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[Indonesia/Spain/Australia ~ Australian Premiere]
Nexus Arts, Sat 7 Oct.
The opening act ‘little-scale’ got started around 8.30pm with large Eddystone box filled with what were apparently obsolete video game consoles and a weird wired with banana plug hairdo which for all intents and purposes ‘little-scale’ spent the next 30 minutes caressing. Changing the wiring did make slight (and presumably deliberate) changes to the audio and video output. But the changes were slight and from the start of a 30 minute set to the end, there didn’t seem that much change, certainly little in the way of dynamics. Futher, there was little audience engagement and perhaps a 5-minute segment of this would have been sufficient.
After a break, with stage changes etc. at about 9.30pm Drapetomania began. A collaboration between Grey Filistine (I have one of his CDs at home – which I quite enjoy), Nova Ruth and co. began. An elaborate piece of theatre, Filistine being the captain and Nova Ruth and an Indonesian (I presume) dancer let the way through the waiting passengers to boarding. The opening sequences were quite an experience, theatrically, visually (some great effects, including the plane door appearing to almost swallow Filistine, the captain).
While much of the composition was pre-programmed in Filistine’s consoles, there was plenty of live accompaniment, on synth pad (by Filistine) and various percussion devices, by skin drum and a most unusually played and perhaps tuned ukulele by an Indonesian (presumably) percussionist and by Nova Ruth on vocals, triangle, synth pads etc.
Once the plane had settled at altitude, off went the seat belt signs and the dancer was unleashed – at this point the music beat was definitely world-style house and there were elements of western, eastern and hip-hop to the frenetic energy unleashed.
Some of the audience gravitated to the dance floor; the heavy beats working their way under their skin and their bodies responding in well-practised grooves.
For a gig posted to begin at 8pm and lasting for an hour, I sadly had to leave before the event was over even with allowing two hours for the performance. Suggesting more accurate performance durations is something the performers and organisers could take into future consideration to safe confusion and overlapping with other Festival shows.
Clearly there had been lots of thought given to staging, video, theatrical design etc. and the ideas behind this – Drapetomania – a supposed mental illness that arises in slaves causing them to seek their freedom – is an interesting concept to build around. In the part of the show I saw, I can’t say that I could read much of this in the piece, but that aside, it was a lot of fun with music that you couldn’t help but respond to physically.
Image courtesy of Julieta Feroz