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Interview on KUHA fm "The Front Row" 11/25/11.

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A comic nightmare: “Tender Buttons” in the Lindenfels Theatre

Welcome to the bunker.  Welcome to the cabaret.  Friday and Saturday in the Lindenfels Theatre, the two merged into one another as the lights in the ballroom went down.  So that the pretty flickering of the little candles on the tables, ranged around the stage just as in a cabaret, soon found a ghostly reflection.  For something is feeling its way forward in the space.  Humans with miner's helmet lights?  Or perhaps the amorphous body of a monster with glowing goggle-eyes?  Whatever it is crawls and flounders up onto the stage – and there it begins to make music and chant a strange text.

Which comes to us from the year 1914 and suddenly sounds as if its author had nearly, even back then, counted on her words finding a fitting expression in the work of Pattie Smith or maybe Laurie Anderson.  The American musician Gary Heidt took on this expression, alternating between Pattie and Laurie and throwing in a dash of Sisters of Mercy.  Offering an ironic homage to his countrywoman Gertrude Stein, and for his audience an oblique, sexy live-rock-and-cooking-show performance.

The program bore the same name as the band, and as the wide-ranging prose poem which Gertrude Stein wrote.  She indicated her subjects immediately in the subtitle of “Tender Buttons” - “Objects – Food – Rooms.”  Which is all evident in the Lindenfels Theatre – as a grotesque distortion of a text which is itself just such a grotesque distortion throughout.

Seeing that and hearing it is fun.  A comic nightmare.  Avant-garde with a wink, in rock 'n' roll.  The desolate monster turns into a band fronted by the bewitching Cassandra Victoria Chopourian.  And even if her voice gets lost once in a while in all the sound technology, we still get her very idiosyncratic dancing (with a sneaker on her right foot and  a high-heeled pump on her left) and cooking (that's right, cooking) and the operatic pose with which Chopourian resists the world with the help of a pair of scissors in a loose sequence.

Because again and again she wants to penetrate this cabaret-bunker, this obscure stage-cosmos.  Above all as an atonal drone, as martial stamping.  A sound like Wehrmacht boots on the Champs Elysées, an intergalactic crushing machine, the madness of the world.  It is always a dramatic moment when Chopourian sets herself against it.  A Joan of Arc with a pair of sewing scissors.

The guys in the band, on the other hand, would rather go undercover.  But they are needed too.  The Czech keyboard player Martin Cikanek for his grandiose mini-moog sounds as well as his countryman Roman Hampacher on guitar or the German Nathanael Erler on drums.  And of course Heidt (singing and plucking his bass) next to Chopourian.  Saturday they will invite us to the Westwerk for a new performance.

- Steffen Georgi  (Translated by Chris Brandt)

Download Full Press Packet (7.6 MB).

Leipzig Volkszeitung 8/1/11

(Original in German)

Kreuzer Magazine - July 2011

Review from Leipzig Volkszeitung, August 1 2011

Article from Leipzig Kreuzer, July 2011