La Farsa 

Salt Lake City's La Farsa get ready to release their first album.

click to enlarge La Farsa
  • La Farsa
I entered the La Farsa house, and founding members Erin Haley and Ryan Cron welcomed me. Haley put a beer in my hand and waved a shirt in my face. On the shirt were the words “La Farsa” and a picture of a matador dragging a flag, as though to entice a bull. La Farsa is Spanish for “the farce” or “the deception” and is used to describe a macabre play, a circus sideshow, or something so obscene it is like a circus sideshow. Haley and Cron were laughing behind the shirt. She drew back the shirt, and I saw La Farsa merchandise—T-shirts, tote bags, buttons—strewn about the room.

Like a bull, I was confused but intrigued. So, what is the farce?

Haley shoved a pile of shirts off the couch and we sat down to listen to the Salt Lake City band’s recently mastered album, At the Circus, and chatted about their upcoming West Coast tour. 

Cron and Haley flipped through the merchandise and explained that their shirts are made of organic cotton, their CDs are packaged in eco-friendly cardboard sleeves, and they’ll be touring in a “green” van powered by natural gas. La Farsa’s members are political activists whose passions extend from the environment to gay and lesbian rights (coincidentally, their CD release party is happening during Pride weekend).

They aren’t cutting any corners with the release of their album, which opens with a pastiche of a city soundscape and a noodling violin that fades into hand clapping and guitar strumming that introduces Haley’s ballad “Some Insight,” about being lost in translation in Spain. The five multi-instrumentalists add musical and vocal layer upon layer, displaying each musician’s presence—but in tasteful minimalism—to bring the song to a climax.

Each song on the CD is like a different sideshow of a larger circus and is highlighted by Cron’s mellow, Grizzly Bear-ish “Grand Delusions,” Flora Bernard’s swaggering blues rhythms and rapid-fire vocals on “End Times,” and Cron’s Irish-styled anthem titled “Johnny Untitled.” The nine-track album ends with Haley’s waltz, “Elephant Revisited,” that sounds like an appropriate farewell to a good night at the circus, sending the kids dancing merrily home. 

Just as a bull is misled by the matador’s flag, so La Farsa lures its audience with music. But when the flag is drawn, the audience is in for much more than a mere musical performance. As Haley explains, “We like to mess with the audience, and make it not just a concert but a show.” That’s the farce.

CD Release Party w/ Cub Country and Lindsay Heath

The Urban Lounge
241 S. 500 East
Saturday, June 5
9 p.m., $5

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