The Rainbow Warehouse, 149-150 Adderley Street, Birmingham, B9 4ED

  • FCF 1864
    Title : FCF 1864
  • FCF 1867
    Title : FCF 1867
  • FCF 1906
    Title : FCF 1906
  • FCF 1917
    Title : FCF 1917
  • FCF 1924
    Title : FCF 1924
  • FCF 1940
    Title : FCF 1940

FRONTMAN by Estelle Zhong

A blonde girl in sparkling hotpants comes on stage. The music grows louder. She is glamorous, sexy and alone. She says ‘You’re the handsomest audience I’ve ever had.’ She is smiling and swaying her hips. She says ‘I love you.’ She is singing live with glittering tambourines and also performing lip syncing. A man with a sad face and rabbit ears is sitting behind the stage backing the singer with an analogue synth. He is not watching the show.

The performance contains all the elements of the rock gig routine: the singer slams her instruments on the floor and rolls from the stage into the orchestra pit; she warms up the audience and wears herself out until falling down surrounded by white smoke.

But something is not quite right. These must-haves of any spectacular rock gig are not only performed, they are pointed at: all the workings of the show are exposed right before. our eyes. And how come the frontman is a tiny girl’ And why does she carry on singing the same songs again and again’ Is she a frontman after all, since she is not leading any music band’ Little by little, we begin to understand that this show is not much of a usual gig because it’s not about singing and playing music. It’s about performing live.

‘Come on up here in the light where we can all see your fucking cowardice,’ she shouts at the rabbit man. But she might also be addressing this speech to the audience standing silent in the dark and watching her trying to keep the show going on. She is the one exposing herself. She is the one left at the mercy of the audience. ‘I am the thing, I am the thing,’ she keeps on repeating. The show is getting worse and worse and yet she can’t just end it and leave the stage. Because she desperately needs to get our attention in order to exist a bit more, to feel a bit more. ‘I can’t feel anymore,’ she says as if to protect herself from what is happening. But we are watching her getting angry, scared, desperate. Her physical exhaustion is getting more and more obvious and because the audience perceives the tension in all her body, they are themselves beginning to feel tense, moved and attentive. Cheering is not enough: there must be something else we can do as an audience. But the truth is, she is all alone. It’s all on her shoulders. One of her songs is entitled ‘Give it away.’

The light grows brighter. She says ‘Do you understand what I’m saying’’ The audience can see her heart beating along with the bass. The music is getting so loud now that we can’t hear her anymore. She is standing in a blinding bright light. She is still speaking. Yes, we definitely understand what you’re saying.

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