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A Decade of Infringement
by Cory Perla, Hannah Epstein, Sara Ali
Festival celebrates art that flies under the radar and over the edge
This year’s Infringement Festival is not brought to you by Duff Beer. It is not presented by Big Kahuna Burger, endorsed by the Umbrella Corporation, or sponsored by Stay Puft Marshmallows. This is not a Very Big Corporation of America production. It’s just the Buffalo Infringement Festival, an 11-day celebration of art under the radar that for the last 10 years has refused to be distracted by corporate pressures. In fact, as the organizers put it, the festival itself is “a critical response to the oppressive neoliberal worldview and all its billboard trucks, televisions, flyers, advertisements, jingles, made-for-TV wars; and the depoliticisation of people through this diversionary spectacle.” In other words, it’s about the art, and all artists are welcome.
Now, at the 10-year anniversary of the festival, it’s time to revisit how it all started. Founder Kurt Schneiderman, spearheaded the initial effort to launch an Infringement Festival in Buffalo in 2005 after visiting the Toronto Fringe Festival the previous year to do a theatrical piece called “A Funny Thing Happened On My Way to Shoot the Czar.” “It didn’t go over so well,” says Schneiderman. “One reviewer said that political theater didn’t belong at the Toronto Fringe Festival, which astonished me.” He then met some “infringers” from Montreal who showed up to infringe upon the Toronto festival. “Where ever there was a Fringe Festival in Canada, they’d show up and infringe by doing their Car Stories show, the show that was originally kicked from the Montreal Fringe Festival in 2001,” says Schneiderman. “They were eager to tell me how Fringe Festival had become commercialized and forgotten any sense of any fringe elements, and I felt the same way.” Although there was no Fringe Festival to break away from in Buffalo, Schneiderman was encouraged to start up an Infringement Festival, and after a meeting in Towne Restaurant in Allentown in the dead of winter, 2005, he and a core group of organizers including Ron Ehmke, Michele Costa, Scott Kurchak, Brian Milbrand, Squeaky Wheel, Rust Belt Books and many others, initiated the event that summer. There were 40 shows the first year but it more than doubled in size in the second year. “It grew so quickly, and so far beyond our capacity. People were telling me that it was too big,” he says. Soon thereafter organizer Curt Rotterdam began adding more music to the festival. “Music quickly took over,” says Schneiderman. Many Buffalo venues have opened their doors, for free, to this festival, and that is part of the reason it has been able to last. “It’s been a testament to how open minded Buffalo is.”
10 years later Schneiderman isn’t as involved as he once was, but the festival is as strong as ever and he’s happy to pass the torch to organizers like Rotterdam, David Adamczyk, Marty Boratin, David Pape, Pam Swarts, Patrick Sears, theater organizer Vanessa Webb, and many more. “The rallying cry of this festival has always been that art is more important than money, and it still feels that way”
What makes Infringement unique is its policy of non-discrimination. That means every act is welcome, from the simplest one-woman play to the most over-the-top, outlandish rock band. Acts are rarely, if ever, censored, and unorthodox performances are always encouraged. Most of these acts are local and regional and most of them perform several times throughout the festival at various locations, so if you miss something, don’t worry there may be another opportunity. For a complete list of Infringement Festival shows, see the Infringement Festival insert inside of next week’s paper.
