I can't remember the point at which the troll-doll shrine appeared onstage—was it always there?—but it marked the too-far point. "This is the wrong kind of horrible," a fellow art person spat by text message during a performance combining dance moves, music, YouTube collage, and animation Thursday night at Seattle University's Lee Center for the Arts. What was going on at that moment was that a long-haired, mustachioed, clever young man wearing a Renaissance Faire cape over tie-dyed leggings was playing the same note over and over on an exceedingly high-riding green electric guitar (the location of the guitar on his body was a source of joy) while people in basements and driveways banged their heads in spliced-together clips of videos on the giant screen behind him. This man's name was either David Wightman or Fortress of Amplitude or both, and this piece was called This Music Is My Life. In PowerPoint slides, he explained that the performance would demonstrate how the repetition of certain heavy-metal moments brings transcendence. Then for about 30 equivocal, Warholian minutes he became his own metal jam band with an audience of humans (us) and the troll shrine. Some people (the texter) walked out. "It's like getting fucked up the ass with no lube," said another art person. "It's hard." This art person and I did not leave. It's almost impossible to punish art people. We secretly like it, plus we have been punished quite a lot and are very accustomed to it. I found this performer twerpish.
Wightman/Fortress of Amplitude/troll shrine was part of a program headlined by the TM Sisters, two actual sisters from Miami (Monica and Tasha Lopez De Victoria) who have become art-world darlings for their blend of '80s fashion/design, animation, choreography, music, and I don't really know what else, because due to technical problems, they were only able to perform about five minutes of their act. (Their gallery installation—curated by Yoko Ott—is up through October 3.)
The theater was packed from the start: Hooliganship—two lovable, manic, hooded young men—played guitar and keyboard while dancing with a video animation like some unholy union of Donnie Darko, landscape painting, workout videos, South Park, and Charlie Chaplin. After they finished, a man named Jacob Ciocci (of Paper Rad but on this occasion of Extreme Animals) arrived onstage to discuss a brain dance, spirit cleansing, awareness bracelets, and "the 21st-century intensity"—you feel it, too, right?—before lying on the floor while his video mashup played, including Rihanna, cobras, gas masks, a California Raisin raisin, the Cranberries, Cher, children, gold coins, Gizmo, and a semicentral character: a lady wearing a neck brace who made drawings of cats wearing neck braces.
That I would like to see again.