From the psychedelic trips of Bill Graham's hippie-era Fillmore Auditorium to the madcap freak show that once was “post-rock” band Idiot Flesh, the over-the-top, multisensory concert experience has long been a San Francisco hallmark. At the forefront of the city's onstage eccentrics stands dancer/choreographer Raquel Reyna Maia, who three years back founded AWD, an ambitious performance troupe of up to a dozen dramatic artists. “Where musical theater, performance art, and rock concerts end — AWD begins,” alleges Maia. And she may be right.
AWD is outrageous. Something of a cross between Ringling Bros. acrobatics and a 21st-century fashion parade, its theatrical happenings pool the requisite fanfare for a righteous audiovisual spectacle — bare flesh, live flame, loud sounds, brazen sweat. Scary face paint and goth/glam-derived costumes complete the exhibition, which has thrilled Bay Area rock, dance, and art audiences at a motley range of venues, including ODC Theater, Sound Factory, and Transmission.
Straddling the frayed line between fringe and pop cultures, AWD's music blends the unlikely ethereal balladry of Enya with the percussive hailstorm of Crash Worship. Its dance styles draw from American Bandstand jump-and-jive to Lusty Lady gyrations. Sponsored by gutsy presenting organization Climate Theater, AWD's monthlong stint (in its second week) at Eureka Theater should provide an appropriate forum for spooking a host of neophytes.
— Sam Prestianni
AWD performs Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. (through July 17) at the Eureka Theater, 215 Jackson (at Front), S.F. Tickets are $16-22; call 392-4400.