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In New York City, every Tuesday, anyone is allowed to come on stage and perform at Lach's Antihoot. The setup is basic. The requirements are none. You walk up to the front, put your name at the bottom of the list, and wait until it's your turn. The night has given birth to performers like Beck, Regina Spektor, and Jeffrey Lewis, and for the next month it's on five nights a week here in Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival.
Friday night was the first talent showcase, and as the audience was hustled into Tevi-eh-The Gilded Balloon's Night Club and took to their seats an air of anticipation hung over the gathered few. There had been some pre-announced appearances, the big draw - for me at least - a solo set by Neil of Meursault.
The acts themselves were all up to snuff. They ranged from snappy, harder and punky performances to stand-up comics to slower and / or angrier love songs. The audience was good-natured and full of positive heckling (especially that woman who I thought was a man but was apparently a woman) - the one time it felt like there bad vibes floating around, Lach jumped into action. The skinny wide-rimmed black-haired a-little-bit-balding-one-hundred-percent-new-york character asked for a match, lit it (after some bumbling) and shouted "negative energy go out" before blowing it out. There is a one hundred percent intent in keeping this night fun, entertaining, and in good spirits. A couple of performers really stood out - Burton played some easy to listen to folky melodies. Finn Le Marinel, from band Trapped in Kansas played some solo songs, eerie, finger picked, and extremely skilled. If I were to compare him to someone, especially his singing, it would probably Joanna Newson.
In between each performance Lach would announce a message from the night's sponsors: Sober Skin - to trick that pesky ankle bracelet into thinking you're sober - an advertisement for an air guitar store - for all your air guitar needs, etc. etc. He would talk to the crowd as the next musician set up and fiddled with their set.
Talking to Tallah - one of the organizers for the Edinburgh Antihoot - after the event revealed that not everyone who had played had been recruited to do so - the last band was a complete surprise to her. The organizers have drawn in some names for most nights of the series, so as a listener, whenever you go, you're likely to catch a glimpse of shear brilliance - from quiet possibly unexpected corners. As an artist, it seems like an excellent opportunity to advertise a short slice of your show to a willing audience.
12:30 pm - 03:00 am, 6 - 29th of August, Wednesday - Sunday, at the Gilded Balloon, Teviot.