Rare Crate Digger's Classic: Wanda & the Cupcakes
The game was this: I talked for about 10 minutes about participatory culture and Toronto's notorious "Bad Bands" - offering the Barcelona Pavilion, who were playing after me, as the original Bad Band - and then told the audience that they were all going to experience this for themselves, as they were about to become a bad band. Borrowing a leaf from local Bad Band, Dollarama, I brought out a table full of $1 musical instruments - pie plates, toy tambourines, noise makers, baby rattles, and a few ringer instruments (a Casio keyboard, a toy saxophone, a melodica) that I borrowed from friends. We got three volunteers to be the lead singers. Everyone had been asked to make up a band name and write it on a slip of paper, and we drew one at random - it turned out to be Wanda & the Cupcakes. Which made the next part tricky, as the next step was to derive a "band concept" from the name. The rules were: 1. All songs are about cupcakes. 2. Everyone in the band is named Wanda. 3. Vocals at all times. (Except perhaps for No. 3, these are exceedingly unpromising band concepts.) I broke the crowd down into smaller groups to write lyrics in about five minutes. Then we came back together, "rehearsed" and then "performed" the resulting "song," managing immediately to violate all of our rules.
If nothing else, it demonstrated that being a Bad Band is perhaps not as easy as it looks. After the performance, I asked Barcelona Pavilion to serve as the critics (deliberately messing with the roles of audience/performer/listener/critic in the participatory-aesthetics spirit), and they proceeded to denounce the exercise in stern ideological terms. Then they played and we drank.
Overall the event would be kindly termed an "interesting failure," I think. I hope the majority of people had fun. At the least, it was good experience for me in leading group activities, which I have not done since I taught summer camp or tried to direct plays, all of which was a very long time ago. I'd like to do more of it, even though the whole terrifying effort causes my soul to leave my body and not return for a couple of days.
You can listen to the results via CCL1 co-proprieter Brian Joseph Davis's downloads page: Here is the rehearsal and here the performance. Each take has different virtues. But in either case they are few. In case you feel the impulse to sing along, which is doubtful, below are the lyrics.
Lisa Foad is My Hotrod
She's half Jewish, half gentile
And the gentile has prevailed
She grabs a matchbook,
Drops to her knees
This is a girl who clearly never sleeps
(Chorus) Photographic naturalism
I'm out of it as a guy
Lisa Foad is my hotrod
Not even in the case of Jasper Johns
Aaaaannnnd she wears glasses
Cupcakes are my wolfsbane
And honey, I'm a wolf
But everybody wants something
They will never give up
They will analyze
You are so pretty