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Let the Infringement begin

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Shea Akers of Pyromance does her thing in Days Park during last year's Infringement Festival. Photo by Dave Pape.

Today marks the first day of the 2012 Buffalo Infringement Festival, an 11-day, city-consuming carvnival of weird that includes just about every type of cultural activity imaginable. Wading through the fest's 800 performances, 144 music acts, 76 multidisciplinary shows, 78 visual art exhibitions and 14 films -- all listed on the festival website -- can be daunting, to say the least.

So each morning until the last day of the festival on Aug. 5, check in here for my own personal recommendations (sometimes based on past experience, sometimes on advance word, and sometimes on total guesswork) of five Infringey activities to check out during the day. Keep in mind that half the fun of Infringement is wandering around Allentown and into events that no one told you would be especially promising, but which wind up blowing your mind. Do feel free to ignore these suggestions if you are so inclined, or to leave comments in the blog about things you've seen, liked or recommend.

Also make sure to bookmark The Gusto Blog and to check back regularly for photos, videos, interviews, mini-reviews and other content of an Infringement-tinged nature throughout the festival.

I'll post today's five picks below. Happy Infringement everyone!

•Thing number one on any Infringer's schedule, whether newbie or veteran, oughtta be tonight's Opening Ceremonies at Nietzsche's, a venue that is more or less the nerve center of the festival. The evening will feature performances by a dozen or so troupes and/or bands, ranging from the Wham Bam Poetry Troupe and the Buffalo Burlesque Collective to rock/hip-hop act Lazy Ass Destroyer and "new wave electro dance rock" outfit Quest for Friends. If you can't find something you like at this party, which gets goin' at 8 p.m., you might as well quit while you're ahead.

Peter Sorkin, a Dylanesque blues guitar player who recently moved to Buffalo to work as a community organizer, turned in an awesome bite-sized performance during the Infringement preview event at Merge. See him play in the video I put together here. Luckily, Sorkin plays on a lot of dates and in a lot of places during this year's festival, the first of which is tonight at 5 p.m. at Cafe Taza, the pint-sized coffee shop and artsy hangout on Elmwood Avenue near Allen Street.

•"Incident at Deer Lick," a touching, pitch-perfect performance of a short story written and delivered in the style of Mark Twain by the inimitable Franklin LaVoie, has popped up at Infringement before (I wrote about it two years ago) and is an inarguable must-see. Head to the Crane Library at 7 tonight to check out the first performance, or see the Infringement site for the remaining four, through Aug. 4.

•Sketch-comedy duo Todd Benzin and Don Gervasi are -- I can vouch for this personally -- always good for a minimum of three guaranteed, genuine belly laughs. Their suggestion-driven act Babushka!, an Infringement spin-off of their successful comedy troupe Eclectic Improv has been a festival staple for years. The first of its many 2012 performances takes place tonight at 8 in Burning Books, the radical reading room on rapidly reviving Connecticut Street.

•Can't make it to the fest today? That's cool, because Buffalo State's radio station, 91.3 FM WBNY, is hosting a whole slew of bands throughout the day from 7 p.m. all the way through to 2:30 a.m. This is an excellent chance to check out some new local music, including Final Conspiracy, Alex Berkley, Erin Sydney Welsh, Drooka, Keith Michaud, Autoverse, ZFX and Kari Jo's Nightmare.

Please feel free to drop your own suggestions in the comments section, and Happy Infringement one and all.

--Colin Dabkowski

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Infringement Festival
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