Jason Collett’s Basement Revue has long been a local hot ticket for those with an interest in what the lanky musician and his Broken Social Scene pals are up to—with a generous mix of other literary, theatrical, and cultural talents mixed in. The nightly late-night Luminato edition, the Courtyard Revue, staged in the lobby of Canadian Stage’s Berkeley Street Theatre (and spilling out into the open-air courtyard), is offering more of Collett and co-producer Damian Rogers’ carefully selected programming. The difference, however, is that, with a larger venue and profile due to Luminato, some of the acts look to be more than one-night-only tryouts.
The biggest buzz around the Revue so far has been about new supergroup HYDRA, featuring Feist, Snowblink, Charles Spearin, Lucky Paul, and AroarA (the new duo featuring Ariel Engel and BSS’ Andrew Whiteman, formerly Apostle of Hustle). On their first night there, the musicians played an assortment of their own songs, plus several brand-new compositions. Both Feist and Snowblink’s Daniela Gesundheit remarked that we were the first audience to hear these new songs. The three women—Feist, Gesundheit, and Engel—were a remarkably balanced trio out front, with the men from the combined bands providing instrumental support. It certainly didn’t sound like an open-mic attempt at new material. These were polished, absorbing numbers, and the group did a full 45-minute set.
The run has also seen cast members from The Life and Death of Marina Abramovich on stage, performing a cabaret; Rogers, Lisa Moore, and other authors and poets reading selections from their writing; and other musical guests, such as Patrick Watson and Collett himself, playing a few tunes each. The lineup changes nightly (tonight—that is, June 21—word is that Broken Social Scene precursor KC Accidental is debuting a new 15-minute compostion.) But there’s one constant: the night always ends with Vag Halen. The feminist art collective covers “cock rock” classics from bands like Metallica, Led Zeppelin, and The Stooges, and ensures the crowd heads out well after midnight with a buzz on (and perhaps a slight buzz in their ears).
This post originally said that KC Accidental is rumoured to be playing next Friday, June 28, when in fact they’re supposed to be playing tonight, June 21.