BIG EARS 2010 day two (NH)
Day Two highlighted what I'd put forth as the only relevant problem with Big Ears booking such high-profile indie rock acts: the stretch of the day from the Dirty Projectors' show up through Clogs, Vampire Weekend and Joanna Newsom -- each of them at either the Tennessee or Bijou theatres -- left the Old City's Big Ears Annex borderline empty despite the venue having already hosted a few of the festival's sleeper hits. I'm still kicking myself for missing Iva Bittova & Liturgy in the early afternoon (though I caught up with Liturgy later at the Pilot Light, and was pretty blown away by their brooootality, and the only black metal shrieker whose voice I'll ever call "lilting") but I was part of undeservedly anemic audiences for Asheville spazz-mathers Ahleuchatistas, DJ /rupture's collaboration with The Ex's Andy Moor, local post-hardcore stalwarts New Brutalism, and, in what may have been the day's highlight, the three nutzoid codgers from Konk Pack, who dicked around agitatedly with an ancient synthesizer, a drum kit and an effects-drenched lap steel guitar in what seemed at first to be just indulgent noise but turned sneakily into an intense post-rock clamor. (Konk Pack will be playing again Sunday evening at the Annex starting at 8pm.)
But I suppose audiences making the safe choice is the price that has to be paid. Big Ears has done a smashing job preparing the Annex (formerly Blue Cats / Catalyst) for the festival, but no one will claim it's much of a match for our two historic theatres. I skipped out on Vampire Weekend and Clogs to avoid the crowds (who seemed to love both shows) but was front and center for the festival's single most promising bill: William Basinski, DJ /rupture and the Dirty Projectors. Basinski in particular went over better than I had expected, leaving a few people grumbling off to the sides during his intensely repetitive tape loop program but somehow keeping the rapt attention of many others. (Who knew the Tennessee Theatre would be such a lovely space in which to hear Basinski's music?) DJ /rupture's set was a little more reserved version of his friday night Annex throwdown, but more than made up for by a video setup that projected his every knob-twiddle on a screen directly behind him. Then the Projectors, who give off an irresistible Talking Heads air as a live band and largely focused on material from last year's exemplary Bitte Orca. (Alas, no "Rise Above.")
And then Joanna Newsom, at the Bijou. As beautiful as it was, I remain a little let down: the brevity of Fred Armisen's inspired Jens Hannemann set was only made worse by an interminable wait once he left the stage, and then when the curtain came up (revealing to me that I had chosen, over in Orchestra Left, the precise angle at which the effing harp would obscure the lovely Miss Newsom's every facial expression) she proceeded to play a number of Have One One Me's least distinguished -- and invariably lengthy -- tracks. Still, it was irresistibly beautiful (I inch closer every day from Newsom apologism to Newsom evangelism) and my decision to stick around for "one more song" found her playing "Baby Birch", one of the new record's devastating highlights.
Then back to the Old City for Liturgy and Gang Gang Dance, which ended up just being a distraction on the way to what was honestly the highlight of Day 2: an unofficial-as-unofficial-gets party in an alleyway on the outskirts of the old city presided over by KnoEars Sheriff Will Fist and featuring the sleazy, gothy industrial metal of Ascension Party, playing as loudly as possible outside at three in the morning. I ended up missing Damaged Patients for the second time this weekend (sorry Ben and Jennifer!) but, shit, a man's gotta sleep.
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: BIG EARS 2010 day two (NH).
TrackBack URL for this entry: