The Winter Solstice may not be until Dec. 21st, but these increasingly long nights seem to be cater-made for multiple-show goings. Case in point: I managed to get to three different shows last night, each with it's own distinct flavor and abandon.
I started out last night up at St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue for the traditional service of Evensong by the Choir of Jesus College, Cambridge, currently on their first-ever tour of the U.S. The choir, made up of male and female undergraduates, has a busy schedule of concerts and regular services, including Evensong twice a week in a 13th century chapel that is the oldest building in Cambridge. Last night's program included both ancient English carols and contemporary arrangements of traditional hymns by William Walton, Maurice Durufle, and Herbert Howells, all sung exquisitely by the choir from the chancel. One can only imagine the shock and awe they felt upon being thrust onto the holiday stampede of 5th Avenue.
A few hours later, I was on the Lower East Side at the Abrons Arts Center for Dither's Incubator Workshop, which had the electric guitar quartet performing a program of new works by Eve Beglarian (The Garden of Cyrus), Ted Hearne (Aberrations) and Nick Didkovsky's metal-influenced Vox Requiem, written in tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio, former lead singer of Black Sabbath and Dio.
The main highlight, though, was Tristan Perich's Interference Logic: a mind-bending 30 minute fantasy for guitar and pre-programmed electronics. Unlike some of Tristan's noisier ventures, here the 1-bit chips emitted clean, high-pitched tones that perfectly blended with the guitars, phasing in-and-out like one of Steve Reich's early exercises in minimalism. And then, just as I was starting to wonder where this whole repetitive mass was headed, the guitars came triumphantly in over the top in orchestral splendor. It was a tour de force for both Tristan and Dither, who were playing it in public for the first time after only six weeks rehearsal. (They play it again on Jan. 28th at the Addison Gallery in Andover, MA, where Tristan is currently Artist-in-Residence.)
I then hightailed it up to Mercury Lounge to catch Buke and Gass play their distinctive brand of spiky art-rock to a large and occasionally dancey crowd. This was at least the fourth time I've seen Arone and Aron play live, and the shock of their homemade wail and thunder never fails to startle. That they could draw that kind of crowd to Mercury on a Saturday night (not to mention big, enthusiastic crowds the week prior in Montreal, Toronto and Chicago) speaks volumes to the indie crowd's ever-expanding appetite for new and diverse strains of music.
Now, if they only knew to look beyond whatever Bowery Presents is serving up.
More pics on Flickr.