Artist: The Nick Fraser Sextet
Songs: two unknown songs*
Sooo... this one was a little odd along a few different axes. Sonically, it would have gone over better in an earlier timeslot in a quieter room — it's off-kilter-ness would have worked fine up in Studio 3 — but I assume it ended up in the basement for the set's theatrical element. That conceit saw Nick Fraser, the unit's titular leader, dancing nude behind a sheet, creating silhouette-sculptures meant to be juxtaposed with the themes in the Russian folk and prison songs being performed, offering an art-comment on Russia's state-sanctioned homophobia and intolerance. With Fraser behind the sheet, a casual observer might have assumed that Justin Haynes was the unit's frontman, as he took it upon himself to try and negotiate with the crowd to quieten down enough for the musicians to perform — a task which caused him some visible strain. His fellow musicians — including Christine Duncan on theremin, Ken Aldcroft on guitar, Jason Benoit on banjo and Ryan Driver on drums (!) — took it all in stride, and they did manage to get through a few numbers while Fraser danced behind them. Kinda a mismatch of concept, execution and situation, but it did manage to offer the frisson of the unexpected at which Long Winter excels.
Justin Haynes: [off-handedly] Anybody try to kill themselves this week?Audience member: No!Justin Haynes: Why not?Audience member: Optimism.