Nicole Gluckstern

The Performant: Stalking the voice of young America

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Listening in at SF Sketchfest and Live Evil

Is it just me, or do you also catch yourself wondering on occasion, “I wonder what the sound of young America is today?” Where is it lurking, and how will I recognize it when I find it? Well one pretty obvious solution is to just Google “the sound of young America” -- the first hit will be Bay Area native Jesse Thorn’s podcast/radio show webpage on Maximum Fun. Delightful, irreverent, not unintelligible, and better yet, not unintelligent, "The Sound of Young America" is both talk show and time capsule. I mean, podcasts? How 2007!

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Snap Sounds: Munly and the Lupercalians

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MUNLY AND THE LUPERCALIANS
Petr and the Wulf
(Alternative Tentacles)

Munly J. Munly has long been one of the most enigmatic yet prolific figures of the Denver Music scene. And with his latest lineup, concept band The Lupercalians, he’s tapped into a treasure trove of possibility. Ostensibly the first of a series of albums focusing on the imaginary world of the “Kinnery of Lupercalia,” Petr and the Wulf is a dark retelling of the Prokofiev children’s symphony, whose characters are trapped by circumstance and each other in a deadlocked circle of vengeance and fear. Read more »

The Performant: A dance named desire

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Exploring personal myth with EmSpace Dance and Porchlight

Descending the wooden staircase into the basement performance space at Viracocha, one leaves the surface world behind and enters a parallel underworld of theatricality and allusion. Warm hardwood panels and golden lights, a distinct contrast to the concrete and glass-filled streets above, soothe the spirit -- and unintentionally convey the crux of one Blanche DuBois’ obsession with creating a more beautiful reality from the one she’s been sentenced to. Prone to artifice and artfulness, Ms. DuBois is the central catalyst of the action in Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire and its ultimate sacrifice. In EmSpace Dance’s adaptation (A Hand in Desire) however, the focus is spread more evenly among the five-person cast, both their stage personae and their “real” selves.

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Snap Sounds: Wovenhand

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WOVENHAND
The Threshingfloor
(Sounds Familyre)

Whether it be the western plains or the Appalachian highlands, David Eugene Edwards of Wovenhand has long looked to the American landscape for inspiration, crafting songs which weave these diverse geographies together into a bold tapestry of richly textured sound. And yet, dating all the way back to the early days of 16 Horsepower, Edwards has never shied away from sifting a few foreign elements into his bold Americana. With The Threshingfloor (Sounds Familyre, 2010), he sets his gaze eastward, blending elements of Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and Romani gypsy music into his stark melodies and faith-layered lyrics. Read more »

The Performant: Do you SQUART?

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Let it be resolved, improv-based speed-playwriting competitions involving queer performance artists, cake, fabulous spandex, atrocious wigs, adult diapers, bare bums, wind-up hamsters, and flasks of whiskey should always be bestowed a title which sounds like an uncouth bodily function. Because at the very least it leads to the humorous speculation of what particular bodily function that might be. Though hopefully your attention will mostly be on the crazed mish-mash unfolding onstage, because queer performance artists armed with cake, fabulous spandex, and all the rest, put on quite a show.

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The Performant: Fresh Starts

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Renewing ourselves with Right Brian Performancelab and Ween cover band Golden Eel
 
I spent my New Year’s Eve basically riding around in circles from shut-down party to shut-down party. (Let’s hear it for that War on Fun!) But I’m a big believer in the symbolic do-over that the first week of the year offers up as a recompense for the things left undone over the last one. Looking back and yet forward, Right Brian Performancelab’s one night reprise of September’s “The Elephant in the Room” served as a good example of how to straddle the line between past accomplishments and future ambitions. After a four-year parenting hiatus, Performancelab’s John Baumann and Jennifer Gwirtz’ reentry into the hybrid arts scene combined movement, text, shadow, and song into a piece both playful and poignant.

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The Performant: Deck this!

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Aggro Yuletide fun with Will Franken and Satan’s finest

It’s a common misperception that the sensory-overload of the holiday season is an even greater irritant to the committed misanthrope than the ennui of the everyday, but I beg to differ. Actually the holidays are when misanthropes tend to shine: while everybody else is getting their longjohns in a bunch because of the line at the post office, the ever-increasing price of java logs, or Christmas carol earworms, misanthropes, accustomed to weathering the seas of perpetual annoyance, seem comparatively serene. Also, because everyone around them is suddenly on edge, their caustic observations and one-liners are more relevant to and therefore more appreciated by their usually more-sanguine acquaintances.

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The Performant: Big ideas, small packages

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Taking size of the One-Minute Play Festival and Monsters of Accordion

I’m a sucker for miniaturization. Sushi erasers, super-strong magnets, marzipan fruit baskets, teeny-weeny screwdrivers; anything you can pack into a matchbox or stuff into a watch-pocket makes my spirits soar. So I was naturally keen to take in the One-Minute Play Festival at Thick House. Sixty-three 60-second plays performed in a quicksilver stream of actors, action, and scene. A good example of where miniature does not automatically equate “cute” or “precious” but rather “succinct” or “direct,” the one-minute play is an exercise in brevity and restraint.

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Snap Sounds: La Plebe

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LA PLEBE

Brazo en Brazo

(Kool Arrow, 2010)

Don’t be fooled by the melancholy acoustic guitar that opens the new La Plebe album, Brazo en Brazo, for all of a few introductory notes. Just as soon as the ear is lulled into world-music lullaby-land, the horns and drums quickly pop up, until, like a day at the races, the full blaze of La Plebe’s instrumentation blasts through, and they’re off!

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The Performant: Child’s play

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The Mission gets a lot of ink these days for being a nexus of youthful, responsibility-free hipsterdom -- but despite the skinny jeans and thick mustaches, the neighborhood still retains a surprisingly family-friendly vibe. For one, it's still rife with community arts spaces, so it's a good place for kids to get involved creatively: from Loco Bloco percussion classes, to brass band and capoeira courses at the Mission Cultural Center and Precita Eyes' lessons in mural installation.

Thanks in large part to the winter holidays, December is a great time to explore the youth arts scene as next wave performers strengthen their stage chops and strut their stuff and this last weekend played host to some of the best and brightest of these stage openings. Read more »