Sunday, August 02, 2020

Virtual Fringe 2020 Review - A Virtual Collaboration of Singing and Ice Skating (off-ice) - Heather Rae Music/Amy Berglund - A Very Pleasant Way to Pass a Half an Hour - 4 stars

Tweet review: #NightlyFringe outing #2 for viritual #mnfringe 2020: A Virtual Collaboration of Singing and Ice Skating (off-ice); current/original songs, guitar and keyboard, skating in parking lot w/hula hoops, fire, blue smoke, and a very persistent bird; charming - 4 stars

(Previous overview) (for the curious)

The basics of this show, as I covered in my overview before the Fringe officially began this week, are on full display in the title.  Heather Rae sings a combination of covers and her own original songs, and every couple of songs, Amy Berglund is visible in split screen, out in a conveniently empty surface parking lot on some version of roller blades (the kind ice skaters use in off season when they can't find a rink, I suppose - or you know, in times like these when public gathering places like rinks are not in service).  Berglund gracefully glides about on the asphalt in time to Heather Rae's musical accompaniment.  

Sometimes Amy makes things interesting by getting hula hoops going around her hips, arms and legs, or twirling around items that are on fire, or spewing out blue smoke from gender reveal smoke canisters strapped to her skates (I guess it's a boy, wherever it is).  Berglund also had an unexpected skating partner in the form of a bird that really liked swooping low in circles around the lot as well.  At first is was hard to gain perspective (is that a bug that's really close to the camera?  is that a bat?)  Regardless, our intrepid skater was unphased and stuck to her routine (to the point where I was a little worried for the bird when Berglund was twirling those things that were on fire.)

Heather Rae's voice, keyboard and guitar playing are all quite lovely.  She has a tone that's clear as a bell, but she can also growl when she has to.  Her originals stack up to the covers of recent popular music, and when she releases the song "Snow In Tennessee," I'm buying.

This collaboration came about when Amy started asking Heather Rae to play live music at her skating events, to give her something a little more vibrant than just a recorded track to skate to.  When the pandemic hit, this video conference collaboration was the natural evolution of their partnership, and they've been posting other versions of this same hybrid entertainment experiment online for a couple of months now.  They have it down.

The thing is, as much as I enjoyed it, my brain kept wanting to nudge the concept to somehow be more than its component parts.  But it's really not.  It's just an assortment of songs, chosen for their variety - a mix of Heather Rae's songs and other people's, differences in mood and tempo, and the instrument used.  

I can see it being a "Bring Your Own Venue" option in the future where they have Heather Rae set up on the side (even in the middle, if we're feeling adventurous) of an actual skating rink so we get the feeling of the cold, and the sound of the blades cutting into the ice.  But if, somehow, the songs built to something, and at the same time the skating routines also built to something, that might be the next level for this particular partnership.  I'd be interested to see where it goes.

Meanwhile, since it was a facebook live event, the video is archived on Heather Rae's official music page.  So those of you who missed it on opening night, or perhaps saw it but want to watch and listen again, you're in luck, it's available.

It's a very pleasant way to pass a half an hour.

4 stars - Highly Recommended

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