Friday, September 26, 2008

The Hip Cats

Beat poetry punctuated with bongos and a stand-up double bass reached its apex in the late 1950's and though the form never completely went away, it is found in much diminished quantity these days. Still, from time to time some brave souls will try to breathe some life into the tired old genre. The Hip Cats, as they chose to name themselves, are three socially conscious, politically active college students who simultaneously recite free-form poetry of their own composition to a jazzy tempo. That's the goal, at least.

The group/performing troupe tip their hat to their beatniks ancestors by appearing on stage decked out in berets and clad from head to toe in black. It must be noted, however, that beat poetry lives or dies on a clever combination of rhyme scheme, rhythm, and syncopation. The Hip Cats can successfully manage none of these components in tandem. Instead, they engage in lengthy political rants against almost every imaginable subject, which stretch on for minutes at a time and do nothing to hold the attention of the audience. The situation is made even worse because all three performance launch into similarly expansive militant diatribes at the same time, changing what would have been a tedious performance into an incoherent and incomprehensible one.

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