Found on Main

Shut down by the pandemic, downtown nightclub makes a grand return

Smokey the Groove perform a no-live-audience pandemic livestream show on the Lost on Main stage May 23, 2020. (Photo by Ken Pordes)

This feature is part of the CN&R’s Live Music Guide special issue.

One of the most enduring images of nightlife in downtown Chico has been the section of Main street framed by Third and Fourth streets. To walk the busy block of nightclubs, bars and restaurants at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night is to be thrown into the middle of the weekend party.

It’s sometimes chaotic, but it works as a strange symbiosis of intermingling tempos, plus four bars’ worth of booze and three late-night eateries serving booze-absorbing grub.

The scene above is actually a memory of pre-pandemic times, before COVID-19 turned out the lights on this and every other fun block. Over the past year or so, much of the area has returned to business, but the loudly beating heart at the center of it all—the Lost on Main nightclub and its party-centric calendar of live music by local and touring rock, funk, jam and other dance-friendly bands—has remained quiet for nearly three-and-a-half years.

But if you put your ears to the wall out front there is a pulse, the beat of power tools and hammers inside updating the large club as Lost on Main’s owners prepare for its first in-person show since March of 2020.

Kyle Ullrich and Karin Williams in front of Lost on Main and its current display of all-local band posters. (Photo by Jason Cassidy)

“I’m very excited to show it to you,” said Karin Williams as she guided this reporter through the new entrance to the club, a pair of black doors beyond the giant metal ones (that spell out “Lost on Main” if you look close) out front. First stop is a new coat check, then completely remodeled bathrooms, then the familiar wide-open dance floor and huge stage.

The former giant speakers have been removed, and Williams and her partner and Lost co-owner, Kyle Ullrich, have hung curtains and wall panels to improve the sound while they await the arrival of a new state-of-the-art sound system to be installed by local pro Bob Tolar of North State AV.

In addition to a fresh coat of paint, the main aesthetic change to the nightclub has come courtesy of a new obsession of Ullrich’s: creating multi-colored resin surfaces. “He’s doing some amazing things,” Williams said proudly as she showed off the table tops and the brand new long bar covered with trippy designs.

While the pandemic was crippling for their business, the couple said the break has given them renewed energy for putting on shows as it allowed them to take a breathe and spend some quality time together and with their dogs.

“We went skiing!” said Ullrich, before Williams chimed in: “We both were skiers growing up, and we had never skied together in the 16 years we’ve been together,” she said. “We took our dog. He goes in the backback.”

The plan is to present a more manageable schedule this time around, said Williams—who handles the bookings—with less-frequent, high-quality shows and a greater emphasis on promotion. Also new will be a more rigorous promotion of food offerings from the kitchen of the DownLo (which they also own) by way of cocktail servers—not just bar service—during shows.

“There’s that whole tribe of students or the younger people who don’t know what Lost is,” said Williams, and she is eager to get the word out. “I want people to know that it’s constant—it’s 8 p.m., whether it’s weekend or weekday—and weekdays we won’t have openers, it’ll just be the headliner; weekends we’ll have two, three bands.”

First up is Portland’s Scott Pemberton, plus local multi-instrumentalist/producer Cameron Scott, aka Modern Methods, on Saturday, Sept. 16—at 8 p.m., of course.

Visit Lost on Main on Facebook for info and updates on upcoming shows.

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