TBA Night 2: Explode Into Colors, Janet Pants, and Chris Hackett

By Robert Runyon September 5, 2009

Now that was completely unexpected. Coming into this show, I knew little to nothing about the performers. I had listened to Explode Into Colors, liked the music, and decided that was the draw. According to PICA, Janet Pants was "punk rock in dance form" and Chris Hackett (who also goes by the handle of Los Moustachios) was a video wizard. Maybe he was able to conjure Super 8 from straw or something. Still, The Works called me.

I was happy I followed that call. The combination impressed. It could be a personal bias (toward film), but Hackett’s work absolutely stole the show. Using a series of animated vignettes, each one recalling a wisp of a memory, the films simply would not let the audience go, whether it was the story of tutoring a girl that was obsessed with horses, or Yellow Submarine‘s hand of God coming down to take someone on a journey through the cosmos. Often the issue with a collection of short films is the lack of persistence of a unifying theme; that wasn’t a problem here. Though each story was radically different than the last subject-wise, it was easy to tell it was all part of the same whole. The greatest shame about this piece is that it won’t be on again during TBA.

Janet Pants didn’t exactly recall punk rock in dance form, but definitely turned in solid work. When she adhered more to the narrative of the video, the entire enterprise succeeded, such as her entrance as the girl obsessed with horses, or a dreamlike dance after a story about taking down trees. When she started going off on her own tangents, it became tiring to watch. My friend (who is a dancer) thought her practice of doing the same move for over a minute straight was half-hearted modern dance.

Finally, Explode Into Colors was as good as I hoped it would be. The driving percussion (with two drummers!) impressed and made a great soundtrack for both the film and dancing, and the bass (Was it a bass? It was a six-string tuned low. Does that still make it a bass?) playing stole the show every time it came up. The best portion of the show was the dance after the Beatles God hand short, and the bassist stole that moment with her meandering bass lines.

Overall, the show was a success, and Hackett proved to be an artist I’ll watch for in the future.

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