Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 7 p.m.–3 a.m, March 29
The artist project 253469 hosted a performance and audiovisual art party at the Garrison on Wednesday March 28, presenting a sampling of Toronto’s well known and unknown artists working in absurd, counterculture ways. Wesley Rickert’s three short absurdist digital films set the tone for the night and the characteristic sounds of the 253469 noise project that followed. Accompanied by special guest Amber Scott, the 253469 noise band combined analogue synthesizers and stick guitar with three voices improvising melody, reading nonsensical poetry and shouting out punk references in French and English, resulting in a sound that might resemble a walk backwards through Kensington market if all the stores simultaneously played deconstructed pop songs, readings by Edie Parker and sounds by John Cage.
Toronto duo Alpha Couple followed with a thirty-minute, low-intensity acoustic and emotional vocal arrangement. Alpha Couple is Kristal Jax and Mark Wol. They sing songs about the shitty middle class in their Junction neighbourhood and the pain of “I can’t” which Mark vocalizes while convulsing with movements of a man releasing demons into the microphone. Alpha Couple is apple pie sweet with a side of dark intensity for balanced digestion.
The crowd loved the sounds and debut of Nervous Breakdown, combining DJ Abominable Hominid with the vocals of Brooke Stubbings, a theatrical artist and performer. Sometimes sounding like Beth Gibbons (Portishead), Brooke bounces from jazz into pop and spoken word. Brooke is a stage performer and can improvise her pants off. Mostly it was her dress that kept coming off or up over her head as if she were standing over a grate of subsonic proportions.
The moment of true exposure came when the master of ironic performance, Ulysses Castellanos, took the stage with his performance “I’m Too Sad To Tell You”: A grown man crying into a can of beer while a slide show of children with cherub faces and open mouths cry tears and express pain. The only context is your own reference. Ulysses reveals nothing until he shreds his clothes with a knife, a gesture of humanity, a nod to the absurdity of clothing. The slide show changes to a video of cat fights, police and white trash culture. Ulysses dances and sings a rockabilly song, fully exposed.
The night finished with the intense projections of Jubal Brown’s machine-gun videos and the blended surprise of the newly formed audio project The Brunettes, where we got to witness another talent of Ulysses Castellanos: yodelling.
Text and photo: Kathleen Reichelt