Gigs, dance, art

November 28th, 2008: Lightning Bolt / Arnaud Rivière

@maison de la villette

I thought it would be packed, but it was not, which is kinda weird with the people involved and the setting. Good for me, as I could get in easily.

Arnaud Rivière‘s set was probably the longest I heard from him, and definitely the best sounding one. I mean Etienne Foyer really did an amazing job. It might seem weird to praise the sound of a battered turntable and not much better looking mixing board, but it did make a difference. I didn’t see what was going on, but I’m familiar enough with his stuff to have had a good enough idea. Judging from the shattered remains of a record on the floor afterward, I probably was not far from the mark. It lacked surprises, but that didn’t spoil it, as this was a very solid set going through most of what he does with that setup. And hearing these familiar things with such a great sound was very well worth coming.

I had seen Lightning Bolt four years ago and had spent some of that gig in front, so I retreated to the back. No stage at all, not that they would have used it but that meant many people couldn’t see a thing and couldn’t get on the stage to get a line of sight. Not that I care, I’m used to this and seeing it not the point for me. Again the sound was good, but I spent some time in a box-like space in the back that was empty and nicely concentrating the bass, just for a change of perspective. They went at it for about an hour, and they’re still just as good at getting everyone jumping around. Definitely a band that must be seen live at least once, records cannot convey the kind of punch they pack. And Dracula Mountain is probably as close to an anthem as one can get in this style. Even though I have a hard time not thinking about Muppet Bolt whenever I hear it.

November 29, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , | Leave a comment

November 26th, 2008: Shantala Shivalingappa – Namasya


I had seen that very same show last year and loved it, so I went again. I don’t regret that at all, in fact I would gladly go again. It’s that good. Having seen it before allowed me to be less dazzled by the opening solo, and that in turn gave me a new appreciation for Shantala Shivalingappa as a choreographer. I probably had a better seat as well, farther from the stage and almost dead center. I read what I wrote back then, and instead of repeating that, I will just add a few other things I noticed this time.

The first solo is called Ibuki. One thing I forgot to mention in my first post was her fingers. Whether in quick motion or striking a pose, echoing Sankai Juku or kuchipudi or neither, this was just amazing, probably the best use of fingers I’ve ever seen.

For the second solo, the one created with Pina Bausch, she had traded her white pants for a black dress, which made a nice contrast. Of course in the usual setting this solo would have taken place with many other dancers around or actually taking a part. I thought she should have a bigger role in those, but I’m not so sure now. It’s a different ballgame, and the balance is usually right.

This time I was most impressed by the third solo, called Shift, the one she authored herself. The beginning was striking with her moving accross the stage in a band of light, often crouching with a leg extended. There were faint traces of the previous ones in it, some influence from Ushio Amagatsu and in a lesser extent Pina Bausch. But those were integrated into something different and personal. Which is as I like it, not a blank slate but acknowledging while going forward. I hope she’ll repeat this experience as a choreographer, because I saw more than promise there, that solo was actually holding its own compared to the others. I was thinking of Akram Khan, who shares this ability to excell as a dancer in a traditional style and also as a dancer and choreographer in contemporary dance. Of course he’s further along the way, and I can’t say she matches him on the strength of just one solo, but I believe she has a lot to bring to contemporary dance. I hope I’ll get to see her do other such solo works, and maybe for more dancers as well.

The final solo is called Smarana and is indeed by Savitry Nair. Being farther and higher meant I could see her shadow, and that was a good thing because I had missed that part the first time. I didn’t notice it when she was swaying in the beginning, but the final part with waving arms and especially a section when she was turning around slowly was much improved by my seeing it.

I guess my “few other things” did spread further than I thought, but that’s a wonderful show, worth more and better words than I can hope to write.

November 27, 2008 Posted by | Dance | , | Leave a comment

November 22nd, 2008: Catherine Jauniaux / Barre Phillips / Ned Rothenberg

@instants chavirés

Quite possibly the last time I go there this year. Scheduling conflicts means I might squeeze in part of one gig, but I won’t make it to the other two. A budget crunch brought on by sagging attendance is to blame. But this gig would not be a bad way to wrap up the year.

I had seen Barre Phillips and Catherine Jauniaux about two years ago, but I don’t remember having ever heard of Ned Rothenberg before. He played clarinet, saxophone and a bamboo flute to great effect, never seeming to put on a clinic even though he is very good indeed. His playing had a natural flow to it, and he did fit in seamlessly even though Phillips and Jauniaux have probably played together for longer. Barre Phillips also has that ability to be good without ever showing off, something I appreciate a lot.

But Catherine Jauniaux was the one who really impressed me. Of course there’s the amazing range of what she can do with her voice, but she was really putting this to a good use, in service of the music they would play together. At times she chose textures that blended in very well with other instruments, sometimes she would be more isolated in timbre, but always a part of that greater whole. A very good set that left me feeling that something had happened there, a fruitful meeting of musicians confident enough to listen to each other.

November 24, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , | Leave a comment

November 21st, 2008: Roy Campbell, Joe McPhee, William Parker & Warren Smith / Hasse Poulsen, Tom Rainey, Guillaume Orti, Stéphane Payen & Henrick Simonsen


Back in August, when I first heard about this place from a coworker’s roommate, I talked with him about Tom Rainey being my favorite drummer, and he said he wished he would come and play there — with Tim Berne — instead of the more expensive tourist traps. Then in October I found a flyer for that place and I immediately notice a tribute to Albert Ayler, and that was enough for me to decide there and then to go. I only read the fine print on my way there, only to learn that Joe McPhee was part of that tribute, and that Tom Rainey was part of the opening set. That made me worry about getting in and wishing I had booked in advance, but I did manage to get in, so all was right. Still, I guess I should pay more attention. Very nice place, by the way, I’ll definitely be checking out their site.

The opening set was a project put together as a celebration of guitar player Hasse Poulsen‘s tenth year in France. Named Progressive Patriots, this project features Guillaume Orti and Stéphane Payen on saxophone, Henrick Simonsen on bass and the great Tom Rainey on drums. I did like it, but thought it was missing some exchanges and interactions, but maybe that was because they may not have had time to develop more interesting group dynamics. There were some very good moments, but I had the feeling the compositions were too constraining. Again, that’s probably because a lot was new material, and this was a brand new project as well. Of course there was a great Tom Rainey solo, starting with the bass drum only then expanding. But somehow something feels off when I focus on a solo or on his playing when there are five of them. Probably my fault, but I still think there was something missing.

The tribute to Albert Ayler was exhilarating right from the start, when Warren Smith went through the audience with a small bell. I felt it was a great tribute because it went through many aspects of Ayler’s music, including some of the mandatory classics, but without too much respect. Just enough, but with a will to make it their own, and of course the ability to do it, no surprise with these veterans. Besides Warren Smith on drums, the quartet featured Roy Campbell on trumpets and flutes, Joe McPhee on saxophone and pocket trumpet, and William Parker on bass. These guys are so good it’s hard to highlight a part of the show — Truth Is Marching In and Our Prayer do stand out, but only because they’re personal favorites. They even went into a Obama shout out that felt all the more appropriate for me because it was the first time I heard that during a gig, and how fitting that these guys would do it, for so many reasons, including personal ones I won’t get into. I had a great time and just feel grateful for this tribute project that gave me this opportunity to hear some of Ayler’s music, and what’s more important to feel a bit of the spirit that I had only experienced through records. That’s no subsitute.

November 23, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

November 20th, 2008: Akram Khan & Juliette Binoche – In-I

@théatre de la ville

Even though I like Akram Khan a lot, I was not expecting much from this show. This collaboration with a famous actress was so hyped it made me suspicious. Not that I would expect it to live up to that hype, but they had to be aware of this and that might have made them cautious, or too eager to please. And I must say I had been disappointed by his work with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, not that it was bad, but I felt it was a missed opportunity with too much compromise between these strong personalities and not much feeding off each other. I think that was the right frame of mind for me, because I did like this one despite its shortcomings.

