As any veteran Fringer can tell you, half of the fun of Fringe can be found at the central lawn of Loch Haven Park. It's where you can grab a drink or some food from rotating food trucks, relax in the shade, and hear people pitch their shows (or talk shit about the shows they didn't like). Thanks to local super-promoter Jessica Pawli, the outdoor stage has become a hotbed of top-notch local entertainment in recent years, and this year is no different. Here are some of the highlights:
Thursday, May 19
The opening night of Fringe kicks off with a concert from the Orlando Gay Chorus at 8 p.m., followed by superhero-themed ska band Beebs & Her Moneymakers at 9 p.m. The night is capped off with the Bikini Katie Variety Hour at 11 p.m. You may have seen Bikini Katie wandering around Fringe in the past with handwritten advertisements on the exposed parts of her body. This year, she hosts a late-night talk show on the outdoor stage with guests from various Fringe productions talking about their shows and playing games. Catch it at 11 p.m. again five more times throughout Fringe.
Saturday, May 21
The first of the outdoor stage's themed days features Beth McKee and friends' Swamp Sistas La La, showcasing some of the best female songwriters and performers throughout the day. Attend a songwriting circle early in the day at 3 p.m., then stick around for acts like Ella Jet, the Hummingbirds, Hannah Harber & the Lionhearts and Beth McKee herself. The night ends with a performance from local soul superstars the Sh-Booms, featuring rafter-shaking vocals from Bren Radney.
Sunday, May 22
Though not all of the literary events are scheduled for Sunday (be sure to check out the Fringe Haiku Battle and Live Lewd Girls on Tuesday, May 24), a large block of them are. Word nerds can get their fill from Orlando Story Club (6 p.m.), snap their fingers at slam poets at the Poetry Smackdown (7 p.m.) and get a peek at the embarrassing teenage diary entries of others at Orlando Cringe (8:40 p.m.). The annual Fringe Toast-Off (9:45 p.m.) is a don't-miss event every year, as some of the best writers and comedians compete with pithy, improvised toasts to weighty subjects like "Your Mom" or "Boners."
Wednesday, May 25
Fans of local indie bands will want to bring a lawn chair to check out a full day of music curated by local blogs Shows I Go To and the Vinyl Warhol. It starts with a live broadcast of WPRK's "Local Heroes" at 5 p.m., followed by sets from Gary Lazer Eyes, Renee Is a Zombie, Silent War, Zap Dragon & the Attack and Pathos Pathos.
Friday, May 27
In a move that may or may not get Pawli fired from organizing the outdoor Fringe stage in subsequent years, she's invited Body//Talk – the genre-blending party patrol that takes over the Milk District on a regular basis – to descend upon Fringe for a night. Don't be scared if a minor offers you a name tag and some face paint. Just roll with it and enjoy music from Bike Weak, the Welzeins, Evil Virgins and Slumberjack before Body//Talk's main visionary, Phil Santos, gets on the decks to start a dance party. It's entirely possible that the cops will shut this down if the bass gets too loud, so stash your drugs accordingly.
There's plenty more going on at the outdoor stage throughout Fringe, so check out the full schedule at orlandofringe.org for more details.