So, as you may remember from my incessant whoring of the event last week, I performed as part of theletterr
's 11th Hour Orchestra at the Vaudeville Underground on Thursday and Friday at Glade Memorial Hall. My role was to play various percussion instruments (maracas, bells, and conga drums) in order to enhance his excellent cabaret-style compositions. My own contribution was to wear a Mexican wrestling mask, because I am an asshole.
We were, let's be honest here, great. Easily the class of the show, and Jeff's decision to have us wear all black had the additional salutory effect of making us look like total bad-asses, thus intimidating all the other performers, who shrank from us like a cave rat from the light. Jeff got a commission, the lot of us were asked whether we had an album available, and I was personally vouchsafed a series of soul-warming shrieks of terror from some little girls in the front row.
Herewith follows my impression of the other groups on the bill.
#1: THE LUNA BLUES SOMETHING.
These three, consisting of two young Latina sisters and a slightly rodential, creepy-looking dude on bass, were pretty good. They performed blues-tinged Latin pop and sang in one voice lyrics that were less interesting the more you could understand them, but they were very proficient and passionate musicians, and friendly folks to boot. Big thumbs skyward to you, the Luna Blues Something.
#2: THE POET LAUREATE OF LOGAN SQUARE.
A self-styled 'office poet' who read some poems that made up for in brevity what they lacked in quality. I did not actually hear any of her poetry as I was busy meditating upstairs, but reports from my orchestra-mates are that she was not memorable as poet or performer. She was indeed billed as the Poet Laureate of Logan Square, leading me to speculate as to how one is awarded such station. I think it probably involves going to your alderman's office with your checkbook.
#3: THE GUITAR-PLAYING LESBIANS.
Described by one of my fellow musicians as "an angrier version of the Indigo Girls", this is another band I did not see. Based on their rehearsal, they were skilled enough musicians (though not a patch on the Luna Blues I Forgot To Get A Programs), but I am told that in performance they were a shade or two more intense than one might want from light entertainment. One of them had a rather shocking haircut that made her resemble a circa-1987 Billy Idol, only with breasts.
#4: THE PUPPET SHOW GUY WHO LOOKED EXACTLY LIKE BEN STILLER.
This act went on right before us, so, as with most of the rest of the early acts, I did not actually see him. He performed a puppet show which got lots of laughs and was accompanied by hooting, hollering and an unidentified opera. He it was who offered a commission job to our composer and conductor, and he looked exactly like Ben Stiller, if Ben Stiller ran community-theatre puppet shows. (Shades of Tony Wonder!)
#5: JEFFREY LETTERLY AND THE 11TH HOUR ORCHESTRA.
This was us. We, as I mentioned, rocked.
#6: THE SMALL ARMY OF MODERN DANCERS.
After we played, audience and performers moved upstairs for a continuation of the show involving acts which required more space for their movement-oriented shenanigans. First up was a group of student dancers who took themselves very, very seriously and clustered in the hallways during rehearsal discussing their boyfriends. Their performance involved much hand-waving and graceful earnestness to the strains of Yazoo's "I Before E Except After C".
#7: THE CIRCUS ARTS WHATNOT.
This was a combination of juggling, acrobatics, dance, and primitive wirework by people who are training to run off and join the Cirque du Soliel. They were actually pretty good, and the juggler not only had great choreography but also dropped less things than he did last time I saw him. They performed to the beat of Twyer/Klymek/Heil's "Running Two" from the Run Lola Run
soundtrack, continuing the evening's theme of 'Music Leonard is Vaguely Embarrassed to Have in His Collection'.
As the only act whose name I actually remember, these guys deserve special recognition. But it won't be for their performance, whose mediocrity I attribute not to any lack of skill or dedication on their part, but my own low-brow lack of appreciation for dance performance and 'movement'.
#9. UNLESS I AM FORGETTING SOMEONE, THE AWESOME PERFORMANCE DUO.
By far the best performance of the evening, this was a man and a woman who did a combination acting/dancing/acrobatics thing that involved them making numerous bodily configurations and repeatedly swapping places on a strip of cloth suspended from the ceiling, all to the accompaniment of avant-garde music. It's hard to describe, but it was far and away the class of the show -- remarkably original, with a rational development, an amazing level of artistic accomplishment, and a breathtaking amount of grace and strength. They were so great that I feel really guilty for not remembering their names.
Then we had cookies and went home.