Gigs, dance, art

April 27th, 2011: Tujiko Noriko / The Konki Duet


This show was a fundraiser to support victims of the earthquake in Japan, and featured people I really wanted to see. I managed to miss Tomoko Sauvage with Andy Bolus though, which sucks.

I did get in in time to see The Konki Duet. I didn’t know them, but I wanted to check them out because of Kumi Okamoto. It’s still pop, but with a rockier side to it that Kumisolo. Despite their running into a lot of technical problems, I liked their set. I think I went too much into experimental stuff these days, I miss this lighter stuff. I’d love to hear more.

I never stopped listening to Tujiko Noriko, but it was only the second time I’ve been to one of her shows. It’s true that it’s the kind of music I’d tend to listen to on my own, but a live performance brings her beautiful voice in sharper relief. The loops and music took a step back for me this time, it was a different view on something familiar. I hope I’ll get another opportunity sooner rather than later. I love her voice, but I’d like to be less focused on it and take in more of the music, because it tends to reward such focus in spades.

May 16, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

April 23rd, 2011: Harsh Noise Wall Festival

@instants chavirés

Eleven sets, most solo, but with up to four performers. Strangely enough, it wasn’t that loud, and despite the static side of this music, it wasn’t boring either. There’s a common theme, but each one had his own take on it, from manic to introverted, and the short sets kept things going. It was a nice event, even though I wish I could have heard more of some of them. What I like best about it is that it gave me an opportunity to hear new things, hopefully I’ll get more at another time. Besides Vomir and Å, who I had heard before and still like, my favorites were Werewolf Jerusalem, Rééducation, and especially Dead Body Collection. But it’s a bit of a blur by now, and there’s a lot more to discover here. I certainly hope there will be another festival next year, and more shows in the meantime.

May 16, 2011 Posted by | Music | | Leave a comment

April 22nd, 2011: TG

@bouillon belge

I managed to get there from Fred Frith’ show just in time to catch most of TG‘s set. So that made for two good gigs in a single day, as it was another keeper, and again different from the other times I’d heard him. Yes, it still featured beats, as in the most recent shows, but with a melodic side that went closer to pop than I remember hearing from him; I may have been drunk — I had just come in, so that’s not likely — but it reminded me a little of YMO at the time, though I can’t figure out why right now. All I can say is that the only reason he’s no longer one of the most interesting musicians around Paris is his moving to Brussels.

May 16, 2011 Posted by | Music | , | Leave a comment

April 22nd, 2011: Fred Frith

@instants chavirés

Time for another burst of short notes in this extremely busy spell.

I had never seen Fred Frith live, but I didn’t expect much; it would have been so easy to get unreasonable expectations from his body of work. Truth is, it was a great set. His sound wasn’t all that special, there are a lot of people doing this kind of thing, and a bunch are just as proficient. But few can sustain such creativity for so long. He didn’t linger on anything, going from one idea to the next before any one had a chance to go stale. And the changes were constant and varied, be it in sound, rhythm, speed or just the overall feel of it. Sometimes it was a gradual shift, but often there was an about-face that somehow felt like it had to happen right then. There’s no question he’s the real deal.

May 16, 2011 Posted by | Music | , | Leave a comment

April 20th, 2011: Cecil Taylor / Amiri Baraka

@cité de la musique

I was so excited about finally seeing Cecil Taylor I hadn’t noticed Amiri Baraka was there too. I’d have gone to this show for him alone, so that was an unexpected treat to say the least. Except it took me a while to realize exactly who he was. His name didn’t register until he mentioned the controversy about Somebody Blew Up America, then it all became clear. I followed that at the time, and even there are sides to his poem that I just don’t care about, most of it is a strong work, and even stronger live. It wasn’t even a highlight, his delivery is so good it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. He has a musicality and rhythm that makes beat, jazz, and hip-hop come together. My own reaction was nothing to be proud of: the reception was icy at first, and I sat frozen, I was again too much of a coward to break the silence and be the first to clap. I did that before, and I still regret it. I’m just not one of the good guys. I was hoping he’d join Cecil Taylor at some point, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.

