"Folktopia" at PhilaMOCA on Saturday, Jan. 7 was a folk-punk variety show that ran the gamut of styles and techniques. The acts included dance, bands and a puppet show — all of which fit together for a fun and funky evening of performance and art.
The Something Society kicked off the evening with the dance collaboration of Susanna Payne-Passmore and Mira Treatman (who also organized this event). The group was initially started in 2008 to play pop music but has since morphed into a dance-theatre performance because of the duo’s interest in multimedia work. On Saturday, they performed “A Piece of Pi,” which featured an improvisation, along with performers Liz K. Freeman and Marissa Hutton. The dance movements and musical score were created using the number pi and a series of 12 images along.
Dear Deer took to the stage next. This pair of sisters plays punk-inspired grooves on drums and keyboard. Their set was short yet lively and paved the way for the following acts. They might be playing again in late January, so stayed tuned on their website.
The surreal and imaginative show that followed was the whimsical work of Adelaide Windsome, who performs under the moniker Geppetta. Starting out as a pretend tea party, the performance quickly evolved into a puppet show complete with flute accompaniment. Geppetta utilizes all manner of found objects and fabric to concoct a magical and loosely narrative storyline. The real flames of tiny candles flickered inches away from swaths of fabric, causing tension as the fairytale plot reached its apex. Skeletal creatures in cloaks moved around with toy keys and masquerade masks as the séance-like rituals came full circle, and the show doubled back for a sublime cup of tea.
Definitely the most danceable of the evening was Thank You Rosekind. Energetic, electronic beats laid the foundation for the saxophone flourishes and lyrics of Michael G. Bauer and Joel Chartkoff. The vocals verge on the spoken word and are reminiscent of Talking Heads, among others. Chartkoff was not shy about taking the microphone and hopping right out into the middle of the audience for most of the set. His excitement was certainly contagious, as the dance party commenced.
Last, but certainly not least, was the music of Liz & the Lost Boys. The Liz of the equation is Liz Ciavolino, who plays dramatic music on her harp while also singing heartfelt lyrics. She is often accompanied by some combination of the “Lost Boys,” who often include Joel Gleiser and Dane Galloway, as well as others. Ciavolino’s hypnotizing harping makes it easy to see why this instrument is often pictured in the airy realm of angels.
Needless to say, the "Folktopia" variety show was a wide-ranging group of talented acts from all around Philadelphia and from all manner of creative backgrounds. Keep these performers on your radar and also look for future shows at the always entertaining PhilaMOCA.
PhilaMOCA is located at 531 N. 12th St., just north of Spring Garden.