Reviewed By: Mandy Moe Pwint Tu
It’s late in the evening of Saturday, the 13th of June. I’ve got about an hour until I have to head off to the Perth City Farm for an event which promises to be fantastic: it’s the night of Rockin Cirq, hosted by Wonderland Productions, advertised as “a night of classic rock n roll and crazy circus performances”. Honestly, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve always been intrigued by the circus; even the word itself suggests magic and mayhem: and as yet have never been to one. Plus, there’s going to be a fire artist. There’s no way I’m going to miss this.
An hour to go and my +1 isn’t feeling well enough to come with me. I don’t quite fancy going to the event alone, considering that I’ll know few enough people there, so I set about trying to convince my other friend, Steve, to accompany me, tempting him with the prospect of a cheese sandwich. He’s tentative, and asks for more information about the event, which I duly provide. He’s still tentative. He wants to stay home and watch movies. So I begin a new conquest to convince my other friend, Gracious, who is considerably more artistically inclined than Steve, to join me. He’s also tentative. He has plans but he wants to come. He’s conflicted.
I give up. I decide to go in alone.
Gracious is in the car and Steve drives me to East Perth. We circle the carpark behind the Central Institute of Techology for a while (“We’re here.” “This isn’t it.” “It says we’re here.” “This is a carpark.”) before we find the venue, being inconspicuously glittery with lights in an otherwise shadowy street. I get out of the car; Steve tells me he’ll probably join me later, after he drives Gracious home. I tell him to call me when he gets here, and head in alone, armed with a camera.
I am greeted at the entrance by two lovely ladies. One of them is wearing black; the other has a more colourful dress on. I tell them I’m from Rotunda Media and they stamp the word ‘Love’ on my wrist. I purchase three raffle tickets simply because I have a good feeling about them, and walk on through.
A courtyard is perhaps the closest thing I can come to describing the outside area of the Perth City Farm. There are benches, a few flowering trees, and two heaters, one on each side. It has a vague circus atmosphere, if anything, I decide; my eyes darting to the Grilled to the Mac sandwich truck settled comfortably right by the entrance to the farmhouse. Its’ orange twinkling lights add on to the circus-like atmosphere. So far I like what I’m seeing. I head into the farmhouse, to be greeted by an empty but colourfully lit stage, and a smattering of people milling around the open space, some of whom have already started drinking. I whip out my camera and start taking a few snaps.
It’s six o’clock. I’m on time. People are still coming in, but the space is empty and while I’m enjoying the music, there is little else to see or do. I stumble across a laminated poster for the playing times of the artists. The first act, the Primal Vinyl DJ, is on at seven. So I mill around inside, making mental notes of the venue, taking photos, and then head back outside to mill around and take photos. I continue doing this for about an hour.
I am lured back inside by a catchy circus tune which the Primal Vinyl DJ is letting blare from the speakers. This is the first in a string of jazzy, upbeat versions of well-known show tunes. The theme from Mission Impossible came on at one point along with Jesus Christ Superstar. I find that the music is instrumental (pun intended) in creating a happy, upbeat atmosphere. A gentleman who approaches me to ask if I am the official photographer for the event echoes my opinion that the music is different from what we’re used to, and that this event promises to be entertaining, if only it would get started.
It’s about 7:45 pm. My lecturer and her partner arrive on the scene, providing me with the company I am sorely craving. They go to grab something to eat and drink before rejoining me, and we catch up on our every day goings-on. Suddenly we hear trumpets playing outside, and go to investigate. We find the Junkadelic Brass Band performing in the chilly night air and then proceeding inside, dressed primarily in red and black, giving high-energy rustic renditions of songs like ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ and ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’. They are absolutely fantastic.
When they finish, and parade out of the farmhouse, we are introduced to our MC, Ringmaster Magnus Danger Magnus, whose high energy enthusiasm throughout the entire evening is to be admired and envied. He gives us a lowdown of the rest of the acts, and leaves us to enjoy the musical aptitude of the Primal Vinyl DJ. This time, however, he is joined by four charming Go-Go dancers from the Beehives.
