In a city crawling with theatre companies, bursting with music venues, and harboring a dubious title “home of drum and bass,” there exists a product of post coital madness between rock and drama. The city I’m referring to, of course, is Philadelphia. The band is 722, formed by (at the time) four students (two musicians and two actors) at 722 **** St. in Philadelphia. Since they live in the same house, you have to assume the hysteria they exude together must be wholly genuine. The hype is momentous and fans are following the craze. 722 has performed at venues ranging from The Khyber to the Philadelphia Fringe Festival to The Madhouse Theatre. Shanghai will be graced with their presence this May at the Shanghai International Music Festival. After hearing the buzz I sought out to uncover their ensnaring ways.
Upon first listen of their latest album, We’re Taking Over , I admit I had several expectations regarding the live performance. Much of the lyrical content is comparable to something you would hear in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and there are points on the album, particularly when you first hit play, where you’re listening to, basically, weird music. I truly believed I would witness a band in outlandish costume maneuvering bizarre performance rituals. I expected tribal dances to accompany their hits and audience participation at it’s fullest.
In reality, it’s four individuals on stage, performing. Although simplistic in text, the implication is quite monstrous. As actors, performance is in their nature, so it is truly an encompassing experience. Linking their songs together with text and drama, the band invites you, the audience, to the nexus between theatre and music.
After thinking about the comparison for a while, is that so anomalous from what The Rocky Horror Picture Show exuded? Thirty years later people are still going to midnight or 2 am showings to rock out with the music. Sure, there may be some culture issues and a lot of alcohol and drugs included in the Rocky Horror package, but those things aside, isn’t that what live performance is about? Isn’t it about relating to the music in a way you feel utterly involved, and thus travel to a simpler time?
As a supporter and employee of theatre, I find linking theatre and music together a brilliant concept. Indubitably, music theatre exists (The Rocky Horror Picture Show was initially a musical), but why sit in a theatre and rack up dirty looks should you merely sway to the beat or tap your foot. Go to a bar where you are encouraged to partake in the drama and the music. I may not instinctively pop in 722’s album in necessity, but I would certainly travel at any length to experience a live show – to escape into their world – for whatever duration of time.