Singer and multi-instrumentalist Kaoru Ishibashi (aka Kishi Bashi) is a pretty talented guy. His resume will gladly tell you he’s toured as a violinist for Regina Spektor, of Montreal, Sondre Lerche and Jupiter One, making him somewhat of a backstage cornerstone in the early 2010s indie pop world, alongside Zach Condon and Win Butler.
Kishi Bashi’s own solo show lies somewhere between eras, utilising banjo, violin but also vocal looping and beat boxing to create a undeniably folky but grand feeling performance. Playing a selection of songs from his latest album Sonderlust and previous releases, Ishibashi’s 3-piece band looked incredibly at home creating improvisations with the frontman, who added layers and layers of violin and vocal loops to the mix. Towards the end of the set Ishibashi played a handful of songs solo, including a gorgeous take of “I Am The Antichrist To You” which was greatly appreciated by the crowd. Other favourites such as “Bright Whites” and the closer “Manchester” made an appearance, with dedicated fans and onlookers surely satisfied by the good natured feeling of the performance.
Teeth + Tongue took to the stage a little before 10pm to showcase tracks off their 2016 record Give Up on Your Health, a jaunty synth-pop record with some very strong singles. As the set moved through it’s paces, the bluesy “Your Ghost Is the Hardest to Kill” and the upbeat new-wave stylings of “Dianne” brought out the band’s more synth-heavy moments. When the band employs their Microkorg and Juno in tandem, the result can only really be described as euphoric, or gargantuan. Closing with the unashamed pop number “Turn, Turn, Turn” the band showed their knack for catchy hooks and lively instrumentals.
Words By: Laurent Shervington, Image Credit: David Alarcn
Throughout human history, it’s fair to say that a reasonable amount of weight is placed on how we and past generations have arrived at where we are in the present. Forays into tracing genealogy have become more common and accessible as technology grows, allowing barriers to be bypassed, forgotten information remembered and family trees to blossom among forests.
Despite the undoubtedly practical features of websites like ancestry.com or the baby-boomer geared tv programme ‘Who Do You Think You’, there remains a space between for personal stories among otherwise forgotten families living parts of the world struck by precarious situations.
These stories are what Chilean playwright Lola Arias’s The Year I Was Born aims to reveal, done through an almost freeform style of documentary theatre. The ten or so ‘actors’ involved in the production play (or represent) themselves and their parent’s generation – those who lived under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. This 17-year period holds a lot of notoriety for those living in Chile at the time, with thousands of people tortured and killed and thousands more forced to leave the country.
Piecing together photographs, letters, radio broadcasts, clothing and any other remnants from the cast’s personal collections, an incredible breadth of information is uncovered from a very specific time and place. At its best the stories unfold in a very natural and deliberate way – with comic relief or musical numbers brightening moments that threaten to consume themselves with melancholy.
The production does perhaps suffer from its lengthy runtime, certain sections could benefit from thinning, in particular, the persistent lining up pursuant to class, skin colour, parental political affiliation, etc could have been tightened.
That said, the boldness of the narrative holds a sense of raw honesty and substance rarely found in forms of theatre, as deaths of parents are re-enacted, pilgrimages on maps are traced and totalitarian protocol is announced behind feedbacking guitars. These elements underpin the idea that everyone’s story holds a special significance among a time, place and context. Ultimately Arias succeeds in presenting an exploration of country that shouldn’t be defined by its politics, but by its people.
The Year I Was Born is running from the 15th to the 18th of February at the Heath Ledger Theatre (State Theatre Centre), reserve your tickets here.
By Sarah Ison
Image: P. Clarke
After taking a much-needed pause from their sold out show in 2015, Sugar Blue Burlesque took to the stage once more with the second volume of Expose last Saturday.
Striptease, acrobatics and fantastical (if not minimal) costumes all made their re-appearance in the show fueled by eroticism, cabaret and all things burlesque.
Expose Volume II opened with a comical and clever number, in which the MC couldn’t seem to decide whether to be blushing bride or bold harlot. The one song seemed to contain more costume changes than minutes, and started the show off with the same intensive and stimulating energy audiences had so missed.
It is unfortunate that this energy however could not be maintained across all acts. This of course is almost to be expected from an opening night a Fringe World show, especially one consisting of at least half a dozen set changes and rotating performers. All the same, selling itself as a much-anticipated return of an already successful burlesque show set the bar for Expose a tad too high. While the first few comments about obvious mistakes and the need to stall were endearing, beyond this the MC only brought more attention to the unpolished moments of several acts.
