Two evenings of spellbinding wonder and incredible sound
Sigur Rós at the Fox Theater, Oakland
This is the first of two posts chronicling my journey to see Sigur Rós for five performances in April 2017: two in Northern California, and three in Los Angeles with the LA Philharmonic Orchestra. Be sure to catch them on tour and tune in to Pitchfork on Friday, April 14th for a stream of their second LA Phil performance!
Fifteen years ago, I remember wandering down a dimly-lit suburban lane on a chilly November evening, the street silent as a tomb. I had a copy of ( ), the third record by renowned Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós, put that album in a Discman, and the quiet world around me instantly seemed to shift into some strange new world. I’ve always found that record to be an utterly sublime and immensely powerful expression of music, and was supremely pleased that some of my favorite songs from that album were in the set the first time I saw Sigur Rós play live. The band and their production crew are absolute masterminds at blending sound, light and visuals into an otherworldly experience; that show, in 2006 at the Marin Center in San Rafael, is still probably my favorite concert that I have ever experienced. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing Sigur Rós two times, playing two sets each (!), making these my sixth and seventh time experiencing their live performances — and they are just as astonishing as they have always been.
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Gavin DeGraw in Napa this past April
Okay, I’ll be the first to admit my folly: I was tardy to the Gavin DeGraw party. I mean really tardy. It’s not that I’d never heard of him or didn’t enjoy his music. It’s just that, for some reason, while my friends were all obsessing over him back in 2004 when he first came on the scene, I resisted several opportunities to join them. It wasn’t until I got a chance to fall for his charming personality in 2012 on Dancing with the Stars that I finally saw the error of my ways and drank the Kool-Aid. Since then, though, I’ve been making up for lost time. Now a genuine, bona fide giant Gavin fan in my own right, I recently had my first chance to finally catch him live this past April in Napa, promoting his newest album, Make a Move. You might think that having just seen him two months ago would make me less likely to rush myself to see him again at my alma mater UC Berkeley’s Greek Theatre last Friday night when he co-headlined with the phenomenal local boy Matt Nathanson, but well… you’d be wrong. Dead wrong. [read the whole post]
Maynard James Keenan
I’m going to be turning 30 later this month, and I’ve already got a grand party planned out. It’s a jovial occasion in recognition of youth and times gone by, as much as it is one of the future to come and a chance to just let loose in the present moment with my closest friends. With the experiences I’ve had and the frequently wonderful, often chaotic, but always memorable memories that come from them, there’s an awful lot that has happened to me in the 3 decades I’ve spent on the planet. I can only begin to imagine when doing something like this will be in decades to come, but I can only hope that it is anything close to the fantastic evening that Maynard James Keenan, world-renowned musician and dedicatedly rustic winemaker, shared with close friends and hardcore fans alike in celebration of his 50th birthday. [read the whole post]
The massive ISAM sculpture seen from afar
It is impossible to go and see an electronic music concert without being exposed to a phenomenal light shot and staggeringly complex visual performance, with dancing projections and rapidly-pulsing animations taking center stage for its entire span. As a result, electronic musicians are in a constant race to push the envelope of their live productions further than they have ever been pushed before, in an effort to bring a continuously relevant and engaging visual accompaniment to their own ever-evolving musical set. When Brazilian virtuoso Amon Tobin began work on the live version of his 2011 opus ISAM, the focus on organic sounds paired with pummeling synthesizers led to the creation of a new type of visual spectacle. Developed by production company V Squared Labs, ISAM Live takes the form of a gigantic white sculpture, comprised of several stacks of cubes at differing angles, onto which a set of sequences are projected, and mapped to compensate for the 3-dimensionality of the sculpture. The unorthodox screen comes to life in a dizzying display of pulsing lights, zigzagging lasers, ever-shifting patterns and creeping shadows; with the magic of surface-mapping, the structure appears to break apart, reform, and undulate like a living creature. After a worldwide club tour that experienced a ton of sold-out shows and highly-favorable reviews, Tobin and V Squared have reworked their performance and rebuilt the ISAM surface for an even larger and more dazzling show, which found its way to the Greek Theatre in Berkeley on a chilly autumn night.
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The ecstatic crowd, bathed in light.
Portishead. 14 years since their last Bay Area appearance, the legendary experimental trio have returned. The majority thought this day would never come, but after long anticipation, it finally did. Would these sojourned pioneers be able to successfully transfer their art live? [read the whole post]