ff2012 is dead. Long live ff2013!

With less than three weeks until the start of the next Fringe (and, for the first time in an odd-year, Festival) season, I’ve finally finished writing about the shows I saw in 2012’s season.

One-hundred-and-fifty-five shows. Thirteen in a weird, patchy kind of Festival, and one-hundred-and-forty-two Fringe performances. And that’s not counting the extra Rhino Room Late Shows, the repeated viewings of The Fastest Train To Anywhere, or Tomás Ford’s impromptu Massive Fucking Party. There was lots of chatting to be had – bless the Fringe Club and Barrio – and friends made, re-discovered, and (unfortunately) lost.

But most of all, I got to spend the best part of five weeks drinking heavily from the Art that others make. I love seeing what creative people can conjure out of their imaginations; I love watching the reactions of the audience, wondering whether that particular moment is going to be the inspiration for something amazing in the future.

That’s why I do what I do, as worthless as it may seem. After all, these posts are just memories – fragments of the experience that I want to remember – that really should have no significance to anyone other than me.

But, right now, there’s an untouched Fringe Guide that I must investigate: circling shows of interest, starring the “important” ones, transferring their information into a spreadsheet, and starting the delicious task of planning. The Festival shows have already (mostly) been locked in, so that’s a start… but I doubt it’s going to be anywhere near as big a year as 2012.

I’ll see. That is, after all, what I do :)

Panic Time!

My last post to this blog was on March 22.

At the time, I figured that I could squeeze out one post a day. After all, I saw 155 shows this year, and I feel obliged – nay, committed – to writing about every single one of them. And I figured that, at one-a-day from late March, I’d be wrapped up just inside the new financial year.

But, as Burns wrote (and Steinbeck later appropriated), the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men

First came laziness. Then came sheer laziness. They were soon joined by procrastination, self-loathing, and video gaming (my other passion, though that’s been equally neglected of late). The discovery of (and subsequent pathological addiction to) the odd TV show like Treme and The Newsroom and Homeland didn’t help, either.

But now there’s three months left in the year… 92 days. And I’ve still got 109 shows that need me to blurt out some thoughts. And my memories of some of those shows are tenuous and fleeting, at best.

Still, I like a challenge. Occasionally. Of course, I prefer my challenges to be of a bandaid-ripping length, but this hand I’ve been dealt is my own doing. So… off we go!

ff2012, Day 32

Just got home from the Fringe Club (via a sidetrip to out-of-sync corner. I hate that place).

  1. The 1/4 Pounding
  2. The Big Bite-Size Soirée (Menu 1)
  3. Imperial Fizz

Pretty knackered right now. The Awards weren’t too far off (though I’d have far preferred Gareth to win for Ellipse, and Felicity to pick up best comedy), and the vibe in the ‘Club was fantastic.

Still, there’s two shows left this year…

ff2012, Day 31

Blimey. I didn’t really think this was possible… one hundred and fifty shows in a Festival period. And I’m not even completely shattered!

  1. Never Did Me Any Harm
  2. 5-Step Guide to Being German
  3. Life in the Late Eighties
  4. Now & Then
  5. Fourplay
  6. Paul Foot – Still Life

Also popped in to TuxCat late to see Tomás Ford trial out his Edinburgh show; he is quite the loon. In a good way.

As opposed to Paul Foot, whose physical and lyrical absurdity really should have appealed – but I guess, after 150 shows, I must be getting a little jaded.

ff2012, Day 30

Only two shows today. Should have been more, but for one little thing: St Vincent.

  1. Tombola, traversing the unknown
  2. Dreamers – Michael Rother and Dieter Moebius and Hans Lampe

The kraut-rock of Rother and friends was fantastic – solid grooves that drag you into their rhythm and then just keep going and going and going. And then I managed to re-meet an old Uni mate of mine, who I hadn’t seen in over fifteen years… great stuff! :)

But St Vincent… oh my.

While the gathered crowd seemed most familiar with one of my least favourite songs – Cruel – Annie and her band (drummer with an odd double-kick, double-snare, double-hi-hat setup, a young lass on a Moog playing basslines and backing vocals, and a keyboard player) put in a stunner of a set. Stuff from Strange Mercy (which has sat next to my speakers, criminally under-listened, for months now) dominated, but there was still the bludgeoning ascension of Black Rainbow and Marrow to placate the Actor fans… and then came Your Lips Are Red.

Now, that song has always been a little bit special to me – it’s blunt and cold and abrasive up front, but dissolves into the sweetest “your skin’s so fair it’s not fair / you remind me of city graffiti” refrain at the end that I just well up with tears. So to be standing mere metres from Annie when she moulded that gorgeous ending out of noise tonight – in a manner that exceeded this wonderful rendition – was a proper teary emotional moment.

And after experiencing something like that, I wasn’t really in the mood for seeing anything else. Hence, a “quiet” day.

ff2012, Day 29

I told you things would slow down once the Festival got going… and tomorrow will be even slower!

A belated tip for all you La Soirée Premium ticket holders: you’ve wasted your money. Unless you like watching the performers’ backs to you most of the time, or having a spotlight in your eyes.

