Opening Night at Fringe



(The following is a guest post from Tom Biuso, a Rochesteriat Fringe blog contributor. All photos are his own.)

The first day of The First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival was an experience that will stay with me for as long as I live. I had no idea about Rochester’s ability to transform streets and businesses into a platform for creativity, imagination and expression to run wild. It was enlightening to see my fellow Rochesterians enjoying the perks of living in a city that prides itself on having artistic flavor.

My first Fringe stop at Java’s Café couldn’t have been more “Fringey”. Sage Melcher lead Hopeless Romantic through a series of sweet-sounding songs. The atmosphere in Java’s was not that of a typical coffee shop. Sage, with the help of her solid rhythm section, formed a window into her experiences and philosophies through a unique blending of lyric and sound. The whole room was tranquil. Sipping my warm Brazilian brew and listening to the wonderful music satisfied my soul.

Fringe at Java's My next Fringe event was at the TheatreROCS Stage at Xerox Auditorium where I got to witness the University of Rochester’s incredibly fascinating Laptop Orchestra. It was very clear that the students who orchestrated this show invested much time and energy. At first I was puzzled by the sounds that were coming from their computer, but then I had a moment - a moment where I realized how groundbreaking their technology is. They performed a piece that involved facial recognition software that would make certain sounds according to their facial gestures. This integration of raw emotion and music is still in its infancy, but that doesn’t stop the curious minds of us Rochesterians from figuring it out and developing it further.

The Laptop Orchestra also managed to incorporate Rochester’s youth into the many segments of their show. Wii remotes and hand drums gave these kids an opportunity to get up on stage and tinker with the future. I can remember a time where I was once a young child, growing up in the Rochester area, trying to figure out how the world works. If I wasn’t presented with the opportunity to play around with up and coming technology, my life would have taken a drastically different course.

Laptop Orchestra As I made my way back to the Spiegeltent, I encountered a two-man-street-band who called themselves Beer Before Strings. They played a grungy sidewalk tune for all passersby to enjoy on the corner of Main and Gibbs. An acoustic guitar, mini drum set and passion for music is all they needed to perform.

Beer Before Stings After spending some time relaxing on a couch in the Spiegelgarden, I headed inside to my last event for the first night, Mardi Gras Cirque du Fringe. Quite simply, I was blown away by every performer. Each one brought a special skill to the table for all to enjoy. The energy inside of the Spiegeltent was a combination of New Orleans mystique and upstate New York liveliness. It was only appropriate that the 20 Penny Circus guide us through the experience as our ringmasters. The experience consisted of great music, clever dance moves, mesmerizing lights, amazing strength, jaw-dropping stunts and even a little bit of pyrotechnics. It’s everything you could ever want all packed inside of decorative tent that makes you feel as if you’re in medieval times being entertained by a group of jesters.

20 Penny Circus20 Penny Circus The first day of Fringe was an experience that will stay with me for as long as I live, and I look forward to making further memories throughout the duration of the festival. As I sat in the Spiegeltent in complete bliss, I knew that there was nowhere else that I would have rather been then enjoying myself with the people that make my hometown of Rochester, New York so special.


Tom is a communication student in his senior year at The College of Brockport. An avid concert goer and lover of live music. He is an intern for the Fringe and helps to maintain their social media presence. You can check out more of Tom on twitter (@TomBiuso) and Instagram (@tombiusojr).