Gigs, dance, art

October 30th, 2007: Jackie-O Motherfucker / Defektro

@instants chavirés

These two bands may not have much in common, except what counts: they’re both good.

Defektro is quite simply one of the very best noise bands I ever saw, if not the best. Industrial sounding pulsing giving way to harsh rushes then back again; the overall feel changing without any drop in the sheer beauty it all. The richness of their sound was really amazing. I often need some time to get used to this kind of music, but not this time. There was so much going on, on many levels. I wasn’t that loud, but the wide range of frequencies kept both my bones and ears busy. I love getting that kind of physical experience, being able to listen as well was gravy. The interplay between both was what made this a favorite. I had heard high praise about them before the show, and it actually turned out to be understated.

I had never seen Jackie-O Motherfucker either, but I was familiar with their music. I didn’t understand why some people lumped them with Sunburned, so the closeness of both gigs made me think I’d get a clue. Well, I still don’t get it, Sunburned is much more primal, whereas Jackie-O sounds more sophisticated. What I did get though was their set. Long pieces with a major flair for building up to sweeping psychedelic liftoffs. If anything, they might be a little too proficient, but that’s just me being spoiled after so much good live music in the last couple of months.

October 31, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , | Leave a comment

October 28th, 2007: Sunburned Hand of the Man / The Vanishing Voice / Joanne Robertson / Axismundi / Nawadaha

@les voutes

I actually went to another gig the day before at the same place. I didn’t post anything about that because I was so drunk I don’t remember enough. I faintly remember liking Zenial but almost nothing of that set. The haze lifts somewhat regarding Andrew Liles, but not enough to have anything worth writing. I do remember quite clearly the end of his set when Jac Berrocal joined him. That was good, I remember Berrocal being on the restrained side in a very good way.

Having recovered quite thoroughly from that intentional lapse, I went back to the scene the next day, unfortunately forgetting about the switch out of DST until almost there. No big deal, and instead of hitting the nearest bottle while waiting, I hit a feminist philosophy textbook. I consider that an improvement, but I could be wrong.

The first band was Nawadaha, a voice/guitar duo. Said guitar with plenty of feedback, while the voice was more into melismish pure sound. A really good mesh of sound texture as she has a strong and beautiful voice, but I got bored halfway into their set because they kept doing the same thing. Then again, maybe I was just awakening from my alcohol induced stupor by then, so I don’t trust my opinion. It might work better on record though, maybe that kind of thing is more suitable to being heard alone, outside, in cold weather — which I sincerely hope is on its way.

Axismundi got me thinking about Magic People — who I will again fail to see because of another gig — because of their flute, but soon erased such reminiscing. They also feature a guitar and drums, and their brand of psychish frolicking finally got me out of my half-awake state. I hated some of it, loved some other parts, sometimes both at the same time. Not exactly satisfying, but interesting, and I’d rather have the latter than the former.

Joanne Robertson was looking so stressed out… I guess she was aware of not having her voice at its best, but I was not. It kept reminding me of someone — maybe early Cat Power, but really not — but I soon gave up on that line of thought and just enjoyed it all. The kind of thing Irene Trudel might play, and especially should engineer. I think her voice would be a perfect match for that warm reverby sound. My only gripe with her set was that it was far too short.

After a stand-up act and short movie I didn’t like and so won’t talk about, it was time for The Vanishing Voice. I had never heard of them but a lot of people sure looked more enlightened than me. I soon figured out why, as they were real good. Guitar, voice, synth and/or electronics — I didn’t get tall overnight, so I can’t say for sure –maybe some horn; who cares? What matters is that they put this all to good use, with some great constrasts; they managed to put some noisish dirtiness while sounding almost mellow, and vice-versa. Which isn’t making a lot of sense. But their music sure did. Whenever I thought I had them figured out, they changed something and I kept playing catchup this way, which I liked a lot.