Furthermore, the staging and audience placement was at times cringingly ill planned. With a barely raised stage and the tendency for many performers to ‘get down low’, most of the audience were left with no view at all of countless acts.
As much as the audience were blushing and smirking during the sexiest parts of many erotic performances, sideways glances of disappointment in not seeing several others couldn’t be missed.
There were of course acts of redemption, the most memorable of which came from the performers of Kinetica, another 2017 Fringe show. With its heavy acrobatic focus, and the use of a full-scale bathtub on stage, this act excelled easily past the pitfalls of other performances.
The numerous speed bumps encountered during opening night did little to dampen the spirits of the Sugar Blue Burlesque entertainers however. The crammed show pushed onwards, the MC relentlessly grinning at any slip up.
While lacking pivotal polish to reach the same caliber as previous Sugar Blue performances, Expose Volume II still managed to both entertain and embarrass audience members across the crowded Spiegeltent. With many nights ahead to refine what has the potential to be a raucously sexy variety show, Expose Volume II may still be worth a shot for all lovers of burlesque.
Words By: Laurent Shervington, Photos: Laura Wells
When I bring up the topic of commercial Australian music festivals with friends, the response is usually one of wistful nostalgia towards the ‘good old days’ (2013 Big Day Out, the very short lived Disconnect 2015 and 2014/2015 Laneway Festival) with an added sneer at recent festival’s focus on Triple-J centred acts, as opposed to the breakout independent acts from the fringes of the internet.
While these opinions are definitely justified to some degree, it’s easy to forget the exuberant and joyous atmosphere that can only be found at Australian music festival – regardless if your belles of the year past were snubbed a spot. That is to say, there’s usually always some gold to be found in side-stages and (dare I say) laneways of the remaining festivals. This year’s Laneway I feel embodied this.
The day started early, with Fascinator kicking off the Spinning Top stage at about half past 11. Located somewhere between the sheen of Ariel Pink and the flanging tones of Pond, Fascinator’s approach to modern psych was jam-driven and sparse, featuring a theremin, tribal percussion and an intriguing Casio Digital Guitar. The arrangements had a lot of room to move and flow, with the lure of rising synth arpeggios drawing a reasonable crowd for so early in the day.
Following on at the same stage, hometown hero Nick Allbrook brought his forays into Bowie-esque glam to the crowd, well, quite literally, as he jumped the barrier to sing karaoke with some stunned punters and long-time friends. Allbrook was joined by James Ireland on synth and drum programming, the two weaving in and out of the Pond frontman’s solo material, with “Advance” being a standout from the 40-minute set.
The folks from White Lung aimed to bring punk energy to early afternoon crowds but ultimately fell short of raising any more than a few committed fists in their barrage-of-heavy bass and guitar, vocalist Mish Way-Barber doing her best to rise the sun-afflicted crowd into a better mood.
Over at the Future Classic Stage, Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins entertained many with his eccentric trap stylings, drawing a committed crowd that sung his hooks and rapped along to many of the tracks off his acclaimed mixtape The Water(s).
Luckily the crowd at Spinning Top had picked up significantly for the lo-fi come rawk stylings of Car Seat Headrest, whose level of energy was about as expected as the band’s choice of covers (“Motorway to Roswell” by the Pixies? Boys Next Door’s “Shivers”?). Opening with “Vincent” and a pounding version of “Fill The Blank” the band unfortunately dodged going back any earlier than 2015 – this was made up by the heartwarming singalong to “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales”, the obvious highlight in their tight set.
Crowd favourites A.B. Original took to the stage as the afternoon slowly faded, providing old-school boom-bap beats that ensured there wasn’t a still figure in sight. The collaboration between Briggs and Trials is, of course, an extremely important one politically, challenging present-day racist ideologies and providing a much needed voice for Indigenous youth. Hence why it was so encouraging to see people of all ages experience their music and engage with the artists, altogether one of the day’s highlights.
Over at the main stage, festival stalwarts and overall hard-workers King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard brought a much needed adrenaline shot to an expansive crowd, along with two drummers and three guitarists. As per usual, the band mapped their setlist to the motorik beats of both drummers, playing a selection off Nonagon Infinity and I’m In Your Mind Fuzz but throwing in newer microtonal flirtations “Sleep Drifter” and “Rattlesnake”.
