counterfnord

Gigs, dance, art

June 29th, 2007: Liars

@ point ephemere

In a sense, that was just what the doctor ordered, as basic as I’m likely to get. It felt good to see this band back to some no frills performance. But that set was awfully short. And they really went easy with their usually great live songs. I still think their performance three years ago was better. But it felt good anyway. Sure beats going to see Air in Versailles which would have been a perfect storm of past and present failures for me.

They mostly went with classics from their second record, with a few from the third — most interesting rhythmically as far as I’m concerned — and a couple new ones from their latest record. I wish they had performed “this dust makes that mud”, but no luck again. My take in a couple of words: too short. The set and the songs.

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June 29, 2007 Posted by | Music | , | Leave a comment

June 26th, 2007: Taurpis Tula

The main event was supposed to be the Skaters, but I heard that one of the guys couldn’t make it. Some the show opened with one of them and another guy. I didn’t catch the name of that band though. I liked it at first, they had a pretty rich sound, but I felt they tended to milk each idea for too long. On the other hand, if that was a last minute change, they did kind of well.

Then came Taurpis Tula. I think so, at least. Not that good in my opinion. Heather Leigh was good, but I didn’t like the free-jazzish drum/sax combo. I thought these two were playing too much as a unit, while Leigh was on her own. I’d have liked it better if the three of them had been wandering around, or more cohesion, but that setup felt unbalanced to me. I thought the saxophone was too loud, but maybe that’s just my not liking his playing…

June 27, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , | Leave a comment

June 24th, 2007: Le depeupleur / Strom Varx / Karkowski / Toeplitz

@ Les Voutes, Paris

Four sets of laptop generated noise in a nice venue, set underneath a bridge. The acoustics are really interesting with that kind of music. The audience was surprisingly sparse for that lineup, I would blame the weather and maybe the student crowd having left the city, but laptops seem to draw fewer people these days.

I was surprised by Kasper T. Toeplitz, in a good way. I’m usually not into his music, but I really liked his set. From very low arrhythmic rumblings to crackling sparks, an amazing range of different sounds for maybe 50 minutes, with a definite construction. I had always thought he tended to overuse his ideas in his sets, but this was definitely not the case this time. That set alone made me glad I came to this show.

Zbigniew Karkowski followed with a short set — 15 minutes tops — of mostly loud and harsh noise. Pretty run of the mill as far as I’m concerned.

Strom Varx played in the dark, like the first time I saw him. He started quite loud, then quieted down progressively. Dronish at times in low frequencies, I thought it peaked up steam at it slowed down, if that makes any sense.

Finally, a loud and short set from Le Depeupleur, that is Karkowski and Toeplitz. I don’t know if the abrupt stop was planned or a technical failure, and I didn’t stick around to find out. Too much like Karkowski’s set to my liking. I must admit I was pretty burnt out by that time.

Quite surprising, I didn’t expect that I would like Toeplitz’ set, let alone that it would be my favorite of the evening. Nonetheless, I think it’s high time for me to go to less experimental shows.

June 25, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

June 21st, 2007: Music day

I had kinda planned to either go to a hip-hop block party or stay at home, but the nice weather got me out. I went to a big event with four bands, against my better judgment.

First, Katel (sp?). A bit too slow for my mood, and way too french. She covered Human Behavior, quite well in that it was pretty different from the original, but that’s just not my style, not enough contrasts maybe.

Then Nadj. I liked it. Faster, more plain vanilla rock, but I’m not complaining. I tend to get way too sophisticated, so this was cleansing in a sense. Nothing to get excited about, but nice despite some boring moments.

Then Stuck in the Sound. I didn’t like them before, and I didn’t change my mind. Mostly because the singer just gets on my nerves. Finally Kaolin. Well, I gave up at the first song. The music wasn’t that bad, but I just don’t like the singing.

