Just thought I'd jot down some reactions to the Ether festival at
London's South Bank complex (Royal Festival Hall & Purcell Room) and other
First off, the most important portion of it for me (and I suspect most
on this list) was the May 4 show at the Purcell Room, featuring Wobbly, The
Evolution Control Committee, Matt Wand (of Hot Air and Stock, Hausen and
Walkman), Felix Kubin, and People Like Us. 7.30 show, no intermission, 25
minutes for each artist. About 200-ish people thought it was worth paying
14 pounds admission for.
I have to admit my viewpoint was both great and terrible for this
show, since I was in it and spent much of the time backstage... however, it
does afford behind-the-scenes looks at things such as Felix Kubin sweeping
the stage sans trousers.
WOBBLY. I've had the pleasure of playing a few shows with him of late, so
I've seen what he does and have a basis for comparison of this show, and
I'd say this was one of the best I've witnessed. Great transitions between
segments (if you even noticed the transitions at all) of very chopped up
stuff. Very thorough edits that only occasionally allow you to detect what
the original source material might have been -- no doubt left in the mind
that it's been thoroughly changed, altered, recycled, and improved. I only
wish the audience could better have seen how Wobbly operates... probably
most would assume he's another laptop composer, except that his face isn't
glowing on-stage from the screen. Indeed, he uses no laptop at all but
multiple Dr. Sample-style devices to put his stuff together live, each
sample triggered lovingly by hand and tweaked in real time. It's quite
impressive when you can see his dexterity and how he does it, but
unfortunately the audience misses out on that treat.
THE ECC. Well, obviously I had the worst view in the house on this one,
since I was on-stage for it. I'll just say that it felt like one of the
smoother shows I've given and I got great feedback about it.
MATT WAND. Unfortunately I didn't get to really see or hear his set, except
a few brief moments. What little I could hear well sounded pretty
interesting and I really wish I could've heard more and been out in the
audience myself. Audience members I talked to later said that it was a bit
plain to watch since the whole set was performed on Gameboys and effects
pedals while Matt was seated center stage in a comfy chair. I was really
interested in the Gameboy thing; I don't know much about it, but earlier in
the week I did another show where the opening act also performed with a
Gameboy (and other instruments)...
FELIX KUBIN. Blew me clean away. Great performer with a great sense of
humor that came through perfectly clear even though English is his second
language (German is his first, since he's from Hamburg). Now that I think
about it, the night was really perfectly ordered, in that both Felix and
ECC were very up-front and performance oriented, and Wobbly, Matt, and PLU
were not, so the line-up alternated evenly between more and less "live"
performances. Felix played organ/keyboard and synth with some backing
tracks, doing songs that really weren't sample-oriented or "plunderphonic"
at all, but still quite enjoyable and memorable. The highlight of the set
was a movie which he played the soundtrack for, bringing to mind the new
wave sets of Liquid Sky or Dr. Caligari, as well as the
cheap-set/high-creativity balance of Forbidden Zone. He packed his 25
minutes to the limit.
PEOPLE LIKE US. Like Wobbly, I've had the pleasure of seeing Vicki's work a
number of times over the past year, and each time it just astounds me more.
I don't tend to watch movies or videos more than once because I usually
feel like I've absorbed all the important parts in one sitting, but the PLU
videos always have me asking myself whether a certain bit was new this time
or if I just didn't catch it the first time I saw it. It's phenomenal
stuff, basically surrealist/plagiarist video seamlessly connected and laced
together with a soundtrack improvised over the video's "natural" audio
track. Something of a dadaist, apolitical Emergency Broadcast Network or
something. It's a tired buzzword, but as far as a "multimedia" performance
goes this is it -- full video, great sound, holds your attention completely
from start to finish. The great pity of it all is... there's no way to see
any of it outside of a live show! Save for one DVD compilation with one bit
on it, I don't think any of the video is available. But you might just want
to view it as a live-only thing -- you can't see/experience live shows in
your home, so just accept the video component as a live-only thing. Like
Felix, a really dense 25 minutes, though I think I noticed that she cheated
and went over. Good. :-)
Overall, an impressive night on all accounts. Honestly, when the
definitive guide to plagiarhythmic history is finally written, this should
really be one for the books. I felt like everyone was in fine form and this
was a rare and talented lineup. Kudos to all those that made this happen,
especially Glenn Max, Jane Beese, Kirsten, Joana, and doubly especially
Vicki for bringing us all together for this!
Other UK comments:
BASTARD POP/BOOTLEGGER MUSIC. It's -really- big there. Stateside nobody
seems to have really noticed it yet, but over there one of the tracks is
number ONE of the pop charts (I'm not just talking alternative charts or
some specialty, I'm talking #1 SINGLE SONG, PERIOD). Actually what they did
was they rerecorded the vocals with an alternate girl group to the one that
they sampled, to avoid definite legal action there... meanwhile, I guess
the Girls On Top guy that came up with it in the first place has been asked
by Virgin to do an album of it, raiding their vaults of whatever vocals and
instrumentals he needs. Of course, the problem with that is... where's the
fun when you're doing it by permission? No matter; people will probably go
for it anyway, ignoring the aesthetic of whether it's condoned or not.
The Cartel Communique folks, Freelance Hellraiser, and others went to
Berlin for their first non-UK bootlegger outing... apparently it went over
very, very well. We might yet see the bootlegger thing go Euro-wide, though
I'll be surprised if it really makes it in the states... for anything to
become nationwide is just too difficult to do when it's against the
CHICKS ON SPEED. Saw them as part of the fest. Basicaly Riot Grrrl stuff
meets Digital Hardcore, sort of. Kinda fun videos with it.
JIM O'ROURKE/KIM GORDON/DJ OLIVE/IKUE MORI (sp?). Thought this live
collaboration would be better than what it was... gathered lots of heckles
("Fuckin' WANK!") from the audience.
MOTORMARK. >Fun<, fun band from Glasgow, I think it was... they opened for
one ECC show. Dunno how well they'd be on record, but live they were a blast.
RICHARD D. JAMES (Aphex Twin). When you actually see him face to face,
he's not as scary as he looks (as it were) on all the albums and videos. He
seemed impressed by my shoe size.
SOUVENIRS. I brought back various records from Rough Trade, CDs I swapped
from people, a bottle of absinthe, and four jars of Vegemite and Marmite.
-- eccATpobox.com The Evolution Control Committee http://evolution-control.com "We're sooo next year" ___________________________________________________________________ _ _ | | The ECC, inventor of the latest British musical trend: read it in March's Spin and... | http://www.freakytrigger.co.uk/bootlegs.html | ECC interview in March's Cool and Strange Music Magazine | Look for an ECC interview in April's The Wire (article about bastard pop) | I'm Bloggin': http://core.ele-mental.org/~ecc/blog/blogger.html |___________________________________________________________________ _ _
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