Morbid curiosity at Fiasco Sideshow

The psychological state of “morbid curiosity” is difficult to pin down. Why can’t we avoid looking at a roadside accident? Why are we glued to that NASCAR race only when a car begins to roll? Or, in the case of last weekend’s show at Shady Brady’s in Roseville, when a man lies on the floor with his face in a pile of broken glass, while a relatively solid-looking, vinyl-clad metalhead girl stands with one foot between his shoulder blades and another planted firmly on the back of his head, why do we stare?

Perhaps we are trying in some small way to come to terms with our own mortality. Certainly, I wondered at the possibility that my mortal coil might be shuffled off while watching the same glass-faced man juggle a collection of sharp knives, periodically flipping one under a leg or behind the back at an angle that appeared very much to be headed in my general direction. (It should be noted that no music writers were injured during the writing of this piece.)

It almost seemed too much for a Friday night, particularly for Roseville. The evening had begun quietly enough. Mostly uninterested barflies already had listened to Yuba City’s Zero Ground, a competent alternative/rap-metal group with a charismatic frontman. They also had heard Demiurge, a band featuring superb guitar work by Kevin A. (and featuring Mike Dalton, whom some readers might recognize as former Life Is Bonkers member Michael Jay Mayhem) but suffering from a consistently off-key and laconic performance by vocalist Emet, who essentially acted out a petulant tantrum on stage like a 16-year-old boy who can’t borrow Mom’s car keys. (It’s amazing how one man can suck the life out of a band’s entire performance.)

But the real star of the evening was Fiasco Sideshow, if for no other reason than morbid curiosity. A mixture of one-man freak show, juggling act and display of masochism, Fiasco, as he calls himself, led a suddenly enthusiastic audience through a variety of dangerous displays, including eating a lightbulb (and holding the microphone up to his crunching mouth; that’ll make you cringe, believe me!) and the aforementioned face-in-glass bit. Not to waste the pile of broken glass, Fiasco later asked an intrepid audience member to climb onto his back while he walked barefoot through the same pile.

I overheard someone in the audience murmuring to a friend, “Does the guy just like pain or what?” I have to admit that the question made me wonder. You can check it out yourself this Friday as Fiasco Sideshow performs “Offense for All 5 Senses” at Capitol Garage on a bill with the Secretions and the Phenomenauts. Fiasco says it will be his last local show for a while, and—believe me—this is something you want to see. More information is at the venue’s site,, or at the artist’s, The good news is that the Capitol Garage is all-ages once again, but that doesn’t mean you should bring your kids (that is, not unless you feel a man standing on a balance board while juggling an ax, a bowling ball and a two-headed dildo is appropriate entertainment for your little ones).