I spent most of the third set and the hour before the gigs just walking around the city, band scanning. Not the regular kind, but with a band at every corner or so, it makes for a decent analogy. A lot of genres, and the overlap can be fun. I had high hopes when I spotted a couple of turntables, but was disappointed: no real DJing, just guys spinning records. But I did find a band I came back to twice when the main gigs became too grating. Nothing special, but  decent Pink Floyd (old stuff from Meddle) and Archive songs. Their take on Radiohead’s creep wasn’t that good — mangled lyrics didn’t help — but just attempting it take guts and is worth points in my book.

June 22, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , , | Leave a comment

June 20th, 2007: Shantala Shivalingappa – Gamaka (Kuchipudi)

Final dance show for the season, here comes the dreadful desert of summer. I hope I’ll find a few anyway, but it probably will be a trickle. But that was a good ending.

I had only seen this style once, and I didn’t remember it well, just the part where the performer danced on a copper plate. Well, I really loved it. More curves and flutters than the angles of bharata natyam, especially with the hand and arms. I even liked the eye movements, even though I remain unmoved by the overall facial expressions. But the flowing was a refreshing change, managing to keep the rhythmic element I appreciate so much in indian dance.

Speaking of rhythm, there was a part where only the two percussionists remained on staged and delivered a playful improvisation, which was unexpectedly entertaining. They even managed to make the audience clap in a call-response part (not real well, to be honest). The dancer joined them for a short while at the end.

I even kinda liked the expressive section — sans ankle bells — at least I didn’t nod off. I must getting soft in my old age. Overall I’m really pleased with this show. I think I’ll be on the lookout for more of this style, or at least I should be; I guess I could check Shantala Shivalingappa’s site, but I probably need a more diverse resource. I still think I like kathak better, but it’s a tough call: these styles are so different.

June 20, 2007 Posted by | Dance | , , | Leave a comment

June 17th, 2007: Pina Bausch – Vollmond

Why do I keep going back to see this every year? I know it’s pretty much the same each time around, but every single time there is something that brings me back. Last year it was her playing the cover of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game by Les Reines Prochaines, probably my favorite cover, and pretty obscure for such an acclaimed artist. This time it was the wonderful play with water. Not much in the way of pure dance, but some images are etched in my mind for a while…

It was pretty much business as usual: a sequence of short, mostly solo, pieces. Almost no talk, more dance than usual maybe, with that familiar suspicion that each dancer is doing almost the same thing as in previous performances. I guess I’m not going back every year for surprises, that would come close to the definition of madness. Not that I’m claiming sanity, mind you.

I like the way she has come to a more purely visual form lately: I didn’t like the more verbose pieces. Funny how the buzz still stays on that “danced theater”. The music was the usual patchwork, I really liked her use of a Cat Power song. Made me want to go back to listening to her records, which I will do next week. In a sense that’s why I keep going back even though I’m never all that sold about it: I can relate.

June 17, 2007 Posted by | Dance | , | Leave a comment

June 15th, 2007: Monno / Arnaud Rivière, Alexandre Bellenger

That was a good one. Full disclosure: I know Arnaud and Alexandre a little, so I’m even more biased than usual. Their set was very good nonetheless, despite some technical problems at the end of the first part. They started on (battered) turntable/mixing board and twin turntables. Very different styles, harsh noise vs sustained sound at first, which worked exceedingly well, then a more percussive use the turntables. A unexpected buzzing sound from a faulty connection cut this part short, and they switched to digital drums and analog synth. That was a lot of good, fast fun. The drumkit’s laptop was programmed to make the overall sound evolve along the way, which fitted well with the synth. Finally, they went back to the turntables for a short stint of more rhythmic music.

After the break, Monno delivered another good set, also running into a glitch: the bass player broke a string midway through it. Very powerful, dense sound, it was loud but not too much. A rousing set that was just what I needed to conclude this eventful week. Almost doomish at first, it quickened and they never let the pressure go down, I liked it a lot.

June 16, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , , | Leave a comment