Survival Research Labs:   Shows:   Ghostly Scenes of Infernal Desecration   V. Vale's Review



An SRL End of Days Production

RE/Search's V. Vale review of the show:

A Mini-Review: The Survival Research Laboratories (SRL) Show in San Jose, Fri Aug 11, surpassed all expectations and was oddly surreal because of the downtown location with its nearby high-rise buildings, an almost full moon, plus huge low-flying aircraft regularly ascending overhead every ten minutes--a regular reminder that we're living in a post-9/11 era. The relatively huge lot space, the L-shaped audience area with bleachers, a row of shade trees, and the nearby vintage craftsmen houses somehow, by extreme contrast, exponentially magnified the show's esprit de explosion. People flew in from all over, including Zoz from M.I.T. (Boston) and Geeta Dayal from New York City. ZeroOne curated the event.

Seeing the show was like entering into a living Hieronymus Bosch landscape, with scattered fires everywhere, hellish lumbering machines contesting and vying for territory, a new beetle-like flame-shooting machine scurrying around much faster than the larger metal monstrosities, and in the background the futuristic, majestic Tesla Coil operated by Greg Leyh, sending out its gorgeous lightning bolts. We loved the three-headed Cerberus in the dog-house, the upside-down cross with Hustler-magazine-like iconic female imagery; the huge Apollo-like man of gold, etc. (Much more remains to be written on this mega-spectacular spectacle which lasted a full 45 minutes, twice as long as most SRL shows. And 45 minutes of "SRL Time" is equivalent to, oh, at least a year or two of what passes for "normal life.")

We stayed til almost 2 AM, and the after-show shenanigans were definitely as fun as the show itself. Senior SRL alumni like Christian Ristow and David Therrien drove long distances to help out; we were glad to see Eric Paulos, Kevin Binkert, Michael Wehner, Brian Normanly and Kimric Smythe. Normally soft-spoken Doug Sutton was a maniac driving the fork-lift! Bob Taylor reportedly rolled around in a fire and emerged unscathed, thanks to the angelic protectiveness of Lady Alcohol. After one especially thunderous explosion, a line of police showed up, each cop spaced 15 feet apart (like in the movies), with a paddy wagon, 7 cop cars and a fire truck. The police ordered everyone off the premises, whether they were sober or not, and there was some scrambling to take care of those who had partaken excessively of the post-show whisky decanters being liberally offered.

As may be imagined, the post-show "clean-up" is a major task, and Jon Sarriugarte reported that he was ducked down, prepping a machine to be loaded onto a truck, when the police showed up. When they came over to possibly arrest him, he quickly sprang up, indignantly confronting them: "Where have you BEEN? I've been waiting three hours for you! We've been trying to get these other people off the lot for three hours while we're working on cleaning up and getting the machines ready to be moved." There were some fuel tanks nearby and they asked him, "Whose tanks are these?" He replied, "Well, this tank is mine, and that tank over there is mine, but I don't know who the other tanks belong to." The police wanted to know "who was in charge here" but fortunately nobody who might have been was present, so no arrests were made and the paddy wagons departed, vaingloriously empty. ("Don't go away mad; just go away," as the Satanist Anton LaVey was fond of saying.)

There is nothing on earth as truly exciting as an SRL live show, where non-scripted spontaneity is allowed full self-expression. The show's title, "Ghostly Scenes of Infernal Desecration" is an understatement...not just ghostly, but ghastly, hellish, Boschian, infernal, incendiary...just hugely overwhelming maximization of the five senses of human beings. Most of the audience reported, somewhat happily, of having been been blasted by waves of heat from the San Jose spectacle. Some people were "gifted" with snot from the snot machine, but it was a kind of baptism of the diabolical kind rather than a merely repulsive experience. Make that: people were PROUD of having been sprayed by the snot machine...

SRL provides primal ritual experiences now almost lost to the ancestral memory of 21st-century citizens ... so therefore it is vital these these public rituals survive, as a provocative reminder that wildness and insubordination remain latent in the human genotype . . .

A small note on how SRL has changed since I experienced the earliest SRL shows: women now put in hundreds of hours providing key, important roles: Karen Marcelo, machine operator and website implementation; Babalou as show manager/co-producer (no small job); machine operators Joanne Bloomfield, Violet Blue, Amy Miller (this year, she and friends fed the crew) and Nina Alter, who also spent long hours cranking out the huge show graphics; a woman we don't know named "Wanda" who apparently helped interface between SRL and the Zero One Festival administrators; and no doubt many more... It took almost a hundred people to pull off the SRL San Jose Show, and it was basically done all for the love of a scandalous enormous-scale machine performance, executed with intelligence, daring and yes, responsible professionalism! SRL remains one of the most amazing social and creative experiments on the planet. . .