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Friday, September 10, 2010

Japanther at The Works

Posted by Alison Hallett on Fri, Sep 10, 2010 at 9:39 AM

JAPANTHER_nightshade3.jpg

Dear Old Guy with the Laser Pointer at the Japanther/Nightshade Shadowpuppet Show,

I am not sorry I threatened to throw my cat at you.

Sincerely,

Alison

(Dear Queequeg,
I am sorry I threatened to throw you at that old guy with the laser pointer at the Japanther shadowpuppet show. I know, it wasn't even a very good joke because you're really more into paper bags than laser pointers these days anyhow.
Sincerely,
Alison)

Last night was the first day of the 2010 Time-Based Art festival—it opened with Rufus Wainwright's performance with the Symphony (what I've heard so far has validated my total indifference to that show), followed by a free performance from Japanther at Washington High School, once again the site of the Works. It was totally packed, of course. (If TBA on opening night does not send you into a knuckle-biting panic, please raise your hand. You are a more evolved social being than I. Or possibly, a robot. Kill it!).

Brooklyn band Japanther supplemented their set with a shadow puppet show from local puppet collective Night Shade that seemed to include, as Patrick Alan Coleman put it, "everything I've ever wanted to carve on a pumpkin"—spooky cat faces and headstones and creepy-clawed monsters, adding, in the absence of much of a dance floor, a welcome supplement to Japanther's brazen, swaggery garage rock sound. (And yes, there really was a white-haired dude in front of me with a laser pointer turned on the shadow puppets. It was... weird.) I really enjoyed Japanther, and the shadow puppet battles between Japanther and Night Shade were fun, but crowd management issues threatened at times to overshadow the set itself—Andrew Tonry's article about how PICA doesn't want the Works to become a "party for a party's sake" came to mind, as there were obvious tensions between a drunk, ready-to-dance crowd and the limitations of the venue. There were some rumblings in the crowd as security cleared the aisles before the music started; further insult came when a nascent "mosh pit" was squashed (yes, when comprising hipsters, the term DOES merit scare quotes), prompting an exodus for the beer garden. But after the shadowpuppets were done, the show morphed into an onstage dance party that looked pretty ecstatic, at least from where I stood. (In the back of the room with my arms folded. Glaring.)

What else can I tell you... A new cocktail lounge supplied by Distillery Row has the best lighting in the building, so if you're hoping to trick someone into making out with you, that's probably your best bet. I only saw one vending machine, but it was full of regular snacks—none of last year's foreign munchies. There are still videos in the downstairs classrooms, and during a loud rock set when the venue is full of drunk people is still a piss-poor time to try to watch them. The People's Biennial, upstairs, seemed like an intriguing potlatch—stay tuned for more on the fest's visual and film offerings.

Outside, the fenced in beer garden still has that cattle-yard feel, but at least they're goodlooking cows, amiright? Pork belly tacos are $3; it was too crowded for me to see any other menu prices. Oh, and here's the list of drink prices: budget accordingly. (I would NEVER tell you to bring a flask.)

Hmm... Did I miss anything? Check back later today—we should have reviews of Rufus Wainwright's performance with the Oregon Symphony, as well as Shirin Neshat's Women Without Men.

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