Unlike anything else in Birmingham, Fierce Festival certainly seems to wear the crown when it comes to cutting edge creative arts. Steering as far clear of boring as is humanly possible, this festival of live art opens up the possibilities for performance, parties, politics and pop in the streets of Birmingham and then runs (often screaming and naked) with it. The festival embraces a huge range of theatre, dance, music, installations, activism, digital practices and parties with performances in theatres, galleries and numerous other out-of-the-ordinary spaces. Overwhelmed? You will be. Here's our Fierce Festival Top 8.
1. Kicking off with more bang for your buck firmly in mind, A Very Fierce Grand Opening is the principal event to start the relay. Venture to this year’s Fierce Festival Hub for a live art spectacular. In true Fierce fashion you can expect Hula Hooping, Spandex Cover versions, Rope Conjuring and oh-so-much-more, all for absolutely nothing.
Wed 18 Oct, 6pm - late at the Quantum Exhibition Centre on River St, Digbeth B5 5SA www.wearefierce.org
2. Erin Markey's Boner Killer promises to be hot, fast and provocative in all sorts of curious new ways. Heralded as having ‘laser-beam eyes, a hair-raising singing voice, and an intense, almost predatory sexuality’ by The New Yorker, we can’t imagine why anyone would miss out on this raucously funny masterpiece of a woman torn between what she thinks she can’t have and how she’d have it if she could. Scored with homemade pop - obvs.
Thu 19 Oct at 10.30pm & Fri 20th October at 11.30pm in collaboration with SHOUT Festival
3. The world premiere of The Famous Lauren Barri Holstein's Notorious blurs the lines between live art, dance, theatre and fine art, exploring representations of women and how social media and consumerism have redefined how we relate to the female body. An irreverent phenomenon of music, dance and ‘witch-bitch’ ritual, The Famous plunges into the ghostly underworld of popular culture, seeking, as she puts it, ‘the real me, the pure me, behind this soiled shroud of promiscuity.’ Get ready to peel back the layers for some serious selfie exposure and visceral visual overload.
Fri 20 Oct 8pm & Sat 21 Oct 2pm at The Rep Birmingham, Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2EP, Tel: 0121 236 4455. £15 www.birmingham-rep.co.uk
4. Lucy Suggate’s performance of Pilgrim offers a hypnotic reminder of the intrinsic connection between movement and music guaranteed to have you entranced. A physical journey through the mystical sound scores created by Electronic Musician James Holden, it serves as a reminder of this ancient and enduring kinship and the deeply transformative qualities of both. Suggate guides us through minimal sophistication to Acid House in an exploration of why we dance.
Fri 20 Oct at the Patrick Centre (Birmingham Hippodrome) Hurst St, Southside, Birmingham B5 4TB at 6.30pm, £10.
5. mac Birmingham provides centre stage for Multiverse by Louis Vanhaverbeke - a multifunctional disc-jockey. The beat from the circular sound media may be hot, but is he a rapper? No, he’s not. He bounces arguments back and forth, sands his lyrics down, folds his thoughts up so they’re like a kit. He pumps up the best hits, brushes references off them until the thoughts bounce and we’re blown into a new dimension. A celebration of music using household items as a soundscape.
Sat 21 Oct & Sun 22nd October at mac Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH 2pm. £10
6. Be the Change with Reverend Billy & the Stop Shopping Choir sees a free fusion of activism and art, with performance, a film screening, and protest-playlist from the anti-consumerists The Church of Stop Shopping. Fierce have teamed up with Free Radical for this grand slam collision with the award-winning wild anti-consumerist gospel shouters and Earth-loving urban activists, returning to the UK to spread their word. 'If you’re concerned about a world rife with global advertising, multinational control, climate change, packaging, supermarket domination, TV merchandising and all the rampant free marketeering epitomised by the US President, this is for you.'
Sat 21 Oct at BMAG Edwardian Tearooms, Birmingham Art Gallery & Museum, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, B3 3DH, Tel: 0121 348 8038. 6.30pm - 10pm. Free
7. Sweet 60th by Rocio Boliver is a birthday party with a difference. Having created her own deranged aesthetic and moral solutions for the “problem of age” she exposes a broken society based on looks which has seen old age became synonymous with insult. Fellow festival performer The Famous Lauren Barri Holstein (see above) says, 'I hope I’m half as disgusting as her when I grow up. A bloody rockstar that Helen Mirren’s miraculous tits can never live up to. A birthday celebration for the nefarious monstrous pervert in all of us'.
Sun 22 Oct, 7.30pm at a secret location, £5 - £7 www.wearefierce.org
8. Fierce's final hurrah comes in party form with a flurry of the now near-legendary off-kilter but very much on-point parties known as Club Fierce. Already the talk of Birmingham following last year's Artists Behind Bars curated alcoholic curiosities and the glorious Deadpan Disco, make sure not to miss performers including Kiddy Smile (pictured), Gnucci and a raucous roster of queer musicians and artists as they hold the Fierce Festival Hub to vibrant and varied late-night ransom.
Sat 21 Oct, 10pm until late. £10, or £12 OTD. www.wearefierce.org
See our general preview and details of the full line-up here.