Here is a brief list of acts, performers, and shows to check out this year. -Cory Perla
• • •Opening Ceremonies Netzsche’s, 248 Allen St Thu, Jul 24 7pm - 1am
Nietzsche’s is the unofficial headquarters of the Infringement Festival, and whether this is your first time or you’re a grizzled veteran, the Opening Ceremonies at the historic Allentown venue is a great place to dive right in. Split between the front stage and back, the show will feature a dozen local acts including Beer Hall Philosophers, Lady Lush and the Vinyls, Laura Alisha, Apex Down, Honest Penny, Gambis, Jimyn, Jaggery, Copy Manager, Lazy Ass Destroyer, Network, and Anal Pudding. - CPPiece of Me Karpeles Manuscript Museum, 453 Porter Ave Thu, Jul 24 3pm - 4pm; Fri, Jul 25 2:30pm - 3:30pm; Sun, Jul 27 1pm - 2pm
At an Infringement Festival preview, the girls of Mod Dance Studio wow’d the audience with their fluid and expressive dance, Piece of Me, which combines tap and contemporary dance. - CP
At an Infringement Festival preview, Queen Elizabeth Regina Gloriana, Queen of England, Ireland, Wales and the Colony of Virginia in the New World, refused to step up to the microphone because it was “far too phallic for such a virgin mouth.” Her Royal Majesty, a quite proper queen, will regale her subjects with stories of her life, loves, and virginity in this comedic performance, during which she might even call for participation by the lowly peasants in the audience. - CPThe Police Manny Fried Theatre, 225 Great Arrow Thu, Jul 24 8pm - 9pm; Fri, Jul 25 8pm - 9pm; Sat, Jul 26 8pm - 9pm; Thu, Jul 31 8pm - 9pm; Fri, Aug 1 8pm - 9pm; Sat, Aug 2 8pm - 9pm
What happens when a Police State runs out of dissidents to persecute? The Police, a short play by polish absurdist playwright Slawomir Mrozek tackles that preposterous concept, with hilarious results. Presented by Subversive Theater, the play stars Michael Starczynski, Dannica Riddick, and Carlton Franklin, and is directed by Subversive Theater Artistic Director and Infringement Festival Founder, Kurt Schneiderman. Says Schneiderman: “Written in 1958, this quintessential anti-authoritarian misadventure seems all too relevant in modern-day surveillance-saturated America.” - CPFirst Friday Film Fiesta Hallwalls Cinema, 341 Delaware Ave. Fri, Jul 25 7pm - 9:30pm
An eclectic array of film screenings, starting with Robert Peters Fists of Fury: Drunk Technique, a wonderful series of shots of people getting punched in the face; and ending with Michael Sobieraj’s Bring Me Your Vultures a documentary about the music, bands and people of the forever cherished—and rumored-to-return—music venue, Mohawk Place. Other featured films include Box Boys Parts 1 & 2 by Daniel Rockwitz Reynolds aka Scantron; Santa VS Frosty by Robert Peters; “C” A Performance Art Experience by Jakeem Daniel; and a collection of music videos entitled Katie Ann The Ride by singer and songwriter Katie Ann Bernard. - Sara AliPirate Party Milkies, 522 Elmwood Ave. Fri, Jul 25 9pm - 1am
Put on your best pirate attire and get yourself a discounted admission to the Pirate Party at Milkies on Friday, July 25 at 9pm. Featured performances include indie drum and bass duo Look, A Fang!, hard rock alternative three-piece The Beggar’s Best, progressive funk-rock band Luanjie, and indie rock band Supergoner. Prepare yourself for a night of pirate costumes, the expected bad drunken pirate jokes, and a good old fashioned genre-defying music show. - SASound Mind Art in a box/American Repertory Theater, 16 Linwood Avenue Fri, Jul 25 8pm - 8:45pm; Sat, Jul 26 6pm - 6:45pm; Fri, Aug 1 6pm - 6:45pm; Sat, Aug 2 8pm - 8:45pm Manny Fried Theatre, 225 Great Arrow Tue, Jul 29 7:30pm - 8:15pm; Wed, Jul 30 6:30pm - 7:15pm
Internationally recognized mind reader Lucas Simmons will attend the Infringement Festival for his second time, with new, ground breaking ways to invade the human mind and accomplish complete control. This audience participatory experiment will have you on the edge of your seat. Luckily, there are six opportunities to catch this show. - Hanna EpsteinCar Stories Nietzsche’s, 248 Allen St Sat, Jul 26 4pm - 7pm; Sun, Jul 27 4pm - 7pm
This is the show that inspired the creation of the Infringement Festival after it was banned from the Montreal Fringe Festival in 2001. Car Stories is a theatre performance set in real cars. Three people at a time are invited to enjoy this unique performance, which takes place on the streets and in the parking lots of Allentown. - CP
There is a place for everybody at the Infringement Festival, even the kids. Kidfringement is an all-ages mini-festival of kid friendly acts and activities in Days Park. Acts include Gnome Business, an artspace where paper gnomes will be constructed; 4Buffalo Music 4Kids, an organization dedicated to promoting Buffalo as a “music city;” beatboxer Scantron, who will give lessons on beatboxing; violinist David Adamczky; mother/daughter act Anti-Matter (pictured); live illustration by Emily Snead and much more. - CPSara Elizabeth Spot Coffee Elmwood, 765 Elmwood Ave. Sat, Jul 26 8pm - 9pm Nietzsche’s, 248 Allen St Mon, Jul 28 6pm - 10pm (Best Monday Ever featuring Autoverse, Jacob Peter, Wet Stone, Alaysa O’Brien, Sara Elizabeth, wakos, Chester Copperpot, Tomcat Joe) The Gypsy Parlor, 376 Grant St Fri, Aug 1 5pm - 5:45pm
With a voice as smooth as her guitar playing, singer/songwriter Sara Elizabeth talks about gearing up for her fourth Infringement Festival appearance.
