Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Rock Shows of Note XXIX
Apologies for the delay on reporting on the actual Art Beat Sideshow organized by Handstand Command. This was the first time -- that I'm aware of -- that the Somerville Arts Council helped set up an evening event attached to Art Beat, much less an event geared more toward adults than children and families. We were thrilled to be part of it, and Emily, Beth, and Rachel deserve a lot of kudos for putting together such an amazing show.

An actual baby bottle.

Besides the paperboard facades and stage decorations, the Dilboy VFW hall was outfitted with a circus relic display, jarred curiosities, a popcorn and cotton candy machine, and assorted art installations. Folks didn't have a lot of time to explore the space and see the displays, and it was quite dark once the lights went out and the show started, but the installations and circus decorations added a lot to the feeling of the space.

The show opened with Scrapple performing a framing song -- reprised at the end of the show -- welcoming everyone to the Sideshow's "freak flesh parade." I dressed up as a half-man/half-dog and was led onto the stage by Leslie, who performs in Asian Babe Alert with Tom of the Anchormen and Scrapple. The song peaked with a parade around the hall. My dog hat fell off on the way around. I never did find it and hope that someone else picked it up. (Geisslah said he thinks he has it, so things should be cool.)

Laurel the Baton Twirler is a freak.

There was so much going on, it's hard to describe in a linear way. So I'm not going to. An artichoke fought a beet. Baby Man recited poetry. Steak battled a potato chip -- perhaps the best wrestling costume done up in grand Kaiju Big Battel style. Jennifer took photos of people. I made popcorn. Steph made cotton candy. Scads of bands played short, short sets: the Operators, the Anchormen, Asian Babe Alert, Sinkcharmer, and Scrapple. The Anchormen's set was really fun, and people seemed to respond well to our songs about gas stations, Chinese restaurants, and urban planning.

The Operators take the stage.

After the bands played, the show shifted gears. The Burlesque Revival Association (yes, BRA) performed several sultry numbers. Jake the Puppet Master staged a disturbing Punch and Judy show drawing on original scripts. Laurel the Baton Twirler did her thing. And at the very end, a DJ spun records. Folks danced until the place closed around 1 a.m. and Handstand Command broke down the sets.

Overall, the Sideshow was a brilliant ending to Art Beat. Handstand Command enjoyed putting it together. The Somerville Arts Council folks seemed to have a good time. And the place was packed! Thrilled silly that everyone hung around for so much of the show. There was a lot going on, and it lasted about five hours.

Hooray for Art Beat!

Photographs courtesy of Kathleen and Paul Coleman.

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