The Songs of Crime Does Not Pay: A Concert Performance

By Marie France Forcie 

I am a dance writer. When it comes to reviewing performances, my area of specialization centres uponchoreographic craft and physical movement. Earlier this fall, when asked whether I wanted to contribute a blog entry in response to a Fluid Festival performance, I agreed immediately. I love viewing, musing and raising up to the challenge of putting the ephemeral into words. 

A new Calgarian, I made the wrongful assumption that all festival events involved dance, and naively failed to do much preliminary research before attending The Songs of Crime Does Not Pay: A Concert Performance

Oops.         

As soon as I walked into the Big Secret Theatre last night and took in the set up– four musician: male and female signers at ground level behind standing microphones, framed by a keyboardist and a trumpeter sitting on their individual risers... all so unnervingly static looking!– I started to get the uneasy feeling that the show's title had been meant literally and that I was in no way qualified to expertly comment on what I was about to watch. 

I took my seat, the performance started and my suspicions were confirmed. Although I found myself enjoying the music, the lyrics' cleverness and the storyline punctually projected above the musicians, I couldn't stop asking myself how in hell I was going to write anything about dance-less MUSIC without sounding completely ignorant and/or doing a disservice to the artists involved. 

The answer that I came up with? By being upfront about my dance-expert-yet-music-inerudite perspective and by describing what I saw (Ha! Caught myself: what I HEARD!) through that lens:

- Kris Demeanor is a compelling, embodied and charismatic performer. I found the subtleties and emotional nuances he was able to express vocally mesmerizing;

- I found the plot's twist on the actual history behind the advent of Crime Does Not Pay, making one of its creators a murderer, to be a thought-provoking feature alluding to the intertwined complexities of mind, reality and creativity;

- Great writing! Intelligent wording;

- All four musicians were clearly accomplished in a way that, in an intimate setting such as the Big Secret Theatre makes the audience feel humbled;

- The musical, of which the concert served as a “work-in-progress” reading and scheduled to open in 2017, has great potential and deserves to be added to our communal things-to-stay-put-for list.  


On faculty at the University of Calgary's School of Creative and Performing Arts, Marie France Forcier is an internationally presented dance artist and writer.