Weekly Playlist: Cabaret Panico


For this week’s playlist, I’d like to draw attention to a new program in Mexico that allows convicted felons, some serving decades-long sentences, to rehabilitate themselves by participating in a month-long touring performance billed as “Cabaret Panico.” In the show, inmates are encouraged to exorcise their demons by presenting work based on the experiences that led to their incarceration. The results are something like Joseph Beuys-meets-Swans-meets-Mariachi-meets-Sun Ra-Arkestra: at once revealing, brutal, homemade-seeming, and folky.

In the taped performance above, a tuxedoed juggler in military lineup loses control and crumbles to a screaming heap. Both his awkward silence and caterwauling screams are met with rapt attention. Instead of confusion and tepid applause, the show is awarded a surprising standing ovation. Truly, it takes the concept of keeping it real to a new level. See below for related selections from the aforementioned Swans, Jandek, Peter Beijersbergen van Henegouwen, Scott Walker, and more.

Life Sentence NEOSHeadcleaner I:Zentrifuge/Stabs/Rotlichtachse/Propaganda/Aufmarsch. II:Einhorn. III:Marschlied Einstuerzende NeubautenForgive Me JandekPerformance/Shakes Tones on TailPrison Shake KarpThe Escape Scott WalkerPas De La Chicoree Frisee Peter Beijersbergen van HenegouwenA Hanging Swans