Gigs, dance, art

April 8th, 2011: Sightings / Radikal Satan / Wolfgang Müller & Frieder Butzmann

@olympe de gouges

The performance by Wolfgang Müller and Frieder Butzmann looked like a lecture — complete with video issues — but for the most part without the boring side. For the most part because it did go too long for me, at first the spoof was all in good fun and their demeanor carried the day, but it did get old for me in the end. And the boiling water/short-circuit was one of the annoyingly predictable bits. Though its being predictable and annoying was part of its appeal. It’s a fine line, and I never could be sure which side they were on at any given moment.

I still feel the place was wrong for Radikal Satan. Too big, too square, especially as they were in their core lineup without the drummer. It was still an intense performance, but even though it was special for me — it was how I chose to “celebrate” my 40th birthday — and I focused as much as I could, blocking out the background noise and the empty space behind me took a toll. That was my favorite set of the day, but having seen them in smaller places, I can’t help resenting the space for leeching the intensity.

Sightings would seem to have been better equipped to handle that venue, but I still think it took a toll, preventing them from building up as they could have. I’ve heard better sets from them, as this one had a stop-and-go side that undermined my enjoyment. But the end was so good, when they had Tom Smith join them his charisma instantly changed/charged everything. That made it all right, but I still think the venue didn’t help.

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Music | , , , , , | Leave a comment

March 1st, 2010: Api Uiz / Radikal Satan / L’Ocelle Mare

@instants chavirés

Just when I thought I would be able to post sooner after the shows, hardware failure knocked me out. Anyway this was one highly anticipated show, and not just by me from the attendance. It actually sold out, which doesn’t happen often enough. It rarely does. I guess Les Potagers Natures is still a name that draws a crowd, and it should.

L’Ocelle Mare went first, and though nice, I didn’t like this set as much as last month’s one. No fault of his though. Part was having heard him recently, and part was the less than ideal setting. The cloud to the sold-out silver lining being that too many people were talking and clearly not here for him. He used his banjo for almost all the set, with the exception of a short appearance of his shiny mouth organ. The skill and engagement were here enough to make it worthwhile, but that’s no surprise, as it was pretty much the same as the previous show.

Radikal Satan did the most surprising set. First because they played on the stage for a change, and also because that set had a rockish feel. By their standards, that is, but still. The first song was more in their usual style, but they kept most of their intoxicating touch even in the other ones. It’s a weird feeling. That was a really good set, and they still have this unique sound and feel, and I really like the way they didn’t stick with what I expected. But I nonetheless miss the old stuff, I guess then problem is that there’s just no one else wandering these lands, so whenever they move they leave a gap.

Api Uiz were the fastest and loudest of the bunch, and they pulled out a surprising set in that they didn’t even fumble before the very end. That stop usually comes earlier. I’m not only writing that to make fun of one of them, but because I actually like the way they recover from those lapses. And these only make them even more real and in the here and now, which to me is a lot of what I like about their performances. Their records are good too, but in a different way. The ability to go back and listen again changes a lot. In a live show, they make me acutely aware of the moment.

March 6, 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

May 16th, 2008: Radikal Satan / Les Louise Mitchels / Headwar

@instants chavires

The main act should have been Erez Martinic, but that was canceled and Headwar was added and opened the evening. Furious punk at first — my favorite part of their set — nothing special really but done with appropriate gusto, the way it should be. That felt good, and even though I tend to like mixes, the more metalish bend of the later part of their set was a bit too sane, or maybe I get bored easily.

I did like Les Louise Mitchels better overall, maybe because they are far more competent musically — I certainly hope that’s not the case. I had pretty high hopes for the saxophone part, but that didn’t meet my expectations. It did bring something, but not that much. Still a pretty good set, maybe somewhat too controlled and lacking in surprises, but efficient with a few welcome twists.

But the real surprise turned out to be Radikal Satan. I had seem them once and really liked their sound, but they played without a drummer that time and his presence here brought their game to a whole new level. They also had a pedal steel guitar player this time, but I felt her influence to be limited. The double bass and accordion and voice still mixed just as well, but the drummer added some urgency or smoothness, sometimes both. Evocative and compelling music throughout, improved by their eschewing the stage again, if only because I’m too short to have seen what was going on and could avoid distractions and focus on the music, giving in to that heady pulse. Somehow it could be dark and light at the same time, not just switching from one mood to another but having all present to varying degrees. And they even threw in some cumbia towards the end, transformed through their sound of course, but identifiable nonetheless; a treat for me these days.

May 18, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

December 5th: Austin Townsend

@ bon accueil

I do like this venue as a bar, a nice and friendly place. As a venue, not so much, because it really gets cramped fast in there. But it’s a different setting, and it can be suitable for some gigs. I mean I’m small enough to be used to not seeing anyway. The real problem is gaining access to the bar for a refuel at times; that should rate as a good sign, but the place is so small that it doesn’t take a crowd to feel crowded.

Austin Townsend has a deep voice and plays just the kind of quieter music I wanted to hear at that time. So it was a good fit. I even went out of character and got closer, both to escape the background noise of conversations — remember, it’s a small bar — and to get to a darker place; there was just too much light in the back, it got in the way of focusing on the music for me. The guy also shows great taste in the company he keeps; besides having his gig set up by Kliton, he has a record out on the Potagers Natures label and plays with both guys from Radikal Satan. The latter meant that double bass, banjo and accordion were featured at times, with the three of them on guitars at others. Worked well, nice gig overall, and just in sync with my mood; I’m glad I went.

December 6, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

December 2nd, 2007: Volcano the Bear / Radikal Satan

@ instants chavirés

Having seen Volcano so recently, I was at first leaning toward skipping this gig. But I have heard a lot about Radikal Satan and really wanted to check them out. Turned out to be a good move despite the pouring rain. Their sound is just great. The combination of double bass and accordion was real good, and the switches to guitar and keyboards didn’t spoil that effect. They’re part of my beloved Potagers Natures crowd and easily live up to the hype. On the face of it, I expected the double bass to make up for my guarded hostility toward that accordion thing, but I again proved myself to be a bigoted fool. I guess the instrument matters less than what one does with it. Their hailing from Argentina should have clued me as to the un-Amelieness, but I’m wary beyond repair.

And staying true to the theme of my foolishness, that Volcano performance turned out to be the best I’ve seen by far — that’s a low threshold, I’ll willingly grant that. But still, it was great. Less goofing around, as far as I can tell — which is not much, being too short to know better — and more focus on the music itself. Which kept its delicious ambiguity between fooling around and rehearsed control. I’m pretty sure both were at play, but I’m at a loss to tell both apart. Which is just great and as it should be. They kept at an intense level for most of the show and that was so good. I mean I came for the opening band and they just blew my mind. Unexpected greatness is nothing to sneeze at in my book. To think I entertained the idea of leaving before their set… I’m a fool’s fool, that’s all I have to say.

December 3, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment