Sunday, June 16, 2013

Let The BTK Band Rock Your F---king Face Off.

The BTK Band
photo by KL Thomas used with permission 

It's 9pm on a rainy Monday and I'm waiting at the door to UNDER St. Marks while "The BTK Band" can be heard rehearsing downstairs for their regular rock improv show. A small line is forming behind me, but the lady accepting the $5 admission fee at the door is so far only letting in "Storytellers and go-go dancers! Only storytellers and go-go dancers please!..." My interest is now officially piqued, and so begins what becomes the most fun I can ever remember having on a Monday night.

Go-Go Dancer with The BTK Band
photo by KL Thomas used with permission
Known for drinking hard and rocking out even harder, The BTK Band plays every second Monday of the month, welcoming storytellers to beguile audiences with witty yet true tales of sex, love, lust and other life experiences, as BTK literally makes up lyrics in the background to complement the stories. Their June 2013 show happens to fall during Pride month, and just when you think they couldn't ham things up more, BTK decides to become "BTGay" for the evening, and band members emerge in various assortments of rainbow outfits and transgender apparel. Surrounding the band and offering tantalizing interpretive dance moves are buxom, rainbow outfitted, scantily clad male and female go-go dancers (who, by the way, apparently work for tips). This is all especially fitting, given that the band got its start at the infamous Stonewall Inn, oft credited with being the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement.

Immediately shocking and hilarious, the BTK Band, led by the larger than life Peter Aguero (who sometimes goes by his mother's married name, The Duchess Barbara Pillsbury, especially when he's in drag), introduce some of their go-go dancers. There's "Cliff Hanger," and "Amelia Bareparty," to name a few. To get the party started, after an outrageous rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," the band calls on a random audience member to come to the stage and reveal a bit about himself. Giving up nothing more than that he is a gay drummer who likes baseball, audience member "Ian" is awkwardly serenaded by the catchy tune "Ian, When Will You Be Mine?"

Shortly after, the featured storytelling begins. We first hear from John Flynn, who describes, in three parts, a lascivious story of his first ever one night stand, while traveling in St. Louis, as the band chimes in, "He's in St. Louis and he's lookin for a man..." As the twisted lyrics continue, it becomes easy enough for the audience to join in, if they can stop laughing long enough to actually sing along. (Sidenote: John Flynn also hosts a Thursday night storytelling open mic show at UCB East, which I now feel compelled to catch soon).

All puns aside though, this band is really no joke. Their songs are clever and creative, and the band's obvious zest for life is just unstoppable. Rory Scholl, who sings and plays several instruments for BTK/BTGay, has got some impressive pipes on him, as does the band's one female vocalist, Margo Bercy. This is musical improvisation at its finest. Consider, for example, the band's alluring accompaniments for storyteller Tara Clancy's "coming out" experience, or playwright Edgar Oliver's good/bad dream.

The saddest part of the night was learning that The BTK Band, performing since approximately 2007, will be ceasing their residency at UNDER St. Marks at the end of this year. As they are also entering a summer hiatus, that means there are very few opportunities left to catch The BTK Band live, and I certainly wouldn't want to miss them if I were you. Look for them to play UNDER St. Marks on the second Monday in September,  Monday the 9th, to be exact (WGINY surely plans to attend again!). While you are listening to new and interesting stories and songs, you may even find the answers to some burning questions, such as, "Will harmonica player, 'Handsome Brad,' take his shirt off during the show?"

In the meantime, follow The BTK Band on facebook and twitter where you can learn more about upcoming shows and appearances, and also amuse yourself with their sort-of NSFW youtube channel. (Hint: check any of these pages for official videos from their June 2013 Pride show and other gigs from as far back as 2009). As you explore, just think of this motto: "BTKwill rock your f---king face off!", but remember, you have to see it live to get the full effect.

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