Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Band: Alexander's Attic
Venue: The Arches, Glasgow, 8th October 2007

When at The Arches for Murcof on the Sunday night, I decided to get a ticket for Outre. A piece which was described as "end of the pier freak show", and playing as part of Aurora Nova season, which sounded like a mix of dance, theatre and whatever. When I bought the ticket I was given one for an after show gig by Alexander's Attic. I had no idea who they were, but figured I could always give them a go since they were free.

Monday, I got home from work, had dinner, fell asleep. Woke up 15 minutes after I had planned to leave. Ran out of house, sped into town, screamed into first close parking space, ran round. Made it for 5 minutes before doors for Outre should open, knowing that theatre opening times can be tighter than gig times. Only to find a poster saying that there was a change to plans, and that Alexander's Attic would go on first, with Outre on afterwards. Annoying, even if I had been close to giving myself a heart attack. And at least I had a ticket for both halves, many people ending up sitting around for another hour.

If I had to guess, I might have suggested Alexander's Attic sounded like some random local indie rock band. Instead I find two girls doing some form of musique concrete. A blonde pianist in a red dress and jeans, playing melodies and abuse. A brunette in an apparently randomly coloured top, behind a wall of gear and laptops, apparently processing the live sound and adding to it. That kind of improv, experimental, cut up sound, which I have versions of enough times before. Though it still comes across reasonably well, doesn't push the limit too much, and feels reasonably engaging, even through the long time it takes to set up tracks thanks to the short notice switch around.

Outre is further delayed, technical difficulties cited. At last we are led to one of the regular gig arches, with seating set up, and a performance space cordoned off. A screen is set up across the space, with details projected on to it, with performers working behind that, and additional detail projected behind there. Figures lurk in the dark, an abstract (and pointless?) introduction to the cast. From there we are given a "rollercoaster" performance, all cranked up (too loud) music and voiceover (words distorting into meaninglessness), and weird. The compere is a sinister caricature projected onto the screen and providing warnings of how dark and sinister each act is going to be. We are led through siamese twins, headless figures, clockwork ladies, and a brutally disfigured dancer.

Outre is dark and atmospheric, and far too over reliant on its effects. So that the performances seem to be lacklustre as the dancers work around the spectacle as much as they are allowed. With recent performances at the Tramway including Kindertotenlieder, Helter Skelter and Mysteries of Love, Outre just doesn't cut it. Each of those other performances overlapping in some ways, and surpassing at each step.

So while Alexander's Attic turned out to be a pleasant surprise, there was something disappointing about the bells and whistle of Outre and its lack of substance.

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