Hula-ers of hoop

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Photo courtesy of Rochester Fringe Festival

The freaks come out at night and that’s just what they did with this year’s Fringe Festival opener of “Cirque de Fringe: Afterparty.” 

It was put together by Vegas vaudevillian/showman Matt Morgan and his sidekicks Mark Gindick and Ambrose Martos. They were joined by an abbreviated crew of three dancing women, all contortionists, pole dancers, sword swallowers, and hula-ers of hoop—yes, that’s the correct way of saying it—who had all jaws in attendance dropping with an audible ka-ching. They are all made with the monkeyshines and guffaws.

As with weddings in the real world, you typically save the best for last. But the fine folks of Fringe have always teamed up with Morgan with knockout shows like “D’illusion,” “SideShow,” and “Eclectic Attraction,” featuring fantastical feats of strength and deadly displays of balance.

The title event is merely a vehicle to give the performers a platform to perform and Morgan an excuse to get into his underpants, rapidamente. This brings me back to the gasp-inducing female talent who, in sparkly underwear, swallowed swords, juggled balls, boggled minds, and hula’d hoops—a whole lotta hoops—and managed to break a few hearts along the way.

Outside, on the Fringe of downtown, the weather was beautiful as it worked in tandem with the overall vibe. Those in attendance were about 50/50 masked. 

It was a pleasure to see the weird mingle with the ordinary as the masks brought us all closer together. Check here for more soon. In the meanby, I need to find a tissue.   

Metallic Jell-O

I took a break from the Fringe Festival’s life-size fairy tale on Wednesday and loaded myself into the big blue jalopy, pointing it toward the Bug Jar. This was where the combination of volume and tempo could be heard from space. Hell, you could taste it from space. Kind of like metallic Jell-O.

First up was Joe Buck, who goes by the stage name “Joe Buck Yourself.” I’m pretty sure that’s not his Christian name. He’s a pal of mine from back in the day or so they say. You might recognize him as the former guitar player for The Legendary Shack Shakers as well as the hellacious dog house bass slapper for Hank Williams III.

Buck was beyond lo-fi as he stomped on a kick drum pedal into a guitar case nailed to the stage floor with one foot while driving a busted rack tom in a suitcase with another pedal. He sat behind this apparatus with his old L-5 taking the majority of the punishment. “Best drum sound of the evening,” according to Grimey, the Bug Jar soundman.

This man from Tennessee is equal parts profane, insane, and vulgar in creating his choppy, percussive, acoustic-driven tantrum and wail. He’s a hell of a lot of fun. Check him out. I dare you.

Next band at plate: Atomic Bitch Wax, who took the stage with a sound as big as Deep Purple, with songs as epic as Blue Cheer with shorter compositions and frequent dynamic shifts ranging from loud to heavier to louder to heaviest. As we all emerged from the crater that ABW left in the middle of the dance floor, I was convinced it was one of the loudest things I’d ever heard in my life until…

Weed Eater playing so loud it gave me acne. Through my mask. And a few more silver hairs to add to the snow already accumulating on the roof. With this band and its stoner metal groove, it was a little difficult to distinguish separate parts unless you hammered them together into the singular blast of one beast. 

It all added up to a great night for those who don’t cotton to having the rocks remain on.

Frank De Blase is Rochester Beacon music writer.

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