"At Faux Mo, when Peen vomit people cheer."
Saturday: An autopsy. People at Weekend At Walshy's spilled out of MONA's ample grounds and into an abandoned office block by Hobart's waterfront. Faux Mo, MONA FOMA music festival's nightly official after party, was on again. Multiple stages were staggered through the building's vast array of rooms. There are always several simultaneous performances and trying to catch them all can be disorientating, but that's how the party works — audiences roam where they please in the concrete jungle. Masked performers could be seen dancing or stalking the crowds, giving out scrabble tiles to some — a token that unlocked entry for a single person to a hidden and well-guarded gin bar in the bowels of the building.
An outdoor alleyway stage hosted artists including Regurgitator, L-FRESH The LION and Black Cracker. Through the well-curated, graffitied corridors, twisting up crowded stairways and into a large, cleared-out dance area we spied a shirtless man suspended from his back by metal hooks. This hooked man, Samora Squid for the interested, played a mandolin while swinging like a pig carcass in a butcher shop. Faux Mo promises weird and original acts, quality dance artists as well as top-tier roving performances and consistently fulfils the expectations previous years have set. The cultivation, collaboration and truly unique spaces the festival creates are honestly remarkable.
At any other venue, a band wearing sacks of cloth on their heads spitting wine at each other and power-vomiting into bins while playing loose-noise bass chords and melodic keyboard would be confronting. At Faux Mo, when Peen vomit people cheer. When Peen flip off the audience, the audience gives the finger right back — all the while grinning. This is the weird stuff the crowd expect and perhaps this inevitable need to ramp up shock and wildness has left Faux Mo hoisted by its own petard. Year after year these wild parties escalate but our expectations to be awed remain. While this year's event showed signs of strain, it by no means lacked any of the raw power and clever construction of previous years. It is the audience, growing more familiar with the rules of play, that are weakening Faux Mo's impact. Hell, after so many years it's impressive that the FOMO for Faux Mo remains at all, with many people choosing to pass on the main events at MONA in favour of just attending the after party. It's a good sign of things to come. Bad news for the dour — Faux Mo is still very much alive.