Gigs, dance, art

February 26th, 2008: Nisennenmondai / Lubriphikatttor

@instants chavirés

A close call: they had had no news from Nisennenmondai when the show started, and they only made it there near the end of the opening set. It would have been worth it anyway, as Lubriphikattor were really good. Better than I expected, actually. Loud and dense, with a lot of different layers of sound, with rhythmic loops and guitar wails sometimes rising out of the wall of noise. I mean that in a good way. Even though they probably kept it going longer than planned waiting for the main act, it had legs. There was actually some structure in there somehow, at least I got that impression once I got through the initial pummeling. The best was that it was evolving throughout the set, exploring different paths.

After that one, anything more was gravy. So it turned out to be a great gig for me because I just loved Nisennenmondai. Long tunes, the first two starting with guitar loops being layered on top of each other before being joined by relentless drumming and a rock solid bass foundation. Amazing guitar sounds, by the way, in the first one it sounded like a violin and later like a keyboard. Good balance too, which was all the more laudable for their late arrival and lack of soundcheck. The second half still featured some layering, but nothing as blatant, and there was more balance in the band as it was less about the guitar. In turn, that allowed the latter to get into different kinds of sound, nothing to sneeze at given the wide range displayed earlier. Fast and upbeat, a complete contrast with the opening band, which is even better as both were great.

February 27, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , | Leave a comment

February 21st, 2008: Kumi Solo


First time I went to this venue, and it’s most probably the last. I loathed that place. Expensive, unfriendly, and the sound was dreadful, which is the worst thing.

I thought I didn’t know anything about Kumi Solo, but I realized that I had heard a few of her songs on the radio. That was a surprise because I had looked for her in the playlists and found only a few shows, none of which I had listened to. A pleasant surprise, these were tunes I did like. Some light electropop that’s miles away from my usual fare, but I have a sweet tooth for that kind of candy. Plus I’m a sucker for Japanese singers. The set was very short, but I loved it. Some potent earworms in there, I still have a couple stuck in my head.

Too bad the sound was terrible. That makes me want to go see her in a better setting, like the coming Dokidoki festival; it would mean missing KTT’s Kernel though, tough choice.

February 22, 2008 Posted by | Music | , | Leave a comment

February 19th, 2008: Lushus / Gumo / Youri Gargarism

@instants chavires

I was careless enough not to notice the earlier time, so I actually missed the start of the first set. Not much of it, from what I was told, but still. This lack of unwinding time after work might have played a part in my dislike of the first set. Noisish rock combo, I had the feeling they haven’t been playing together for a long time, as there were a lot of awkward pauses and they didn’t play well together. Too much falling apart to get an idea of what they could be worth with more time.

Then it was Gumo again. I saw them about three weeks ago, so that was a bit boring. I don’t like them that much. But I actually liked that set better, maybe just from having shaken the distracting urge to reminisce about some other band. A bit too long though, I think it would have been better to skip some tunes that were just too similar, as they went into more prog stuff that at least kept me interested.

Lushus did the third and final set. I had never heard of them, but the riot grrrl reference in the announcement piqued my interest. It turned out to be more melodic than I expected, but the bass/bass/drums lineup was indeed a great idea, and the two female bass players did show have the forceful personality that made the reference meaningful. Nice balance between raw power and an almost sugary side — well, compared to some of the stuff I’ve been seeing, that isn’t setting the bar much above ground level. A good set, nothing experimental but that can be a good thing for a change of pace, provided it’s done as well as it was.

February 20, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , | Leave a comment

February 17th, 2008: Rosas & Ictus – Steve Reich evening

@maison de la musique, Nanterre

I read my notes about last year’s performance, and there’s not much to add to that. I was seated a few rows from the back, but this being a smaller room, it was still a good seat. The best part of seeing the same performance from a different perspective is that I can see different things. Overall I had a better view than last year, except for Piano Phase and Ligeti’s poem, which is much better from a short distance.

This wider field of vision allowed be to enjoy Eight Lines even more, with a better appreciation of the group dynamics there; they somehow reminded me of Drumming, with the circle always bound in my mind to Violin Phase, and an echo of A Love Supreme in the association of a dancer with a specific instrument.

The best new was that from this point of view I was able to get Four Organs at last. I hadn’t liked it the first time, but I could find a thread this time; I was just too close back then. It’s not my favorite of the evening, but now I like it; for me it was all about getting to see the wider pattern at the same time as the repeated sequences.

I never tire of seeing Rosas anyway, and I’d gladly go again next week if I had the opportunity. Piano Phase is so great and even makes me entertain the hope that the three other movement could be coming soon. I’d love to see Cynthia Loemij perform Violin Phase.

