Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pancho Lopez: Anger

It looks like the beginning of a magic show. Black velvety curtains surround an immaculate white plinth, on top of which rests a voluminous glass fish bowl. Pancho emerges, looking a bit like a game show host: red tie, white shirt, and black pants. Some game show-type music comes on the sound system. A water bottle emerges from behind the plinth, he takes a sip.

The show begins. One after another, Coca-Cola bottles emerge from behind the plinth, are opened and emptied into the fishbowl. Empty bottles are neatly lined up in front of the plinth, labels facing forward, and bottle caps are placed on top with equal precision. Lopez is just pouring Coke into a glass bowl, but there is something hilarious about the whole debacle. As yet another bottle appears from behind the plinth, you just have to laugh. Maybe it's the samba covers of "Smooth Operator" and Prince's "Kiss" that animate the performance. Maybe it's the way in which Lopez, completely straight-faced, coyly finds yet another way to pour Coke into the vessel, now over the shoulder, now two at once.

Twenty bottles of Coke transforms the fishbowl into an enigmatic black orb with a pulsing meniscus, threatening to spill at any moment. Twenty-one sends the liquid fizzing over the glass, spilling over the edges of the plinth and onto the floor. Lopez takes a break, pointedly finishing his bottled water as he surveys the squandered bottles of Coke. The final bars of "Smooth Operator" play out. On the last beat of the song, he pulls a baseball bat out of nowhere like a rabbit from a hat and smashes it into the black globe. Glass shards and Coke spatter everywhere. In the heat of the moment, someone throws a chair, barely missing LIVE's director, Randy Gledhill. Brilliant.

- stacey ho

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