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July 2010

Free Energy @ South Street Seaport

  DSC02614 A fun, free show by Philly roots rockers Free Energy last night at the Seaport, with a big crowd of tourists and locals filling the plaza next to the tall ships out on Pier 11. For a band whose scrappy, guitar-driven rock brought to mind classic rock outfits like the Journey or Lynyrd Skynyrd, most of the crowd I saw wasn't even of drinking age. 

Mid-set, some ominous storm clouds started rolling in from the west, causing the band to cut their set short. But, I didn't see anyone heading for the subway feeling shortchanged. (More pics on Flickr.)


The Antlers @ River Rocks

  DSC05961I got to the end of 14th St. yesterday just in time to catch The Antlers' full set, part of this summer's free River Rocks concert series on Pier 54. It was an amazing, almost reverent show that mixed new songs with familiar tunes from their highly acclaimed debut, Hospice. The combination of a dusky sunset, with brass, organ and Peter Silberman's shimmering, high pitched vocals was enough to make you swoon. (More pics at Flickr.)

Feast of Music Presents Vol. 4 - Recap

  DSC05880An amazing multimedia experience this past Tuesday night at Littlefield, with each of the four acts lighting up the stage with a mesmerizing mix of of music and visuals. Pianist Kathleen Supové kicked things off with a bold, intense performance that began and ended with the music of maverick Dutch composer Jacob TV, whose music offers a running commentary on the state of American mass media (as in "The Body of Your Dreams", which includes samples from an Abtronic informercial.) In between was Michael Gatonska's stunning "A Shaking of the Pumpkin," which had Supové furiously pounding the keys and banging the strings with a mallet, creating a thunderous roar. It ended with four ominous stomps on the sustain pedal, releasing resonance like muted hammer blows. 

Following was Fair Use: a collaboration between composer/performers Luke Dubois, Zach Layton and Matty Ostrowski that uses computer processing to speed up feature films to 10 times their normal speed. Tuesday's double feature of "The Wizard of Oz" and "Top Gun" came off like a bad acid trip, mixing a pounding electronic soundtrack with audio that sounded like something out of The Chipmunks. The films themselves were not only sped up, but altered to an almost-unrecognizable state: at one point, the image multiplied prismatically into hundreds of individual screens. 

Noveller, the stage name of former Cold Cave/Parts and Labor guitarist Sarah Lipstate, was perhaps the evening's most highly anticipated act, thanks in no small part to her prominence in Time Out NY's preview of the show. Sarah performed solo guitar to her own abstract film projection, using an array of pedals, bells and bubble wrap to slowly unleash a sonic maelstrom. As Steve wrote: "It's music that’s distinctly human in scale, yet imbued with a radiance that can be defined only in metaphysical terms... fashioning succinct reveries teeming with a narcotic bliss." Not to mention bad ass. 

Closing was dowtown guitarist/composer Alan Licht, who's collaborated with everyone from Rhys Chatham to Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo. For this performance, he sat at a table and played ambient drones over a slowed down surfing documentary. It was as soothing and trance-inducing as Fair Use's performance was jarring. In other words: a perfect way to end the evening. 

FoM Presents will be taking a break to enjoy the rest of the summer, but we'll be back in the fall with a new series of genre-crashing lineups that mirror the all-over nature of this site. Until then, get out and hear some live music! 

(More pics on Flickr.)DSC05864

FoM Quoted in the NY Times

The New York TimesI'm quoted in Dan Wakin's story in today's Times, regarding orchestras' increasing use of text messages to market to current and potential patrons. Dan mentions my reaction to last week's unsolicited txt message in response to voting for Lang Lang's encore at the Shanghai Symphony/NY Phil concert in Central Park, which I wrote about on both FoM and Twitter

Dan called me up last week, saying he was particularly interested in my negative reaction because of my day job as a digital media director, where cell phone marketing is more-or-less commonplace (though text messaging is so 2007, yo.) For me, though, there's a big difference between push and pull marketing: most marketers ask your permission to start texting you, rather than send you an unsolicited txt in response to something as innocuous as voting for an encore.

Dan quotes me as follows:

“It’s not like total spam, but it’s a bit of an invasion. It kind of makes you wonder what else are they going to do now that they’ve got my number? It creeps me out a little bit.”

Lang Lang's handlers at CAMI - who sent the txt - claim they did not store the numbers, and no more text messages will be sent to the 1400 audience members who voted for the encore. One wonders if that was always their intention...

For all you orchestra folk out there, a bit of professional advice: make all of your digital initiatives opt-in, and you won't have any issues. If you don't (that means you, Indy and Houston), beware the backlash.