Last Month’s Art Party (AP) was a milestone, the 3 year anniversary, 3 years of hugs, smiles, talent, art, creativity, social activism, great company and delicious food.
The Oxford Art Factory was the home for the celebration with almost 600 people in attendance. This was AP on a much grander scale, bigger stage, bigger venue, more performances, bigger acts and a lot more dancing and laughter and people having a really good time.
Jessie Ray was radiating joy as she got the night underway and welcomed all of those in attendance before introducing the first act of the night.
Snail welcomed in AP and they did not disappoint. Mellow and easy listening, there was something Norah Jonesy about the voices of Gaia, Vanessa and Maizy that was delightful. The combinations of the drums and the backing vocals of Rory, added to this, the violin and ukulele made for a performance that captured the attention of the audience as they listened to every word sung. Snail haven’t been together for long but it was clear to see their connection with each other come through their music. Beat boxing, looping and trumpet sounds made using their mouths added another dimension to this very talented band. Each song was very different in style and the way it was sung and the story being told but there was also a sense of comfort when listening to them play, everything you want in a band.
Having has the pleasure of seeing Junkyard Beats perform at a previous AP, I was excited to see what they had in stall this time round. It was one of those moments where you had to be there and experience it yourself because words won’t do them justice. If we ever enter a “Mad Max dystopia” it’s very comforting to know that we will still have music. Using everyday objects like buckets, plastic bags, pots and pans and their bodies, what they offered the audience was a great combination of entertainment, comedy, music and interactivity, Junkyard Beats were an instant hit. There is something so primal about this group, full of energy that just captivates and infects and they have no issue with making fools of themselves while on stage, they are loved and the crowd demanded more and they did not disappoint.
Semaphor3 saw the collaboration of Anatole, Rory Mckay and Bella Fuego. What could be said about this act, well a lot of things, but it was utterly brilliant, mesmerising, entrancing, powerful and calming. Anatole started with looping the trumpet and other sounds while Rory provided the backdrop of kaleidoscopic colours and patterns and then in walked the incomparable Bella Fuego dressed all in while, holding two large pieces of what cloth, dancing to the music, gentle and peaceful as though you were being rocked gently by the ocean current. You could feel the music reverberating within you, it compelled you to listen, to watch, to dance, to do as you will. Bella replaces the cloth with two light batons during the second set, adding another dimension to this performance that was a more danceable track. Bella Fuego drew patterns in the darkness, bringing the audience into the light, a saviour, as though somehow, if you looked away you would have been doomed.
Daniel Spade was entertaining, part magic part comedy routine, he had the audience in stitches. Looking past the comedy and his lovely assistant Shade Flamewater, Daniel is a very talented magician that made you question, ‘How in the living hell did he do that?’ From changing and manipulating a 5 dollar note from an audience member and handing it back as a 50 dollar note to somehow transferring play cards from one audience member to another, he had impressed the audience with his abilities as they cheered after each trick. For his last trick, Daniel assumed a Russian identity and accent and with the help of an audience member, they locked Shade Flamewater into a trunk, using chains. Daniel stood on the trunk and holding a large black piece of material over his head, at the count of three, he had switched places with Shade right in front of the audience, the applause was palpable.
Shade Flamewater entered the stage with a bag full of tricks, a beer bottle and a routine that both impressed the audience and made them laugh. Getting out a fire parasol that was a little too big for the space, he threw it to the side and pulled out a mini fire parasol that he set alight using a flame from within his mouth and using the palm of his hand to turn the flames off. For his next trick titled, ‘base jumping the statue of liberty and shaking hands with the major,’ was just as impressive to see as the title, breaking it down for the audience in steps. He began by letting the flame enter his mouth using one of the fire staffs and then blowing the fire along the length of his arm, he caught the flame in his palm and transfers it to a staff, setting it alight and then he places the staff on to his palm and lets the flame die out, words don’t do this trick justice, check out the Flamewater Circus on YouTube for more videos, you will be amazed and inspired.
Having had the absolute pleasure of watching this very talented man perform at a previous AP, I was really excited to see that he was on the line-up for the anniversary edition, always impressed by his level of professionalism and the talent of this man is unsurpassed. A warrior carved out of the very flame that he was manipulating, he started off slow, meticulous in his movements, captivating, alluring and sexy, if it can be said. Showing once again why he is respected within his community as one of the greats. Picture this, a man, surrounded by almost 600 people, standing in the middle of the Oxford Art Factory holding a fire sword on top of his head, manipulating the sword and the effect was absolutely mind-blowing, the audience hooked and not looking away. Getting out his dragonstaff, the lone wolf balanced it on the top of his head, never losing momentum letting it roll around his body and arms, oozing strength and power as he finished in what can only be described as a Kung Fu inspired finish with the flames on the dragonstaff blowing out simultaneously.