The beginning was the best in my opinion, first because there was a solo part by Akram Khan while Juliette Binoche was talking, a solo that displayed all the concentrated energy I love in his dance — special mention for the arms movements, as often. The very good surprise was that when she joined him she was not overmatched. I guess the credit goes to Akram Khan managing to devise a choreography that she could perform without toning it down much. Of course there was none of the blinding speed he can unleash, but it was still quite fast, and his balance between control and energy was indeed there. She might have been low on the control side, but she was really throwing herself into the dance and not playing it safe. The result was that this sequence worked very well, and went nicely beyond what I expected.

That was the highwater mark on the dance side; there were a couple more pure dance sequences, but not at this level, and with more narrative elements. The acting and storytelling parts went over my head, as usual, but nonetheless there was enough presence to keep me interested. I would have been happy enough with that original dance sequence, but what made this experiment a success for me was the way they seemed commited as each took chances by venturing in the other’s territory. Not a major work from Akram Khan, but definitely not a vanity project to be dismissed either. An interesting show, and some real sharing that was actually working. Uneven, but with some gems that only come from taking real chances.

November 23, 2008 Posted by | Dance | , , | Leave a comment


This years’ edition of the Sonic Protest festival will take place in Paris December 8-14. One week long, 8 places, two free events for the most ambitious edition of the series.

Tickets are available at Bimbo Tower and through Digitick. Details over here (click on each day for lineup, then on each act for more info).

December 8: opening of the consulate of Elgaland/Vargaland @ nuit d’encre (free)

December 9: Carl Michael Von Hausswolff and Leif Elggren @ centre culturel suédois (€5)

December 10: The Skull Defekts, Jean-Louis Costes and Shit and Shineinstants chavirés (€12) @

December 11: Deerhoof, Parenthetical Girls, Dimension X, Stanley Kubi and Collectif Négatif @ trabendo (€18)

December 12: Brainbombs, Catalogue, Fred Nipi and France @ maroquinerie (€18)

December 13 part 1: Noël Akchoté, Alvaro and Reines d’Angleterre @ maison des métallos (free)

December 13 part 2: Berg Sans Nipple, Die Goldenen Zitronen, Ero Babaa, Salmigondis @ point éphémère (€12)

December 14: Ich Bin, Joëlle Léandre, Gol & Charles Hayward, A.H. Kraken, Claus Van Bebber & Michael Vorfeld, France Sauvage and Charlie 0. @ centquatre (€20)

November 23, 2008 Posted by | Music | Leave a comment

November 19th, 2008: El Remolon / El G

@café des sports

That’s a bit of a stretch, because I only caught about an hour of it, but I want to write down a few links because that’s a kind of music I’m very much into these days. Seeing how that bar was so close to the venue of the earlier gig, I just had to get there as soon as possible, because that sounded like a plan and there was no way I was going to miss Death Sentence: Panda! in a kliton gig anyway.

This was part of a tour by DJs from a collective named Zizek. I didn’t get to hear Villa Diamante, but I did catch part of a El G set and most of one of El Remolon‘s. The highlight of that set was when he was joined by a woman from Venezuela. But the whole thing was really good, I mean it’s only the second time I manage to hear about this kind of event — the previous one was Sonido Martines. I love that mix of cumbia, reggaetón and modern electronic/dance stuff, and both sets were suitable eclectic. Maybe I’ll some day figure out where those parties are in Paris, but no luck so far. I’m not sure El G’s site about Buenos Aires will help, but that’s a start.

I found out about this kind of music from DJ/Rupture’s show, at a time when I was getting puzzled by my dislike for latin american music: reggaetón was the only kind I liked. After one of my resolutions to try to get more mainstream I wanted to investigate salsa, and in typical fashion I heard that weird cumbia first and instantly forgot about that mainstream thing. Then came many puzzling conversations before I realized that the only cumbia readily available around here was the traditional one, and those mixes were basically turning off both the salsa dancers and the regular party crowd. Now at least I have a source for more mixes and info. And maybe know about any Fauna tour stop around here.

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