Happy Independence Day, America! And to the rest of you fine folks in New Orleans, Sinn Fein! Happiness is freedom. Happiness is genius, more precisely, the Consortium of Genius. What started as a lazy, pre-July the 4th Monday evening turned into a night of goofiness, laughter, coincidence, dancing and just pure fun. With all of Louisiana’s troubles and its quest for true independence, when we question what it is to be a state of the union after one of this nation’s worst natural and manmade disasters, it is still and always a great time to be alive.
Before I launch into the extremely kooky and painfully geeky specifics, I have much to thank for in George Williams, known to more of you as Loki of Humid City fame. Not only did this fine scion of the Bienvilles comprehend in advance the amount and nature of enjoyment I would have watching a band which is the love child of every piece of bad science fiction and mock rock group ever conjured, he entrusted into my care (and that of my super-patient and greatest of sports, Machelle, Amanda and the elusive Lena) his lovely, talented and Rockin’ wife-to-be, Alexis Stahl. We painted the town chartreuse, didn’t we? I believe I’ve found great potential for an all-girl partnership of art, dancing and muy mas shenanigans.
Back to the all-ages Consortium of Genius (COG) 10th Anniversary show at the Big Top on Clio St. in the Lower Garden District. To understand this concept, think great musicians doing mock rock in a science fiction setting. Think funny-weird, with a lot of good special effects made to look bad. Think Dr. Demento meets Mystery Science Theater 3000. Think Hardware Wars.
As CT, one of the original writers (and occasional actor) for COG, explained to me, the trio is actually a quartet, with a three-eyed animated robot drummer as the fourth member. How does a 2D animated robot play the drums, you ask? And what does a robot need three eyes for? Consciousness expansion? All good questions. Actually, those are silly questions because Drumbot is animated to synchronously syncopate with the real-live drum set, and the whole shebang (minus the three evil humanoids) is all controlled by a vast array of complex supercomputers that live in the brain of Dr. Milo T. Pinkerton III (behind the stage, really). Additionally, if you’re a drummer, wouldn’t you want three eyes to keep track of what that idiot Snodgrass, the junior scientist in training, is doing now? And what is a drummer if not a one-upping prima donna?
My favorite COG number has to be Lobotomy (in which an audience member is lobotomized), with their rendition of Spinal Tap’s Stonehenge (and the famous replica) a close second. Using lovingly-created … I mean, evilly-rendered scientific instruments as props for their fantastic smoke-and-lights stage show, COG gave their audience a great time of dancing, laughing and antics. This band is friendly, unassuming and oh-so-weird and allowed ample opportunities for close-up photography for my gallery and interaction. Rest assured that your fearless blogger will attend more of their displays of creative evil genius.
In addition to the obvious entertainment, I had the opportunity to meet several cool new New Orleanians. One of them is CT, whom I mentioned earlier. Sherry, an artist friend of George and Alexis, and her granddaughter with attitude, Sloane, were a lovely pair and I’ve been invited to participate in improv drawing at Sherry’s on Wednesday nights. rcs, a VatulBlog commenter, read my COG post on Metroblogs and made an appearance – he had a great time at the show and hanging out with the Estro-Pack, George and Sebastian, who showed up towards the end of the festivities.
[An aside: Pardon my glee, but I am always filled with it when I make new acquaintances to work on projects and friendships with. Creative coincidences bring out the best in me. Speaking of one: George and his photographer, Monty, await the arrival in New Orleans of “Jack.” The two lads have been excitedly speaking of Jack for months as they share similar creative and business pursuits. It turns out that Jack is Lena’s estranged brother and this led to an hour-long episode of exclamations and cackles late last night.]
After tucking George into bed, the rest of us descended on The Jazz Vipers at The Spotted Cat to dance the night away. Alexis is a dynamo on the dance floor and, boy, did we cut a rug together! When one of the Vipers came around with the tip bucket, he told me I was the one who needed tipping for keeping the floor alive. Once our favorite jazz artists got off stage, Amanda, who had been eyeing the piano all night, hopped on said piano and … you know it … continued to entertain the enthralled throng into the wee hours of today. The night ended with a relaxing drive through the streets of New Orleans in Sebastian’s comfy convertible.
Now, I head to Fahy’s to watch World Cup Soccer action with a lot of the same cast of characters from last night. They are a reliable bunch, if anything. Happy 4th everyone. I sincerely hope it doesn’t rain on your parade as it might here, but if the heavens hold their water, I promise you more pictures and stories from Fireworks Over The Mississippi.