Friday night. Pre-Rapture. The dance floor in the boiling hot belly of the Waldorf on East Hastings. I was there. That’s right: Friday, May 20, 2011, I absolved my sweaty sins with Maria in the Shower, celebrating the release of their latest CD, “The Hidden Sayings of Maria in the Shower” with the kick-ass, virgin-tempting show they called PANSTEREORAMA.
My first brush with the glory that is Maria in the Shower was in 2008, when I went to the Ukrainian Hall to see the Dusty Flower Pot Cabaret‘s magical production, “Valley of Ashes”. I recall marveling at the spectacle, the rusty sorcery, and the puppets. I also remember thinking to myself, “Hot diggity, this music is great.” I then became interested in something else, I dunno, university or whatever, and forgot to ask myself where some of that music came from.
As it turns out, some of that music came from Maria in the Shower, so when I saw them for the first time doing a set of their own at this April’s ArtsWells Fundraiser at the Rickshaw Theatre, and then again last Friday at the Waldorf, I wasn’t seeing a new band so much as bringing into focus musicians I had already experienced through attending Dusty Flowerpot productions. And holy petunia, it was worth it. Wonderful as they are as a component of a larger theatrical production, on their own these musical men are overflowing with showmanship, theatricality, and a pure and unadulterated love for what they’re doing.
Before Maria in the Shower, I had never seen someone play an accordion and a trumpet at the same time. I had never seen anyone play a stand up bass while standing on their stand up bass. For that matter, I had never seen anyone playing a trumpet while standing on a stand up bass that someone else was playing. Trifling logistical details perhaps, but the kind of details that make me shout, “Holy F—” and scream a LOT.
All of this would have been cheap razzle dazzle had Maria in the Shower not had the musical chops to back it up. And they do. I got swing, I got jazz, I got a bit of Klezmer, I got trumpet and accordion (which are two of my favourite instruments after cellos), I got songs of burning hot passion and just plain fun. Poetry, love, death, religion, sex: I got it all with music I could dance to, sing to, feel through, that was at once totally irreverent and totally sacred.
At one point, I remember seeing the band onstage, with all their fey and sweaty fans dancing below, listening to a song about love that sounded like a cry from the most wounded man in the world, and thinking that THIS is exactly where I should be. This is exactly the kind of place and show I should be at when I am 25. I am idealistic, I am full of romance, I am nostalgic for a history I never had, I have energy and sensuality and a thirst for a performance that’s so damn good it makes me grit my teeth.
Maria in the Shower is so damn good they make me grit my teeth and fantasize about running away to join a gypsy caravan. I’m pretty sure I left the Waldorf pregnant through immaculate musical conception (totally appropriate pre-supposed-Rapture) and through the raw sex appeal being created all over that stage by musicians who are very good at what they do (and is anything more magnetic than that? No.).
I just hope the baby plays the trumpet. Fingers crossed.