19.08.2010 Neon Marshmallow Festival, ViaDuct Theatre, Chicago, USA.
(Day One) Switzerland’s Dave Phillips worked extensively with the sound people to get his levels right (and, I suspect, to beg them to turn it UP! If there was any small quibble, it was that for much of the first half of the show, I didn’t even consider reaching for my earplugs). It cut into his time a little (and may have caused overlap with the act in the next room), but the time spent was worth it. In near-complete darkness, Phillips cued recording after recording of insect sounds; swarms, individual buzzings, far-off flora and fauna combined into a hypnotic veil of chirping drones. In performances past, Phillips has hammered his points home in more visceral form, showing videos of animal testing and vivisection interspersed with phrases like “THE GOLDEN AGE OF DENIAL AND AVOIDANCE” and “HOW MANY MORE MUST DIE FOR CHEAP PETROL?” Here, Phillips emphasized not the death of creatures, but the living, throbbing vitality of insects and other animal life on the planet. It was a powerful, violently beautiful symphony of nature, curtain-called by Phillips walking the room, handing out a small piece of paper detailing the part insects play in the ecosystem. That Phillips has two more opportunities to play this weekend only emphasizes the excitement of the nights to come. Already a contender for top 5 performances of the festival.(Chris Sienko)