Gigs, dance, art

May 24th, 2010: Austin Townsend / Agripon


I can’t say I expected much of Agripon with them played on such short notice. Well, it was fun and loud, the set had some progression and even held a couple of nice moments despite the clowning. So I guess it was better than I expected.

Austin Townsend’s set was completely different, an acoustic set with actual songs. Again, he had two members of Radikal Satan with him, and that trio just works. Townsend had a very nice deep voice, and his music is quiet but not that peaceful, there’s a tension underneath that quiet.

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

May 23rd, 2010: Melted Men / Headwar / Erik Minkkinen

@instants chavirés

First a short but very good set by Erik Minkkinen. The sounds were interesting as usual, but the percussive side was stronger and the occasional scream didn’t hurt either. More diverse and balanced than the last couple of times I’d seen him, the set was intense. Short, but if that what it takes to get that kind of intensity, I’m all for it.

I don’t know if I changed or Headwar improved since the last time — probably both — but there was qualifying it time: their set was just great. They sure have a lot of energy, and even more ideas, and they managed to put everything together in a set that never chose between both sides, and with a contagious commitment as well.

Melted Men were much more elaborate scenically, with their changing costumes and props. I didn’t like that side much after a while, but the music was percussive and the unapologetic fun side of their show was nice. Strange to see them as both primitive and too elaborate, but that’s how I felt.

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

May 17th, 2010: Orquesta Tipica Misteriosa Buenos Aires

@instants chavirés

I had no expectations going in: I didn’t like the little I knew about Tango, so I was thinking I would see how long I would last. Orquesta Tipica Misteriosa at least had me linger for both sets. It’s still not the kind of music I’d listen to on my own, and I won’t be on the lookout for more of it, but it wasn’t boring, and there were a few songs I really liked.

I’d say I liked the first set better, which is somewhat surprising as these were the old songs. I liked the singer’s voice, but not the style of singing, so I liked the instrumental songs better. And the parts I really liked were those with short notes on both violin and bandoneon, those that left some room for silence, not easy with such a big band.

Obviously my utter lack of knowledge meant all that the second part had in terms of relation to tradition was lost on me. And even though I’m still glad I went and learned something, I don’t expect to follow up. It’s just not my thing, too melodic and with instruments I don’t like much either.

May 18, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , | Leave a comment

May 7th, 2010: Chocolat Billy / Manuel J Grotesque / Rrose Selavy


I didn’t know Rrose Selavy’s members were all familiar faces. Hearing Arnaud Rivière play turntable with others was really neat. The set started great, with an insistent repetition of a small phrase on bass and guitar contrasting with the more freeform noise from the turntable. It didn’t come out as two separate layers at all, all three were equal parts of the sound. The music then went into a wilder phase before quieting down a little. I think they kept that cohesive freedom throughout, which was a nice trick. The first part was my favorite but that’s probably because the music was less like what I expect in these gigs.

Strangely enough, I had never seen Manuel J Grotesque live before. I should have, if this performance is any indication. I’m far from liking everything in his massive output; I probably don’t even like most of what I’ve heard, which is not that much. But it’s a whole another ballgame live. I’m sure I would say his stories and some songs are just boring if I listened to them now. But he made even those enjoyable there and then; I’m impressed.

I love Chocolat Billy and this show didn’t do anything to change that. The weirdest thing for me was that I would ID some of their songs pretty quick. I’m just not used to that anymore, with my regular fare of improvisers and projects I’ve never heard before. I liked that their music has an accessible side leading to more interesting things underneath. So I guess I should have expected this weird effect.

A very nice show, my only regret was my being dumb enough to completely miss Desecrator’s set. I can’t even blame the cheap beer, as it was downstairs too. I just whiffed again.

May 13, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , , , , | Leave a comment

August 29th, 2009: Radikal Satan / Mr Labrador

@instants chavirés

The place will not schedule any gig on its own until the end of the year at best, but they still are available for rentals, so there will be one from time to time. This time the find people from Kliton stepped up to keep the place on the map.

I really liked some of the stuff Mr Labrador did, especially when sliding that metal stick on the side. At other times it was obvious he was doing something but I couldn’t notice what. I was not really open to the noisish part, but still enjoyed the set quite a lot. To be checked out again when/if I get back to my usual frame of mind, I guess.

Radikal Satan were just as great as usual, and the drummer was again a perfect complement that brought the whole yet another notch up. I think I liked the double-bass/accordion/drums parts better than the guitar/keyboard/drums one, but either combination works fine. I like the way they take the time to let a mood set in, the intensity of the music sustained in the long run, and most of all the way the three of them play so well together. Definitely a band I’d go and see anytime, even when I don’t generally want to go out, see a gig and most of all write about it.

September 3, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , | Leave a comment

February 22nd, 2009: Arnaud Rivière / Api Uiz / Ero Babaa / Opera Mort


Most of the regulars showed up and more, which is good for the fine people responsible. It had been a while since I attended a kliton gig, but I intend to break that pattern. That one was to kick off the tour that will see Api Uiz and Ero Babaa set fire to Germany — it’s actually halfway through by now, I’ve been slow updating this thing.

