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Kill the Band—a rock-and-roll, anti-cabaret quartet led by Killy Dwyer—had the audience in full-body laughter during their opening-night show at Under St. Mark’s. But were people laughing with them or at them?
It was the first night of this year’s Frigid, the 12-day festival hosted by Horse Trade Theater. At the start of the show—a mix of skits and songs—Killy reads a passage from her childhood diary addressed to her older self musing about her future on Broadway in Les Miserables. She utters the play’s title with the comical, tongue-knotted mispronunciation of an elementary-school theater kid.
Killy’s Broadway dreams never come true. Instead, she leads this talented, if mis-matched, rock band—a hybrid of comedy, music, and performance. Killy, a tiny blonde powerhouse, shares the stage with Mike Milazzo, a burly middle-aged guitarist; Joe Yoga, a towering baby-faced bassist; and Bamboo Silva, a thugged-out beat boxer with impressive skills at crying noises and sex breathing.
Those sex noises come in a scene when Bamboo and Killy run behind a curtain together after she insists on having a baby to give away to a celebrity like Madonna. Killy then emerges in a wrestling onesie with a balloon in the spandex belly and sings about getting pregnant for fame: “There’s a party in my panties and my eggs are hosting.” The tune ends with an “abortion”—she pops the balloon with a safety pin.
In another skit, the band breaks up, sending Killy into a Lady Gaga-esque solo performance (Lady GooGoo) in which she dresses in a red-leopard floor-length jacket and blonde curly wig and howls the lyrics to an off-key iPhone accompaniment. She jumps and gyrates as she sings about “girl balls” and female empowerment: “I’m not your fucking GPS, bitch, find your own way.” After her solo, the band gets back together, in a nonsensical plot about Killy being a diva but the group loving each other despite their clashes.
Killy slinks towards her husband in the second row as she spoofs her front-woman idiosyncrasies, which are as difficult for her marriage as they are for her band-mates; she leans suggestively on his lap singing a “love song” about cloning him so several of him can put up with her. His wide smile makes it apparent that he understands Kill the Band’s humor perhaps more than most of the audience.