4/6/10

Now Pass It On

Lately I feel really lucky.

On Saturday night I hung out with a bunch of my friends and we went to go see Joseph Keckler give a midnight mass at Joe's Pub. It was pretty fucking phenomenal. Joseph's black midnight mass is sort of a church for bad kids, who are already downtown at midnight on a Saturday night. The word I used to describe his opening number (a cover of PJ Harvey's "Ecstasy", a slow burn if ever there was one) was "conspiratorial" and I think this is one of my favorite things about Joseph's work. Joseph lets you in on a secret, sexy world in which desire, fear, humans, beasts, dreams and realities are always in flux, always being negotiated, and always infinitely available. During the show I was very consciously thinking of how lucky I am that I was getting to see this performance.

Last night I went to go see two more of my homegirls perform, also at Joe's Pub. I saw Max Vernon open for Dan Fishback. CONFESSION: I had never seen Max do a full set before, only one-off songs and videos and recordings. He was, obviously, great. He is fiercely, ferociously talented. He has the kind of presence onstage that makes you feel somehow protective. I want to fight for Max Vernon. He's on our team. He's from the same NYC I'm from. Deeply groovy. A definite treat.

And of course Francine's performance was fucking scintillating. He shared some new songs, some old songs, and some revamped songs. In full disclosure I know Dan (maybe this is blatant anyway), but I know a little bit about his process and what the last couple months have been like for him. Even if I didn't know him, though, I still think I would've been really blown away by his set at Joe's Pub. I don't know if Dan would agree with this reading of his show, but one of the really remarkable things about Dan Fishback's work is his almost stubborn insistence on the truth. It would be so easy as a singer-songwriter, as an artist, as a playwright or whatever, to make something pretty. Or to make something rhyme. Or to stretch a pause in a conversation to make something funny. Dan Fishback does not do this. He insists upon being real with his audience. I wonder a lot if people realize that, if audience members (he performs all over: religious organizations, punk clubs, gay bars and Traditional Theaters) are prepared or equipped to deal with this kind of treatment. It has been a deep thrill for me to watch audiences have these realizations over the last five years that I've known Dan.

The first time I saw him was at my alma mater, when we played an outdoor show together. At the time, I remember being struck by how seriously he was performing. His songs are funny, and his stage banter is funny, but he was a deeply serious performer. He's not like the most virtuosic guitar player, but he seems to regard the act of performing (connecting) as somewhat sacred. This, I think, raises the bar for everyone else. And lo and behold people jump to it! I loved the first performance of his, which was a music show. I didn't see him perform again for about a year (I was finishing my degree). I moved to NYC and went to go see his show, Please Let Me Love You, at the old Dixon Place, as part of the 2006 Hot! Festival, curated by the inimitable Queen of NYC's Queer Performance Art Earl Dax. Friends, I got to Dan's show quite late. The old Dixon Place was really small, and I watched the second half of his show through the keyhole in the hallway (I was afraid of opening the door and disturbing everyone). But in this show there's a scene in which Dan is speaking to a romantic interest (addressing the audience), and saying that it's so difficult to love this person because they keep changing. They keep moving. He says in the show that he could love this person so perfectly, like a sniper, if they would "just hold still". And that was when I knew I wanted to move to NYC forever.

I was so proud, like a Mama, watching Dan perform last night. I have been thinking about it all day and wanted to record it. There's a lot of noise, it feels like, bouncing around in my head. I am working in a concerted way to document the shit that really turns me on, makes me feel connected to something, to other people. I think Dan's work is probably one of the things which I would maybe credit with keeping me sane. No pressure or anything.

Anyways. Tonight I'm going to print up some zines. Details to come very shortly, NYC.

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