I hate to be objectifying, but journalistic integrity be damned- Orchid and Hound are damn good looking. The queer pop duo, comprised of satyr-esque John Constantine and the coyly shaggy Lawrence Alarcon, were also charming and beautifully turned out when I met them for drinks the other night- and, of course, they are brilliant onstage. Their upcoming show at The Blue Macaw (Thur/11) promises to look a lot like what would happen if High School Musical came out of the closet, hired a better stylist and started partying. So you’re going to have to excuse me if the following article starts to sound like Tiger Beat at times. I’m a little smitten, so shoot me.
This is what you will see at an Orchid and Hound show. Lawrence Alarcon will bang out lovely up and down tunes on his piano, while John Constantine provides jazzy vocals that ease over here to a sound reminiscent of Broadway, then smooth down there to recall a smoky lounge somewhere in Vegas. They’ve dubbed it “queer pop”- a highly listenable, intimate little cabaret. "We like to think of 'queer' as 'different,' like melodrama," says Constantine of their sound.
“The classical composers we know so well, Beethoven and Bach and Vivaldi, they were improvisers. So really, we’re carrying on that legacy,” says Real Vocal String Quartet founder Irene Sazer. I’d love to know what the old masters would think of a RVSQ gig- would they throw down their powdered wig and get down when the women launch their cellos into “Fontana Abandonada-Passatempo,” their Afro-Brazilian jam? Get their britches in a twist over “Kothbiro,” a nyatiti song by Kenyan artist Ayub Ogada?
I reckon they’d have dug the tunes. After all, RVSQ, performing this Thursday at Freight and Salvage, attributes their freedom to perform such divergent genres to their traditional classical training. The band members- Dina Maccabee and Sazer on the violin, Alisa Rose on the violin and fiddle and cellist Jessica Ivry- were all band kids, many raised in families of classical musicians and most recipients of college degrees in their respective axes.
Some started careers in orchestras and the like. But there was always something beyond the Bach that beckoned.