The Performant: Band(s) of a thousand faces

|
()

Borts Minorts/Fuxedos/Polkacide fux shit up at Bottom of the Hill

It had been awhile since I’d stood in slightly gape-mouthed awe before the glorious mania of Borts Minorts, who last played the Bay Area some five years ago, the jerk, depriving me of my Dadatastic fun fix for far too long.

For the uninitiated, Borts Minorts is not a band so much as an alien invasion for the senses. Front-creature Borts Minorts (a.k.a. Chris Carlone) appears clad in a shiny white unitard, which makes him look like a giant cartoon spermatozoon, his frenetic dance moves are the stuff of legends and nightmares. He frequently plays a ski, though for this show he played a cabinet door strung with bass strings instead. When last spotted ‘round these parts, his ballsy backup crew had consisted of dancing girls, an unsmiling Norwegian on a flute (a.k.a. Melting Razor), and someone of indeterminate gender blowing endless bubbles—a deliberate hodge-podge of askew confusion.

But Saturday’s lineup at Bottom of the Hill kicked it up to a whole new dimension, thanks mainly to the addition of a horn section, even more dancers, and a glittering diva who sang operatically and took over the poker-face duties from the absent Melting Razor. Plus, somewhere along the way, the Borts Minorts “look” has been tweaked to include a giant blonde rocker-do complete with Richard Simmons sweatband, which somehow managed to dehumanize his freakish facade even more than his previously shiny-smooth Spandexed pate had done.

Shortly after the mighty Minorts crew exited the stage, the Fuxedos took it over, clad in their signature blood-splattered tuxedo shirts, laden with props. The bizarre brainchild of LA’s Danny Shorago, the Fuxedos can be best described as one part metal, one part big band, one part free jazz, and one part carnival sideshow in which Shorago is both the ringmaster and the principle freak.

I get the feeling that Shorago was one of those kids who spent a lot of time alone in the house playing dress-up, what with his penchant for inventive costuming and character-creating. From his eager sales huckster for “Clams and Flan” (the fast food emporium of all our dreams), to his sword-bearing villager with a “real god” (a giant porcupine named Reggie), to his insulation-clad astronaut whose distressed mantra “I feel the air slipping out of my space suit” precedes an epic death metal roar, to his signature sulky sideshow attraction “Mimsy,” to his cane-swinging, Clockwork Orange-channeling crooner singing the song “Leonard Cohen wrote for me” (“The Future”), Shorago’s unique shapeshifting abilities definitely steal the spotlight. But the fact that he’s backed by truly talented musicians and complex composition really elevates the whole Fuxedos experience from mere tomfoolery to actual art, albeit hilarious art.

And speaking of hilarious art, there really is no better way to describe the imitable, unflagging insanity that Hardcore 2/4 crew, Polkacide, bring to the stage. They’ve been raucously rawking it since before half of their oddiences were born, and their punk rock polka is a true San Francisco treat. Each musician in the band has a musical pedigree as long as the string of sausages that clarinetist “Neil Basa” strategically hangs down his lederhosen, and the practiced patter of frontman Ward Abronski guides the faithful Polkacidal around the world in 80 (give or take a few dozen) polkas—from Warsaw, Poland to San Antonio, Texas.

You’ll just have to imagine the mayhem, as by that point I was dancing too much to remember to take many pictures—but better yet, you should probably just go to their next show and experience it for yourself.

Also from this author

  • Bee true

    The documentaries of Berlin and Beyond

  • Divining the entrails

    New Last Gasp releases explore the unsettling art of Laurie Lipton and Elizabeth McGrath

  • The Performant: Epochalypse Now