The Mutaytor: Burning Man Cabaret

The Mutaytor

The Mezzanine

San Francisco, CA

May 16, 2009

The Mutaytor: Burning Man Cabaret

The Mutaytor likes to say that they are from Black Rock City, Nevada. You could say this is true in a spiritual sense even though the band is actually based out of Los Angeles, CA. Black Rock City is, of course, home to the Burning Man art festival that has grown from its humble origins as a neighborhood bonfire on San Francisco's Baker Beach to probably the biggest art festival in the US. Of course, to call Burning Man an art-festival does not really do justice to the varied nature of the event, since it is probably even moreso about countercultural cooperative community via unrestrained self-expression as it is a staid display of art – which it is most certainly not, even though the establishment, the stuffy Nevada Museum of Art in Reno has pieces on display from Burning Man.

As the, more or less, self-proclaimed house band of Burning Man, Mutaytor also embraces many of these greater ambitions by sharing the stage with a bevy of varied performers and can be largely likened to seeing a super-charged cabaret act, including belly-dancers, fire-dancers (without fire at the Mezzanine, damn firecode restrictions!), hula-hoopers (both on the ground and in the air) and one number featuring an ornate Chinese dragon. It is all quite a visual spectacle and never dull.

And all this is without yet mentioning the music- which is a driving, primal-rhythm based dance music with a 3-piece horn section. The music is high energy dance music that does not fall victim to the mind-numbing repetition of techno. The band also features John Avila on bass whose most famous stint was with the 80’s New Wave band Oingo Boingo. He appears rather gnome-like on stage surrounded by all the perfectly toned young dancers, but he is clearly a great musical talent- as is the rest of the band. At the Mezzanie, they were also joined by Jane's Addiction drummer, Stephen Perkins, who added a real rocking kick to the percussion section.

The band does not really need the visual distractions of a Chinese Dragon on stage but brings along all the additional performers because they want to and really who can complain? It was a tremendously fun show.

Check out a video of Mutaytor at Burning Man 2007 here.