I got my second chance at hearing Opéra Mort — this time without hearing troubles. It was well worth the expectation, and justified my aggravation at having that set spoiled back then. What I like most about them is that they throw in unusual elements in their noisish brew. Like rhythmic loops, not an important part of the mix, but the touch of spice that made it all the more satisfying to me. And processed voice will get my vote every time, even though they went light on that ingredient. I really liked this set a lot, and thanks to él-g and Jo T. for that one.

Then it was back to the usual suspects, with a twist because Ero Babaa actually went quiet and almost sane for a while. Of course that went out the window before the end of the set, but a surprise from people I’ve heard so often is always welcome. And I liked the way they just cut their set out abruptly. I think that makes total sense, even though that sounds weird applied to them — in a good way, like if I said Kenny G. made sense, though that’s not really gonna happen.

Api Uiz will probably be bitching about the many breaks and technical difficulties, but it didn’t really matter. There even was a good side to it, in that they had the opportunity to display several times how they can go to full speed instantly. Many things in their music are common with other bands out of that particular Bordeaux scene, and that’s exclusively for the best. There’s all this uncompromising energy that never crosses over to the sanctimonious. As good an entry point as any to the wonderful world of les potagers natures, and even though I still like Chocolat Billy best — I just could not resist the name-dropping — they’re too good to miss one of their gigs in these parts: instantly engaging but with more underneath if you want to delve deeper.

I was afraid hearing Arnaud Rivière on quote-unquote turntable again so soon would be boring, but it was totally different. Much rougher than his take with eRikm and Jean-Philippe Gross earlier this week. The percussive element brought by banging stuff was there, but put to another, far less regular use. And the mixing board part was closer to the mind-blowing stuff I know he can pull off. Not that good in my opinion this time, but close enough to make the performance a good one, in an edgy hungry way I hadn’t heard from him in a while. Maybe be not his best in and of itself — I’ve heard him so many times I definitely am getting picky — but the spirit was a reassuring proof of wide open tomorrows. He’s definitely neither afraid nor complacent, and that’s more than enough to make want to hear what’s next. He’s off to Israel for a few gigs today, if you’re over there catch him if you can, and don’t shy away from talking to the guy after the show, especially if you’re a composer/musician yourself. He’s very open-minded and is confident enough to stray out of his particular path.

February 25, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

November 19th, 2008: Soulstice / Death Sentence: Panda! / Trouble vs Glue / Louise Mitchels


I had figured out that the venue had been booked twice by checking the announcement on Soulstice’s page the day before. I had seen that date earlier but didn’t realize the conflict. He seems to have been most gracious about this, agreeing to postpone his set, and probably shorten it as well. For me at least everything fell into place nicely. I first though I would have to miss two out of three interesting gigs, but I ended up getting part of the other two.

I had seen Les Louise Mitchels before, had remember a saxophone, but there were only three of them this time. I think I like it better that way. They’re not taking me into new soundscapes, but they’re pretty good at what they do while still looking like they enjoy playing, and sometimes that’s enough for me. I thought they were appropriate for the venue as well, and that was probably a factor.

It took me a couple of songs to transition to Trouble vs Glue, but the voice was my gateway into their DIY pop with a twist. Maybe a bit too much drums at times, but overall the both of them struck a nice balance. At first they were supposed to have played first, which probably makes some kind of sense, but I liked it that way, it made for the kind of change of pace I usually enjoy. A convincing set thanks to their intentionally unpolished delivery.

But those I had came to hear in the first place were Death Sentence: Panda!, as is often the case because of a WFMU session a few years ago and some more recent airplay on Liz Berg’s show. They were billed as kinda like Melt Banana, which was a bit funny for me because it had been the other way around for me, having heard them first. I really liked that set, the clarinet feedback sounded just great and I liked the singer’s voice and flute a lot too. She went into the crowd and ended up singing while being carried on a guy’s shoulders, which was great because I saw that as another proof of their ability to connect with the audience. And the music is both interesting and directly compeling, a mix I just love. Such a good set from a band I like a lot, I just have to thank Kliton and Arrache-toi un oeil for making this happen.

I definitely intended to stay on for Soulstice, and was totally willing to pay extra for it, but that wasn’t necessary. I hope the success of the gig meant he did get something. I thought I had happened on his page during a recent search about Baltimore hip-hop, maybe from Food for animals, but he’s actually living in DC, though originally from Chicago. All I have to say is that it’s definitely a good time for some long time Chicago residents to move to DC. Anyway, even though I didn’t like the DJ much, his set was better than I expected. I like the man’s flow, but the stuff I had heard on his page was kinda too clean, with a bit too much soul. But here it was rougher, and so more my kind of thing. He even ended his set without music, which was a cool thing. And he was real positive and convincing despite having only a few people in the room, and not exactly his own audience to boot. Probably a bit too positive for me, but these days I’m pretty much into less exposed hip-hop, and I’m really happy to get to hear someone like this in a small venue. Of course I’d love to eventually hear DJ ALF or Bisc1 but that was good, so I’m not complaining.

November 21, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , | Leave a comment