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March 13, 2012

Peter Kirk w/ Cold Atlantic - Sullivan Hall

Cold Atlantic

Lots of faces filled Sullivan Hall on Friday night to catch Peter Kirk. Kirk, a songwriter, producer, and recording artist based out of NYC. For this show, Kirk was joined by Cold Atlantic: a Brooklyn band playing live for the first time. Not a bad way to debut.

Rivers of light hit the stage through smoke as the band came on.  Kirk started with his latest single, “Panama Wedding”. The sound brought me back to 80’s pop rock, with hints of newer bands like Phoenix.  Every new song brought the audience to the edge and kept them there. 

Most of the songs were Kirk originals, but we did get a warm introduction from Cold Atlantic.  Jared McCarthy held rhythm and back-up vocals all night, but ended the show by jumping to lead vocals on “Perfect Way.” It was a great compliment to Kirk’s music, with more of an indie sound. 

In case you missed the show, you can hear Kirk’s music to the indie film called Starla. Check out his video for “Water Weight” here. More pics below.


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Aaron Roche and FLUX Quartet with Logan Coale

by Laura Wasson IMG_0310

Last night’s concert featuring Aaron Roche and FLUX Quartet with Logan Coale was a perfect example of why staging is so important. That isn’t to say that the staging was necessarily bad at the Church of Advent Hope on the Upper East Side, but it vastly underserved Roche’s otherwise fantastic performance.

When Roche, drummer Anthony Lamarca, electronic guru Michael Hammond and Roche’s wife Whitni took to the stage - or I should say, floor - it was immediately apparent that all the wizardry of this little collective would not be seen well, especially by anyone not sitting in the first few pews. Pedals and sound boards were set up on music stands while Hammond's drum set was all but blanketed in darkness. When the two Roches sang together, Whitni remained seated, making the performance feel suddenly overly casual, as though you were hanging out with the group while they rehearsed. 

Still, the songs themselves were beautiful, at turns ambient and dissonant, eerie and soothing, woven together so that there were no pauses or break. Accompanying the performance was a rather strange selection of old French documentaries about underwater creatures. Surprisingly, it ended up being the perfect accompaniment to Roche’s guitar, calling to mind a more subtle Link Wray. Even Hammond and Lamarca’s electronic passages were well served by the footage, though the low rumbling and frequent blips had a feel similar to Iggy Pop’s “Mass Production,” as opposed to anything natural. The overall effect was that of humming along the ocean floor in a musical submersible, exploring the origins of life. It was beautiful and haunting.

FLUX Quartet were better received, as they actually had a stage on which to perform. Their opening selection, “Navigation for Strings” by Alvin Lucier, was an interesting choice, considering how somber and plodding it was. Long atonal chords don’t exactly win an audience over, and it wasn’t surprising to see many in the group fixated on one of Roche’s French documentaries, this one about seahorses, as opposed to the musicians (Tom Chiu, Conrad Harris, Max Mandel, and Felix Fan.)

For “Quintet for Bass Guitar and String” by the talented young composer Gilad Cohen, FLUX was joined by bassist Logan Coale. The piece was filled with excitement from the trembling start of the “Andante” to the ebullience of the “Largo Sostenuto”. Paired with Coale’s thumping bass, the composition felt at turns completely new and totally familiar. It was, in many ways, the most successful work of the evening, precisely because it labored no points and lacked any pretension. Chiu and Mandel’s feverish and excited playing was palpable, and made certain the audience felt it. If only everything could be so unabashedly fun.

Laurie Anderson's 'Delusion'


Last weekend, Laurie Anderson performed "Delusion" at Pace University in lower Manhattan for the final time.  The piece is an audio-visual tapestry, weaving together 20 short stories and vignettes ranging from her mother's death to Russia's 150-year old space program. 

Anderson's work has always been more theater than music, despite the popularity of some of her more melodic hits ("O Superman"). "Delusion" is mostly spoken word accompanied by an electronic violin that she designed herself. Anderson's unique instruments have become one of the trademarks of the experience that is a Laurie Anderson performance. Another part of what makes her so amazingly stramge is the distortion she sometimes applied to her voice, transforming her temporarily into the male villain in a scary movie.

Against a backdrop of several screens onto which a series of images was projected, ranging from an animated chalk board to red and yellow leaves dancing in the autumn wind, to the surface of Mars, Anderson jumped from one story to the next, weaving together an exploration into the way we talk about our lives, our families and the world while navigating the lines that separate fact from myth. 

Throughout the hour-and-a-half long performance Anderson switched between standing behind podium behind and sitting on a love-seat onto which the images were projected. The experience was draining, both mentally and physically, as the audience followed Anderson's monotone voice and jumped from one story to the next.

Some sections were deeply sad, while others filled the theater with laughter. In one vignette, Anderson began by explaining the difference between man and woman. When everything goes wrong women have one option men do not: crying. However, women have a good reason to cry, Anderson explained: their last names, unlike those of men that are passed down from generation to generation, are often lost and forgotten by time. Even worse: in today's modern world, maiden names have been relegated to the use of passwords to verify your accounts on websites, equal to your pet's name or your first school.

As the show ended, Anderson left the stage to thunderous applause, only to return a moment later for one short piece, an electronic violin solo that blew away the rest the performance with its simplistic beauty. (See below for an excerpt from her 2010 BAM performance.)

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SXSW or Bust


Am I the only person who thinks it's crazy that just about the entire music industry - bands, label managers, bloggers, and their various hangers-on - is headed to Austin, TX right now for the 25th annual SXSW? I didn't think so.

Yes, I'll be there. No, I don't know who I'm planning to see, or what parties I'm supposed to go to (though this Tofu BBQ looks pretty rad.) I'll figure it out when I get down there.

Hope to see you in Austin. Check back here and on Twitter (@feastofmusic) for updates from myself and the crew.