Wanda’s. The Yellow Balloon. 32 Degrees. Club Tundra.
These were names that graced the facade of the venue that sits at 5863 Thompson Rd. in Syracuse since the 1940s. (Thank you Syracuse Nostalgia for the quick history guide, table of dates.) Currently, The Lost Horizon is printed in large, white lettering on all sides of its black awning. Its lights continue to glow, welcoming any and all to the musical oasis it has boasted since 1975, when Greg Italiano took over the managerial role from his father Anthony.
John Hanus grabbed the baton in 2010, from his uncle (who got it from his father) of the Italiano family, died.
Even through the overzealous, glittery awkward years of the 2000s, during the time where Hell almost froze over with two re-names and frigid rebranding efforts, The Lost Horizon will forever be a part of Syracuse and the greater central New York music scene.
Last Sunday, March 4, I joined my brother and sister-in-law at the venue for the Deer Tick show, which was excellent. It was great to be in there, especially since it was the first time I went with the present company, and it was the first time this year to pop my head into the joint.
As I near birthday “No. 35” — actually tomorrow — it was hard to push away the feeling of nostalgia. Nostalgia at 35?!? There is no need to resist. Those fuzzy memories, which mostly sound like the humming of reverb and feedback, should always be welcomed with open arms and mind. Maybe the occasional bump and elbow to the chest. Albeit my overall existence and the relationship with The Lost Horizon is very finite, its still amazing for me to acknowledge the 20-plus years I’ve attended shows there.
It’s a special relationship. Our communication isn’t the greatest; however, when we meet up, we pick up where we left off — one great show to the next. I’ve enjoyed the sweaty pit of Biohazard to the rambunctious crowd singing along to Frank Turner, plus everything in between. Performers photographs appropriately line the walls in a gallery.
It’s forever continuing to cater to local acts as much as it has to national and global names. It’s a place to visit. It’s for certain The Lost Horizon is consistent. Although the interior aesthetics have been revamped and cleaned, which is necessary and for the better, but it still has that air of dumpiness to it. The “dumpiness” is more charming than anything. It’s what a good, gritty venue should be.
On top of the variety of acts, it’s always been welcoming to high school-aged students. We and the current “they” can experience the thrill of an in-your-face show in tight quarters. Each CNY generation has stories of the place. It was also good for my friends and I to learn where the venue was, because we soon graduated from getting driven by our parents to going by ourselves (after we were granted permission by night driving licenses).
It’s underutilized, like many of the venues in the outskirts of the core of Downtown Syracuse. Bands and artists of all genres — and I encourage you all — should be filling the place multiple times per week. Again, it’s the perfect joint to get rambunctious and equally the intimate venue for a folk singer or singers.
Plus, the black stage is very appealing to me: Standup comedy, dancers, storytelling and improv. It’s a black box theatre without calling itself a black box theatre. There’s ample stage space for performance artists of all kinds.
It’s easy to fall into the slump of looking at Syracuse’s music scene in a negative light. There is nothing to be down-and-out about. Including my own, it’s the opinion of several people. The region is smack in the center of upstate New York. We should be boasting and waving flags to bring bands here.