The appeal of the lawn at Fringe should not be understated. Not only are the shows there free and the beer tents and liquor bar accommodating, but they’re also conveniently located near the Free Outdoor Stage, where you can catch local musicians and traveling acts performing each evening. And even we couldn’t have foreseen the range and wealth of talent that Southern Fried Sunday organizer Jessica Pawli, stepping up as Fringe’s outside stage producer, has beckoned forth for this Fringe perk so popular with economically minded festival attendees.
Setting the stage on opening night is a variety show with an emotional thrill coupled with a busking-style romp – sets by the Drew Yardis Project and the Mud Flappers, two long-loved but completely different Orlando acts. That first weekend also includes spacey experimental rock from Bellows, psychedelic two-piece action from Yogurt Smoothness, theatrical garage rock from Room Full of Strangers and bluesy one-man band Lauris Vidal.
Monday brings more magic, literally, with illusionist Jimmy Rook performing his interactive show Mind Games, followed by the always-dazzling Kaleigh Baker and the overpowering loveliness that is the 12-woman Beautiful Chorus. The rest of the week is colored in with sets ranging from jazz to comedy to improv to karaoke and culminating in a competitive Haiku Deathmatch. (I guess: Poetry is death,/as it marks the end of thoughts/you just let go of?)
As Fringe winds down, the final weekend includes repeat performances by artists you may have missed earlier on in the festival, so you can plan to see outdoor sets interspersed with indoor shows. Do try not to miss Big Nazo, a fantastical international performance group that includes puppeteers, masked musicians, and visual artists acting out in the form of mountain trolls, a man-eating chia pet and a list of absurd characters we can’t wait to see enacting their sci-fi-based, go-go dancing, comedic, funky hodgepodge act – listen, clearly, you just have to see it to get it.
Full Schedule for the Free Outdoor Stage
Friday, May 17
7 p.m. Bellows
7:45 p.m. Cassandra Wilcox
8:30 p.m. Tam Tam the Sandwich Man and the Magical Sugar Cookies
9:30 p.m. Yogurt Smoothness
10:30 p.m. Room Full of Stranger
Saturday, May 18
4 p.m. Sarah Purser Trio
5:15 p.m. MoZaic