All / Originally Posted on Skirt

The Rock and Roll Circus

This afternoon I found myself in one of my favorite cafes here in Exeter, Cafe Espresso.  It’s an especially good place to go on a Saturday afternoon for a coffee and a cake while perusing the free newspapers they provide to see which particular corner of the globe is sinking that week.  The cafe is in a triangular-shaped building on a cobbled street just next to the Exeter Central Library and Rougemont Castle.  They have funny-shaped tables on the upper floor, cut to fit the odd shape of the room.  At the pointy end (well, the rounded end) there’s a double-sided bay window with a large and fragrant window box.  I never get to sit at that table because it’s such a popular one, but I love the cafe anyway.  

I managed to leave the house this morning forgetting my watch, which always leaves me with a gloriously ticklish sensation of freedom from responsibility.   (Well, not always.  If I’m running late for an appointment it just makes me feel even more of a disorganized, tardy person.) 

Last night I went to something called the Rock and Roll Circus at the local arts centre in Exeter, the Phoenix.  The bill included buskers of many kinds, a rock band, a singer of funny songs, some burlesque, and a couple of fire dancers.  Pretty good deal for six pounds. 

I’d tried to find a friend to go with me, but nobody was interested.  No matter – I put on my red leather boots and stomped down there by myself.  But, as is the nature of things in Exeter, as soon as I arrived in the bar I stumbled across someone I knew.  He was there with one of his housemates, who knew somebody in the show, and they were planning to go to somebody’s birthday party afterwards, which means I now have a host of new friends on Facebook.  (Hello!)

Also, this friend told me that he’d had troubles with his fieldwork which required him to change his methodology plan entirely.  Yet further proof to my theory that everybody’s PhD falls completely apart at some point, and the real work gets done while putting it back together again.  (Okay, it’s actually an already well-accepted theory, but how many people have written papers on it?  That’s what I thought.)

I really enjoyed the show; it was exactly what I expected a Rock and Roll Circus to be: full of variety, a lot of strange props on the stage and hanging above the seats, some drunken audience particiaption, and a loud and bizarrely-dressed emcee. 

The linking element (besides the emcee) was a band called The Adventures Of.  Their music is kind of indie-punk, but their fashion sense is distinctly more gothic.  Think crushed top and bowler hats, skull or creepy clown makeup, cravats, grubby and slightly too-large tuxedo jackets – over skinny jeans. 

They opened with a theatrical device of pretending to be marionnettes hanging from strings until springing to life, but they were too keyed up by the spirit of rock’n’roll (probably) to really hold still until the jumping-around bit.  And then commenced all the most iconic rock show cliches: strumming really really fast while taking a stance wide enough to almost (but not quite) be a split; gripping the microphone and bending forward until all the audience can see is the top of the singer’s head; seemingly random walks over to look at what’s happening in the wings.  The lead singer, in his overly baggy clothes and clown makeup, looked a bit like a baby-faced scarecrow. 

In fact, the overall impression was that a bunch of cheeky twelve-year-olds had raided their granny’s makeup drawer and  their grandpa’s trunks full of old clothes, then stolen their dad’s old electric guitars and keyboard from where they were gathering dust in the basement. 

All this might be making The Adventures Of sound really bad, but actually they had a lot of personality and an exuberance that made for a great show.  I would totally go see them perform again – if I could find any information on the band (you try searching for “the adventures of” on google and you’ll see what I mean.) 

I enjoyed my spangly and mood-lit night out, especially when followed by a mellow afternoon at a quiet cafe, pursuing an entirely different set of pleasures.