Getting to the sharper point of the night, Floating Points took to the Spinning Top stage to unleash their electronic approach to instrumental rock music, providing an almost flawless 50-minutes of complex compositions, drifting from moments of beauty to chaos with little warning. At the heart of the performance was a huge visualiser in the centre of the stage, displaying green laser line patterns and geometric shapes to the music played. It’s subtle shape forming and shifting was a pure joy to watch, it’s creation no doubt informed by band spearhead Sam Shepard’s neuroscience background. In my mind, simply one of the absolute best sets played at any Laneway festival I’ve attended.
Separated from the bearded baritone on the main stage, Jagwar Ma’s set at the Future Classic stage was to paraphrase a dear friend “the closest you’d likely come to clubbing without actually clubbing”. Thankfully this was realised in the best possible way, with thudding arpeggios and sparse vocals spurring a strong crowd to embrace the night and get down to the dance numbers.
At the stroke of 10 pm, Tame Impala took to the main stage to close proceedings, providing a homecoming performance of hits that would please even the harshest critics (admittedly, I exist here in a vacuum, hoping a song off Tame Impala EP will be played, go about your daily routine unfazed). Early highlights included “Let It Happen” and “Elephant” as warehouse loads of confetti was pumped into the crowd at a fairly consistent rate. Kevin brought out the cheese towards the end of their set, boldly declaring “I truly believe this is Australia’s best festival”, a somewhat sad reality for West Australian’s living in the great festival drought of ’16 (now ’17) but nonetheless probably a sincere slice of optimism from the frontman. Closing with all-time singalong “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” and “New Person, Old Mistakes” in the eyes of many, the hometown boys could do no wrong.
Words by Sarah Ison
The lights hadn’t even been switched on as the audience in the Spiegeltent began their high-pitched cheers. They needn’t be, for the silhouette appearing on stage was undeniable. Huge hair, ballooning curves and a dress that still managed to sparkle in the dimness; La Gateau Chocolat had graced us with his presence.
It was of course a single, vivid spotlight that washed over the stage as the chords of an organ rang out a familiar tune. The Phantom of the Opera was an aptly dramatic start to the show and Gateau milked every second, swishing across the stage in his golden mermaid dress, red wig bouncing as he strutted towards the audience. As always, the sassy queen made no secret of the depths of his baritone voice, booming out the low bass notes proudly across the rapt crowd.
The switch from deep voiced opera singer to flamboyant diva was astonishing, and the audience was kept in this amusing state of whiplash throughout the entire show. Gateau’s character could be as quickly changing as his costumes, and it is exactly this that makes him such a wonderful solo performer. However Gateau was not alone in this particular show, with supporting drag queen Jonny Woo joining our favorite chocolate diva on stage throughout.
While both individually very talented, moments of dramatic or musical cohesion between the two Queens were few and far between.
Attempted harmonies were unfortunately near misses for the duet on most occasions, and the banter between songs didn’t feel quite authentic. Thankfully, Gateau’s solo performances continually redeemed moments of flatness on stage. Not to say that Woo was a weak link. In fact, given his own solos, Woo demonstrated extraordinary dancing and acting capability, otherwise unseen next to Gateau.
It became increasingly frustrating however, when the two came together again on stage, with each shining less brightly in an attempt to compliment one another.
While lacking the same polish and caliber of Gateau’s past solo shows, A Night at the Musicals still succeeded in bringing together a remarkable blend of theatre, music and cabaret. Caught halfway between a homage and a parody of our favourite show tunes, this show was full of originality and cheek.
Words By: Laurent Shervington
Upon walking into the ‘Flaming Locomotive Engine Room’ at the State Theatre Centre and seeing the setup, I felt I had a fairly good understanding of what was to come.
A man, covered in white chalk, wearing nothing but a pale white jockstrap, standing in the centre of the makeshift stage. His gaze was aimed downwards and he was breathing slowly. Entertainment was quickly sourced from the arrival of new audience members, who would often do a double-take of the setup and hastily find their seat. Faint piano made the pre-show atmosphere all the more eerie and jarring.
As the music faded out and the lights sharpened, a more precarious silence shifted into focus.
Christopher Samuel Carroll’s chaotic interpretation of John Milton’s 1667 epic, was a mesmerising cavalcade of bizzaro theatre, inspired equally by the power of body performance as it was the poem itself. A perhaps obvious but nonetheless striking part of the performance was Carroll’s incredibly smooth segues into each character. Playing the fairly imposing characters of God, Adam, Eve and Satan in quick succession, the intonation, inflection and personality of each character had been thought out to a tee, it’s execution supported by strong changes in stage lighting. Each move Carroll made was purposeful, carrying the action to all parts of the ground level stage, at one point acting out Satan’s entrance to Eden with great expression.
