Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fish Karma & The Love Beowulf Alley Theatre (27 March 2011)

The Beowulf Alley Theatre great place to see a band, especially in the middle of the day. This gig took place just before noon, on a Sunday, as part of the Tucson Fringe Festival. The venue is very nice, and is set up for the theater. Great acoustics, comfy seats, and not a bad seat in the house. It looks like it holds about 75 people, and today, it was about half full.
2/5 of the Love Generation, rocking out
I was surprised to see that the Love Generation, this morning, attracted a wide range of people, from punkers, to little kids in diapers, to hippie chicks, to little old ladies. Fun for the whole family; It was actually kind of funny watching Fish (Terry Owen) singing some of his rude and hilarious songs with his lyrics flashing the  large screen in a PowerPoint presentation, while the little old lady in front of me watched with rapt attention. 

Musically, the band can really play:  sometimes heavy metal, sometimes country twang.  Fish was standing center stage, reciting and ranting his lyrics, while dressed for business, wearing matching coat and pants.  The songs are from the bands "Halloween in America" album, and as a whole, they comprise a "rock opera", which were popular in the early 1970's. Come to think of is, that band's sound does make a lot of allusions to rock music from a bygone era.  They're like a hyper-literate garage band, except instead of songs about cars and girls, they sing about existentialism, angst, ennui, despair, and  current events.

At today's show, the band embraced the fave audio-visual tool of the corporate world: the PowerPoint presentation, using it to good effect to help the audience understand the lyrical content (by projecting lyric sheets above Terry's head), and also to add a few visuals (mostly Terry's photos of abandoned storefronts, or other imagery that illustrated his lyrics). I hope that Terry noticed the irony in all of this: while at odds with much of consumer-culture (in his lyrics), he does make an exception for PowerPoint!  Did I mention that Terry is also a great cartoonist? Hey Fish, next time you do a PowerPoint presentation, add some of your drawings!

Fish Karma & The Love Generation & PowerPoint

 On a corner of the side of the stage, local singer/songwriter Al Perry served as narrator. Reading from a script on a music stand, Al read a script that linked together all of the individual songs into a sort of patchwork story.

As a "rock opera" (a very mid-60's, early-'70's thing to do) the approach was pretty straight-forward: each song was separated by a narrative interlude by Al Perry. The lyrics to each song flashed behind Fish in a PowerPoint presentation. I got to thinking about how the "operatic" qualities to this show could be enhanced even more: add a mime? Have sound effects (and thus turn the show into something of a radio play)? Have the band members speak some lines of dialogue, and and thus "act" out some of the script? The idea of a "rock opera" is intriguing, and Terry has a natural theatrical bent. So who knows where Fish Karma & the Love Generation will take take this, should they choose to continue with the rock opera format!

For the last song, (a rousing version of "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies) Terry wrapped himself in a "Snuggie", and lounged on the stage like Roman Emperor (with his "Snuggie" as his toga) as the band cranked it up behind him. When the song ended, he was flat on his back, looking like Darby Crash (of the Germs) on the album cover of "The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization".

Singing "Sugar, Sugar" by The Archies

 I'm not sure that this what the little old ladies in the seats in front of me expected when they entered the theatre, but they stayed the for the entire 90-minute concert, and applauded at the end.  Pretty incredible feat for this band, to create politically edgy garage rock music that appeals to such a wide cross-section of people!  

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