Everyone’s favourite party thrower and best pal Rich Aucoin rolled into Toronto yet again this past weekend. The man who must never sleep impressively opened for the Born Ruffians at the Opera House, a large venue, and then for Gobble Gobble at the Kapisanan Cultural Centre, a basement across town, in the matter of a hop, skip and plenty of jumps in the span of two hours.
I arrived at the sauna as Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt finished up his antics. As Rich urged me to check out the last song, I noticed that it was just like Rich’s set as a colourful parachute sheet was swept over everyone’s heads who were huddled in the middle of the room around the singer as he belted out chants. That wasn’t the best first impression for me to get of the artist, but I’ll keep my eyes/ears open for the future.
After everyone pooled out onto street level for air and cell phone service, they crowded up to the ‘front’ of the room once again. Layers of clothing were shed to the sides of the room or tucked between ceiling pipes. Lights were manually turned off as Rich’s multi-coloured flashing rings were turned on. The people who attend Rich Aucoin shows are that of the most dedicated dance partiers: they know where to huddle, waiting for Rich to burst in with his microphone. Rich quickly did a little sound check, introduced himself/band (including brother Paul)/work, and launched into his set full of sweat, YouTube videos and confetti. He introduced each song by getting the audience to chant the lyrics, something that really seems to bring people into the experience besides the whole dancing, jumping, getting down on knees and holding up a parachute sheet general party shebang. Rich’s become a beacon of energy, dedication and fun towards a craft and it’s great watching him in action. I’d recommend seeing him *at least* once, but I must tell you, it’s a completely different experience inside the huddle than out.
I stayed for the first few songs of Gobble Gobble’s set. In all honesty, it wasn’t my night to be inside that many sweaty huddles (yeah, you read that right). But what I saw was this fascinating display of crazy concert antics, what with a guy on stilts as he waved a shovel in the air, another guy with only something wrapped around his hips as he weaved around the basement flogging some sort of scented wooden plank and other guys in the front (and thus I couldn’t see as I retreated). They’re big on the dance parties too, but with less audience participation in the music besides dancing and drumming, with more crunchy beats and singing.
This night’s scene was so colourful and interesting, it reminded me of shows you’d read about on blogs of DIY underground dance parties. The ceiling pipes were dripping, the gallery venue was patched together by hanging sheets, the homeless woman outside was singing, everyone was there to light up their dreary Saturday nights and as they exited into the cool air each time, these party-goers were likely thinking about how quick they would be to do it all over again.