BOSTON JULY 13-21, 2013

Day Two Of Outside The Box


Feeling hot, hot, hot – we mean the weather AND the performances at day two of Outside The Box! The Berklee Gospel and Roots Choir, who sings “roots for a reason”, opened on the Beacon Stage with a soaring version of “I’ll Never Turn Back,” seguing into traditional hymns and work songs from the past. “They’re [work songs] about pain…about your soul…and about healing,” explained the Berklee faculty member and Choir leader. “They come from slavery, and that’s not pretty, but the call and response is all about letting you know that someone is there with you.” Whether you’re spiritual or not, you can’t help but allow the Choir’s music to take you on a journey. Seeing the pure joy of the musicians and the audience makes you feel like the world’s a little easier, and your burdens a little lighter.


Positivity seemed to be the theme of the day, reinforced over at The Genki Spark in the Spiegeltent. All-female taiko drummers led brave amateurs in impromptu drum workshops, encouraging kids and adults alike to come up on stage while telling the family-oriented crowd, “Adults like to be loud too, and a lot of times adults aren’t allowed to be loud!” Thanks for that, Genki Spark! Can we get an “Amen!”?

The Floorlords crew demonstrated their unique brand of theater/dance mash-up, incorporating the five elements of hip-hop (DJing, MCing, Graffiti, Beatboxing and B Boying/B Girling) into a high-energy performance that the audience  want to join in on the lawn – even if it was almost 90 degrees.


Choo Choo Soul With Genevieve was an especially positive performance yesterday, with a woman approaching an OTB staffer after the show. She explained that her son had special needs, and Choo Choo Soul made him incredibly happy. Word was passed to Genevieve, who came out and greeted the boy personally. He was a little shy at first, but that’s okay – we’re shy when we meet our idols, too! It was an amazing and touching moment for everyone who experienced it.


As the day heated up, so did the music, with some smooth jazz courtesy of Dave Koz and Friends (friends being Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot and Mindi Abair) playing tunes from their Summer Horns album. Meanwhile, over at the Squirrel’s Den, All Hands Drumming led toddlers in doing what toddlers like to do most (have we mentioned this before?): banging on things. Again, in this case, it was the ever-popular drums.

At the Commonwealth Stage, Somerville’s Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band got rowdy with their marching band-meets-vaudeville-meets-avant garde jazz-meets-vagabond sounds. About as stationary as a hive of friendly bumblebees, their version of Reel 2 Real’s “I Like To Move It” was one of the most creative covers we saw all weekend long.


Mauro Pagani & Orchestra Popolare La Notte Della Taranta (say that five times fast!) was a special performance straight from Italy, brought to Outside The Box as part of 2013′s Year of Italian Culture in the United States. Dancing at OTB isn’t reserved solely for the Spiegeltent; as Mr. Pagani and his Orchestra hit their first notes, the crowd hurried down front and didn’t stop moving until the final ciao! Also spotted enjoying the show? Our founder Ted Cutler.

After all that dancing, we needed to cool down a bit, and Isis Lune’s performance at the Spiegeltent was the perfect place for a late afternoon chill out. Israeli vocalist Ella Joy Meir’s voice was as smooth as Sade’s, and the band’s melodic stylings brought to mind Thom Yorke and Radiohead. Promising to submerge the audience in a world of demons and magic, of vast oceans and endless skylines, we departed the tent feeling as if we were departing a desert oasis.


Then, at last…it was time for the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. Their tribute to Ella Fitzgerald turned the Beacon Stage into a sultry piano bar with rare tunes from Ella’s songbooks, who was known for dedicating entire albums to individual composers. Compositions from Cole Porter, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie evoked reverence, as the audience sat hushed on the lawn, in awe of the magnificant music of yore as performed by one of the most prestigious orchestras in the world.


Over on the Park Street Stage, Nazar Interactive‘s Bollywood Performance was more than just an “interactive performance” – it was full-on audience participation, as they taught the audience Bhangra dance moves. A call for three adults brought almost 20 running to the foot of the stage for a “sound effect contest” judged by the audience – who was one of the most unselfconscious crowds we’ve seen so far. It’s all about positivity, you guys.


Well, until the Greek tragedy The Bacchae at the Spiegeltent, that is. Komoi Collective and Tubiforce Media Productions’ take on Euripides’ classic tale of the god Dionysus’ revenge on his mortal family came complete with roving maenads sneaking through the crowd and a Dionysus with a decidedly modern attitude. “I’m a little freaked out,” murmured one audience member. “No, don’t freak out,” we said. “That’s Cadmus’s job!”

Join us today on the Common as our performers spread more positivity!