New Year’s Eve 2010 with Mark Mallman at the Varsity Theater

Keyborg is born at Mark Mallman's NYE show - Photo by Marcus Metropolis (Click photo to see Marcus's full set of photos from this show.)

As he’s proven time and again by his marathons, Mark Mallman is not one to let up. And in that regard, his latest New Years Eve show at The Varsity Theater was every bit as chaotic and wild as previous ones.

Again this year, openers were Koo Koo Kanga Roo. The duo of Bryan Atchison and Neil Olstad (Olstad’s elegant ‘stache almost makes it a trio) started the show off with a bang with the audience dancing and singing along to their alphabet rap “LMNOP” as well as old camp songs remade into kick-ass rap hits.  Atchison’s a camp counselor and he’s taken classics like Boogalo (“Let me see your robot!  What’s that you say?”) and “Announcements!  Announcements!  Announcements!”

They also had a few that I hadn’t heard (it’s been a while since I went to camp) like “Ooh a milkshake!”  Atchison dominated the stage, even going into the audience, while Olstad was slightly more subdued.  They also had two dancers who would put on costumes related to the songs.  The songs were about subjects that nobody else in rap talks about – pirates, ninjas – i.e., the real badasses.

Koo Koo Kangaroo showed up again later during Mallman’s set dressed in mustard and hot dog costumes – with Mallman even ceding the stage to them for one song.

Red Pens filled the middle slot, and Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps were the last band before the main event. Smith’s set was enjoyable despite some long technical glitches. Smith and the band were about to go off on what sounds like it will be a grueling gig-a-night tour starting on New Year’s Day.

Smith’s voice is unique on her recordings.  It’s almost bird-like the way it flutters and slides through the melodies.  Many critics have compared her to Lucy Michelle, but her voice is more like Julia Stone or the girls in Mountain Man: It’s sunny, natural and sweet.  These qualities are not lost when they play live.

Finally came the main event.  Mark Mallman started the show with The Doors’ first lively hit “Break on Through.” Then Koo Koo Kanga Roo came back on the stage.  He also did a duet of Bjork’s “Hyperballad” with Caroline Smith, and another with Mayda, Iggy Pop’s “Cindy.”

Familiar Mallman creatures like dancing rats were featured.  But a new character was born halfway through the set.  Keyborg – a half man half keyboard half Buzz Lightyear with a space helmet.  Mallman tweeted the following morning that Keyborg chased him around his apartment the entire night.  It leaves everyone wondering:  Will Keyborg re-emerge in future shows?

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