I love street performers. They are willing to put everything on the line. The performers have no claim on their audience. The setting is rarely ideal. Temporary set-ups, traffic noise, and limited space all work against them. Individuals stop for some reason or the other. One may take heart but the initial affirmation may not last if the connection between with each member of the audience does not grow. The commentary is given by how quickly the feet move on.
I was initially attracted to a band performing on Orchard Road by the unusual mix of traditional Indonesian instruments on display in a contemporary setting. The gamelan, flute, and hand percussion pieces were center stage, surrounded by an electric guitar, drum kit, and keyboard. The mix worked! It was high paced, energetic, and fun. Even after several songs, I found myself wanting more.
I wonder if institutions will ever be able to handle the kind of feedback that is normal for street performers. The blunt assessment could provide priceless feedback. Employees would come and go as long as the companies made sense. Even the sacred would be open for commentary. I can just see the comment after someone came in and left as quickly as they arrived! “If you come together as a congregation and some unbelieving outsiders walk in on you as you’re all praying in tongues, unintelligible to each other and to them, won’t they assume you’ve taken leave of your senses and get out of there as fast as they can?” (1 Corinthians 14.24)
What would it be like if I was willing to listen to the blunt feedback from those around me? Would my ego survive? What would I do with the information I received?
The questions went unanswered as I enjoyed the performance. The crowd continued to grow with each number. It was a fun moment in life where performers touched those who happened to be coming by. From the expressions of the faces in the crowd, the band had many new fans. I hope I hear their music again.