Ryan and I finally did what we had been talking about doing since we first started making music together three (I think) years ago. This past Saturday evening we did an entire 45 minute set of completely electronic music. According to plan, we billed ourselves as Chance’s End and suited up for the evening. We were sandwiched into a lineup between a soul/pop groove band and a rap-group-thingy with a back-up pot smoker. There were faeries flitting about with trays of vodka shots, selling spankings with a wiggle and a smile. There were fire dancers and a fortune teller. The crowd was costumed in pirate gear and there were grilled cheese sandwiches being enjoyed by many a drunken sailor. Did I mention this was a Burning Man associated venue?
Did I need to?
In order to fill the 45 minute set, Ryan worked diligently to program what he called “no-vox/no-lin” tracks (or, tracks minus the vocal and violin tracks) that can be played and manipulated with live performers (us). And I spent the last two weeks making sure our 4 new tracks were performance ready(bring it on pro-theater training!).
Up until that evening I had been performing mainly acoustic, singer-songwriter material of my own construction where I hide neatly behind a guitar that easily covers two thirds of my visible form on stage. The most I’ll do for those gigs is wear a nice shirt, jeans and put on a little bit of makeup. Or not. I’m singing and smiling and playing the shit out of my instrument; what’s to look at?
But there was no hiding behind anything during this gig. Indeed, besides singing, I was at a loss as to how to be entertaining after hanging up my guitar. Also to be acknowledged is a heightened sense of drama built into the electronic music that we produce. So, aside from dressing up like an Elvin princess from Lord of the Rings and waxing enigmatic a-la Enya, what do I wear and how do I present this stuff? Ryan and I had worked pretty intensely for a couple of years on the actual music. But hadn’t really discussed the presentation of our work.
No matter! This is all part of the fun. I consider myself a bit of a social anthropologist and this presents a uniquely fascinating experiment for me. I get to choose a method of delivery and see what people respond to.
For the debut performance, I chose a sweet number suggesting 40’s glam. Bright red lips, high waisted, blue sailor pants and an off the shoulder fitted blouse. It was an unusually bold move for me. I was beginning to suspect that my inner feminist (whom I had previously drugged into a stupor with a couple shots of whiskey) would start to stir and protest. I was slightly scared that I could chicken out and slip back into my jeans for fear of her berating me and calling me a harlot. But I have a sneaking suspicion that she secretly enjoyed the getup….Can I say I felt particularly slinky that evening? Especially after the main pirate behind the bar handed me a tall-red plastic cup full of the “special” fruit punch. Yum.
This seemingly benign getup allowed me to adapt a slightly more diva-esque persona than I would have in my denim and boots. I have to admit, it felt quite lovely to be so blatantly feminine in front of a crowd. This feeling inhabited my performance and the crowd seemed to appreciate it. The ONLY thing that would have made the outfit better were if I had had my hair done by THESE LADIES. They specialize in retro styling and managed to tame MY hair into a sexy 40’s up-do at one point in time. I kind of want to carry them around in my pocket with me…. But, even without those lovely ladies coiffing my fro; I felt powerful enough to perform.
This new-found ultra-femme confidence also gave me permission to really explore a deeper connection to the music, lyrics and my on-stage partner. The songs were a pleasure to express and I had one of those performances where time passes in the blink. I wanted it to continue into the evening until I collapsed with exhaustion. I can’t wait until the next chance I had to sing those songs again.
Now, to continue testing this hypothesis: What to wear to the NEXT Chance’s End sha-bang? The music is hot. I should be too.