Monday, August 18, 2008

Reynaldo The

I get to NYC so seldom that I tend to hit the same great places that are familiar to me, rather than do too much exploring. I was with a friend who was in town from Alabama, and had limited time to explore, so it was back to Rockwood Music Hall (where I had taken her on a previous visit) and over to The Living Room (where she hadn’t been yet).

We were in time for the 10pm act at Rockwood, and I said hi to Ken Rockwood (the proprietor and founder of “The Professor and Maryann,” an indie-rock duo), before the set. The act was a female singer/songwriter, piano-based, who sang pop-py songs about love and relationships. My friend pointed out that her playing and voice were very similar to Regina Spektor, though we agreed the songs weren’t anywhere near as interesting.

At The Living Room, the 10pm act was running over, two Iowa sisters and one guitar between them. Both with very big voices, sunny dispositions and incredibly long and thin arms (something in the air in Iowa). We stood in the back while they finished up, and then snagged a table for the (late) 11pm show.

I’m not sure exactly what the act was called – I think it was “Reynaldo The” fronted by Aldo Perez. Perez has a rock band called “Psycho the Clown,” a small group called “The Reynaldo The Trio” (it would be Reynaldo The Great, but apparently Reynaldo is not so great), and an avant-garde theatre enterprise called “Theater The.” There may be more incarnations, but we were apparently watching some permutation of "The Reynaldo The Ensemble."

We had no idea what to expect. There were six of them. A keyboardist who looked like a dressed-down Brad Pitt by way of Elton John mixed with mad scientist. An older fellow on the drums, in judges’ robes. A beefy KGB-agent type who was some sort of valet and general factotum, and played bongos and washboard. A tuba player dressed as a refugee from a Chekhov short story. A French maid who played the clarinet, bells and was the main backup singer. And Aldo Perez as Reynaldo, a shambling mound of wild energy and pompostity. He's described elsewhere on the web as the love child of Jim Carrey and John Waters.

I would describe the act, but it was indescribable. It was more of a modern clown show than anything else. An opening mime bit ended with Perez playing the nose flute maniacally. Odd musical pieces. The valet/factotum wound up being the company rapper. They sang “I’m My Own Grandpa” and “Oh What A Night,” all interspersed with “Reynaldo” being a general horses’ patootie while the rest of the band shot him glares. Clearly there was a backstory to the act that we weren’t seeing.

Special mention to Jenny Lee Mitchell, the French maid, who is operatically trained and could do just about anything with her voice. After several bits featuring her refined tones (which were out of keeping with Reynaldo’s musical wishes), she wound up being the best rapper in the bunch. A glance at her resume shows a lot of experience in physical comedy.

Apparently, Aldo Perez and company perform at the Living Room many Saturday nights and have several theatre and music ventures going. If you’re in the city, they’re worth a look. If you’re not, you can catch glimpses of them on YouTube.

No comments: