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Rochester Fringe Festival, Day 3: Harlem Gospel Choir, Campbell Brothers, "On Tap" reviews

Everything at Fringe sounds good to Frank as he takes in jazz, soul, and gospel

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In what could be called a collision of two fringes -- those being sound and motion -- I watched “On Tap” Friday night at the Sproull Atrium, where dancers interpreted music and musicians interpreted dance. This is a fairly common practice, even in the heads of those who are completely unaware they’re doing it even when they, for example, use colors to describe sound or visa versa.

The best piece by far was the first, where minimalist jazz converged with the rhythmic steps of a tap dancer. Other pieces touched upon the operatic, with dancers prancing about the space offering little in the way of deciphering the music, but rather compounding the beautiful obscurity.

Later that night and across the street The Campbell Brothers painted the Eastman Theatre with the crowd’s brains. The band rocked ferociously with its blend of sacred intentions and a badass, locomotive drive. The whole performance lasted around 45 minutes and was one giant crescendo, one giant ovation.

This is not an act you want to follow, yet The Harlem Gospel Choir stepped up and took a swing. The sound was an angelic cacophony, an impressive wall of voices supported by just keyboards and drums. The highlight for me was when they came out from behind their mics and positively belted sans amplification. It was infectious and beautiful.

This was my first foray into the Fringe Festival, and I have to say it’s pretty cool, especially the fact that a lot of people were walking around without a clear sense of what it is or how to take it, ultimately customizing it to their own specifications and varying levels artistic appreciation. As it takes shape, I hope this festival maintains this certain degree of vague ambiguity. Rochester needs more of this.

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