Artvoice: What is it like to play the Infringement Festival?
Sara Elizabeth: It’s really cool and I keep coming back. This is my fourth Infringement Festival. Just the involvement of the entire city—more and more people getting involved, and more and more venues are becoming involved—it is really something special. It is just art for the sake of art.
AV: Why did you decide to do the Infringement Festival again this year?
SE: I always have a great time. I like to try all of the new venues that are involved. Nietzsche’s is always a good time, this year I’m doing the Best Monday Ever show. Last year I did the Co-Op House, this year I’m playing the Gypsy Parlor too.
AV: How do you think you fit in?
SE: I think I fit in by defying genres. “What kind of music do you play?” is my least favorite question. It’s hard to put it into one word. I prefer that people hear it and experience and decide for themselves rather than putting a one-genre label on it.
AV: I know you play a lot of instruments: guitar, ukulele, piano, and mandolin. Which is your favorite?
SE: Guitar is definitely my primary instrument. I’ve been playing guitar since I was nine, so for about 13 years. But I almost always play ukulele at each show. I started playing about five years ago and it’s a lot of fun.
AV: You’re releasing a new record, Be Well, on July 30. Can you tell me a little about the record?
SE: Yes, it is my second full-length record. It’s got some great players on it, my drummer Josh Schlabach; Tom Varco, my new bassist who has been playing with me for the last couple months; Mike Petrino from the Grace Strumberg band; Chris Jacobs on piano, and violinist Ana Vafai. It’s got a really cool collection of players and a really different sound from the last album. It’s very cohesive. We’re having a release party on July 30 in Alden Town Park. - CPWe Infringe Because We Are Infringed: Civil Rights and Social Justice on the Sidewalk West Side Stories, 205 Grant St Sun, Jul 27 3:30pm - 6:30pm
Buffalo is known for—and prideful of—our cultural diversity. On Sunday, July 27, David Adamczyk has organized for Buffalonians to celebrate this diversity in front of West Side Stories on Grant Street. The event entitled “We Infringe Because We Are Infringed: Civil Rights and Social Justice on the Sidewalk” will feature performances by klezmer band Ahavaraba Takes It to the Street; a theatrical performance presented by theatreFigure titled “Butterfly Sky;” Jazz Fusion duo Two of a Kind; Tara Heavern’s poetry and spoken word, “Pain and Pride on the West Side;” and Jeremy Spindler’s “Accordion World Streets,” a variety of Brazilian, klezmer and gipsy tunes played with his accordion. - SA
On Sunday, July 27 one of our cover models, Ashleigh Haynes, (glow in the dark cyber-ninja suit) will present what she calls an “epic urban tribal fusion belly dance.” For the performance, she takes the form of her character Ximone, a gothic cyber ninja who lives in a post-apocalyptic world. Set to a drum & bass soundtrack, the performance is part cos-play, part video game fantasy, and part interpretive dance. - CPCollege Street Block Party College Street Sun, Jul 27 noon - 8pm
Shake your ass at the 12th annual College Street Block Party. This year features music from The Observers, Pine Fever, Shubbaluliuma, Jen Whitmore, and more. Hoopnosis hula hoop company will also be on hand to direct a hulaerobics workshop. Please feel free to bring a dish to share. - CPOn The Cinder The Tudor Lounge, 335 Franklin St Sun, Jul 27 8pm - midnight
Hardcore/punk trio On The Cinder is native to Buffalo and is ready to rock the Infringement Festival. As the band has just recent released their first five song EP entitled Feed Them To The Children, they have already toured the northeast and midwest in places ranging from basements and bars to music festivals. - HE420: The Musical Manny Fried Theatre, 225 Great Arrow Mon, Jul 28 7:30pm - 9pm; Sat, Aug 2 6pm - 7:30pm; Sun, Aug 3 1:30pm - 3pm
