An aggressive mishmash of performance art and kinetic spectacle marked The Klezmorim's concert appearances. What motivated the band to cook up The Show? Were The Klezmorim brilliant artistes... or self-indulgent jerkoffs? Here's the scoop from Lev Liberman as told to klezmer historians Ari Davidow and Seth Rogovoy:
[Q:] Was The Show commercial, created to pander to mainstream audiences?
[A:] AS FREE CITIZENS of The People's Republic of Berkeley, we were enemies of commercialism, purveyors of the bizarre and risky. Our Show brought to life mind-readers, con artists and smugglers, lounge lizards, goats, the dawn of life on Earth, a half-naked drum majorette, movie newsreels, union-busting scabs, demented kings and presidents, wars and dislocations. Mainstream? Naah.
Cheap thrills? Guilty as charged! We loved performing in fezzes and tossing rubber chickens into the crowd. It's true that Ken Bergmann used plastic Halloween bones as drumsticks. Yes, I did solo on the HarpoMarxophone. Yes, we did conduct a mock Socialist rally, holy-roller revivalist meeting, and Kabuki drama onstage. And it is indisputable that we stole our moves from Betty Boop.
Shine a spotlight on a bunch of cats raised on MAD Magazine and Gilligan's Island — a band of hyperkinetic, hormone-driven delinquents — and you get The Show: a witch's stew of agitprop, Theater of Poverty, Brecht, New Vaudeville, and Mardi Gras designed to bombard the senses, to illumine the mind with strange light, to carve neural channels for the insertion of the klezmer meme. In the midst of this mishegoss, may I add, we were playing the pants off any klezmer band that ever lived.
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