The Failure Cabaret, as Justin Badger and Stephanie Dodd describe it, is “one part concert, one part confessional, and one part stand-up special,” and considering how this couple met, the culmination of a theatrical cabaret quite fits this musical pair.
Dodd (from Fremont, Nebraska) and Badger (from Fremont, California) serendipitously met in the Big Apple while performing on Broadway. They took their music out west to Boulder and only recently returned to the East Coast. But back with two live performances in Boulder next month, here are some highlights around what to expect.
The Failure Cabaret opens with the tune “How Often,” an upbeat duet presumably about Dodd and Badger’s meeting with the lyrics, “How often do you meet someone that you actually love?/ Never and everyday.” An accordion and whistling pepper the opening, and entice listeners while building anticipation for more storytelling.
A few tunes later is one of my absolute favorites, “Songs About Babies.” As the show unfolds and explores the facets of Dodd and Badger’s relationship, it seems imperative that the question of having a baby comes up, and Dodd’s lyrics in this show tunes-y song are wonderfully witty. Her rich voice and resonant accordion playfully dance with Badger’s guitar, and carry this tune’s story with lyrics like, “Everybody wants a baby except me/ Oh no, I like my nest empty,” and “I wanna save my naughty parts for my man.” This tune was my show stopper.
Following this ditty was another of my favorites, “Kids Who Always Swim,” a song about resiliency’s connection to a myriad of life lessons, infused with personal monologues. The song declares that we are all kids pushed into the pool of life at one point or another, and we have to continue to tread and try to float.
Also of note is “Fear of Consequences,” a gutsy political commentary simultaneously silly and brutally dark. The show rounds out with the title track, “We Don’t LIve There,” a mellow anthem about visiting places you used to live, and the marriage of memory and place.
The album feels like a diary into several chapters of this couple’s life. And aside from the clever writing, Badger and Dodds’ vocals harmonize and fold into one another quite effortlessly, as if they were meant to do this show together. The record is catchy, smooth, clever, and intimate.
Check out The Failure Cabaret’s encore run at eTown music hall on November 1st and 2nd in Boulder, and give the produced recording a listen as well. You can keep up with The Fremonts here.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.