At this point my lecturer and her partner bid me goodbye, advising me to “keep my energy up”. Soon after, I receive a call from Steve, who informs me that he’s outside, after half an hour of trying to park properly. So I go to meet him and bring him inside.
The DJ and the Beehive Dancers go on for an hour; so, after I have taken as many photos as I feel is sufficient, we head outside, find seats, and sit talking while we watch the remainder of the performance from a distance. We head back in for Ivana B Serious’s Fire Show, and watch in wonder as she dances and casually consumes fire. I attempt photography, but a particularly tall person wanders into the throng a quarter of the show through and stations himself right in front of me. Thank you, tall person.
We are then treated to the blues and funk tunes of Thee Gold Blooms, which we enjoy, and then decide to grab sandwiches from the Grilled to the Mac truck. I order a Reuben and Steve orders a Mac and Cheese sandwich. I give them my name and get sung the first three notes from Barry Manilow’s Mandy.
We sit on a bench chowing down the delicious foodstuff, before Steve goes off to call his mother. Meanwhile, Thee Gold Blooms have finished performing and Magnus Danger Magnus is introducing the Reverend Butcher. Steve still hasn’t returned, and I don’t want to miss this act. So I take the sandwiches, leave my Sprite on the bench, and head back in, just in time to see the burly tattooed man blow up a balloon, attempt to tie it, have it pop, blow up another balloon, succeed in tying it, and swallow it, afterwards extracting the deflated balloon from his mouth. He then proceeds to drill through his nose, poke pins in his cheeks and staple the ‘PAIN’ onto his chest, the last letter being stamped right on his forehead. I notice that some of the more squeamish audience members turn away for most of the acts, once they figure out what he is about to do. He finishes to loud applause.
Once the Reverend Butcher’s act is done, Ringmaster Magnus Danger Magnus prances onto the stage, his energy and enthusiasm uncurbed. He begins thanking the organizers, the volunteers, the performers and the sponsors, afterwards calling on the Beehives Go-Go dancers to pull the winning raffle tickets out of what looks like a Pandora bag.
I fish out my three tickets, Purple B 04, 05 and 06, and wait.
The first winner—of two passes to Absinthe, the upcoming cabaret show at Perth Arena—is an elegantly moustachioed gentleman called Tim. He and the Ringmaster lock moustaches onstage, before he bounds off, and Ash, the main organizer of Rockin Cirq, introduces the next raffle prize—the prize pack, with vouchers from Burlesque Baby, Rhubarb Records, Oxford Street Books, double passes to Luna Cinemas Leederville AND another double pass to Absinthe. Honestly, all I care about winning is the Oxford Street Books voucher.
One of the Go-Go dancers pulls out a ticket and Magnus Danger Magnus reads it out.
“Purple … B … 04!”
In disbelief, I crumple up my other two tickets and approach the stage, on which I am congratulated and sung to by the Ringmaster, once my name is learned. He remarks on my camera. The crowd does a bit of cheering, and Ash requests that I wait sidestage.
She then leads me and Tim backstage, where she takes down our email addresses, telling us that she will email us the passes by Monday because she plans on sleeping the entirety of Sunday, which we both feel she deserves to. She hands me a plastic bag containing the vouchers, an autographed Rockin Cirq poster and a Rhubarb Records slipmat.
“Hurray for random numbers,” says Tim.
When I head back out, the Caballeros are setting up. It’s 11:10 pm, I’m tired, but I’m determined to see this last band. The Ringmaster introduces them; they bound onto stage, and start singing. Goodness, their energy rivals that of the Ringmaster—their lead is running through the audience and singing to the people milling outside, running back in and onto the stage, passionately screaming into the microphone. Steve loves them, he tells me that they have revived him.The audience is amped up; they’re even dancing. We leave at 11:30 pm, but having the Caballeros end the night is a stroke of genius on the organizers’ part. It brings the phrase ‘ending on a high note’ to a whole new level.
It is a glorious end to a perfectly lovely evening. I can assure you, if in seven or eight months, Rockin Cirq comes back into town, you will find me there.