Scanning the summer listings can be dispiriting. Is it really necessary to follow up last weekend’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival with a Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival at the end of August?
Fortunately, there is a homegrown antidote to this pre-packaged drivel. The Phreak N’ Queer Music & Arts Festival—which runs Aug. 4-7—is a four-day smorgasbord of queer culture, offering cabaret, country, performance art and punk rock. A loosely knit collective of 12 local artists and organizers divided the festival into six different shows taking place at venues like Connie’s Ric Rac and the Tritone. Best of all, no ticket costs more than $10.
The whole shebang kicks off with opening night fete, Glitterbomb, an event capacious enough to pit the clangor of Birth Noise against the baroque chamber-folk of “a stick and a stone.” It’s eclectic, inclusive and definitely not Top 40.
That anti-commercialism is a conscious choice, according to organizer Megan Gibson, also known as DJ BeFree. “We’re trying to broaden ideas of what’s art and music and break away from mainstream club culture,” says Gibson. “This is a chance to see something or hear something you’ve never heard before.”
A cursory glimpse of the lineup reveals plenty of novel acts and unexpected pairings. Friday evening’s Boudoir is billed as a queer speakeasy and features both burlesque and an erotic art auction. Elsewhere, there will be spoken word, puppetry and performance art.
Perhaps the most unique act is Rainbow Destroyer, comprised of duo Rainbeaux Bite and Brian Reignbow. The pair bills itself as zombie pop, although it’s unwilling to accept even self-imposed genre limitations.
“Our sound is like ’80s dance music, plus contemporary Top 40 hip-hop, plus zombies,” they write via email. “Or if Britney Spears was a member of the Addams Family.”
Saturday afternoon’s Gay Ole Opry is sure to melt the heart of even the coldest Nashville cat. In addition to two-stepping lessons, it features the country-tinged folk of local musician Joshua Marcus and the twang of Karen & the Sorrows.
“I’m pretty sure that any hardcore country music people would cast some real doubt on our music being ‘country,’” says Julia Steele Allen, one half of Brooklyn’s My Gay Banjo, which appears on the bill. “There are no slide guitars; we do have some horse and truck lyrics, but plenty more mermaid and sailboat and man-on-man lyrics.”
That kind of country music won’t get played on WXTU, but it’s perfect for Phreak N’ Queer.
Aug. 4-7. Various locations. wix.com/marseaumarseau/phreaknqueer
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