Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fort Wilson Riot Idigaragua Indie-Rock Opera review

Idigaragua, the indie-rock opera performed by Fort Wilson Riot and directed by Jeremey Catterton at the Bedlam Theatre Sept. 6 - 16 was wildly fast-paced and fantastically light-years ahead of its time, in creativity, collaboration and complexity. Inspired by two Paul Bowles short stories ("Tapiana" and "A Distant Episode"), "Idigaragua" centers on the epic adventures of a naive American journalist abroad. Captured by pirates, he saves himself by glorifying them in the media, then escapes to an idyllic village, only to destroy it through globalization.

Having attended many Fort Wilson Riot performances over the past three years and hearing and seeing Idigaragua evolve from a short song about 3 minutes long to an hour-long five part song I looked forward to the indie-rock opera with high anticipation. I attended Idigaragua three times — it grew increasingly intense, and heartwrenching with each attendance, and as familiarity with the drama set in, as well as clarity of the vision and messages (naive ideology, falsifying media to glorify unjust war sacrificing many "to save your own skin," imposing class divides via globalization and capitalism, choosing to follow rules out of fear, and more . . . ), themes we were confronted by via a well-constructed hour-long song performed phenomenally by Fort Wilson Riot, and magnified vastly by the theatrical performers lip-syncing the lyrics and acting melo-dramatically drawing out the horrors and the humor of Idigaragua. Swords and flashlights jabbed, and puppet parts flew intensely close. The music smoothly transitioned from melodic and idyllic, to ominous and dark, to chaotic and carnivalesque, as Fort Wilson Riot members performed in costumes mirroring their actor counterparts.

The rock opera performance was just what this already perfect hour-long song needed to reach its fullest potential in its epic scope.

Idigaragua, a bird nobody likes, dog puppets attacking, being made into a circus geek, pirates beset with the problem of a bad reputation, dancing cactuses, an ominous rider, and anti-capitalism protesters are but a few of the nightmarish events that besiege the journalist, a naive Western journalist who responds in ways that leaves a trail of destruction, angry mobs and innumerable dead wherever he goes.

The magic realism of the rock opera was enhanced by lightning fast costume changes, numerous puppets, great tricks with lighting, a simple set with symbolic props. One highlight of several climaxes was a 4-minute found film collage shown on a roll-down screen with styrofoam blocks, showing a rapid building and decay of a civilization by globalization and capitalism, then being torn down by rebels against the class divide and poverty the new civilization created.

The show Idigaragua, one of the most successful fait accomplis performed by any rock band in decades or perhaps years to come, must go on, and hopefully it will continue, here and throughout the world! There is great potential for Idigaragua to spread throughout the land as an amazing song/story/drama by one of the most visionary eclectic rock/funk/jazz/punk bands around.

my KFAI "Who's Spinning Who" series debuts tonight!

Please tune in to KFAI 90.3 FM Mpls., 106.7 FM St. Paul tonight, Thursday from 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. to hear the debut of my new KFAI series, "Who's Spinning Who?" when I interview musicians, producers, bookers, record store and label staff, and other music fans about their favorite music, both new and old. They'll spin samples of these picks giving you a taste of what may also become your favorites. They will also fill you in on upcoming new projects they're working on!

This episode of "Who’s Spinning Who" features special guest Jacob Grun, The Sound Gallery co-owner, recording engineer and live sound engineer for the Uptown Bar and booker for Rossi's Blue Star Room. He also does booking for the Turf Club, and formerly the Hexagon. Grun is also a musician with
Parts for All Makes and Ice Palace.

Grun recently finished working as sound and tech engineer with Fort Wilson Riot on their indie-rock opera, Idigaragua performed at the Bedlam Theatre during the first half of September. Grun hosts Sound Gallery events regularly such as a recent art show by local artist Kyle Pettis and soon, an afterparty for a fashion show at the Aveda Institute for MN Fashion Week.

Grun is working with Tuesday's Robot on their next record coming up this Fall, and enjoys playing out with his bands. His next performance is with Ice Palace, for the Twin Town High Release Show at First Avenue Main Room featuring Mark Mallman.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Electric Arc Radio Season Premiere Review

The best comedic/dramatic/live radio show not on the radio, Electric Arc Radio season premiere kicked off September 15 at the Women's Club (Loring Park) to a sold-out crowd of hundreds. Detailing the lives of four tormented writers, with Alan Greenspan living in their backyard treehouse, and neighbor, notorious punk poet Paul D. occasionally dropping by to "lay down a few soft words about life, living and the pursuit of whatever."

When I first saw Electric Arc Radio perform at Creative Electric for an audience of several dozen, I laughed till I cried. Even snorted. Meaning its really funny. Bac then, over two or three years ago, I knew it was the most hilarious thing out there, replete with wacky (and wacked) characters, hilariously bad one liners that'll make you bust your gut, hot tub humor, squirrel and pidgeon hunting in the backyard by Greenspan, writers compulsively bursting into sentimental song and Britney and Madonna covers, and telling sad but true tales of life in a little house in a big city.

Electric Arc Radio makes lit hip, not highbrow, and no subject is sacred as the writers candidly reveal their hopes and fears, anger and angst "getting lost in their forest minds, wondering why the world left them behind." The shows are filled with storytelling and songs, including music throughout by local musical guests such as The New Standards, the Owls and Walker Kong.

The Fall 2007 season premiere featured performances by Little Man, whose big dramatic energy was a perfect psychedelic rock-n-roll match for the rock energy of Electric Arc Radio's sold-out show at the Women's Club in Loring Park.

This episode began when a new light rail stop was put in the writers' front yard because a councilmember (who wakes up to German techno) had eyeballs that went bad. Punk poet Paul D. cuts his lawn with scissors, Brady goes on a light-rail adventure to the Mall of America and gets sick on Cinnabons, Sam finds possible love, possibly not a potential killer, on Facebook which is hosting a new meetup campaign: "poke 'em on the lightrail" and Mark Wheat of the Current poses the philosophical question, "If you meet love on myspace, is it a person, or persona you're in love with? And, if girlfriends in the past have threatened to shoot you, can you fall in love again?" The lightrail brings life to the small street, and Steph learns how to make salmon loaf with brandy. Herbach learns from Clerky the liquor store clerk, that rollerskates (two mini-lightrails), are really where its at, he sings a sentimental ode to his shiny new skates as he flies past dumpsters and between cars, and punk poet Paul D., torn up about the lightrail, shares a poem, and decides to tear up the rails for scrap metal, making enough to throw a kegger with a bonfire in the backyard.

Electric Arc Radio is hilariously demented, sending gales of laughter through the audience. One of the best comedic dramas I've ever seen with humor ringing reflectively of the idiosyncracies of life, I addictively look forward to new episodes every couple weeks.

Upcoming shows feature musical guests: Haley Bonar (9/29), Storyhill (10/13), Fran King (10/27), Mary and J.G. Everest (11/10).