Finally, the band I wouldn’t dream of missing these days: Sunburned Hand of the Man. There were five of them this time, and it was a really great set. They brought some sticks and branches on stage and proceeding to build some fragile structure with these, plastic bags, maps and complete with a plastic horse head mask. That worked as a nice image for their music as well. The first piece was the kind of freeform ritual that makes me love this band, then they went to more mundane pieces — that’s a completely inappropriate word for them, and I just wallow in this fact. Almost all the time, they kept strains of shifting steady — an oxymoron, but that’s what I love about them — rhythmic pounding that sounds shamanistish yet not exactly natural. Elemental. I was completely into this. Maybe not my favorite performance — hard to beat the first time I saw them, or at least my memories of that show — but real close. At the end they went with more dissolving of structures, including the drum kit and the wood tent thing in front, again a physical manifestation of their sound. In that respect I think it might be the best performance of theirs I was lucky enough to get. This band always makes me want to see them again as soon as their set is over, so that wait officially is under way. If I ever get organized enough to go back to Boston, I need to make sure I can catch them over there.

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

October 24th: Papajo

@instants chavirés

And now for something completely different, I turned down the volume and went for some quieter stuff. I turned out different, as “quiet” is definitely not what comes to mind now. That would give the wrong impression, as it was more like a burst of creativity.

Papajo is a trio featuring Paul Lovens on drums, Paul Hubweber on trombone and John Edwards on double bass. Trombone has been growing on me lately, but I didn’t pay that much attention tonight as I felt it was overshadowed. This drummer is just excellent.

As a whole it felt far more adventurous than what I’m used to in that kind of music, and I felt part of it was that they didn’t feel they had to make a point of straying far afield. They dared to play their instrument in the regular way — at times — and that was a relief; I mean, why do so many improvisers avoid that? There were moments where it sounded close to jazz. There were moments where it sounded like nothing I had heard before, but the constant is that it usually sounded great.

Paul Lovens is an utterly amazing drummer. He had such a complete mastery of his stuff that even when he was letting his partners take center stage, he kept finding a way to add little touches that made all the difference. On his own, he could just as well use a bunch of different elements or stick with one for a while yet make its sound evolve constantly. All with such apparent ease that I’m left convinced I only witnessed a limited sample of what he can do. And not once did I feel like he was showing off. I’m really impressed.

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

October 21st 2007: Seth Evol Tracks / Bilgepump / Poltergroom / Abdullah Sheraton

@chez Zak

A late change in venue, as this gig took place in a bar. I can consider myself lucky for my temperamental computer to have allowed me to learn about it. And also for the transportation strike to have let up enough for me to get there — I’m still fuming about having missed White Mice.

The first band was Abdullah Sheraton — can’t say I dig the name — which turned out to OK punkish fare. Not exactly mind-blowing, but nicely done. I might want to check them out again in a little while, they sounded like they could expand their stomping grounds in the near future. Plus they ended with a nice sped up cover of The Cure of all people. Unexpected, which is worth some points in my book.

Then it was time for Poltergroom, the definite highlight of the evening for me. I was a hell of a lot of fun. Fast as well but way more original, with lively guitar playing and interesting drummer. They looked like they were having fun as well, and sounded like people used to each other, even though I heard it was a relatively new band. They will be playing with White Mice on Halloween, and that’s a gig I’d really like to attend. Unfortunately, it’s not within my limited range. They also looked like nice people and fun to hang out with, which isn’t hurting.

After that, I hard a bit of a hard time getting into Bilgepump. My bad, as I eventually figured out they’re pretty good. More in a no-nonsense vein, which explains my confusion. But definitely up to the task and with a good, powerful yet well defined sound, especially for that cramped room. Of course their set had to end soon after I finally found my way in, but I only have myself to blame for that.

The final act was initially supposed to be a solo one, but Seth Evol Tracks had brought a friend along on saxophone. I wasn’t that sold on the music, not precise nor wild enough at this time and place for me. But it was definitely worth seeing, as he plays a whole lot of stuff at the same time. I think he would have been better suited to playing first or second, as it would have made sense to segue from this to Poltergroom.

