REVIEW: Welcome to Night Vale Tour San Francisco – 01.21.14

WelcometoNightValeSF-1I was thrilled when I found out Welcome to Night Vale was returning to San Francisco since I missed their other performances back in 2013. I wasn’t going to miss them this time around!

While the podcast is like listening to a live community radio broadcast the live recording version of said broadcast is essentially a spoken word live theatre performance. I’ve never been to said type of performance not because I’m adverse to it as most people are assumed to be.. at least based on based on what I’ve seen in movies or TV shows. Which isn’t a good start considering those are mostly exaggerated stereotypes.

But I digress… I won’t go in to too much detail on the specifics of the show since it was an actual recording of a future Night Vale episode AND the cast and crew are still touring so I’ll try to keep it as spoiler free as possible (even though each show is slightly different)!

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Cecil Baldwin

Quick breakdown for those who are unfamiliar with the Welcome to Night Vale series. It’s a free podcast created and written by Joseph Fink,  and Jeffrey Cranor and narrated by the incredibly talented Cecil Baldwin and a laundry list of guest actors/actresses. The show is presented as a live community radio show for the fictional town of Night Vale where things are normal.. but not really.. such as the hooded figures in the dog park where you should never take your dog. It’s a wonderful mix of the weird and extraordinary the broadcasts are like something from the X-Files or The Twilight Zone but presented as a normal daily occurrence to the citizens of Night Vale. Confused? Take a glimpse at the Night Vale Twitter or Facebook to get a taste of the madness. And remain blissfully confused.

We got in line eagerly awaiting for the 7:30PM showing line to be filed in to the theater. I attended with two friends who’d gone to the last Night Vale show that had come to SF back in September 2013. They were pleased the show had been moved to an actual theater versus a bookstore venue like last time. We were lucky enough to grab some seats in the center and right at the perfect eye level for faux eye contact when the performers glance in to the dark theater seats.

Jason Webley opened the show with some great songs accompanied by his magical accordion skills, a raised stomping board, and soda bottle filled with coins; my favorite song being a tale of having a pet giraffe. Shortly after he finished Cecil entered the stage and it was the most surreal feeling to see the man behind the familiar comforting voice of Cecil Palmer. His pauses and facial expresses made it even that much greater to experience.

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Carlos (Dylan Marron) & Cecil (Cecil Baldwin)

The show had great reveals on whom the main characters starring in this episode’s creepy main plot (such as sweet, beautiful, perfect Carlos performed by Dylan Marron) supplemented with Night Vale’s signature dark humor causing the audience to burst in to fits of laughter at inappropriate subject matters such as death. But that’s part of the charm of Night Vale and it’s listeners.

There was even a brilliant moment towards the climax that gave me goosebumps and Cecil slowly described the chilling scene.. Slowly… and.. excruciatingly… detailed. It even involved some front row audience participation.

The closing act left me feeling extremely nostalgic, wistful, anxious, depressed and extremely optimistic all at the same time which could only have been delivered by Cecil and his soothing, reassuring voice. Then I remember the horoscope he read earlier in the show for Sagittarius; buy a tourniquet. Eeeep.

Did you attend any of the Welcome to Night Vale west coast shows? Are you planning on attending? How was your experience?

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Keep up to date with Welcome to Night Vale at the links below:
Official Site: http://commonplacebooks.com/welcome-to-night-vale/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WelcomeToNightVale
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NightValeRadio

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