After the final line of the nearly 1-hour performance, Carroll resumed his stance at the centre of the stage, piano filtering back through the speakers. No biggie.
For reasons I’m not entirely sure of, I decided last Thursday to start impersonating a group of trending environmental activists called the Alt Us National Park Service on Facebook.
Backstory: a twitter account for the Badlands county branch of the American Government-owned National Park Service was forced to remove three tweets citing statistics on carbon emissions. Almost immediately, up sprung the ‘Alt’ National Park Service account(s), lashing out at Trump with climate change zingers and hard facts. VICE and Buzzfeed and every other large vaguely new-media entity covered the story within hours.
And then: the legitimate Nat Alt National Park Service account deleted itself and wiped everything clean before re-emerging with no followers. Mystery hung in the air.
Whether or not that account and the ones that followed truly are being managed by environmental scientist government rebels, I don’t know. Or care, really. What’s important is I realised they hadn’t made a facebook page at the time, so I acted. Overnight, the likes came trickling in.
What I can tell you is the ‘Altusnatparkservice‘ facebook page claiming to the be official home for the “resistance” sure as shit isn’t run by government anyone, because it’s run by me. If your first question is “why,” here’s a puck. You can slide it. Go play roller hockey.
I have given false hope to over 3000 desperate, frustrated Americans this week. Here’s how I’ve grown:
5. Other Imitators Are Idiots
The first moment I realised I had made a sound investment here was by looking at the quality of my competitors – the other imitation accounts. Here we need to discuss quality over quantity – they got more likes than me, but I was able to craft an identical brand to the original twitter. I stayed focus on the climate change facts, and I was rewarded. People started tagging me, telling their friends that I was in fact the real Alt Nat Park Service account.
I was giddy. Things began to blur.
Nobody else had gone so far as to pretend to be the original account. Why, I have no idea. That sort of thing usually happens immediately. So, realising I was onto a good thing, I continued to craft my brand. Posting various news articles on new data and climate studies. At one point, I actually felt kind of good about it.
So did Americans.
4. Lol, Americans Tho. You Gotta Be Joking
I am the hero you deserve. If 4000 years of poetry and song tell us anything, it’s this: avoid melodious half naked fish women lurking on the rocks, and people will buy any product that brings them comfort.
I don’t really have any moral convictions from the get go, but I was able to avoid all moralising on the ethics of Snake Oil, especially well when I realised that these people weren’t liking the page to follow environmental news, they were liking the page to show their tokenistic alignment with an idea that would bring them self comfort. These corrupt capitalist pigs are always exploiting the lower classes for their material gain. The time has come. Bury up the rifle from its hiding place under the vegetable garden and take to the streets. Eliminate resistance wherever you find it. GO!
Look at these dweebs who thought they were hackers.
3. Beware Graphic Designers Who Try to Outsmart You
All visual artists are trash.
My first big risk moment came when the original designer of the Alt National Park Service logo messaged me. The Alt Nat Park had put a call out on twitter for a new logo, and one Angela S. was the winning contestant. Her design is an upside down arrowhead with a wolf and mountains in the design, which mimics the National Park aesthetic.
I had originally stolen it and deliberately not attributed her, knowing that the unnecessary attention could burst my bubble early on.
Luckily: Angela S is a fellow snake. She messaged my page originally inquiring about her right to promote the logo on some merchandise, but immediately, I began to smell something fishy.
Then I realised: she was doing what I was doing. She had set up a fake Alt Nat Park Service account on twitter, pretending to be the real one, but just posting links to her own webstore where the shirts would be printed off in some unclean factory in China with ink that lowkey breaks trade regulations.
I put up a disclaimer warning users to be alert, saying we did not sell merchandise. Her twitter account quickly lost traction anyway.
2. Idiots. Every last one of you. Utter fools.
Behold, the Hall of Shame:
Haha, serves you right for believing.
How will you ever defeat climate change if you can’t verify your sources?
I call this one Star Wars 7: Maureen Gets Lost in the Isle of Folly
1. I AM The Alt National Park Service
I awoke in Yellowstone in a daze. Below me, the warmth of an ancient volanco. The strangely refreshing mist of sulfurous geysers.
My breakfast was unusually delicious. The sky: brighter. The ground below me seemed healthier, more willing to embrace the nutrition of earth. Surely that could never go wrong.
I will go on until I am exposed. Now that I have gotten a taste, I cannot stop. I will continue to imitate a possibly nonexistent team of activist scientists until I am finally forced into exile by the Black Sea, writing scriptures until I die of pneumonia like Ovid, or more likely, until I get bored and find a porn site that interests me again.
Until then, I will continue to follow the real account, making up the story as I go along. So far, only one person has asked if I am legit. I deleted the message.
By Freya Parr
Suffice to say, entry into PICA’s newest installation, Ecosexual Bathhouse, is not for the faint-hearted. Created by Perth-based artist collective Pony Express, the experience is intense, and only for the sexually experimental and open-minded.
Inspired by the eco-sex manifesto by Annie Sprinkle and Dr Elizabeth Stephens (available to read here), the artists’ aim is to make the political personal. We are constantly being asked to care for our environment in a detached and clinical way. Ecosexual Bathhouse creates a deeply intimate experience, helping make our relationship with nature personal, suggesting that if we learn to love the Earth, maybe we can save it.
Eco-eroticism is a new concept to me, and I felt out of my comfort zone for the entire duration of the experience. However, it was a very well created space, and I have never seen anything quite like it. We were each given an ecosexual prop on entry, along with a brief set of rules on respecting the plants within the bathhouse. Handed a watering can attached to an S&M-style studded belt, I entered. We were also given tiny condoms, which I am still not entirely sure what we were supposed to do with. I only assume they were environmentally friendly and biodegradable. Made up of several rooms, there is plenty to see. However, unless you are very open-minded and fully understand the concept of ecosexuality, it isn’t a particularly engaging experience. It is all too easy to be merely a spectator and leave after five minutes, leaving the rest of the group to caress plants in a bizarrely sexual manner.
One room is heated like a sauna, and feels damp like a swamp. A scantily-clad women holds stick insects for guests to also interact with. Performers coated in mud roll around in the dirt. The walls are bedecked with images of phalluses covered in moss and women wearing grass-coated underwear. There is a woman being massaged with sand and stones. It is an overwhelming attack on the senses, with the smell of earth thick in the air. What surprised me was how sexually charged the whole affair was, which, for the prude within me, did not sit all too well. However, the longer people stayed within the space, the more comfortable they seemed to feel. There are even beds to lie in alongside strangers, so you could spend hours in there.
Ultimately, Ecosexual Bathhouse is not for everyone, and those who may be perturbed by watching people caress plant leaves may not enjoy it. However, it was eye-opening in more ways than one, and with time you can adapt to your surroundings. The only element that prevented people from being fully engaged was that it was more of a spectacle rather than an immersive and involved space. But if you’re feeling open-minded and up for a bit of weirdness, it is a fantastic concept and a highly unusual experience.
Ecosexual Bathhouse is appearing at the Fringe until 28th January.
By Freya Parr
Welcomed into PICA’s Central Galleries, instructed to wear workout gear, nobody knew what to expect. It soon became clear that this would be far from a conventional yoga class. In pitch black with strobes and UV lighting, we were separated into the elements: earth, fire, air and water. This was decided by our star signs. A Rainbow Rhythms-esque yoga warm up began the proceedings, which was more than slightly surreal. There was a moment that I was bent on all four panting like a “cute puppy” in which I felt as though I was part of some sort of social experiment. But as soon as the lights went down and the volume of the deep house music went up a notch and we started dancing as a collective mass, I knew I had found my spiritual home.
Each group of elements were led by a pigtail-wearing, fairy light-bedecked leader, who began movements that we were to follow. The choreography meant that we were moving around the space, interacting with the other elements, and using movements that reflected our elements. As an earth element, I moved between growing like a tree to birthing a child to fist pumping and humping the floor. I may have developed some deep-rooted issues from the whole affair, but quite frankly I loved it.
Bold and frankly very unusual, the whole evening was magnificent. The only way to enjoy it was to view the whole thing completely ironically, and then it was utter genius. I rubbed ice on other people’s sweaty bodies to the sound of jungle house, rolled on the floor, and felt bizarrely connected to every other bemused yogi in the space.
The evening ended with a room of joyful strangers standing and violently sweating touching heads with people they had never spoken two words to. It was ritualistic and strangely meditative, and completely weird and wonderful. A perfect evening out for the adventurous, or those who want to be completely thrown out of their comfort zones. A Fringe experience about as immersive as you can get.