At Transit Bar, Saturday April 28
Upon hearing that Effigy were presenting an evening of poetry slam followed by music spanning acoustic to acid-electronic my reaction was as sundry as the line-up. What was the motive behind this anomalous collection of acts? As I was soon to discover this was a night which showcased the impressive diversity of local creative talent like no other I’ve witnessed.
I’m ashamed to admit that before that night I’d never attended a poetry slam. I can’t think of a better way to be introduced to this potent hybrid art-form of lyrical expression and emotive performance. My lack of prior exposure might have hindered my acuity but all seven artists enlightened me to the undefinable uniqueness that is the essence and beauty of performance poetry.
The silence within the appropriately dim-lit bar was shattered as Jason Andrews spat the words of American artist Saul Williams to a captivated crowd. His energy-filled hip hop style was driven by such a fiery, candid passion that I found myself continuously resisting the urge to cry out in solidarity.
The atmosphere was dramatically altered as Brian O’Biri Asare recited his original material, of which both the story-like content and style were efficaciously visual and deeply moving. His subtle body language and verbal nuances were all that were necessary to maximise the impact of his poetry, which at some points was literally spine-tingling. VJ Caitlin Welch’s original short films were effective here, providing a visual representation of themes exploring human vulnerability and the delicacy of life.
First-time slammer Ellie Malbon’s emotionally charged theatrical enactment flowed as organically as her euphonious words, instantly charming us all. Seasoned poet Andrew Galan delivered a set of priceless crowd-pleasers riddled with satire heightened by his deadpan expression. Anna Potter led the crowd into the musical realm with sweet, soulful melodies carried on heavenly guitar chords. Her lyrics echoed the passion and poetry of the performers preceding and were sung with an angelic yet undeniably strong voice consistently belying her youth.
A smooth transition from acoustic to electronic came in the form of Gabriel Gilmour and the Gojiberry Jam, where bouncy basslines and dubby beats were accompanied by blissful electronic guitar and soaring violin. Anyone who was lucky enough to catch these guys warming up for Opiuo will agree they are among the most talented and conceptually interesting groups to enjoy.
What we were treated to next transcends the available diction required to accurately and justly describe it in terms of musical style, quality and entertainment value. Listening to Electrocado was like giving my brain a therapeutic massage and my whole body an ephemeral vacation to a sensory paradise. An extensive range of genres were seamlessly interwoven into a colourful, sonic tapestry, which amply satiated musical appetites of every variety. A flawless balance of psy, electro, glitch and prog was speckled with video game bleeps and cosmic sound bites to create a perfect high-energy fusion. The room became a blur of arms and feet and one continuous grin seemed to stretch across the face of the dancing mass.
If there’s one prevailing feeling I left with that evening (besides the ache of my severely abused feet), it was an overwhelming sense of pride and affection for every one of the performing individuals and the local creative community they represented. And also a resolution to never, ever again question a line-up organised by Canberra’s finest entertainment pioneers. Great work as usual, guys.