Zander's Decadence con report

Energy. That was the buzzword for this con. There was a lot of energy about. Where it had all gone by Monday morning is a moot point, but it was definitely (!) there. I can't give a blow-by-blow, because my blows are all blurred, but I can remember being amazed by the number of previously shy or reticent performers excelling themselves. Miki's karaoke rendition of "Shut Up And Kill Me" (and anyone who thinks karaoke filk isn't Real Filk is welcome to explain their reasoning to the Backing-Tape Kid, i.e. me, personally) was a prime example.

Phoenix, of course, specialise in energy, and though I missed half their set (along with all of Pilgrim's and Rika's: one day we'll just grab a toothbrush and set off, as soon as I learn how to get a tune out of a toothbrush) I heard enough to know that this is a serious band, and I don't mean solemn. They're starting to get gigs other than filkcons now: it may not be too long before you have to pay to see them, so if you can get to the B5 wrap party and FilkContinental 2, do so.

The American guest (Australian? Russian? German? let's just call him a citizen of Earth) was Mitchell Burnside-Clapp. I loved what I heard of his sets, not just the songs but the conversations he entered into in between with the entire hall. This man believes in sharing energy, not just performing: it was like a huge circle where only one person sings and nobody minds. I hope we'll see him again.

Valerie Housden, the British guest (and about time too), has been quietly and unobtrusively holding up the supporting walls of British filk since the very beginning. Her sets were like a history of Britfilk in themselves, from the song she took to Conspiracy in 1987 ("I Am A Stone") to the B5 filk "Not The Same Man." Her work with the N'Early Music Consort has shown that even working hard to do Real Music With Dots And Everything can be great fun, as they proved once more in their own set. Another pot of very strong tea, anyone?

There was too much else going on to put into any kind of conrep, but modesty just fails to forbid me from mentioning "Dan Who", in which I played a very minor role. Conceived by Paul Bristow, Dan Bennett and Talis, and written by Bristow and several others, this pin-sharp recreation of those heady days of cardboard sets and Swiss-cheese plots was still being rehearsed in the interval, and for various reasons Talis was unable to appear and a stunt double was brought in at the last minute, but the production was a great success and did everyone credit who worked at it. (Not me, I just came in and read my lines...)

I hope others will fill in the gaps I have left, because there were so many other moments that made this con very special to me. Paul B., Miki Dennis, Erica Neely, Mike Richards and Colin Tuckley have done a marvellous job, and they will do it again some time down the road, won't they? (Clue: the answer begins with "D"...)


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