All photos Skylar Ead/Catalyst
With a backdrop of the rolling click-clack sounds and the eerie white glow of an old-fashioned movie projector, Boulders, the opening act for Russian Tsarlag, performed for an audience in the New College Black Box Theater on April 17. Thesis student Alexander “Fuji” Salisbury, who sponsored the event, hosted the group of performances as his last show here at New College.
“In the past four years I’ve put on close to 30 shows, most of which were basically rock ‘n roll shows,” Salisbury said. “I wanted this show to be special, insofar as it would de-emphasize the partying aspects associated with typical shows and it would allow a set of amazing performers, who are already theater-oriented, to have a true stage as opposed to an ephemeral back alleyway stage.”
Boulder was led by New College alum Cameron Worden (’05) with Tommy Conte on drums. The performance included the projection a short film, and the overblown, reverb-laden guitar and vocals along.
“It was probably a jarring experience for some people,” Salisbury admitted, “who appeared to be seated comfortably until that point.”
The second act consisted of the band Then and Than, led by Andrew Soloami from Tampa. As Soloami played the keyboard, “a cast of ghoulishly dressed characters danced to electronic action movie drumbeats and cerebral organ music,” Salisbury described.
The third act, SVH or Super Human Vomit, was a one-woman performance led by Alley from Providence, R.I. She opened her performance with a short statement declaring, “This movie is about finding a new body.” She performed live vocals against pre-recorded, minimal synth arrangements over projected scenes from Mario Bava’s Planet of the Vampires.
The headliner of the show, Russian Tsarlag, staged his performance as an annual telethon for the fictional “Legion Hall,” with live results of the campaign’s success periodically phoned in between songs. Items such as a single bedpost and a green plastic “ghost plate” were auctioned off. The night concluded with a forty-five minute featurette film titled The Crystal Ball, created by Carlos Gonzalez (Russian Tsarlag).
The event, co-hosted by Madelyn Ringold-Brown, came together after Salisbury made contact with Russian Tsarlag’s Gonzalez, and asked if he would be willing to perform a special show at New College. “He responded favorably,” Salisbury explained, “and then SHV, Then and Than & Boulders came as aptly chosen supporting acts.”
In order to prepare for the event, the two organizers reserved the Black Box Theater by submitting their Event Request Form, made and distributed block print flyers, prepared an dinner for the performers and sought funding from the Student Allocations Committee (SAC).
“After a bit of a struggle with the SAC, we secured $500 of funding for all four acts,” Salisbury informed the Catalyst.
Although it took place on the same day and at the tail end of New College’s Cultural Fair, the event was “devoid of the type of culture celebrated by the Cultural Fair,” Salisbury said.
At the end of the night, Salisbury admitted that he was very happy with the success and turnout of the show.
“It sent shivers down my spine. I had difficulty speaking afterwards. The general response seemed to be very positive.”