The Performant: One for the road

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Baxtalo Drom's happy trails -- and the Performant's faves of 2012

With 2012 finally behind us, apocalypse thwarted, we have to get back to the business of preparing for a future we were told not to expect. Stretched out before us, a ribbon of Alfred Noyes moonlight looping the landscape of possibility, the road of the future beckons us onward, final destination unknown. What lies ahead, nobody knows for sure. But at least we know that for the moment there *is* an ahead.

During both the best and worst of times, the heady mystique of the open road is always in fashion, imbued with an undeniable glamour that monthly “gypsy punk cabaret” Baxtalo Drom is all too happy to exploit. Baxtalo Drom translates to “Lucky Road” -- happy trails, if you like -- and it plays out very much like a quick-and-dirty variety show performed by a high-spirited caravan-load of traveling players. A showcase for pretty girls, hobo bands, and eclectic DJ’s, Baxtalo Drom’s shabby chic and Balkan streak make it a perfect fit for Amnesia’s convivial ramshackle allure, its dark corners and hardwood floors.

The weather was cold, but the action onstage was hot for Baxtalo Drom’s last show of the year. Saucily MCed by Mz. K., and featuring a sizzling playlist courtesy of guest DJ, Wolfgang von Cope, the show starred two very different dancers and one eclectic band, with a cameo by “The Human Cortex” -- SF’s most cerebral sword swallower.

First up was Amberetta, billed as a second-generation belly dancer, who first performed to a blues version of “You Shook me All Night Long” and later in the evening to The Prodigy while balancing two curved swords on top of her regally poised head. Burlesque firecracker Bunny Pistol showed off her tasseled pasties and tattooed midriff, and Thee Hobo Gobbelins, armed with squeezebox, banjo, and guitarrón, rollicked their way through a setlist of junkyard anthems and phantasmagoric drinking songs. Swords being somewhat a theme, an appearance by “The Human Cortex” (Hernan Cortez) who gave an impromptu lesson on sword swallowing to an excitable oddience member, was a fitting complement to the evening’s entertainments, infusing the stage with a bit of dramatic vaudevillian bombast.

And as both the evening and the year drew to a close, a momentarily prophetic vision of the Lucky Road lurching forward into the future rose to mind, making said future seem less daunting, more familiar, even worth looking forward to -- roadblocks, ruts, unexpected twists and all.

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Five for the road: five awesome events the Performant checked out in 2012 that you can still catch in 2013:

1) The San Francisco Tape Music Festival, January: www.sfsound.org/tape

2) Bay One Acts, TBD: www.bayoneacts.org

3) Robogames, April: www.robogames.net

4) KC Turner House Concerts, monthly or more: www.kcturnermusic.com

5) Popcorn Anti-Theater, monthly: www.antitheater.com

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