counterfnord

Gigs, dance, art

June 3rd, 2010: Acid Mothers Temple / Om / Wolf Eyes

@cabaret sauvage

Wolf Eyes started their set relatively softly, but the horrible sound made that part so flat I’m afraid the point was lost. Even when they started playing harsher, it never came close to what I remember they can do. What they couldn’t do was overcome this crappy sound, and to add insult to injury they were cut off just after saying “we’re not done yet”. I think the end of their set should have been pretty good, but the venue was just totally wrong.

Om hardly fared better, and they even had a couple of false starts because of technical problems. I’m not sure I would have liked that set even with a better sound, as it was I just couldn’t stand it and went outside, where I thought it actually sounded better.

Acid Mothers Temple did manage to do a nice set. I think their psych stuff depends less on a decent sound, and they’re showmen enough to get something going anyway. They went into a relentless driven tune right from the start, and the quieter moments didn’t last long. And Kawabata pulled a cool trick at the end: he smashed a guitar and threw the pieces in the audience — pretty lame so far — then grabbed another guitar and did it again, which made all the difference in my book. Nice set, but I can only guess how good it would have been in a better place.

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June 9, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

September 12th, 2008: The Ex & Getatchew Mekuria

@cabaret sauvage

Before the gig itself, there was a stationary marching band — if that makes sense — in front of the venue, the final performance after a master class by the Surnatural Orchestra. The conducting in itself was quite interesting, both from the gestures and from the fact that a musician would at times leave his or her instrument behind for a while to conduct. The music was better than I would have expected from such a project, with my favorite moment when there were some voices involved. I guess I would have been getting more impatient if I hadn’t seen Terrie Ex, Colin McLean, Getatchew Mekuria and Melaku Belay still hanging out outside nearby.

I know it’s my fourth time seeing The Ex this year, and I saw them with Getatchew less than one year ago. But it just doesn’t get old. And even though I usually sulk in the back of any venue, I again ended up right next to the stage. That was deliberate, and for the most part because of Melaku Belay and my being vertically challenged. For the most part, it was pretty close to last year’s performance, and thus to the most excellent record they cut together. In my opinion, it was even better.

There were many reasons for that. Xavier Charles was a factor, especially a rousing solo that Getatchew seemed to enjoy. Speaking of which, he again seemed so happy to be here, enjoying his and the others playing, his interactions with each of the others was a heartwarming sight. And anyway, Getatchew Mekuria alone is well worth hearing, as he proved when he performed a solo, and another time with just Katherina. But the best was when all were involved, with different elements just working so amazingly well together, from the Terrie/Andy sonic fights to Jos’ commanding voice to the warm brass sound.

And then there was Melaku Belay. His first appearance was all about shoulder shaking, and he even brought a guy from the audience on stage, possibly from Ethiopia as well from the shoulder moves. His second involved an amazing display of balance while throwing his legs up and front, and of humor when he grabbed his outstretched leg and air guitared with it while Terrie and Andy were in full swing. He’s great as a dancer, but what made his performance so special for me was his interacting with the others. And that reached a climax with his next appearance, with a stick and a curved knife. What he did with those was good enough, but when he handed the stick to G.W. Sok and they spent some time moving in synch that image was a perfect summary of what made this performance special.

Nothing at all like the arranged weddings world music stuff can be made of, this was a real meeting of real people who are both open and confident enough to be themselves and interact in a way that enriches everyone, including lucky bystanders like me. The only regret I have is of not having been convincing enough to have people I care about come and see this. Maybe some did, but I don’t think so.

September 13, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

September 9th, 2007: Aka Moon & guests

@cabaret sauvage

Final gig for this festival, Aka Moon was celebrating their fifteenth anniversary with a bunch of guests, including Magic Malik — not my favorite, but even I have to concede he did some interesting stuff on vocals –, Sivaraman and Baba Sissoko. The latter was really great, he played a small drum held under arm with a virtuosity that managed to be everything but idle. Great voice too.

I had seen Aka Moon before, they were the only ones this week that I had seen before. But it was a long time ago, and in a very different setting, during Rosas’ In real time. I can’t say I remember much of what they did then, but I do remember that I liked it.

Tonight’s set was good, I enjoyed it, and was quite grateful it was so different from yesterday, thus avoiding any unfair comparison. To my untrained ear, it sounded like a mix of many different kinds of music, including some jazz elements, but defying classification. I like that. A lot of energy and a surprisingly cohesive effort with so many guests. I just wished the African and Indian percussionists would have had some kind of musical conversation in isolation, but that didn’t really happen, only for a short while and it didn’t work out as I hoped it would.

Nonetheless, I liked it and that’s good enough for me.

September 10, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , , , , | Leave a comment