Wild Marmalade were one of the headliners of the night. Having toured Japan and Europe 12 times, and worked with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas and Montreal there was an air of anticipation and excitement as they entered the stage. Si and Matt where joined by Shenzo Gregorio playing for the first time together live in front of the AP audience with no rehearsal or prior plan and what they created was absolute magic. Fusing the ancient sounds of the didgeridoo with contemporary dance beats and the electric violin by Shenzo it was a performance of high energy, powerful, joyous and infectiously danceable, there was no one in the room who was seated. Having never heard of Wild Marmalade before, they were amazing to witness live, allowing the music to take control of my body and just going with the flow of it. They were really entertaining and they certainly knew how to get a rise out of the AP audience.
Having seen this three piece Mexican siesta band with faces painted in day of the dead style skulls at my very first AP, I was beyond excited to be in the audience in another one of their performances. Sometimes you hear something and without thinking, as though your body in being beckoned, you just have to get up and dance and feel the music, both as an individual and collectively in a room full of bodies. That night at the Oxford Art Factory, Kallidad had awoken a synergy that reverberated all over the room and could be felt from within the very depths of all of those who were on their feet dancing and really getting into the music. By the end of their set, the number of fans that they had increased by 600 and I have become one of them.
While seated trying to catch my breath, a woman stumbled over to me, albeit a little drunk and said, ‘You must watch Da Heebie Jeebies, they are awesome, old school nostalgia mixed with cartoon themed music,’ she had aroused my curiosity. It is hard to explain this act, a mixture of Balkan-swing, gypsy-ska, circus-funk and something undefinable that made for a cohesive unification that was the two decks and the absolute enjoyment of seeing the audience wanting more. Another thing that was evident was the absolute joy that was oozing out of these two gentleman as they entertained the AP audience and enlightening us with an amazing array of sounds. With their unique performance it became very clear why they are amassing a big following, exposing the waves of sounds that hasn’t been heard before. Thank you to the woman who told me to watch.
With so much going on, I found myself wishing I could divide myself in half so I could be in two places at once. A testament to Jessie Ray and the effort put into making sure the audience will be thoroughly entertained.
First in the cube was Corrie Robbins a live body painter who was joined by Bravo Child, her model for the night. In tones of greens, browns, pinks and orange she transferred the model into a walking art work right in front of the audience. There is something peaceful about watching the painter and model interact with each other and the audience
Next in the cube was Betty Grumble with her grotesque burlesque, described as an “obscene beauty queen, surreal showgirl and sex clown”, she owned the cube during her performance, a fierceness and energy to her performance that challenged the audiences assumptions about the body of women and the way the woman body should conduct itself, unashamed, unadulterated, a dance that unravelled any other, both titillating and terrifying but somehow this treachery was a welcomed delight with the AP audience as they watched Betty bust out the moves.
Following this was the fire goddess herself, who had dazzled the audience earlier in the night, Bella Fuego. Bella offered some ambient dancing in the cube with a sacred dance. This woman can do no wrong, always mesmerising and captivating, her energy and love for what she does is both infectious and enviable. Beautiful and calming it was a great way of catching your breath after all of that dancing.
Last in the cube was Spirit Bound with a performance in Shibari rope bondage demonstration. The aesthetics of performing with a piece of rope can create many sensations for the audience watching and the performer. From slowly and sensually dragging the rope across the body to the rough, biting pain of being tightly bound. Having never seen Shibari being performed before, it was amazingly seductive and the emotional exchange that took place between the performer and the rope was mesmerising to watch.
3 rooms, 18 performances playing throughout the night being in all places wasn’t as easy as I had originally intended, especially when you are enjoying yourself, walking away from an artist performing isn’t easy. First up in the Swingin’ Side Room was Drachemann a Sydney based DJ providing the audience with glitch and trip hop and his skills at mixing are amazing. Drachemann delivered high quality beats which transformed the Swingin’ side room in a heaving dancefloor of people getting their groove on.
Next up was, Lo-Ki a Sydney based musician who sported an epic red beard and his use of all things bass and beats was just as impressive. Described as a man obsessed with fusing vintage sounds with modern bass music, Lo-Ki transformed the Swingin’ side room into a dancefloor of funky glitch-hop, whomping electoblues, stompy electriswing and heavy ghetto-funk edits.
While all this was going on, Mulga the artist, had sent up his canvas in a corner in the Oxford Art Factory and spent the night doing what he does best, painting an image using fluoro colours that seemed to glow in the dark.
The anniversary edition would not have taken place without these beautiful people:
Jessie Ray – Risking so much to make sure everyone is entertained. For enquires or queries or you want to perform at future AP events, get in touch and she will help you.
Tara O’Hehir – Photography
Seshanka Samarajiwa – Photography
Orlando Sydney – Photography
Bronsai Watkins – Stage Management
Matt Gerber, Tom Byrnes and Matt Landers (What legends!)
Tim and Kat Kicuroski, Lachlan McEwen, Alexis Scavito, Joey McGeorgem Jenna Tross, Saskia Kyle, Alex, Shade and TJ.
Ben Boehm, Stevo Demian, Benny Del Storto, Lee Roy and all décor Vollies (Much appreciation!)
And finally, the audience, for being endlessly rad. Keep an eye out for the next Art Party on October 30th.