It’s just what it sounds like: witness the journey of Jerry, an everyday tokin’ man, in the land of 420, where he searches for its true meaning. The musical is written by Buffalo comedian John Kehoe, with music by Buffalo composer Laura Lonski. - HE
Trap duo StarCMND, hip hop collective Dead Trash Mob, Global Knowledge, and Loudsilence, above, take over the Foundry for a night of fine beats and rhymes. #RealTrapSh!t. —CPThe Stripteasers Burlesque present: The Big Lezbowski Nietzsche’s, 248 Allen St Tue, Jul 29 10pm - 1am
This is exactly what you think it is: The Big Lebowski performed by an all female cast. I imagine lines like “Smokey, this is not ‘Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.” are somehow even more hilarious when delivered by a woman in burlesque wearing a fake beard. - CPMike Criscone The Gypsy Parlor, 376 Grant Street Wed, Jul 30 6pm - 6:45pm Savoy, 149 Elmwood Ave Wed, Jul 30 8pm - 9pm
With a board stacked with exotic guitar pedals, this one-man band loops, filters, and manipulates his sounds, Andrew Bird Style, to create a cacophony of bass, synth, guitar and percussion that mesmerizes his audience. - CP
Barging into the Burch: Think-You’ve-Seen-Ot-All Front Yard Thursday is a living art instillation on the front lawn of the Burchfield-Penney Art Center. The all-evening event will feature everything from live illustration by Emily Snead, a hula hoop workshop by Hoopnosis, dance, audio sculpture and more by Primitive Post Human, music by My Nada Brahma, eerie video projections by Keith Harrington, visual art, interactive installments and more. One interactive installment is the brainchild of local musician, Lesionread. Lesionread is typically known for his anything goes, one-man electro-rock DJ sets but this year he is doing something even more unorthodox, if that’s possible. Dressed in a full-body red jumpsuit and wearing a cardboard robot-helmet, Lesionread in character as Red Boy, will relinquish all of his free will and allow the audience to control him via walkie talkie. Audience members can make commands like “Red Boy do a cartwheel” or “Red Boy do the YMCA dance.” The Red Boy must act as the stranger commands. Red Boy, behave yourself. - CPWham Bam Thank You Slam Part IV The Gypsy Parlor, 376 Grant Street Thu, Jul 31 7pm - 1am
The Wham Bam Thank You Slam has become an Infringement Festival tradition. Well knowns like MC Vendetta and Pinja will step up to the mic to let lose some lyrical love while acts like Drunk Bearded Ladies Gone Wild just come out of left-field. Don’t miss the gender bending act: two bearded, imbibing ladies wreaking havoc on stage for only one night. - HEFashion Art Show Sewing Souls Studio, 356 S Elmwood Ave Sat, Aug 2 7pm - 10pm
Need a fresh summertime look? Regardless, this event will provide just what Buffalo needs: a little more fashion sense. Team up with your most fashion-forward friends and dive right in. Right in the heart of Allentown, designers Maura A. Simmonds-Price, Ben Streeter, and Kaitlin Anne will introduce you to their summer fun fantasies right in their own studio. - HEClosing Ceremonies Nietzsche’s, 248 Allen St Sun, Aug 3 8pm - 2am
Wow, that was quick. Has it been 11 days already? Time for the grand finale of the Infringement Festival. Iffy Awards, awards handed out to the most serious of infringers, will be dispersed throughout the night, while acts like the Blood Thirsty Vegans, Chris Abbey, Noah Gokey & the Skulls, and DJ Medison close out the festival. - CP
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