De Las Puertas 09/30/16 - A Trip Down Disney Live Entertainment Memory Lane

sirloindude's avatar

So this wasn't a park visit (and feel free to delete this if it doesn't qualify for this forum because of that), but last night (Friday, 9/30) was the first De Las Puertas festival at the Clermont Performing Arts Center, which was a celebration of some of Disney World's past live entertainment acts. My fiancée and I went as there were a few acts that I really wanted to see. Before the music acts began, the lobby had some pre-show acts going on, with Gi-Tar Dan and Push the talking trash can probably being the most noteworthy (I don't remember either from the parks, to be honest).

The event itself had four acts (plus an appearance by Ron Schneider, a.k.a. the original Dreamfinder). First up was The British Invasion, formerly of Epcot. This was my first experience seeing a Beatles tribute band (I never saw them in the park). I enjoyed the performance, being a huge Beatles fan, and it was nice to hear some familiar tunes. However, being a huge Beatles fan and having seen Paul McCartney several times, I find the imitation to be a bit cheesy. Overall, though, it was certainly good fun.

Between each act was an intermission, and for this first one, Push came out with some guys from WDW Today (as I understand it, they were the driving force behind the event). It was a cute way to pass the time, and I guess Push was pretty legendary in its day.

Next up was Return2Zero, who used to be 4 for a Dollar. I don't have vivid recollections of seeing them live, but I've seen Beauty and the Beast at Hollywood Studios a number of times over the years, so I suppose I just don't remember them from when I was younger. I'm mostly a guitar-driven rock kind of guy, but I have to say, I'm always impressed by the vocal talent of a good a cappella group, so I really enjoyed this act. They were a lot of fun and really seemed to be enjoying themselves up there.

The next intermission involved an interview with Ron Schneider, talking a bit about the original Journey Into Imagination and some of his other forays in the industry, including his time at Universal. I missed most of this, having gone out to get some water and stretch my legs.

The third act was the one I really came to see: American Martian, formerly known as Mulch, Sweat, and Shears. These guys were my all-time favorite street performers at Disney, with a pretty extensive set of covers that they'd rotate through. I was really disappointed the day I found out that their run at Hollywood Studios would be drawing to a close, but they've managed to stay quite active in their post-Disney days, and they were just as much fun as ever with a combination of great musical talent and comedy. It was nice to hear a set that lasted more than the twenty-five minutes their in-park shows usually lasted. I really can't say enough good things about them, save that poor sound mixing meant low guitar volume. Even with that, though, they were simply outstanding.

The final intermission involved introducing some folks from other Disney sites/blogs. I hadn't heard of most, but the guy from those Disney character Dubsmashes was familiar, as were the sisters from 365 at Disney who also go to church with my fiancée and I.

The headlining band was Off Kilter, who was another sorely-missed act from Disney and the other group that I really came to see. They were outstanding, playing a few old favorites like Run, Run Away and some other stuff from their newest album. They closed out their set with It's a Long Way to the Top, a cover I'd never heard them play but that was clearly right up their alley with the bagpipes and guitar trading licks just like in the original song.

Unfortunately for them, this is where the sound mixing shortcomings of the night reared their ugly head most noticeably, with several members of the band trying to work with the sound guy (who I believe did sound for every band over the course of the night), even in the middle of songs. The poor violinist walked off the stage at several points to presumably try to fix the issues hearing his instrument, and the lead vocalist/bagpiper had to work to get his microphone under control, going from periods of feedback to being a little tricky to hear (the lack of vocal audibility was probably the most noticeable sound issue all night, with pretty much everyone except Return2Zero suffering from it at some point or another). On top of that, his bagpipes themselves were quite difficult to hear as well throughout the set. On the plus side, the lead guitarist was just tearing the place apart with some excellent tone, so, you know, they had that going for them. The instrumentals by everyone were exceptional, but from my seat in the front row toward the left, I basically had the lead guitarist's amp pointed right at my face, so I was certainly going to notice that most of all.

Overall, I really, really enjoyed the event. It was so great to see two acts that I thought I'd seen for the last time some time ago and to discover (or maybe re-discover in case my memory is just lapsing) two others. My fiancée really enjoyed it as well, which was really fun. They kept talking about making this an annual event, and I sure hope that this event was successful enough despite the low crowds to justify doing so. I hope the groups and pre-show/intermission acts also take pride in knowing that they built up some pretty dedicated fan bases and that even if they aren't playing several times a day, five days a week at the parks, they still have an audience that wants to see their legacy continue.

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