Reggie Watts & Michael Winslow join forces for the “Sound Effects Summit”

Reggie-Watts-and-Michael-Winslow

Pop-culture nostalgia was in full swing Monday night at The Independent, as live sound effects expert Michael Winslow (from the Police Academy movies) joined Reggie Watts for part two of his “Reggidency” for SF Sketchfest.

Winslow started with a solo set, followed by a Watts solo set. Then the two joined forces for a very weird, one-off performance dubbed “The Sound Effects Summit.”

Reggie-Watts

Michael-Winslow

Watts welcomed the audience and introduced Winslow, and Winslow launched into his audio/visual act that is completely pre-conceived; Winslow’s set was accompanied by a DVD menu, so it looks like this is an act he has done many times. Watts watched from the side of the stage taking in the set, enjoying it with those at the sold out show.

Michael-Winslow

And it was pretty fun and entertaining. He pleased the crowd with his trademark voices and sound effects. Winslow created an alternate take on a scene from Star Wars, providing all of the dialogue, sound effects and musical score from his mouth. (Princess Leah: “Ahhhh! I have to go the bathroom!”)

Michael-Winslow

The set ended in costume, as Winslow impersonated Jimi Hendrix fully glitched-out.

Watts then took over with his delightfully awkward pauses, anticipatory teasing and unique, looping songs. In the end, it would have been nice to have a little more Watts solo time.

Reggie-Watts

Reggie-Watts

He seems to thrive on improvisation, avoiding routine and repetition. For example, at his Outside Lands set in 2012, he walked off stage halfway through, thanking the crowd. He came back a minute later, saying “They tell me I have 25 minutes” and launched into improv. It’s almost as if he tests himself on improvisation, forcing situations where he has to dig his way out. And he usually thrives in this situation.

Reggie-Watts

Watts’ ramblings are entertaining; he’s able to captivate a 450-person room talking under his breath, promising to start his first song 5 times before actually doing so. Part of the comedy is that he is shy and understated at times, then he’ll build a tasty groove and get sassy.

Reggie-Watts-and-Michael-Winslow2
The third set of the evening was what everyone was waiting for, and both solo sets had already delivered.

This wacky collaboration started with two songs pretty quickly, and Winslow provided beats and sounds a capella while Watts layered in instrumentals and provided the lead singing. It was a strong start to an experience that got increasingly awkward.

From there it became Andy Kauffman-esque, as it seemed like the duo were playing a trick on the audience. And it probably wasn’t intentional. The awkwardness was a product of improvisation meeting rehearsed comedy.

Winslow started relying on some of his female character voices and bad jokes, which was a little over-the-top, and you could tell it was throwing Watts off his improv game. He even asked if this was the Carol Burnett show or if he was Gilda Ratner. Yes, those two are comedy icons, but that is not exactly why folks were here.

Reggie-Watts-and-Michael-Winslow

Beyond the unfunny tangents and self-conscious moments Reggie Watts was having, it was a set worth seeing. Overall, the “Sound Effects Summit” delivered on its titled premise.

SIDENOTE: There was a 3-camera crew and sign-off waivers present on the door to The Independent, as Watts was filming an “Untitled Reggie Watts Documentary.” I’m sure they got some usable footage for whatever Watts is producing.

Reggie-Watts

Reggie-Watts

Reggie-Watts-and-Michael-Winslow

Michael-Winslow

Reggie-Watts

Bridge School Benefit 2012: Sunday Highlights

Organized by legend Neil Young and his wife, Pegi, the Bridge School Benefit Concert is an annual, all acoustic, non-profit charity event held every October at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. All proceeds directly benefit the operations of The Bridge School.

•The day opened with a short blessing and intro set from Neil Young.

•Austin-based Gary Clark Jr. impressed with an early set that set the tone for the rest of the day.

K.D. Lang played a short, emotional set with a strong voice and stage presence.

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers mixed comedy and bluegrass into a pleasing set. Comedy aside, Steve Martin is a more than competent banjo player.

Foster the People delivered one the strongest sets of the day. They performed hits including “Houdini” and “Pumped up Kicks,” incorporating xylophone and tubular bells to round out their sound in this acoustic setting. On Saturday, Mark Foster revealed it was a challenge adapting their electronic-oriented music to the required acoustic sound, but it was ultimately a rewarding challenge.

•As good as Sarah McLachlan is, I cannot hear her anymore without thinking about this:

The Flaming Lips enlisted Reggie Watts for their set and ended the night with a cover of The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.” Reggie accompanied Wayne on vocals with a little help on the lyrics from his iphone. Or he was tweeting.

Jack White brought out his all-male band on Sunday to play tracks from his latest album Blunderbuss, his collaboration with Danger Mouse Rome, and the White Stripes classics “We’re Going to to Be Friends” & “Hotel Yorba.” Saturday night saw the all female band perform with White, and they played their slower-paced songs like “Love Interruption” & “Blunderbuss.”

•After hearing about Saturday’s Guns n’ Roses performance, I expected the worst on Sunday. Axl got his act together and delivered a 40-minute set that actually sounded pretty good. They finished out their set with Neil Young playing Neil’s “Don’t Let it Bring You Down.”

Neil Young previewed a few songs from his upcoming album Psychedelic Pill. As per custom, the night ended with Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” that brought out almost all the artists from the day, minus Jack White.