Luv Doc Recommends: FronteraFest Short Fringe Best of Show
Hyde Park Theatre, Saturday, January 24, 2004
If you have been here long enough, you probably already know it, but if you haven’t, here’s Austin’s dirty little secret: There are a lot of bad musicians in this town. No, really – a lot. For every Eric Johnson, Redd Volkaert, and Rich Brotherton, there are literally hundreds, possibly thousands of blundering hacks who, through ego, love, or a dangerous mixture of both, keep plugging away in relative obscurity. In this respect, Austin isn’t all that different than the rest of America or even the world. What makes Austin anomalous is that, by and large, we embrace the ugliness, even celebrate it. Why? Because, metaphorically speaking, you have to go through a lot of oysters to find that rare pearl. From the outside it seems that Austin is somehow disproportionately blessed with a wealth of talent, musical and otherwise, but the reality is that other places just aren’t willing to open the oysters. Austin has the reputation (deservedly so) of a place that is willing to try new and different things. Probably this is because so many people move here because they want to create something new and different. The price we pay is swallowing all of those oysters – so many in fact that we learn to appreciate the oyster as much as the pearl. That is the quintessence of the Austin aesthetic and generally it carries across all of our creative endeavors. If you can’t appreciate that, you’re probably living in the wrong burg. If you think you’re on that train, but aren’t sure, you can prove your mettle this weekend at the 11th anniversary FronteraFest. FronteraFest is Hyde Park Theatre’s festival celebrating theatrical performance of all kinds: monologues, plays, dance, improv, music, multimedia – a veritable hodgepodge of dramatic arts. The festival is primarily held in two venues: the Blue Theater in East Austin, which hosts the Long Fringe (works up to 90 minutes in length), and Hyde Park Theatre, which hosts the Short Fringe (works up to 20 minutes in length). The timid may find the Short Fringe more palatable if only for the fact that if it’s bad, it’s only 20 minutes of bad. Plus, for those with a short attention span, the Short Fringe tends to be a little faster paced and at times over the top as performers go for the quick, big payoff. There is also one additional venue called the BYOV (Bring Your Own Venue) whereby performers provide their own venue. This weekend’s is at the garage apartment next to Sandy’s Custard. You may not have the sand to dive in at that level yet, and that’s OK. Fortunately for you, Hyde Park Theatre’s Short Fringe offers a Best of the Fest show on Saturday that reprises the best performances from that week’s festival. It’s a great way to tiptoe into the Austin aesthetic gingerly and with a healthy amount of reservation. After all, oysters aren’t for everyone.