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

October 16th, 2007: Battles / Parts & Labor


This might have been overkill. I already saw Battles a few months ago, but I just love their record and had nothing planned until like Friday. It’s not the week for thinking, I need to keep myself busy.

The opening band was Parts & Labor, from Brooklyn if I got that right. Drums, bass and guitar/synth. The drummer was the only who didn’t sing, but he sure kept busy. The voices struck me as too nice in a sense, too polished for their sound. That got my attention, but I’m not sure I like it. The music is OK though, some nice sounds in there.

Battles again started their set with Race: out, but why change something that just works so well. I think it was more about the guitars this time, especially during the first half or so. And they just sounded better to me. The sound was harsher than on the record, and I was under the impression that they played faster as well. That drummer is absolutely amazing; it’s not like his part is easy, and he kept at it for slightly over 60 minutes. Atlas is one of my favorite songs of the year, and it was a treat to hear that voice processing live. Plus they’re real good at getting a song going, adding all these layers. My only gripe is that they sometimes kept at a single phrase too long, and that happened more often as the set unfolded. But that’s part of the bargain in going to gigs: I know the bad comes with the good. And the bad wasn’t that bad anyway, whereas the good made my day.

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

October 14th, 2007: Core of the Coal Man / Coupe Coupe / Above the Tree

@saphir 21

Quick belated notes due to computer issues and exhaustion. Nice place, friendly bar with a small but cool basement.

Above the tree was a late addition. A welcome change of pace, a solo guitar act. Pretty calm, and with a real good use of electronics that contrasted with and underscored the guitar playing. Simple sounding at first, but actually richer than that.

Then it was on to Coupe Coupe, at last. Relentless, loose and fun. Nice balance for a first gig, maybe the voice/electronics could have been louder, but it was an interesting mix of different sounds. But then again I’m biased.

Core of the Coal Man‘s set was my favorite. Processed viola — I tend to like that a lot. Good sound and creative processing. I’d like to check his music further, it seemed to warrant a more in depth listening. I could be very wrong about this, but I felt but could not pin down some structure underneath.

October 15, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

October 13th, 2007: Minitel / Port Radium / Minifer / Blue Sabbath Black Fiji

@la générale en manufacture

This was the first time I went to the new location of  this collective. I’d like to go back for an exhibition, but getting there is not convenient at all, and the neighborhood is just dreadful.

The only reason I went there was because Blue Sabbath Black Fiji were playing. I know I saw them like two months ago, but I just love what they do. They used more electronics in the second and third part of their set — even a keyboard, but put to the same purpose — but what I like best is the engulfing waves of their guitars. That’s as close as I get to meditation music, which probably tells more than I want to hear about my state of mind. I think I’d be willing to go back for more if they play in the area in the coming months.

Minifer played a trio of keyboards with laptop thrown in. I’m still not into keyboards at all, and I failed to overcome my reluctance. It had its moments, especially some static-like sound that broke the prettiness I was having a hard time dealing with after the first set. But I must admit it’s just not for me.

Port Radium had a promising setup, with three cymbals upside-down on a table next to a laptop. It held most of that promise, despite some annoyingly mundane beats at times. But there were also some very interesting rhythmic breaks and contrasts. I’m not completely sold on it, but there were some pretty good ideas in there.

I must confess I had entertained the idea of leaving before Minitel’s set. I had seen them twice and thought they were not really a band but a collection of people doing their things in isolation. I stayed and was proved completely wrong. It was a good set. In a sense, I think that their playing without an extra drummer helped. It just made it more primal, and that’s a lot of what’s interesting about them. And they seemed to have found enough common ground by now to interact more. Maybe too predicable at the beginning, their set got going and kept getting better. A pleasant surprise.

October 14, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment