Gigs, dance, art

March 27th, 2010: Majorstuen


First part of a double-header day, and a confusing one. Majorstuen come from Norway, and I don’t know anything about their culture. No matter how much I tried to keep an open mind, I kept thinking of other countries. But not a single one. The higher notes reminded me or Irish music, but the lower ones reminded me of Iceland.

That was most obvious in one of the first songs, with them sticking to lines related to the height of their fiddle notes, and for me to the kind of music I could stuff it in. I was thankful they didn’t stick to that scheme for too long.

They did a little too much for my taste in terms of moving around, with the exception of Andreas Ljones who seemed to be just doing his own thing, and I totally get that.

Apart from this I cannot really tell much. Both too familiar yet different, I would like another take now that I know what to expect. I was often fooled into complacency by the sound of the fiddle, but there were unexpected forays too. I should have done my homework.

March 30, 2010 Posted by | Music | , | Leave a comment

March 24th, 2010: Peeping Tom – 32 rue Vandenbranden


OK, I like Peeping Tom quite a bit, but I think this was even better than usual. First off I should say I have not seen the movie that was acknowledged as an influence, and I probably missed a lot because of that. But the show was smart in an inclusive way, dropping clues here and there about the story without rubbing it in. And there was exactly this confidence in the ability of dance to convey things that I’ve missed in the past few shows. I’ve said quite too much that I dislike the narrative part in dance shows, but this was did it the way I do like it, telling a story but through movement and bodies as opposed to words.

Two of the first few sequences kinda sum it up. One had two dancers bending back in a way that was stretching the limits of dance, in a good way. But it never really went into pure geometry, there was something keeping it grounded in immediate physicality. Another, with two make Korean(?) dancers took slapstick into something else by going ever further. Then defusing it all with a mime sequence with a suitcase. Sometimes it went almost abstract, sometimes it got close to the not-so-lighthearted tricks of early Nadj shows.

The show kept that edge throughout, with a fine line between light stuff like skating, sliding and slipping, and a collective judgment of outliers that was swift and final, yet never a big story. No drama here, things just happen on their on rhythm and rhyme.

There was definitely storytelling going on, but pure dance too, and overall it added up to a very generous show. There was a lot put out there, and I felt like I was welcome to take as much as I wanted, with no hard feeling it I just passed on some of it. There was enough of deep and light stuff to fit all sizes. And it’s a rich enough show that I can break my usual stance and go see it again next year if they come back. It’s that good, in my opinion.

March 30, 2010 Posted by | Dance | , | Leave a comment

March 21st, 2010: Mahmoud Ahmed / Alemayehu Eshete

@ maison de la musique — Nanterre

I knew the place wasn’t right, but I just couldn’t skip an opportunity to catch Mahmoud Ahmed.

I’d like to hear Alemayehu Eshete not opening for Mahmoud Ahmed someday. I like his voice, though it’s a little too smooth for me. But this was the second time in the same setup, and I think it didn’t let him do his thing enough. I’m not sure he has the raw charisma to pull it off as well as Mahmoud Ahmed, but from the records I’ve heard, I don’t see why not. I’d really like to hear him own the place for a change, I suspect he can do it but wasn’t giving it all he can bring in those situations.

The place proved just as wrong as I thought for Mahmoud Ahmed’s charisma. He did end up bringing most people to their feet, but it took longer that I thought. The Ethiopian people I thought I would meet there didn’t show up though, that might explain some of the delay. Mahmoud Ahmed was as great as usual, meaning totally awesome, despite the poorly suited venue. His voice remains something special, and his charisma is just overpowering. Anyone who loved the Ethiopiques records featuring him should do what it takes to see the man live. Only then can you be properly jealous of those who saw him back then. Though I’m confident this jealousy will melt away in no time as you hear him.

March 28, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , | Leave a comment

March 17th, 2010: Hans Van Der Broeck – We was them


I don’t know what to think or say about this. On the one hand, I didn’t really like it. But on the other hand, I didn’t get bored at all even though it was long.  There must have been something strong and compelling in this show to keep me focused for so long, but I just can’t say what it was.  I guess that means it’s worth seeing, and I don’t regret seeing it at all. But I feel it lacked something, maybe some more trust in the ability of dance and bodies to convey what came through words and acting.

There were few moments of dance, as in having movement not exactly telling the story through miming or acting. I liked those few solo bits a lot, which is why I brought up that trust element. Maybe it’s intentional. Too bad if that’s the case, as that defiance would be so conventional these days. The light and sound were very good, and that compensated for the wordiness of this show. Which I felt even when there were no actual words. This show came close to being great, but for me it didn’t get there. Funny thing is that I kept thinking Peeping Tom would have got that right, maybe that intrusive reference is what kept me out. Anyway, SOIT looks like a company worth keeping an eye out for, as I might just get it right next time.

March 28, 2010 Posted by | Dance | , | Leave a comment

March 16th, 2010: Joe McPhee – Chris Corsano

@instants chavirés

The last time I heard Chris Corsano was so good it raised my expectations beyond reason, especially with him playing with a personal favorite like Joe McPhee. Unsurprisingly, the show fell  short of that lofty bar, but I still liked it a lot. Most of that is thanks to McPhee, and that’s where I was expecting more from Corsano. He seemed too respectful. There many times I felt McPhee was leaving an opening for Corsano to jump in but he rarely seized that opportunity.

Even though it could have been better, I really shouldn’t be complaining. I love free jazz, and the show started with a reminder of Ornette Coleman’s recent 80th birthday, then Joe McPhee again reminded me of Albert Ayler. These were welcome nods, but the best was hearing this music alive and well here and now. That was a blast.

Corsano had a few solo parts that went a little long for my taste, and made me wish he had spent some of that talent playing with McPhee. He sure could have pulled it off, and I really think the set would have been better with him a little more assertive apart from these parts.

Again, I really enjoyed this show, it’s just that I held high expectations because of the high esteem I have for both performers. I have the nagging feeling it could have been even better.

March 21, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , | Leave a comment

March 15th, 2010: No Fun Acid / Oneohtrix Point Never

@instants chavirés

Part two of the gig that was scheduled for Saturday. First up was Dan Lopatin aka Oneohtrix Point Never. Too bad the original plan had to be scratched, because I suspect I would have enjoyed both his and Ningengoukaku’s sets better had they been part of the same show. As it was that set was just too New-Waveish leaning into New-Ageish for me. I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for something that mellow.

Carlos Giffoni has been a frustrating character for me. I’ve heard some great stuff on the station, but this was my second time seeing him live and it just didn’t rise to that level. There was a very fun part in having him play a techno set in this venue, but it still made me think I was on the outside looking in to an inside joke. I did like the set on face value though, despite the cheesy video. There were a couple of instances of noise overtaking the driving beat that kept it less predictable, but still, I’m wondering whether these made the set better or worse. I guess the ambiguity could have been great at another time, but not for me at this point.

March 20, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

March 13th, 2010: Ningengoukaku / Fred Nipi

@instants chavirés

Fred Nipi did a short-notice fill-in because Carlos Giffoni and Dan Lopatin were held up because of a plane mishap. Good for me, because it ended up being my favorite set of the four. I really liked his sound, I thought it was less harsh in that the initial onslaught was easier to brush off, but it still retained its edge. Then again, it had been way too long since I last heard him live on his own. His record is nice, but it’s no substitute for the real thing. I don’t know whether the record or the long dry spell were a factor or just canceled out. Anyway I liked the set and there’s still something unique about a music that uses technology that just wasn’t available not that long ago but that connects to something instinctive. Sure, that particular technology is already obsolete in a way, but that very fact makes it ride a thin edge.

Ningengoukaku would have been a shock for me a few years ago. Unfortunately, it was too exactly what I expected right now. I’m just so spoiled. Still, they’ve got that Japanese punk thing down right. I expected a surprise that didn’t come up, but I’d still highly recommend them to anyone who hasn’t a clear idea of what I’m referring to. They’ll fill you in real quick. But for me, though the first half or so of the set was really nice, it kind of grew too predictable after that. There is such a thing as knowing too much.

March 20, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , | Leave a comment