February 20, 2008 Posted by | Dance | , , | 1 Comment

February 16th, 2008: Alexandre Bellenger / Arnaud Rivière


Arnaud Rivière did the first set on his electronic drumkit, and I think it was my favorite performance of his with it. I had been thinking he tended to be one dimensional, all about speed, but this time there were some interesting wrinkles and changes of pace. Then again, it may just as well just be me getting more familiar with that stuff. I don’t care that much about the reason, as long as I enjoy the result.

Alexandre Bellenger started the second set on guitar, it was the first time I saw him doing that, and it sounded a bit tame to me. But adding drums to the mix soon fixed that and their playing together was the best part of that evening for me; more stuff happening, and the combination just makes both better.

February 18, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , | Leave a comment

February 15th, 2008: Earth / KTL / Sir Richard Bishop

@nouveau casino

Not my favorite venue, but sometimes my dislike gets overcome by my interest for a show. This time the initial draw was Sir Richard Bishop, for probably all the wrong reasons as I didn’t know anything about his solo work. Turned out to be a bit too much about virtuosity for me. He is really good, but I don’t like that kind of display, and I was expecting something more experimental. On the other hand, it’s a solo act, so maybe my expectations were just dumb. What was interesting was that the kind of music he played would usually be performed on acoustic guitar, so his take did bring something. It was way too loud, but I don’t blame him for that, it’s one of the reasons why I don’t like this place. I warmed up to this set along the way, so it turned out OK despite my initial misgivings.

KTL was completely different. I didn’t even know they would be playing until a few days ago, and my total knowledge about them was that it’s one of the many projects of Stephen O’Malley. I wouldn’t have needed more to go and check it out anyway. I was first taken aback by SOMA’s almost conventional guitar playing, but not for long. I loved this set in part because the music kept changing, with the electronic layers complementing the guitar in many different ways. It somehow managed to sound both industrial and primal, if that makes any kind of sense. Way cool act, I need to be on the lookout for more projects. I also got a flyer for a danse performance called Kindertotenlieder including KTL. It’s in late April, so I have some time to get more information about that.

The final set was Earth, and there was no surprise there. Which kinda let me down. I like their distinctive sound, but I liked better the show I saw last year. This time it was far too consistent for me. As in it was pretty hard to tell the tunes apart, they were so similar, especially the drumming. OK but not great because it got too comfortable and familiar. I guess I would have been more receptive without that KTL set raising the bar.

February 17, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

February 14th, 2008: Meg Stuart & Philipp Gehmacher – Maybe Forever

@théatre de la ville

I didn’t book it that day on purpose, but what a fit; a duet about a couple not so much breaking up as acknowledging they have drifted apart. At least that’s my read, but I’m well aware that I just suck at this.

I think that was the most peaceful and relaxed work by Meg Stuart I’ve seen so far. There was a lot of tension but it was more implied that overtly on display. The stage was sparse, with a few mike stands, a small platform with a couple of steps, a semi circle of curtains and a big picture of dandelions in the center. A nice lighting trick made that picture appeared to be black and white in the beginning, then slowly evolved through browns and greens to reveal itself as a color picture for a while, before that process was reverted. Most of the music was performed on stage by Niko Hafkenscheid, a few songs I didn’t much care for, but also some repeated guitar phrases that grew on me (right now some of that music is on Meg Stuart’s site); somewhat melancholy, but not teary, a perfect soundtrack.

The dance was understated, no running or leaping, most of the time keeping to small gestures and a lot of extended or bent arms. Many straight lines were curves would have been expected, and that was the source of most of the tension I felt. At times, they would move into a short embrace that would fell stilted from one of both keeping arms extended or bent. Or one would be seated while the other moved. My impression was that Philipp Gehmacher kept his arms straight a lot, whereas Meg Stuart often went with angles, but I’m not sure about that. There were some moments when they did embrace or move in synch for a while, but it didn’t last. The tension I felt at the beginning dissipated along the way, replaced by some kind of wistful acceptance. The show ended as Gehmacher spoke a few lines about

Two sections really stood out for me. The first one was another spoken word/dance moment that I love in Meg Stuart’s work. My favorite remains the “guilty” monologue from Alibi, but this one was just great. The sentences started with “remember when” and usually ended with “I take it back”. The ending sometimes was not uttered, and my almost hearing it anyway made way to uncertainty. At first what was taken back was words of endearment, but it grew more confused and sometimes it was the opposite. I thought that was just brilliant. In between she would sometimes just extend her arms, sometimes take a few steps, and a nice touch was the creaking of her leather jacket that was loud enough to be caught by the mike. There was another section of spoken word, good but I just loved that first one.

My other favorite moment was closer to the end of the show, when their movements mirrored each other’s. The brilliant twist being that one would lead and the other made a show of looking at the other and copying the movements with a slight delay and some tentative quality. They switched, always with one looking at the other, but never looking at each other. Coming closer then drifting apart. That was excellent in that setting. I think that was the most restrained show I’ve seen in a while, but as usual with Meg Stuart, it still packed a potent emotional punch.

February 16, 2008 Posted by | Dance | , , | Leave a comment