Baltimore Round Robin: Eyes Night
(Le) Poisson Rouge; New York, NY

Baltimore has invaded NYC. Its musicians are hovering on the sidewalk of Bleecker Street, looking haggard after two weeks on the road. What do they need? Food? Sleep? Vitamins? Vegetable oil as alternative fuel? All of the above, it seems, to assure that they can make it back to Charm City. But they can’t hit the road just quite yet. They’ve got to deliver not one, two, or three more shows, but a whopping four shows over the course of two nights. Daunting, maybe, but they are in it together -- all 60 of them.

In the depths of (Le) Poisson Rouge, projectors are already casting rainbow patterns onto eager faces and the surrounding arsenal of instruments. This is the Round Robin's Eyes Night showcase (Feet Night follows the next day), and, appropriately, the setup looks more like a collective warehouse space than a Greenwich Village nightclub.

After the Baltimoreans join hands to surround the crowd and lead a collective hum, they take turns hopping on the many makeshift stages to showcase their sounds: Teeth Mountain brings droning strings and tribal beats; Lexie Mountain Boys sway and chant out their one-of-a-kind, elaborately costumed performance pieces; Nautical Almanac, visible only as silhouettes behind a backlit sheet, emits a variety of esoteric noise; Jana Hunter and Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez carry the pensive, but not cliché, singer-songwriter banner; and, finally, Beach House places an emphatic period on each Round Robin rotation with their dramatic and encompassing sound.

While the more recognizable names meet expectations, it’s the lesser-exposed “side show” acts that make the night unique and engaging. The Creepers and Santa Dads' quirky tunes and mannerisms inspire smiles in the crowd, while Blue Leader, decked out in a Cyclops superhero costume, gives video-accompanied philosophical monologues on first-person shooters and other games. After “preparing” the audience with a mantra of “Homer Simpson, Bart Simpson, Lisa Simpson, Marge Simpson, Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, Maggie,” the comical Showbeast presents a video that comes across like a tripped-out Jim Henson skit.

As the Round Robin's night one ends, ringleader Dan Deacon teeters on stage, slightly sloshed, to introduce the participants of Eyes Night and to remind the crowd to come back the following day, when he and more of his traveling troupe will present the more fuel-injected Feet Night. As the lights come on, security rushes people up the venue’s stairs, making way for the night’s next show and bringing this Exploding Plastic Inevitable-esque road show one step closer to home.

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