A live magazine created by the minds behind the California Sunday Magazine, Pop-Up Magazine fuses live stage performance with the styled storytelling now associated with podcasts such as This American Life and Radiolab. Most unique to Pop-Up is that each event is unique in and of itself—performers aren’t announced, nothing is recorded, nothing is filmed. It reiterates and roots itself in the intimacy of live performance, especially in an age in which everything is documented easily and neatly through a screen that fits in your pocket. In this way, the show on Sunday was an experience the attendees, performers, and I shared that will never be relived in the exact same way ever again. It is also for this reason that I hesitate to say too much. Nonetheless…
The night’s stories took form in different ways, including, but not limited to, music, photography, documentary, and radio. As for content, it ranged from the lifespan of bees, to the history of pain, to Japanese cat cafès. The ebb and flow from hilarious to emotional, to informative, to slightly absurd, made the evening go by smoothly. From 7:30pm to close to 10pm, time flew swiftly across the voices of likes of the Kitchen Sisters, Dana Goodyear, and Alec Soth.
On stage with the storytellers was also the chamber orchestra, Magik*Magik Orchestra, which accompanied the stories and brought certain moments to life so well that it was easy to forget that the music wasn’t pre-recorded. Clear and impeccable in timing, the detail of the chamber orchestra cemented Pop-Ups commitment to the beautifully tangible form stories have the potential to take.
Although Pop-Up describes its performances themes as having no theme, on Sunday evening there was a theme that reverberated behind each story’s specific details, which was the fundamental human ability and need to endure and connect. I’m not going to get too philosophical about it since it is arguable that this ability and need is the reason any story resonates, but it is for this reason Pop-Up Magazine thrives—it blends a variety of media through the voices of some of the best storytellers around and brings to life the human experience in a globally relatable way.
A few side notes, the show was sponsored by MailChimp, Moo, and GooglePlay and it should be noted that even the advertisements from these sponsors were told through creative storytelling such as animation and photography. Even more fun, at the end of the evening, the hosts invited the attendees to join the performers in the lobby for drink and conversation. Now that’s a Q&A I can get behind.
When I found out Pop-Up Magazine was coming to LA, I knew I’d be going. It’s fresh, innovative in how it presents itself, and wholly unpredictable in the same way. But perhaps what is most interesting about Pop-Up Magazine is despite (or perhaps because of) its alternative take on journalism, its appeal and power comes from its spin on the oldest tradition of them all: oral storytelling. And right now, in such a live and impromptu fashion, no one does it better than Pop-Up.