Of all the performances I've seen at TBA over the years (a fair sampling), I can't think of one that comes close to Alexandro Segade's Boy Band Audition in how much the concept really took over the reality of the performance. This event really, actually did feel like a boy band audition. The real performers of this piece were the enthusiastically participating audience members, facilitated and directed by the artist, Alexandro Segade, along with his brother Mateo Segade working the music and projection.
Segade purported to be from the future, where California had somehow taken over Oregon, and the rest of the west coast I think, and then loosely explained that he came back to create a really stellar boy band to somehow save us from that harsh future. I didn't totally follow, but that part was just framing to get us to participate, and to take this seriously. Addressing the obvious question, "Do you have to be a boy to be in the boy band?" his excellent answer was, "I will determine if you are a boy."
He invited the audience to crowd in close, instructed us all to strut around practicing our "swagga"—an important tool for any member of a boy band, no doubt—and then used some projected video to lead the whole crowd through a bit of song and some choreography moves. After we were warmed up, the serious auditioning started.
Segade encouraged audience members to line up at the front of the stage to audition for the coveted role of lead singer. A friend pushed me up there (really pushed), so I hesitantly got in line, until there were probably 13 of us. I like to sing, and I figured the more I participated, the better angle I'd have to write about it. But then Segade revealed that this section of the audition was freestyle singing based on an assigned topic, and I got nervous and rejoined the crowd of spectators. Hey, I can karaoke like a pro, but musical improvisation in front of a TBA crowd seemed beyond my capabilities. Either that or I wasn't drunk enough.
So I was thoroughly impressed with the confidence and bravery of those 12 who did go through with the freestyling portion, melodically expounding on topics like "femminizim" and "genetik modificayshunn," and some were quite skillful on the spot. Others were, as our Copy Chief Courtney Ferguson so insightfully put it in her event preview, "terrifically butt-cringing." Still, they all made the cut for the next round, which was a less exciting exercise in dance move mirroring.
Then came the absolute most entertaining part. Segade placed two groups of five in what I'll call "boy band formation" facing each other, and one person on each side of the axis in between them (that positioning didn't work so well for the two on the axis, unfortunately). I was completely mesmerized, but my friend Alyssa Bostian had the wherewithal to capture a few videos of the spectacle.
After this went on for a good long time, Segade finally chose six auditioners for the boy band. I disagreed with a couple of his choices, but I'm not the one from the future. He took audience suggestions for the name of the band, choosing the appropriate-enough "Boyz 2 Gurlz" (two of the band members were female). They anticlimactically performed a song karaoke-style, unfortunately facing away from the audience so they could see the screen, and then I guess the future was saved and we all had a big dance party.
This was way more fun than I expected it to be, even though I opted out of the audition process, and my hat is off to all those spectacular young men and women who pranced around like the future depended on it. TBA is weird, you guys.