Saturday, September 17, 2011

Day 2: The Cabaret

It was like the all-dressed poutine consumed after an evening downing ten-dollar pitchers, greasy and satisfying. The Live Cabaret at the Patricia Pub last night filled an empty hole in our stomachs with a gooey mess of cheese, too much fat, dicey cholesterol and vitamin-deprived calories. It had no right to taste as good as it did.

We sat watching the cascade of the wild, outrageous and the ridiculous and couldn’t stop stuffing down those greasy fries. After the bar closed, we stumbled out onto East Hastings on Vancouver’s east side feeling woozy but pretty good.

After a very late start, almost two hours late from the listed time, our host Ian got the show rolling. It was a sprawling array of entertainment, including the anti-comic, the human beat-box, the sociopath magician, the borscht belt remake, the male ballerina, the yarn-bombed chorus and the middle-aged poetaster. There were drag queen dowagers in bright latex suits and wedding gowns. There were folksingers and divas that lip-synched pop hits. There were musical duos and finally there was a dancing gorilla.

You had to be there.

Rodolfe-Yves Lapointe wandered dazed through the room asking what the hell was going on as our host Ian and a friend from the audience strip-teased on-stage while Bobby dressed in virginal white harvested secrets from the drunken patrons. Him Lo walked through the crowd wearing his signature Him Lo body suit asking us to don tight-fitting black sacks over our heads and Vasan Sitthiket played the electric guitar.

Throughout the evening a bevy of beautiful women from the Live crew worked the room to separate any loose cash from those present. Randy Gledhill the Director of the Fest officiated over a series of absurd and less absurd auctions and seemingly rigged lotteries to raise cash for the festival. After haircuts, artworks, performance pieces and healing sessions, Randy finally auctioned off the festival mascot -- a garish plastic parrot perched amidst the fronds of a miniature plastic palm, which when activated sang a mercifully short ditty. The parrot, he explained, was a gift from Valintin Torres who performed at the festival last year.

In presenting the prize Randy read a text from Fausto Grossi that situated the evening as a life performance, with its practice that thoroughly effaces the boundaries between practices, genres and art experiences. (Again it would be nice to post that text here.)

Fortunately, by “happy coincidence”, the mascot remained in the Live family and will continue to bring good fortune to festivals to come.

Before the third pitcher, I was a bit irritated that Ian, our host with the broken foot, didn’t clearly identify the acts. Most of the time we got a first name and that was that; Patrick, Gloria, Vassan, but often acts were identified by their shtick—magician, dancer, comic.

It wasn’t till late in the evening that I realized that introductions were unnecessary because all the young artists performing in Patricia’s Pub last night knew each other. Live was throwing a party for its friends, a group of young Vancouver artists who live and work together on the DTES.

The evening ended with a drum guitar duo, Payday Millionaire who got the room up out of their seats and dancing to a tune about the current Vancouver real-estate boom that is forcing people from their homes across the city.

Out of the decrepit ruin of the DTES, these young artists are making something new. It will certainly be informed by the work of the Fluxus group and its wise fellow travelers in the community surrounding the Western Front, but it will be something different. Last night I smelled an optimism and freshness in the room, swirling amongst the reek of frying sweet potatoes and decades of spilled beer.


(I’ll try to post a complete set of the acts later in the day.)

1 comment:

LIVE said...

I learned last night that I made an error. The text and poem that Randy presented at the Cabaret were not by Valintin Torres, but by Fausto Grossi, from his text, "How to explain (to myself) what performance art is and not die trying." It can be found on the Live site.