Beating the Summer Heat: ApartmentPARTY 10th Installment
Updated: Aug 7, 2019
The humidity was horrible. NYC issued a heat warning, advising everyone to stay indoors and avoid the 105-degree climate. Hydrants were popped left and right to no avail as steam fumed from the dried crimson wells. Dogs lay helpless panting on every porch in sight. Business was doing great for Mr. Softee.
Worried the weather might keep people away from this month’s installment of Miller Pyke’s ApartmentPARTY (which has been going ten months strong) I was relived to enter Miller’s home and find the kitchen packed, with the air conditioner on full blast. As always, an almost unrecognizable display of faces were chatting and reveling in each others company; of course some regulars to the event were intermixed as well. Displayed across the kitchen wall and along Miller’s humble haimish piano was an impressive collection of abstract illustrations produced by Jak Ruiz. Self-taught, his work flaunts a style that intermixes cubist form with a conscious mix of expressive colors and abstract line work that, depending on the piece, is either brash with vibrancy or dense and slightly confrontational.
Lucy Hall kicked the night off strong, shrugging off the evening’s horrid heat with her alt-rock ballad “Loosen Up”. Her strumming kept a percussive and purposeful rhythm, as her face contorted through a fantastic display of strain, reflection, and subtle sadness. Flaunting strong songwriting chops, with ease and fury Lucy swapped from strumming resounding chords to succinct finger picking, all while belting out heartfelt lyrics with her rugged, booming voice. She followed with a second track; another ballad that sported a bit more grit, making for a pleasant pop song. Her third song was entitled "On Top"; a solid and fun pop-rap track. She ended her set with a track written over the weekend entitled "The Entertainer". All-in-all her set was a fun pop-rock romp that kept everyone in the crowd smiling and cheering with each song's end.
Rowan performed a set of all new songs. Her opening track was entitled “Jack My Beloved”; a loathing ballad in tribute to Jack Daniel's Whiskey. Contemplatively fingerpicking bar chords, Rowan forced her voice out as a whisper, face strained into a determined grimace with each sustained note. While her voice was mildly inaudible, something about her restraint made the performance feel intimate and intense; as if we were being invited into a private recital of her solitary ruminations. She followed with a song titled “RIP D-bag”. Her vocals continued to permeate in sad resonance with her melancholic guitar strumming. She closed her set with a third song that teetered on total silence. While rising to wonderful applause, Rowan thanked Miller for the chance to play, and confessed she was a bit nervous from not having a microphone to hide behind. Regardless, her set felt real and personal.
Following a brief intermission, the lights to the living room were shut off abruptly. Harsh industrial noise suddenly wailed from a sound system as a nude male figure collapsed through the doorway. As arrhythmic arrangements continued to rupture through the air, the performer ominously gesticulated into the darkened space. Once situated in the center of the living room, a light flashed onto the wall, and a video began to play. The video’s content was also of an avant-garde nature, depicting the performer clad in a wardrobe made of sutured bread slices. The performer's recorded self paced within what appeared to be an attic space. After a span of time, they collapsed onto the floor, and proceeded to consume the bread woven over their skin; the sound of crackers being chewed now played from the speakers. The live performer continued to contort their form before the projection. This spectacle of choreographed auto-consumption ensued for seven or so minutes before ending. Upon completion, Andrew Pester stood erect and took a bow.
Following our glimpse into the abstract, the audience was brought back into the mainstream with some stand-up comedy. Woody Foo’s material was entirely character driven, as he swapped between simple costumes to distinguish each role. First was an impression of American film actor Keanu Reeves. The parody was tongue in cheek, referencing contemporary memes associated with the celebrity’s public image. This was followed with a character called “bald man”; a middle-aged author presenting his most recent manuscript, a juvenile piece riddled with allusions to sex and crass dick jokes. The comic finished his routine by dawning a bedsheet, prancing around the living room as a ghost. The piece’s purpose was to satirize criticisms he's received from people averse to art and comedy that advocates for greater ethnic representation in mass media; the ghost persona acted as a metaphor for his advocacy Asian/Asian-American representation. The audience was near tears with laughter through their set.
The night wrapped up with another comedy act. A duo named “Boyfriends Who Sing Together”, the couple performed a vibrant collection of pop-rock duets. Both were trained professionally for vocal performance, which was evident as their deliveries were confident and flawless; appropriate for the likes of a Broadway show. Their second track was a rap song with lyrics that’s sported a heavy helping of fantasy tropes: i.e. dragons, being rescued by a prince charming, etc. They ended their set with a Shaun Mendez cover that got the whole room into an energetic sing along. A bit novel for my own tastes, but the duo’s charisma and professionalism were totally adored by the audience.