ACME Play the Music of Jóhann Jóhannsson at Le Poisson Rouge

ACME Johann Johansson - 1Over the past few years, I had several opportunities to see the Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson - perhaps best known as the Golden Globe-winning composer of The Theory of Everything, Arrival, and Sicario - perform his often-somber, occasionally menacing music, often with members of ACME (American Contemporary Music Ensemble). For their tenth anniversary back in 2015, ACME commissioned Jóhannsson's epic Drone Mass, which they premiered in the Met Museum's Temple of Dendur alongside Roomful of Teeth

Sadly, Jóhannsson died unexpectedly earlier this year at his home in Berlin. He was only 48, and had just started work on the Disney film Christopher Robin, which would have been his most ambitious scoring project to date. (The score was ultimately completed by Jon Brion.) 

In tribute to their former collaborator, ACME performed a program of Jóhannsson's music last Sunday at Le Poisson Rouge, which felt like full circle given that this was where they first performed together back in 2009. The concert was part of LPR's ongoing 10th anniversary series, LPR X, which continues throughout the summer. 

The selections, most of which were taken from Jóhannsson's albums EnglabörnOrphée and Fordlandia, were heavy and hypnotic, made all the more so by Jóhannsson's eerie absence. (The pre-recorded electronics were handled by Grey McMurray.) ACME artistic director Clarice Jensen performed the quiet, eerie “bc” for solo cello and tape loops, which she co-composed with Jóhannsson last year for her debut solo release, For this from that will be filled. Jóhannsson's music was an emotional trigger that called to mind any number of recent early deaths. At first, it felt like a blanket of pain and misery, but quickly dissolved into something resembling peace. Or, at the very least, acceptance. 

More pics on the photo page. Set list below.

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Northside Festival #10 - Thursday

by Steven Pisano

20180607-_DSC9007Each June, the Northside Festival brings to Williamsburg and Bushwick a long list of interesting conferences revolving around today's tech and media worlds, but what always interests us most at Feast of Music is of course music--lots and lots (and lots) of music. This year marks the festival's tenth anniversary, and over 300 bands are playing Thursday through Sunday with something for just about everyone.

On Thursday at Brooklyn Bowl, the line-up featured three self-professed "weirdos" and "geeks" who brought a DIY rap sensibility to their musical views of the world. To be honest, we never knew this was a niche, and it almost seems too much of a niche within a niche, but in a way this proves Northside's role in supporting performers across a wide spectrum.

Leading off the 3-hour concert was a singer known as Sammus (born Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo), a PhD candidate in science at Cornell University who is now based in Philadelphia. If you are a fan of the Nintendo game "Metroid," you would recognize her name coming from the game character Samus Aran who protects the universe from Space Pirates.

As you might expect from a singer/songwriter/rapper/teacher working on a doctorate, Sammus writes smart, socially conscious, and sensitive songs that surprise with their literate lyrics. Sammus also surprises by being angry at people (but in a nice way)--at people who made fun of her name when she was a kid, at people who misbehave on social media, at a**holes in general.

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Common Opens Up the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn Season in Prospect Park

by Steven Pisano

20180605-_DSC4623(All photos by Steven Pisano)

You know it's summer when the BRIC Celebrate Festival season starts in Prospect Park (even if Mother Nature won't officially chime in for a couple of more weeks). On Tuesday, thousands of people lined up along Prospect Park West and then thronged the Bandshell area to listen to Common open up this year's long list of great concerts, one of the finest line-ups ever.

While there were not many overt references to the current political administration in Washington, Common's reputation is based on singing socially conscious songs, so the topics of race, personal freedom, social inequality, police violence, and similar concerns were thick in the air.

But there was no moralizing or preaching. Common does not communicate from a pulpit or from an altar on high. He spreads his beliefs by walking amongst people's everyday lives, so most of all, he spent the evening telling the audience the story of his life through his songs, from the days he longed to sink baskets like Chicago superstar Michael Jordan, up through the current day, as a father himself.

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Summer 2018 Music Preview

Celebrate Brooklyn
Hard to believe it's already June, and while this year's Gov Ball has already come and gone, the music is just starting to move to the great outdoors. Below is a preview of some of our favorites - check out our Summertime list on the right for updates throughout the summer. 

Celebrate Brooklyn: (June 5-August 11) NYC's best outdoor music venue celebrates it's 40th year with another stellar lineup that kicks off with Chicago rapper (and Microsoft shill) Common on 6/5. Other free shows include Aimee Mann (6/21), Branford Marsalis (6/29), Kronos Quartet (7/14), and a stellar closing weekend with Godspeed YOU! Black Emperor (8/10) and The Breeders with Speedy Ortiz (8/11). Benefit shows this year include a killer double bill with Grizzly Bear and Spoon (6/20), The Decemberists with M. Ward (6/13), and Courtney Barnett with Julien Baker and Vagabon (7/25). 

Northside Festival (June 7-10): Northside is now a decade old, and the clubs will be jammed across Williamsburg and Bushwick with the latest in cutting edge music, alongside stalwarts such as Caspian, Deerhoof, and Liz Phair. Sunday afternoon brings a Block Party to Bedford Ave, with bands and vendors running all the way to Metropolitan Ave.

NY Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks (June 12-17): What were you doing when you were 11 years old? Well, if you're Jordan Millar and Camryn Cowan, you're having your music played by the New York Philharmonic at this year's parks concerts, courtesy of the Phil's Very Young Composers program. (They also play music by Bernstein, Saint-Saens, and Rimsky-Korsakov.) The Phil visits all five boroughs next week with conductor James Gaffigan; details here

SummerStage (June 2-September 27): This sprawling series returns with a wide spectrum of music performed in parks across all five boroughs, most of it free. Highlights include a Canada Day celebration headlined by Broken Social Scene (7/1), Afrobeat scion Femi Kuti and Positive Force (7/29), a New Orleans fest with Trombone Shorty, Galactic, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and (8/8), and Angelique Kidjo covering The Talking Heads (9/27).

Make Music New York (June 21): Celebrate the longest day of the year with this citywide musical happening, with performances on street corners, plazas and parks from sun-up to sundown.

Warm Up at MoMA PS1 (June 30-September 1): NYC's best tea dance enters its third decade at MoMA PS1, with an architectural installation featuring large-scale, interactive mirrors - and hopefully some misters. Tickets include museum admission. (LI City residents get in for free.)

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