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Monthly Archives: April 2009

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the second edition of jamie stewart’s monthly series arrived a couple of weeks ago, i needed a good amount of time to digest this one. this is a different experience than the previous one, which seemed to be mostly comprised of acoustic samples. this disc seems to be more like vinyl collage work, in the vein of christian marclay, with a large portion of the material coming from recordings of organs and sound effects. i thought that his last edition was about the silence, this one is more about the size of the sound. the last track is a sixteen minute battle between silence and organ blasts. it would be a great installation piece, it calls for loud amplification and good acoustics.

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i’ve been a fan of twitter for a while now, i’ve done my best to recruit people. it’s hard to convince people that twitter is more than a time vortex, like myspace and facebook, which it’s not. unless you’re following hundreds of people, you can’t spend more than ten minutes reading and commenting on other peoples tweets (for some reason i don’t like that they’re called that). it is easy to get sucked into checking it all the time, but since i am not in front of a computer all day, that’s not a problem for me. then there is that whole “why does anyone care?” argument. i think that twitter is one of the best ways to keep up with friends far and near, especially since i never call anyone. if your following friends, you should at least be a little interested in what they are doing and what they are up to. as long as their not post every stupid thing their doing, which i may be a little guilty of. as keight once said in a tweet “life is often interesting”.

speaking of keight she recently posted a link to an article on her site that did a good job explaining twitter, in defense of twitter.

the wonder ballroom was turned into a ramshackle social experiment on friday night, the person behind it was dan deacon. i went expecting a fairly straight forward nob twiddling with some live instruments show, that was not it at all. it’s hard to categorize dan deacon’s music, i often just designate it under arty electronica meant for a party in a gallery. so seeing him in a large venue like the wonder ballroom already seemed a bit off. on this tour he has an ensemble of twelve musicians, which worried me a bit, i thought it could turn into a cacophonous mess.

the crowd around me didn’t seem to know who dan deacon was or what to what to expect, a few of them were turned off by his long set up time and his nit picky way of setting the levels in the monitors, so they retreated to the bar. i understand why dan has to so precise about the set up, when dealing with distorted sounds things have to be right or it just sounds like chaos.

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dan and his ensemble produced the perfect soundtrack for the evening. dan was behind his board crowded with equipment, four keyboardists, three drummers, a guitarist, a bass player, a woodwind player, and someone with wiimotes (!!!). at first they were askew, it came off ill sounding, about halfway into the second song they got it together and kept it. dan took on the roll of conductor and producer, it seemed like the instruments, except for the drums, were fed through dan’s board. mixing live instruments with mostly sampled circuit bent music is always a risky gamble, dan was smart at the controls and it all melded together. the setlist, of course, featured the most recent album bromst, but also contained songs from the noisier early ep’s. the live versions of the songs were zippy and full of boisterous fun.

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the show started with dan deacon leading the audience in some movements to get us “in the zone”.  once the music started the crowd was pretty wild. a couple of songs in dan organized a dance contest, two people would dance then tag someone in the crowd. this started a pattern every couple of songs he would organize a audience movement, he had people dancing through tunnels that other people made and had the crowds running in circles. i’m not much of the audience participant, but the rest of the crowd got into it. it was a lot of fun to watch, and i was thankful i was on the wrong side of the barricade. by the end of the evening the show had taken on almost a sermon feeling, with dan deacon as the pastor. the devotion was a bit creepy, but wholly entertaining.

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last night i caught twilight repetory theater’s production of who’s afraid of virginia woolf. i have never seen it on the stage, i am familiar with the movie version starring elizabeth taylor. the basic premise of the story is a bored drunk couple, martha and george, invite a younger couple over for late night drinks. the night turns into a psychological game for martha and george, full of taunts and mockery. the meat of the play is in the riotous dynamic between martha and george. their drunken abuse of each other, each equally pushing and pulling,  is like a well cheographed trainwreck. you want to walk away from it, hoping nothing like that could be real, but it sticks with you and can’t stop looking. the actors did a fantastic job capturing that horrible feeling. the one complaint i have about the performance is that they lost the boozy aspect that gave the film a hazy feel, kind of like it was all a dream. the characters are drinking heavily throughout, at some point the actors stopped acting drunk and focused on the crazy. the show is going on till sunday and you wouldn’t be wasting your time attending it.

despite playing at what is one of the worst venues in town, being sick, and on a school night i dragged myself to backspace to see jamie stewart (lead guy of xiu xiu). the openers were locals that i have heard good things about, all proven wrong. dragging an ox through water was the better of the two. he’s got the tortured fractured experimental songwriter thing down, it just came off too precious, i get the feeling he doesn’t need the money. i hope that made sense to anyone but me. nurses came next, from what i’ve heard they were the next animal collective. while those comparisons aren’t wrong, they sound like all my most hated aspects of the last two animal collectives albums. jam bands and modest mouse influences condensed then diluted with something bland (think plain tofu or unsalted soup). i fear they may become huge.

jamie stewart can never fail though, he is just one of those performers that feels every emotion of each song every time it’s performed. using only a guitar, a stylophone, some bird whistles, and a variety of pedals he played songs from all over the xiu xiu songbook. i am horrible at xiu xiu song titles so i couldn’t even guess at the set list. an amazing show well worth the misery beforehand.

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