(DISCLAIMER! This is a Dave Malloy fansite. His real website is here)

I had gotten into Dave Malloy's shows in 2018 or so, therefore Octet's premire in 2019 was the first new show during my time in the fandom! And I was full in already, with a bootleg tracked and memorized before the official cast album even released. And of course, I can tell you all the differences between them.

After you've given it a listen, this is one of his I consider it vital research to read his annotations on Genius Lyrics. Seriously, there is so much insight into his progress and thoughts behind the show up there.

Octet is his strangest recent show, though all of his are strange in different ways, purely on premise. A weekly group therapy meetup for those with technology addictions, sung entirely a capella, hosted by an absent mysterious figure named Saul who insists that every meeting have eight members. The album is split into seven songs for the different memnbers (six solos, and the seventh, "Solo", is a duet) and five hymns that are presented as part of the group's itinerary. Each character has a tarot card, a specific online vice they're struggling with, and a collection of comorbid mental illnesses that slowly reveal themselves as the underlying faults being taken advantage of by their specific breed of online awfulness. Plus a good dose of questioning belief in god (or really, questioning the belief in the absolute that there is no god), references from Dave's World of Warcraft days, and multiple emotional breakdowns.

But don't worry, it's not all "phone/internet bad", as the finale leaves you with a bit of an uplifting note that it's what you do with it, not the technology itself, that is the issue. And it still offers opportunities for emotional connections that were otherwise impossible.

And you never know for sure
oh how it teases its alure
will the monster finally charge and gouge and gore?
will the monster finally go too far?
better check

Track 6 - Monster

A couple of my favorite videos below:

I love this particular one a lot, I love the idea of taking the therapy session framing and having it move in-world to a zoom meeting. The backgrounds, setups, and even display names are in character! And it's just incredibly impressive to me that the audio sounds this good and everyone is so coordinated.

I also think I can credit Octet with giving me my first concrete vocabulary on how I felt about online spaces. I wasn't an online kid, even when I discovered Octet I was in a couple discord servers, posted my art sometimes to Instagram, that was about it. I think even as I learn more nuance and my understanding of the show shifts, it played a vital part in even opening up that conversation for me.

oh you fool you fool
it's all within myself
how lucky for me
a girl across the sea
who speaks to me in whispering emoji

Track 11 - Beautiful

Other Dave Malloy shows: