Out: Polk art fest at All Asia

If you’re an event coordinator struggling to lure an audience, heed the adage “the more the merrier.” Book 20 dissimilar bands. Everyone’s predilection has somewhere to hang its hat, and all the performers become de facto attendees. Such was the MO of the third Polk Art Fest, which had Central Square’s All Asia aswarm on Saturday.

The gargantuan bill mandated 15-minute sets and a scheduled start time of noon. I arrived fashionably late and was devastated to learn that I had missed a magic show. On the plus side, I was ushered inside in exchange for a handwritten prediction that Kate Austen would survive the final two seasons of Lost. This met the criteria for a "suggested donation."

Polk Records founder, StreightAngular frontdude, and moustache enthusiast Al Polk got the idea for this motley soiree from watching Janis Joplin, the Band, and the Grateful Dead get all chummy and creative in the rockumentary Festival Express. Here, LSD was not a readily available muse. Nonetheless, a dry erase board was placed behind the stage for public doodling. A giant eyeball, an unhappy Bigfoot, and what appeared to be an angry ostrich with tits were a few of the more prominent illustrations.

Lowell’s Coalmine Canary served up their cozy, lo-fi electro-pop, and I decided they should change their name to Post-Coital Nap. (That’s a compliment.) Gypsy Cab songbird Sabrina Seidman offset her slight stature with the immensity of her silky croonage, and her band blew the roof. StreightAngular induced a dance party, and a giant pink plush monkey was flung like a beachball from stage to crowd. It was a lively note on which to wrap up the fest, but Polk loses points for headlining his own show. I mean, come on!

Ladderlegs’ fidgety garage rock would have elicited a glowing review, except I’m pretty sure their bassist slapped a Red Quiet sticker on my back without my permission or knowledge. I was bamboozled into looking silly, but least I was far from alone.

-- Barry Thompson

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