Redemption Jan 27, 2012
by Eric Pitsenbarger
Erin is the face behind the ticket booth. I've never even heard her speak. All I see are her piercing eyes and red hair and get a sense of the volcano just managed under the surface. The intrigue of witnessing a controlled explosion, or of having my perceptions altered by a heretofore familiar but otherwise anonymous person (an OTB attendant shifting to the main stage), is a delicate and potent place to be; and as I choose my front row seat in a whirl of smoky atmospherics, I can check off a notion I have about Erin: that she is deep.
The growling, perpetually building altered organ rumbles under our feet and through my nervous system like a dark river...further taking the edge off the sweetness one might associate with that large Marimba parked stage right. A Marimba sounds like smooth jazz, right? A sweet, soft, supportive instrument...keys hit with soft padded mallets that make an angelic, comforting sound. This black oil of an aural river says no, surrounding us with dark grandure and menace. I have a growing sense of being locked in an imagined, beautiful medieval church nightmare. The claustrophobic shadow of what lies just beyond those locked doors...or what's also here inside.
It's all true. Erin is indeed deep and I'm swept up in the experience of being simultaneously charmed, lifted and then shredded by perceptions blown. Yes, the Marimba is sweet...will always be sweet, is intrinsically sweet and soft and 'nice' and also terribly, beautifully sad. The delicate and bold contradiction of pale Erin in a silk slip, inked arms coaxing beautiful melody from wooden keys while telling us about a falling out with the church. Her soft voice, the soft keys, the 'soft' experience of what one is 'supposed' to feel in church: Welcomed. Lifted. Supported. The parental mentorship, the solace from confusion...suddenly beginning to feel not exactly comfortable, in fact distinctly uncomfortable and wrong! What was soft is now hard. What was once a known thing is now unknowable and what lies ahead is a Pandora's Box of unanswerable question.
Questioning your own instincts, coming up with what makes sense now. The brevity and madness involved! The questions that linger in-between. The death of idols...of innocence, of being caught between knowing and not knowing. Contradictions abound. Life is large. Both hard and soft. The schism that exists between prescribed religion and our own true sense of spirituality. When it's supposed to be sweet, but really isn't...wow. This is a tour-de-force in the use of craft and staging in aid of telling a burgeoning story...one that we all experience in one way or another. There is so much to grasp in this performance in just the way Erin and her alchemist partner Steve illustrate the wealth of experience invested in LIVING. Electronics made abundant use of our tip toward true telepathy. Erin is arbiter of truths, of being both soft and hard and of being OK with sometimes not knowing. I saw a punk revisionist smash past barriers and illuminate unanswerable, but compelling truths about what it is to be aware and alive and human, both hard and soft. Amazing.