counterfnord

Gigs, dance, art

March 29th, 2011: Konk Pack

@instants chavirés

Konk Pack features Thomas Lehn, Roger Turner and Tim Hodgkinson. I had seen the former two several times before, but not the latter, though I did know a few Henry Cow releases. I read it’s a long-running trio, and it shows in a very good way. Each knew what he wanted to do, and had a good feel of where the others were going. I think this familiarity also paid off in that even when one or two of them — usually Lehn and/or Turner — were at their loudest, the other(s) could move to tones that could cut through without matching the loudness.

And they did play loud a lot. The beginning of both sets and the whole — short — encore were rather quiet, but it didn’t last. It was good hearing people going at it this way, while also keeping me on my toes because of the changes and interactions. They can be loud in a wide range of ways, and they used that ability fully.

It was a great show that didn’t really sound like many others I’ve heard. It was something to see them know their stuff so well that they could improvise and still play with sounds in a way that usually requires studio work. Hodgkinson was the most impressive to me, because he was usually the quietest, but still distinctly present, adding seemingly small but actually critical details. I wish I could hear this kind of thing more often.

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March 30, 2011 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

March 28th, 2011: VA Wölfl – “Ich sah: Das Lamm auf dem Berg Zion, Offb. 14,1”

@théatre de la ville

Coming into the theater to the sight of potted cypresses I hoped there was something to that, so I decided to play the game and get a seat where they would obstruct part of the stage. Most of the time this proved to be a mistake, but I think it did make the long slow classical part more interesting. Not that big a challenge, but that’s still something.

Slow and belabored are words that came to my mind early and often, but it wasn’t a big problem. I think the only part I really liked was the one where the guns — a constant presence in the dancers hands — were shooting the dancers arms and legs into movement. It took a while, but a few patterns were at work, including a move toward synchronicity that just reached its climax to dissolve almost at once. But a lot of small things were nice, the lighting was good — including the row of turned off lights echoing the dancers slow movements — and the big picture was OK.

Nothing new or challenging though, it was mildly comfortable in a way that reminded me of good old pomo metafiction. Tired clichés openly displayed (dancers in the audience): check. Fake earnest references to classical forms (ballet moves holding guns): check. Earnestly ironic discourse on the proceedings (dance as art is a business, dance as a business is art; boring in a bad way, but fashionable; I’m burning a fourth mic with a blowtorch): check. Break with the standard conventions of the form (all dancers leave the stage, come back five minutes later as people file out): check. They even threw in quotation marks in the title as a bonus. Of course those are required when playing the “Look Ma, no hands” game.

But as usual when it works — and it did for me — he did close the loop between a cry for attention and admiration, and a real assault on established forms. After a while it’s not that the question becomes undecidable but irrelevant. I could decide it’s all sophisticated criticism and be a fool for missing the point, or I could decide there’s actually a show in there and be a fool for falling for it. I don’t mind either way, at least I have a lot of experience at being a fool. So that’s the comfortable part. The mild aspect is more disappointing, maybe all these mind games took up too much space.

Despite their professed claim, I don’t think it was boring. It took a while, but the images and movements took their place in a whole that was worth waiting out, strangely static though unfolding through time. But that comfortable mildness probably means I’ll promptly forget it; I’m just not into comfort foods, maybe I don’t miss the past enough.

March 28, 2011 Posted by | Dance | , | Leave a comment