Stripmall Ballads - This unique outing tonight combined the talents of the excellent Stripmall Ballads presenting a song cycle/theater piece called "The Perfect Pipe Bomb" written by guitarist/vocalist Phillips Saylor with additional vocalists, actors and puppeteers. The play hearkens back to the beat/early hippie era with John and Jane Doe journeying off to St. Louis. The story is told through the songs, some narration and puppets. There were shadow puppets that had the best puppet love scene I have seen since "Team America: World Police" (ok, the only puppet sex scene I have seen since then). There were also two 15' tall puppet characters mingling amidst the crowded room. In fact, that was about the only real negative of the night as the room at the Strathmore Mansion was not sufficient for the crowd. After straining my body in an odd angle in a crowd that I am more used to at a 9:30 Club sellout, I decided to take the second act from the lobby behind the room where fortunately I could still hear and see all. It was nice to have such a strong attentive crowd for this interesting presentation, so my complaints are minor. Everyone enjoyed it and it was the second night in a row of seeing an attentive audience absorbed with the music (and acting tonight). I enjoyed it as well, as the Stripmall Ballads play an excellent Americana styled folk-rock that rises above many other bands--they are the ones where you think "this has been done to death". They sounded good tonight with a bit more electric guitar tonight and some lead female vocals which were excellent. They had a chorus of up to seven other vocalists as well, so they were able to vary the arrangements quite a bit which added to the depth of the overall presentation. I am a theater fan as well as a music fan and it is nice to see people challenge themselves with a presentation like this. That sometimes happens at the Fringe Festival, but this effort was much steadier and higher quality than many of those efforts.
Quote of the Night: from the stage before the start... "You will need to make some space for two fifteen feet high puppets that will be coming in from the back" which resulted into a bemused groan from the packed audience. Yet somehow it all worked with only a chandelier getting in the way.