When I was 13, I went through a phase of listening exclusively to mashups. I found something uniquely invigorating about a seamless blending of one song with another, which is perhaps why I recorded, for posterity, the titles of my favourites – for example, ‘WILD ONES VS TITANIUM’ (which is still available on YouTube) – in all-caps.
Smash It Up, a performance at the Melbourne Fringe Festival, asserted itself as the live execution of a mashup playlist.
The 14-piece, intergenerational band huddled in black-tie at the back of the stage. Kara Ciezki, their frontwoman, strode out in a glittering gold jumpsuit. With total confidence, the ensemble broke into a jazzier version of Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’.
The show had me bopping my head the entire time. ‘Pumped Up Kicks’, more buoyant than the original, morphed into ‘Trouble’ by Taylor Swift, replete with horn blasts. ‘Bad Guy’, in its jumpy and creeping rhythm, was revealed to share DNA with ‘Sucker’ by the Jonas Brothers. An amalgam of ‘Rolling in the Deep’, ‘Crazy’ and ‘Watermelon Sugar’ particularly sated my expectations.
Ciezki retained a commanding stage presence – bounding around, sliding down the mic stand, tossing her mass of blonde hair. I would have liked to hear more of her sultry register, which seemed fully-fledged only late in the show.
Macro alteration was Smash It Up’s hook, but little liberties were taken too, including rogue horns and jags of guitar during ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears. A magical sweep of piano, like the sonic equivalent of a glitter shower, tempered a heated encore that borrowed from Dua Lipa and Gloria Gaynor. At some point I typed ‘AMAZING, BLINDSIDING TRUMPET SOLO’ into the Notes app on my phone.
Smash It Up flew by; I would have gladly stayed for double its duration. Anyone partial to mashups or looking for a new work-out mix are advised to check out the band’s forthcoming album.
Smash It Up
Produced by: Kara Ciezki, Christopher Wiseman and Julie Sharpe
Musical director: Sam Ainslie
Smash It Up was performed from 21-23 October as part of Melbourne Fringe Festival.