  1. Wyrd… with grace
  2. The Thursday Show 2: Thursday Harder
  3. Water Stains on the Wall
  4. La Soirée

So: I’m poking around the Festival site, procrastinating over actually buying a ticket for the Michael Rother kraut-rock, when I spied something at the bottom of the page: “You may also enjoy… St Vincent”.

Yes… I most certainly do enjoy St Vincent. I’ve even mentioned my enjoyment on this blog before.

But why did she appear on the Festival site? Does that…

Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod – St Vincent are playing at Barrio tomorrow night.

Procrastination – and any other tickets that I’d already booked for Friday night – flew out the window.

ff2012, Day 28

Blimey. Little bits of dialogue are leaping off the stage into my life. It’s like when you fall in love, and everything you hear is a love song, only… not. Almost the complete opposite, in fact.

  1. The Ham Funeral
  2. The Big Bite-Size Soirée (Menu 3)
  3. A Streetcar

Another Festival flagship, another array of problems. Surtitles speeding by faster than a speeding bullet caused numerous complaints, and even when they did hang around long enough to be read, there was often too much ambient light to have sufficient contrast. A weird piece of theatre, though, atop a clever set.

ff2012, Day 27

Today was significant for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because I posted my 39th show post for ff2012, exceeding last year’s meagre efforts. But, more importantly, I also crept past my previous high show-count (which was 131 in 2011).

  1. Sepia
  2. Mr & Mrs
  3. Eric – The One-Man Sketch Comedy Show
  4. PRESS-PLAY! (Week 2)
  5. Weepie

Again, I think those last two shows have popped a gasket. Weepie is an incredible effort from such a young creative team; and this edition of PRESS-PLAY! delivers fantastic Fringe theatre in spades.

ff2012, Day 26

I tell you what… I’ve had a cracking day. Great shows, great people. Loving this! :)

  1. Huggers – The Family Friendly Comedy Show
  2. Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown – The Kids’ Show
  3. Love Hate Life Death
  4. Trevor Crook Plus One
  5. I Am Google
  6. Mangina

See those “kids’ shows” up the top, there? Crackers, they were. Brilliant variety in Huggers, and Dr Brown doing a kids’ show is just wonderfully good fun. That man is bonkers in the best way possible!

ff2012, Day 25

Eight shows, all of which were on The Shortlist – no stat-inflating here! The last of the Big Days. I hope.

  1. SKIP
  2. The Comedy Magic Show
  3. Scott Mangnoson presents: This is what I do
  4. False Messiah
  5. William
  6. Just outside of me
  7. Instructions For An Imaginary Man
  8. Eurowision Adelaide 2012

Eurowision? Fantastic fun. So was the ‘Club thereafter, chatting with Gareth, and a late-night San Giorgio stop with Nik Coppin and friends (and Mick’n’Boo :)

ff2012, Day 24

What a crazy day, made slightly less crazy due to a cancellation and a quick taxi ride.

  1. Two Points of Reality
  2. Outland
  3. Butterscotch
  4. Squidboy
  5. Angels’ Eyes
  6. Hard To Be A God

So… Hard To Be A God, then. One word: contentious. I’ve not seen a Festival performance that has incurred such… displeasure from an audience. Usually, you’d use the word “divisive” for something like that, but that would create the idea that the crowd was split between standing-ovation and sitting-on-hands… and there was no standing-O this evening, just polite applause. There were front-row walk-outs, no-claps, and an abundance of (usually cherished) programmes scattering the floor upon exit, though.

And I’m still trying to sort it out in my own head. I almost accosted a cluster of total strangers in the tram on the way home to ask what they thought of it, wondering whether it would be better talked about in public than privately mused upon… but I chickened out. I kinda regret that, now.

ff2012, Day 23

Managed to get into a school-focussed matinée of School Dance today; it’s a great bit of work, and it’s fun to see a bunch of young teens completely miss cultural references to the eighties while the adults down the back piss themselves laughing :)

  1. School Dance
  2. Am I Good Friend?
  3. The Big Bite-Size Soirée (Menu 2)
  4. Spoonface Steinberg
  5. PRESS-PLAY! (Week 1)
  6. Gareth Berliner : An INCH of Integrity

After having heard them lauded at every turn, I took in my first Big Bite-Size Soirée menu today. Blimey, they are a bit good, aren’t they? I wound up having a great chat with Mickey D, too – and whilst I’m not a massive fan of his style of comedy, he was an incredibly intelligent and articulate chap to talk to.

ff2012, Day 22

And there goes one hundred shows for the year, whooshing by in a flash…

That’s one hundred uniques, mind you. There’s a few doubles in the mix as well…

  1. Ellipsis
  2. Shakespeare’s Queens: She-wolves and Serpents
  3. Back of the Bus
  4. Your Days Are Numbered: the maths of death
  5. Jon Brooks – Breaking News
  6. Rapskallion

Ellipsis is quite a splendid piece of dance; an almost enveloping experience. And it happened to be by Gareth Hart, a chap who I’d met at a wonderful show a couple of years ago. Blimey, eh? The world is this big.

And then came Back of the Bus… and it’s utterly brilliant. One of those performances where, at the end of the show, you feel a special secret kinship with the other audience members, safe in the knowledge that you’ve shared an almost unrepeatable experience. That’s what it felt like. And it’s a dance piece.

Damn I love doing what I do :)