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[awkward video recap] Rich Aucoin @ the Middle East upstairs

If you haven't ever been to a RICH AUCOIN show, you should go to one. Or, rather, participate in one. Because seeing the Halifax, Canada-based solo electro artist live is less passively watching a show than diving headfirst into an acid trip of a immersive live theater performance. A caveat: it helps to get really fucked up pre-show. Beers are good, drugs are probably better. Either way, you're going to have let your inhibitions take the night off. What follows here is a poor attempt to recreate what Aucoin's show at the Middle East this past Monday night was like. To review it would be difficult, if not pointless (see: "it helps to get really fucked up").  

But first, a shout out to openers STEPDAD (2011's 50 Bands 50 States pick for Michigan) who, as music editor Michael Marotta pointed out, are really good. This song live is killer. So is this one. Rich Aucoin dug them too, I saw him dancing a little stage left.

Onto the main event. Aucoin, a sinewy, angular Canadian ginger in jean shorts with kinetic energy to spare, drapes a white bed sheet onstage as a makeshift projector screen. He sets up a mic stand and some minimal sound machine equipment up in front. Lights dim. The power is go.

[Some basic info on Aucoin's shtick: he projects weird ass YouTube vids, clips from obscure movies, and the like onto aforementioned sheet and sings with them/at them/at you/with you.]

First he projects this, an obvious crowd favorite.

Everyone digs "Guy on a Buffalo." Unless you're a terrorist or something. You're not, right?

Then it's on to Animals Who Yell Like Human Beings. These are a personal favorite.

Aucoin holds up the mic to the seal and goat yelling like men so that we can all hear. Then he hold the mic out to us and we all yell like men, too. We're all really good at yelling like men. Maybe even better than the goat.

Finally, it's time for some words of encouragement to pump us all up before the show really gets going. This kid has some.

Holy shit, are we pumped. We are so pumped we all want to go learn to ride a bike. We don't need no training wheels let this mother fucker burn. But first, we dance.

Oh man, do we dance. Aucoin, is a hell of a showman. He moves through the sweaty, jumping, gyrating crowd like a glad-handing politician, kissing babies, and proffering the mic so we can take turns singing along. Sometimes, he projects words onto the sheet so those of us who don't know the words (me) can sing along too.

At one point, he asked everyone to get down on one knee, put their hand on the shoulder of the person to their right and sort of hump the floor awkwardly. It feels a little too culty to me, at first, I'm not a team player, but at this point I'm too far gone. I'm right there in it.

"Remember those parachutes we used to play with in gym class?," he asks us. We totally do! Out comes one of those primary color-blocked parachutes --you know, the ones you used to grip the edges of in elementary school, flapping it up and down so it caught air and playing "popcorn"? That's what we do at the upstairs of the Middle East. We run and jump and play popcorn underneath an enormous billowing parachute. I cannot believe what I am doing but a self-check confirms that I am indeed doing it. And it's awesome. It's kind of jubilant, is what it is.

Too soon, it's over, and we're all beaming sweatily and sort of shyly at each other. I see some bearded dudes patting each other on the back. We bonded, is what we did. And we had Rich Aucoin to thank for that. Where was he back in 5th grade gym class?

Go be in his show next time he's in town, is what I'm trying to say here.
 

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