A few years ago, I hadn’t even heard of Cecil Taylor. I can only express my deepest gratitude to Scott McDowell for introducing me to his amazing body of work. And now I got to see the man play, and he’s every bit as amazing as I hoped. He has that percussive side I love on piano, but also a delicate touch at times. And he uses all the range of his instrument, sometimes playing both high and low notes, with no filler moment. It was all the time intense, and his sense of endings is flawless: each time he stopped abruptly, as if he had no time to waste winding down when he could move on to the next piece. And anyway had no patience for niceties; when he’s done, he’s done, and that’s it. This might seem weird, but it made a lot of sense with the way he’s playing, there’s no settling down for less with him. How could that be anything but a good thing? If anything, seeing him play live heightened my appreciation, and thanks to Scott’s teachings, that’s saying something.

May 2, 2011 Posted by | Music | , , | Leave a comment

April 19th, 2011: Jean-Claude Gallotta – Faut qu’je danse – Daphis é Chloé


I hadn’t seen anything by Jean-Claude Gallotta in years, so I was a bit wary of having grown insensitive to his work — I had some good memories, but they didn’t seem relevant somehow. His opening solo was puzzling though, which is a good thing in my book. He talked about the original version of this work, almost twenty years ago, and that was quite interesting. This speech was interrupted by his bursting into bits of dancing that had a weird exercise quality, as the movements were that scripted. But that tendency was defused by his playful/awkward demeanor. I can’t say I liked it, I just don’t really know what to make of it. That’s definitely not bad.

Daphnis é Chloé was too narrative for me, which could easily have totally bored me. But there was again a vivacity that avoided virtuosity, and again some of that playfulness that saved the day. And the intensity of the piece prevents it from straying too far into prettiness. Here again, I can’t say exactly why I liked it better than I had any right to expect based on some elements I just don’t like. It didn’t feel dated as I feared it would, another pleasant surprise. But there’s a limit to that, I don’t think I can really embrace something that illustrative when it come with another Greek myth story. So for me it was OK but certainly not great.

May 2, 2011 Posted by | Dance | , | Leave a comment

April 18th, 2011: Paulo Ribeiro – White Feeling – Organic Beat

@théatre de la ville

I don’t remember seeing anything by Paulo Ribeiro before. One common thread between both pieces is that he’s pretty good with groups, which is something I tend to like. I was close to the stage, but I wasn’t too close to get that, which I think shows how good he is.

White Feeling featured an all-male cast, all dancers dressed in black. I didn’t like the music, and at times the dance was a little too predictably confrontational in that setting — like one pushing the others around — but there were also things I really liked, like having one dancer moving around the stage at his own separate pace. Plus he did very nice things with support, in fact I think he was at his best when there was a clearly united group, and even better with one offsetting presence. There was also a very nice sequence toward the end where I could faintly make out the figures of dancers in the back, moving in gravity defying ways that hinted at the others carrying them, though these others remained unseen. That was a nice touch.

I like Organic Beat better, and I guess the music — Cage — had something to do with it, with its sampling and overlaid radio snippets. The — many — dancers came on stage humming the Internationale before some of  them broke into other songs in various languages, and ended with Bella Ciao, so they added their part to the soundtrack. With so many dancers — I’d guess about 30 — on stage most of the time, there was no way I could focus on details. But the overall picture was potent because there were waves and great uses of their numbers, like when some rolled on the ground from a circle and rose to join it again. At times that crowd would break into smaller groups, or some dancers would leave the stage, but I thought the sequences with the most dancers were the best. That’s because it’s quite rare for me to see someone really make use of what such a big ensemble enables, while avoiding the temptation to have most serve as a backdrop for a few soloists. No filler there, the crowd was necessary for what he had to show.

I still wish it had started on time and the intermission had been shorter, I might have had a shot at rushing to Nan Turner’s show afterward. But it just ended too late.

May 2, 2011 Posted by | Dance | , | Leave a comment