
sprawled like ivy. The room was so intimate, holding just 50 people, it was like
I’d crashed someone’s (supremely awesome) house party as my friend and I took the
last two folding chairs available. We were front row, a couple feet from Paula and
The Lost Church wasn’t created to be some kind of divey rock ’n’ roll haven. There
are plenty of other Capp Street lofts and warehouses catering to that demographic,
and the Clines’ backgrounds diverge into other areas. Elizabeth is an on-set tailor
for Levi’s and Old Navy, among others, and she is quite the seamstress, creating
napkin dresses and The Lost Church’s curtains. Brett earned his stagecraft chops
as a sound and lighting engineer at many of the city’s major theaters.
The couple, who live in a building just behind The Lost Church, wanted to create
a venue for grownups who support the underground scene. They were thinking of folks
who have kids or who crash out well before the booty-calling hour.
That respect comes in part because, right off the bat, you know who is hosting you....
And just as it would be if you were a guest in someone’s home, the bathroom is actually
As for the name The Lost Church, Brett tells me it has nothing to do with religion.
He goes off excitedly about being part of life-enhancing rituals before explaining
that he just wanted to create a space that’s “good for the soul.”
I’ll add to that description by calling The Lost Church a haven for adventurous
souls hungry for new thrills in unexpected settings. I mean, really, where else am
I going to see Jonathan Richman one weekend and a sing-songy drama about “love, sex,
drugs, spaceships, paranoia, and hallucinations” the next?
The affable tattooed guy ...at the door double-timed as the emcee (he’s also, I learned
later, one of The Lost Church’s co-owners, Brett Cline). He made announcements between
acts with the dramatic delivery of a sideshow barker, and I almost expected Tom Waits
to snake out as the headliner – there was that wacky kinda vibe in the room.
Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by a different rock ’n’ roll character, Jonathan
Richman, taking the stage. The former Modern Lover curled over his guitar as part
of an acoustic trio, making funny faces the whole time. (How could I not notice?
I was perched close enough for shy eye contact.)
By the end of the night, I’d been baptized by a new space that made the evening
as much about the atmosphere as it was about the people on stage. I proselytized
to my friends about The Lost Church until I’d brought back a dozen new converts for
the next big gig – Sonny Smith’s zany spoken-word musical about being a broke dude
and banging aliens. And, I should add, that show was awesome.
I was twice sold on The Lost Church after that gig, and had to learn more about how
this unassuming building, just off the 16th Street bustle, had arrived on the ol’
discreet venue scene. It turned out the place has a long history with the arts.
They told me the building originally came to life in 1979, the creation of famous
local conceptual artist David Ireland. He’s the one responsible for the geometrically-shaped
windows, angled for ideal moon viewing, and the second floor bridge that winds across
the room and doubles as a balcony during performances. Four years later, it became
The Capp Street Project, an installation gallery, until Brett took it over in 1997.
The space pretty much stayed out of the public eye until 2011.
The Clines are now creating what they call a “greenhouse for the arts,” a general
description for big ideas that include plenty of cool multimedia happenings. Since
opening to the public as a “theatrical production house” last February, they’ve hosted
numerous plays, musical performances, and variations on those themes.