Just A DJ In The Subway Or . . . ?

by Thomas Brett

Well, this one threw me for a loop, but bear with my description . . .

A useful way for a musician to promote his or her music AND a musical event is to bring it directly to the commuting public by performing in the subway.  At Union Square this afternoon, a DJ demonstrated his audio finesse.  (You can listen to my low-fidelity phone recording here.)  Tokyo Circus is the name of both the musician and the party (?) he was promoting.  Costumed in sunglasses, platinum wig, and a doctor’s coat, he mixed his tracks using an iPod fed through a most low-fi portable guitar amp making a sound that was all squelch, grain and treble.  The sound and look were playful enough to attract a crowd of the curious, and yet upon closer inspection contradictions abound.  On the one hand, a handmade cardboard sign with “Feed Me” scrawled on it, and yet no empty case into which to put one’s cash donations.  (“Is he hungry?  Does he need my money?”)  On the other hand, glossy postcards advertising the upcoming dance party (?) available for us to take.  Finally, a glance at the DJ rig revealed a shiny new iPhone to boot.  Is this a struggling artist?  A piece of situated performance art?  A flesh and blood dance party flyer?  A commentary on the DJ’s life?  A take on remix and dance music culture?  What is this and should we pay attention? . . .

. . . So, it turns out that there is no party per se, or rather, the party is right here, right now, and Tokyo Circus is an international performing group that puts on street shows around the world with the simple aim of making us smile.  You can read more about them at http://www.tokyocircus.jp/Info.htm.

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