I will say right off, I was warned. I might just be too old for this kind of thing. I would probably enjoy it better with the help of recreational drugs.
I went anyway, at least for a while, to (sub)Urban Projections, the free city-sponsored festival of light, music and dance that was held in the lobby of the Hult Center Thursday evening — and, in fact, is most likely still going on as I write this, as I left town early.
The idea was interesting enough. This would be, in the city’s gushy press release, an event that “spotlights multimedia and interdisciplinary performances that re-draw the boundaries around expression, creativity and art to encompass the complexities of our 21st century landscape.”
That’s OK. I’ve read enough overheated prose like this in my career not to take it too seriously.
And the whole thing was a run-up to Friday evening’s performance at the Hult by Quixotic, a Kansas City group that melds dance, music, circus acrobatics and digital projections.
So I got to the Hult this evening with pleasant expectations. Something new and different would take place in the familiar cultural space. And as I walked in, half an hour before show time, it felt exciting — like coming in through the stage door, instead of into the lobby.
The lobby was back-stage dark. Cables were stretched here and there, performers were getting ready to go on, some video was beginning to be seen on the interesting high surfaces that define the Hult lobby. So far so good.
Following the crowd’s energy, I found my way to a wall on the mezzanine, in the hallway across from the women’s restroom, where half a dozen delighted kids were dancing in front of a projector that showed time-delayed echoes of their movement in bright, psychedelic color. The kids could make video angels, like snow angels, by waving their arms.
This exhibit — Trails, by Benjamin Geck, Clara Munro and Zachary Dekker — turned out, sadly, to be the best thing I encountered.
The couple dance performances I stuck around for were lost in the sheer size of the crowd; you couldn’t really get around from one part of the lobby to another, you couldn’t see, you couldn’t hear, and at one point an usher suddenly yelled at me that “These stairs are closed!” (she wasn’t being mean — she had to yell to be heard) as I tried to get back to the main floor for a better look.
What was missing, for me and a couple other cranky old folks I talked to, was any overall scheme. I wanted something big and bright. What I got instead resembled a booking convention, with small acts competing against one another on small stages, most of which you couldn’t get to even if you tried.
There was no overall presence, nothing that tried to fill that big, beautiful and intriguing space.
An acquaintance who once worked for the Grateful Dead shook his head in dismay. “We knew how to do light shows,” he said.
I’m off to bed now, right after I take my Geritol.