Cosmonaut Collaborations, the brainchild of Solar Tantrums member Eric Kalata, hosted their first Strange Matter show last Wednesday, Nov. 23.
Kalata formed Cosmonaut Collective as a means of booking shows more easily and Strange Matter marked the collective’s third show, and the first show to feature a mixed bill.
“I wanted to be taken a bit more serious because if you can’t tell I’m not very old,” Kalata said. “So I came up with a name and Cosmonaut Collaborations sounded catchy and fun and added that to my name when I sent emails out to venues. I’d sent emails out to venues before but they had never responded to me as quickly before I added the name.”
Kalata also thought creating a name would benefit his friends as well, helping to streamline them and better release their art, zines and music. Kalata started small with a house show on Oct. 1 and after that proved to be a success decided to expand his bookings, first to The Camel and then to Strange Matter.
There are currently two acts that fall under the Cosmonaut banner – Kalata’s group The Solar Tantrums and Driftveil–though Kalata routinely works with other acts, such as The Talkies, John Luter and D’Co, D’JANGLIR and Onomatopoeia, all of whom played at the show this past week. Kalata hopes to expand the collaboration’s roster and is also working on a video series.
“I just decided to get acts I knew were loud and fun,” Kalata said. “I don’t care if it’s an all punk show or whatever, I just want to book bands that I want to see.”
Instead of continuing with a one-genre show Kalata decided to book a mixed bill, contacting shoegaze, psychedelic, electronic and hip-hop performers. Though an interesting way to create line-up Kalata said he isn’t sure he’ll always follow this format in the future.
“I don’t know if every show will be this diverse, but I don’t want to limit myself,” Kalata said. “I’m gonna start surprising people like that. You can’t guarantee that if you put a punk band with a rapper the punk bands are going to stay for every rapper. But you don’t know what you’re going to love until it’s right there in front of you.”
Jake Shinn and Taylor Donovan of The Talkies, who played the show, have been performing in Richmond for about a year and said this was one of the most diverse shows they’d played, even in a city that thrives on specialization.
“Richmond has such a diverse population of music it’s kind of easy to find very niche genres of bands who just play together,” Donovan said. “But with a mixed bill I think a lot more people get exposed to new music they otherwise would never hear.”
“It doesn’t happen a lot, but it’s always fun to play with a bunch of different types of acts,” Shinn said.
According to Shinn, the problem with a mixed bill show is that people come and go a lot during sets presumably because they’re less into some of the performers than others. This sentiment was echoed by John Luter, a hip-hop artist who performed with D’Co at the Cosmonaut show.
“Unfortunately a lot of people who came to see me didn’t get there early enough to see the other bands who are very talented,” Luter said. “When I went on last we had about 30 to 40 people who showed up just for us which was bittersweet because I would have liked to see a crowd show up for them too.”
The next Cosmonaut Collaboration show will be held on Dec. 16th at DIY venue The Observatory.
Tyler Hammel, Contributing Writer