Monday, October 12, 2009

Honk Fest

This past Saturday we went to the Honk Fest in Somerville. I love street festivals and the Honk Fest ranks right up there among the better of them. Street bands from all over the country were there, playing for free all over Davis Square. We saw bands from New Orleans, Kansas City, Indiana, and elsewhere. There were more than thirty out there playing for the weekend.

Most of the bands had brass, and drums, and - other instruments, like accordians, bells, gongs, and some homemade things. The band members were all brightly attired; some of the bands were in matching uniforms and all of the bands were in some type of uniform - not all of them matching and for some, probably almost all, the outfits were designed to be outrageous. The Leftist Marching Band was one.

The LMB was comprised, in part, of brass, an accordian (the player wore a button on his hat that said - Trust Women), horns, and drums. Their uniforms were eclectic, sort of, and saying they looked scruffy was a dis-service. They looked, well it's kind of hard to describe. One member, a woman, played a hand drum with cymbals. She wore a white skirt with red fringe, blue tights, red cowboy boots, a green t-shirt, and a black cap.

The baritone sax player had a white beard that came down to his mid-chest, a blue and red tie-dyed bandana on his head, yellow tinted glasses over normal ones, a gray vest, and white pants with red, green and yellow tennis shoes. The tuba player had his instrument fringed in a white boa.

A band from Indiana was dressed in geen and black. They looked a little like a leprechaun marching band; however, one of the horn players was a woman who had to be 6'6". There were at least forty members in the band, ranging in age from teenager thru, it looked like, mid-thirties.

In some of the bands, the members, and a chunk of the audience as well, were questionnable as to their age and sex. There were more than a couple times I did a double-take and a stare as I went past and looked at the folks. I would first think to myself - that's a woman, no, it isn't, it's a guy. Hmnn. I'm not sure. But, it didn't matter. It was a Somerville fest and it was fun.

Interestingly, there were very few food vendors. Of course, all of the restaurants and bars were open and so there was no lack of food or drink. There just wasn't any festival food. We did stop at Starbucks and get a coffee.

While we were there we hit the Goodwill store, a must-stop when in Somerville. We also slid into a couple consignment stores and poked around.

After walking around, checking out the scene, the music and the people, we headed over to the T station and caught the red line back to Alewife. It was a good day to be out in the sun for some fun. A good time had by all.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Blue Man Group

I’d been wanting to go see Blue Man Group since I’d moved to the Boston area almost four years ago. Finally, this past Friday night, I got there. It was definitely worth the wait.

The theater, on a side street, was kind of cheesy; that is, old and worn. But once the lights went down the whole place became transformed and the audience became transfixed. There were lights, lasers, loud live music, audience participation and many rolls of white crepe that looked like toilet paper.

It’s hard to put the performance into words. It was an audio-visual, sensory extravaganza. The show, at 90 minutes long, never had a slow moment. There were fast changes of pace and scenes. It was almost like the show was a big sleight of hand. Your eyes were directed to a lighted part of the stage for the action; in the darkened part there was action that couldn’t be seen. A lot of stuff was going on in a small amount of space.

The Blue Man Group, three guys in blue heads, all carried about them an aura of wonder, as though they were discovering the show along with the audience, only they got to interact more than those of us in the seats. They banged drums, played PVC pipe organs, and created different rhythms that were fast and furious, though mingled with a sense of bemusement.

At one point in the show one of the members tossed marshmallows across the stage, caught by another member in his mouth. The guy may have caught up to fourteen, it was hard to count but it was quite a mouthful. The resulting shape that came out of his mouth, a marshmallow 3-D art form, put out on a board, was pretty disgusting to look at, but funny.

Another time one of the members caught paint balls in his mouth that had been tossed to him from across the stage and sprayed them onto a canvas, making free-form art. When he then spun the mouth-sprayed display, the canvas was of multi-colored pinwheels. It made for a pretty cool effect.

The Blue Men got the audience into the act, pulling several people out to do some stunts that were pretty funny. One guy was put into a body suit, hung upside down off the floor by his ankles, painted, and then swung into a canvas, making body art, I guess.

In another part, a woman was chosen to come up on stage to be a part of a bit in which she and the three blue men became a panel, of sorts. She played their straight man, so to speak, and the resulting scene was pretty funny.

I’m sitting here writing this and all of these images keep flashing in my head – sights, sounds and colors. But, the only way to really appreciate their show is to go and see it.

Blue Man Group. Like the ad says, don’t leave Boston without seeing them.