We don’t get an awful lot of bards blowing through Fresno, and we certainly don’t have too many suicide-themed sing-a-longs.
Fortunately, you have the opportunity to experience both with Strangely’s “Joy Compactor” – a far darker return to the Rogue Fest for the singing, dancing accordionist. Last year, Strangely kept things pretty light with foot-stomping tavern music fit for a port town. That’s definitely a part of this year’s show, but you should be ready to follow him into deeper waters.
The performance, running for about an hour and costing just $5, is quite good. The audience for Friday’s opening show shuffled into a bit more than half the seats available at Fulton Street Art, but their participation filled the room during the sing-a-long numbers. Like so many Rogue shows, this is a performance for the audience as well as the person in front of the microphone.
Strangely was quite funny – so much so that the mid-show descent into extremely serious subject matter caught a few audience members off-guard. Most of what he had to say prior to that was a joke, so I think people continued to laugh during the serious bits as a conditioned response.
I preferred the lighter moments. The tavern stuff works well in the Rogue format. Strangely is nimble both on his feet and with his wit, so rare technical flubs or outside noise become part of the fun. The moodier stuff isn’t bad, but it doesn’t quite fit. It’s just a little odd to go from singing and dancing to solemn listening then back to singing and dancing. But I was inclined to let Strangely lead me through this dark patch, and we came out alright on the other end.
“Joy Compactor” is worth your time. It has some fun parts. It has some sad parts. And the ride will only cost you $5.
- Runs March 5 4:15 p.m.; March 9 7:15 p.m. and March 10 8:30 p.m.
- Fulton Street Art, 1118 N. Fulton St.