| Image by Frank Hamilton
So this past Friday night, Noise braved the cold and our own fears about aging to head to Sonar’s Taxlo party for the second or third or 15th installment of local sugar-shocked art/music/weird kids collective Wham City turning the club stage into its own satellite loft party. With candles burning, the Fat Boys’ version of “Wipeout” on the turntable, and a few dozen kids in patchwork outfits dancing like they were remaking 54 in a dark basement at MICA, it almost felt like one. (Once the drinks stopped being a buck, the spell was somewhat broken.) The Whamsters provided an evening of theater, stand-up comedians, video-game countdowns, a monologue from Dan Deacon where he and Lenny Kravitz took a ride on a giant comb through a river of hair, and, of course, songs about dead dogs and the eternal question of whether you’re really better off with that BlackBerry and iPod. We even got jumped on/bear-hugged during a dance number when we were rudely text-messaging someone, which we took as Wham City’s way of saying, “Yo, jerkoff, put the cell phone away and pay attention to what’s actually going around you.”
If the night wasn’t entirely about music, it was something like the infamous Sun City Girls show, related in an old interview, where the Girls “performed” as a trio of hobos shooting the shit down by the train tracks. But even when the Wham kids weren’t singing and dancing, an anarchic punk feeling ran throughout the night, a confrontational absurdity that moved it beyond your standard “wacky” improv troupe. If a joke or a song just hung uncomfortably in the air, fuck it. That’s your problem. You could hear the steady boom of dance music in the big room, and occasionally a dancer or two would wander in and scope the scene, baffled, usually turning and going back but occasionally staying to figure out why that guy was playing an accordion and telling a story about his grandfather’s horses. Thankfully most of the jokes worked; it was the funniest show–that was, you know, supposed to be funny–that we’ve been to in some time. (Choice line: “For a while I thought I was gay, but it turns out I was just being childish.”) In a better world, some TV scout would give these kids their own Wonder Showzen last week. It’d be canceled after one season, but we’d always have the DVD.
At the beginning of the night, there was a bit of tension as some Taxlo regulars, we assume, who didn’t quite “get” the Wham City kids threatened to turn things into a freaks vs. squares rumble, but thankfully any fights were averted. As one companion said, we’ve all thought about doing these absurd and wonderful things; the difference is that Wham City actually does it. It’s certainly the most fun you can have at Sonar, a place where, even when it’s sold out, the cavernous spaces can feel like the least-intimate venue on Earth. (No disrespect to the Sonar folks. It’s an architecture thing.) It was a floor-humping, wig-wearing, Charleston-dancing good time, and the next time Wham squats at Sonar, you probably won’t have anything better to do that night. What was the last show you were at that ended with a birthday cake and all the players onstage dancing to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”?