Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Swale at ArtsRiot April 7, 2016   Leave a comment

Hedwig at Arts Riot picture by Emiry S Potter

Hedwig at Arts Riot picture by Emiry S Potter

I had a great night seeing music and theater Thursday April 7th at Pearl’s, uhm, I mean ArtsRiot. For six days the Pine st club flashed back in time to recreate the the iconic club that closed years ago to become a pizza place. Pearls, later 135 Pearl, was a place for people to be comfortable being who they are, and a place to see a cool show now and then. Owner Robert Toms booked the first Swale show I ever saw, booked a bunch of cool bands, and put on a play from my friend Josh Bridgman. If you have never seen Silent Invasion, check it out. Toms also put together a production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and was captivating in the leading role. Ten years later he brought the spirit of the club back to life and did a six day run of Hedwig.

I wanted to see the show on Friday April 1st, when the Dirty Blondes played the after show party, but was in Montreal to see Iron Maiden. Sometimes you have to make a choice. That Thursday, with my local music radio show prerecorded, I headed down to the building that used to house the Cheese Outlet/Fresh Market. I arrived a little before the 8pm showtime, found a seat and settled in. The lights went down, the band rushed to the stage and the super tall, high heeled glitter booted, wig down to her ankles,sparkling lipstick that could be seen glittering from the back of the room, heroine stormed the stage. The show veered a little bit away from the movie and settled in as Hedwig did a mix of stand up and storytelling that kept the audience transfixed. The story was punctuated with the killer band ripping it up on some very cool songs. Hedwig spoke of the horror of playing at the Fresh Market while former lover Tommy Gnosis packed Memorial Auditorium. She dropped a couple of Bernie and Trump references too, but mostly told the tale of finding love in East Berlin, having a botched sex change, getting stranded in America and coming to terms with herself and using that understanding to propel her to stardom. Toms really laid into the arrogance of Hedwig with her dismissal of others, especially her band mates, yet provided a glimpse into the way bravado can be used to overcome the fear of being trapped in an ordinary life. He made Hedwig ugly and beautiful. He made Hedwig annoying and alluring. He made Hedwig a warning to and an aspiration for us all. He brought us on a journey of discovery from the moment they hit the stage until the last notes of Midnight Radio slipped away. It was a beautiful and powerful show and I’m so glad I was there to experience it.

After the show the crew cleared out the chairs. Most of the audience headed out but several intrepid souls hung out as Swale moved their gear to the stage. Soon enough they started with an old jam and then launched into Soul Piggy Bank. They continued through the set playing mostly new songs from what I expect to be their next album. Songs like Loser (?) are fun and catchy and songs like Drug Laws rock hard. Most of the show was pretty rocking with songs like Joyless, Popular Crowd and Everyone Likes to. The show was not long but was great note for note. As soon as they wrapped up, I headed out with a happy mind and a love filled heart.


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