Quake, Rattle & Roll
A whole lot of people @ Umbrella Revolution
9:45pm, Sun 27 Feb 2011
The February 22 Christchurch Earthquake was, clearly, a terrible tragedy; as I remarked at the time, this was one of the few events that crossed over from the Real World into my Fringe consciousness. And, apart from the obvious broad human impact, and apart from the personal fact that I found Christchurch to be a wonderful city when I was there, I was also aware that it is the hometown of Sam Wills – The Boy With Tape On His Face… and that he still had family and friends in the affected areas.
Sam, his lovely wife Lili la Scala, and the Garden of Unearthly Delights banded together; the result was Quake, Rattle & Roll, a fundraiser for relief efforts in Christchurch.
But after that awkward introduction that took me way too long to write (and with which I’m still not happy), here’s a little story that leads to an admission of which I’m not proud: readers (hah!) may know that I firmly insist on purchasing every ticket to every show I see. Friends and acquaintances offer freebies galore, but I will always turn them down in favour of actually giving the people me money for doing what they do. But when tickets for Quake, Rattle & Roll sold out in a heartbeat, and I found myself stranded without… well, I called in a favour. For a charity show, no less. Still, I resolved to throw ample compensation into whatever collections were held on the night.
When I met my Event Buddy that evening, the queue from the Umbrella Revolution was already stretching well away from the entrance and back again… options for prime seating looked grim. My Buddy went to snaffle some drinks; in her absence, one of the senior Garden staff (Gardeners?) started walking the line, informing the crowd that if they wanted to get prime seats, they were “selling” tables on the stage for an extra donation – a minimum of $100 per table of four. The two young women in front of me started discussing the potential; I seized the opportunity to get great seats, and clear my conscience. I tapped one of the women on the shoulder; “we’ll chip in $110 if you chuck in $40,” I said. By the time they’d nodded their assent, I was already filling in the paperwork.
And so we were led into the Umbrella Revolution early, and – given the choice (we offered them option of choosing the table or the wine) – our apparently shy table-mates chose a table well shielded from the rest of the audience (and mostly shielded from the television cameras present… the entire show was recorded for later broadcast in New Zealand). So our vantage point wound up being on-stage, in the wings, about a metre behind the microphone.
Peter Helliar was the emcee for the evening, and – as much as I inwardly groaned when I first heard that – he was actually really, really good in the role. He created a very generous and humble atmosphere; early performers included Arj Barker (the crowd went wild), Patrick Monahan (who did enough to suggest he might be Shortlist-worthy) and Shelby Bond & Todd Abrams (from The Max & Dagger Show) provided some whip crackin’, knife throwin’ relief.
Tumble Circus performed some of their charming routine, there was more comedy with Josh Thomas (again, the audience went apeshit), Felicity Ward, Mickey D, and it was a real treat watching Sammy J and Randy from behind… though it kinda spoils Randy’s magic a little ;)
The acrobatic participants of Tom Tom Crew did their amazing ribbon bits, Tom Gleeson and Gordon Southern did chunks of their stand-up, and Mat Fraser (The Freak, unaccompanied by The Showgirl) also did a very funny bit (that raised him up The Shortlist a bit). I got to re-experience the total nuttery of Sam Simmons’ pine-cone friends, and Le Gateau Chocolat fired up those stunning vocal chords to belt out I Dreamed A Dream.
And, of course, Sam Wills trotted out The Boy for a great couple of snippets, and Lili la Scala sang a gorgeous song (with ukelele accompaniment).
By the time Ben Walsh has hammered his way around his wheel of drums, we’re pretty much spent… because Quake, Rattle & Roll was a massive show. Massive kudos to all the artists who donated their time and efforts to the performance, and super-extra-special credit to Sam and Lili and the rest of the people involved in making it happen. Here’s hoping tons of cash was collected (we threw more in the collection buckets on the way out, to be sure!) and, somehow, helped those affected by the earthquake.