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Monday, August 25, 2008

Saturday's Live Wire

Posted by Alison Hallett on Mon, Aug 25, 2008 at 4:49 PM

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Public radio revue Live Wire celebrated their 50th taping on Saturday at the Gerding. I was there--lured, as with every time I've been to a Live Wire taping, by a great lineup (in this case, the Portland Cello Project and Reggie Watts); put off, as with every time I've been to a Live Wire taping, by a general sense that I'm swimming in the wrong end of the demographic pool. For all that it bills itself as "controlled chaos" and a "place where you're never quite sure what might happen," the acts invited on the show are often far riskier than the show itself (case in point). It makes for an interesting contrast, between the cornball public radio hokeyness and acts like Matt Sheehy or the Builders and the Butchers; as a means of introducing admirable if lesser-known performers to a new audience, I can't fault it. I just have a hard time sitting through it.

Performance artist and Mercury favorite Reggie Watts' performance on Saturday was predictably difficult to summarize (beatboxing, operatic Germanic vocals, looping his own voice). Afterward, he talked with host April Baer about the difference between performing standup at clubs and rock shows, where the aim is simply to keep the audience laughing, as compared with captive-audience shows like the one he'll be debuting at the Winningstad Theater during TBA (a full-length show in which a seated, receptive audience will allow for more conceptual exploration, and from which I'm told we can expect some heretofore unexplored levels of high-quality video production).

The photo above is from when musical guests the Portland Cello Project busted out their cover of "Toxic," with John Brophy on vocals and Reggie beatboxing, courtesy of cameraman-on-the-spot Brian Costello.

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