The name of the festival was motivation enough for me to venture out on a cold January night for a little recreation. Ecstatic music and the Shakedown Dance Collective seemed an excellent pairing and the promise of lively percussion under the exotic palm trees of Brookman Place was too good to miss. Before the musicians even appeared, their collections of curious instruments lay neatly in wait. Who could have suspected the ‘coordinated sounds through primal means’ would ensue….? Chiseled gourds, triangles, drums, xylophones, blocks of wood, cymbals, clackers, with an equal assortment of tools to play them – wooden mallets, metal pins and sticks, created a cacophony of sounds. A string bow extracted a strangulated cry from a symbol, a wet finger squeaked a rubbery response from the skin of a bongo drum. It was all those esoteric musical experiences from arts festivals rolled into one – the osmosis of an egg meets prawns chattering into marine microphones. But what fun they had! The musicians took cues from each other with perfect precision. They tapped and nodded and exchanged grinning looks as though they had just hit that perfect groove. They probably had. The dancers encircled them with sweeping arms and prideful practice. And throughout the whole performance I kept thinking about Abba and how my father had defended them against my more alternative musical choices at the time, saying ‘At least they have rhythm!’
Life is funny.