The Scene: I don’t even think that the ashen cross that was placed on my forehead Wednesday can take away all the sins of the last five days. On Fat Tuesday we Catholics are supposed to indulge in everything that we are going to give up for Lent. Unfortunately for me and my eternal soul, producer Gabriel Selko decided to start Mardi Gras four days early. Together with Moth Poetic Circus they brought a spectacle that was a year in the making called The Cirque Side of the Moon to Casselman’s.
I didn’t know what to expect when I was promised a world of voodoo, circus, music, enchantment, and excess. As I arrived at the NoDo venue things started to become clearer. The smell of kerosene greeted me as stilt walkers were illuminated by fire spinners. As I entered the venue I saw artist David Caballero painting partially nude young women. He used their bodies as living canvases, covering them in flowing designs and vibrant colors. When he finished with them he would send them forth into the crowd to become a part of the show. Good portions of the audience were ready for a masquerade party. They came to impress, adorned in makeup, feathers, masks, and of course green, gold and purple beads. DJs Fubari, Janet, and Walt White had people dancing from the time the doors opened until the main performance started.
Wish We Were Floyd: The house lights went down at 10:00 and the circus portion of the night began. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Wish We Were Floyd played a flawless tribute of the album in its entirety. Not waiting for the lion’s second roar on The Wizard of Oz movie, Marshall Jarreau took the stage dancing as the opening notes of “Speak To Me” filled the venue. A versatile artist he would later perform on the Chinese pole and do aerial work as well. Laser lights of all colors shot out from the stage and created a surreal atmosphere as the cirque artists performed.
Keeping things in motion throughout the entire performance were the dance, acrobatics, and Chinese pole work of the troupes dance captain Christina Conger, and the moustache sporting Crosby Sandoval. Derek McAllister, a Chinese pole performer and character actor, provided excitement and the shows humor. All around guest performer Daniel Perez kept the crowd guessing with what he was going to do next. He moved from dancing, to hand balancing, to Chinese pole, and then later to aerials. The beautiful Sonya Smith not only tantalized the audience with her dance, but she mesmerized everyone with her awe inspiring aerial work. Last minute addition Holly Meile performed as a dancer, aerialist, and acrobat. Her performance was seamless despite only having the chance to rehearse once with the rest of the troupe. She was indeed a welcome addition to the night’s performance. The dance and dual aerial work of artists Elizabeth Smith and Liam LeFey lent a sensual aspect to the performance.
My personal favorite performance was when Deena Marcum, founder and Creative Director of Moth Poetic Circus, performed her aerial work on chains. She twisted, climbed, and spun to the delight of the crowd as the spotlight gleamed off the chains links and her person. From start to finish everyone was spellbound by the spectacle that was Cirque Side of the Moon.
Lance Herbstrong: Combining high level circus, dance, art and live music, Moth Poetic Circus spared no expense to make sure everyone went home with a smile. They even flew in the members of Lance Herbstrong from Los Angeles, Chicago, and Austin to perform a set to close the show. The band took the stage just before midnight and played until nearly two o’clock. Musical producers and masterminds Kimal Soliman and Bill Sarver blended musical compositions with glitchy bass heavy samples to the delight of the crowd. Former Porno for Pyros member Peter Distefano sauntered around the stage playing guitar and giving the act true rock n’ roll swagger while Ricardo Gonzalez provided the big backbeat on the drums.
Ari Paige and the rest of the Bass Kittens titillated the audience with their dancing as they joined the band on stage. If that wasn’t enough, pole dancers Jamie and Jillian performed in front of the stage. Gracefully they spun above the heads of the crowd, as Lance Herbstrong played live electronica re-imaginings of what appeared to be the crowd’s favorite songs. Cigarette in mouth, sporting a beard and Lance Herbstrong trucker hat, Soliman joined Gonzalez in playing percussion throughout the show and Sarver kept the beats going and paid homage to the evening’s theme by sporting a Pink Floyd t-shirt.
The crowd wildly danced with hands in the air. At one point Distefano left the stage and joined the audience while continuing to play. In return some of the crowd decided to join the band on stage to dance with the band and the oh so lovely Bass Kittens. Moth Poetic Circus definitely delivered on their promise of excess. I don’t think that Lent’s six weeks of prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial are going to be able to wipe away what happened at this Electric Voodoo Circus, nor do I want it to. All I can say is bravo Moth Poetic Circus as I give you a standing ovation here at my typewriter. I can’t wait to see how you top this one next year.
Stage Presence: A+
Set/Light Show: A