Archive for the ‘Rave’ Category

Karl Mohr and Ivan Blackbird, Cameron House

I must begin this review by confessing that I did not stay for all of Ivan Blackbird’s set.  Ruth Cassie (the singer/songwriter of Ivan Blackbird) writes great songs and has assembled a fantastic band, but I was operating on three hours sleep the night before, had already had two beers, and had to bike home – so I left after her third song.

Anyway.  Karl Mohr and the Fallen Angels began their set with slamming guitar tritones and Karl shouting “SUBMISSION!” multiple times before segueing into the first song.  This is not a band that wants you to like them.  They don’t want to draw you in before going balls-out weird.  More than one punter came into the back room of the Cameron, saw what was going on, and left.

However, I like agressive and weird things, and Karl Mohr and the Fallen Angels excel at aggressive weirdness.  Karl is a sort of leather-clad Viking David Bowie; his singing ranges from steely to sweet and his performance is awesomely charismatic.  (Perhaps too much phallic mike stand stuff for my taste, but then I’m kind of a prude.)  Anyone who can write a lyric like:

Hold out your hand.
I’ve got a flaming human head behind my back.
Or maybe –
Maybe I’m the one on fire.

has my full and undivided attention.

This is never going to make it to Top 40 radio, but if you enjoy weird, aggressive, awesome songs with some BDSM themes then this is a band you want to see.

Full disclosure: Karl Mohr is my friend.  Ben plays in his band.  I used to sing back-up in his band.  That doesn’t mean I can’t find his act awesome and tell you why.

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A little departure for this week’s Complaining with Kay. I feel the need to improve my karma, even though I don’t really believe in karma; but since I’m doing all these auditions and things and hoping someone will cut me a break, I’m cutting the world a break and talking about a few things that I really like.

In this episode: Biking home on spring evenings; dogs; one sweet little girl’s voice; playing the piano and singing at the same time; lying in bed in the rain.

Also, weird overhearings: “I like ’em…fresh.”

Direct link.

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Today is Ada Lovelace Day, which celebrates the contributions of women to science and technology.  If you don’t know who Ada Lovelace was, look her up.  She was a very gifted woman with interests in mathematics, poetry, music, and technology.  Oh, and she DIED in 1852.  And she was Lord Byron’s daughter.  Overall, she was one interesting dame.

I’ve been researching her for a project I’m working on, so in honour of her day, I wrote a poem.

For Ada

For you, gifted daughter, let the sacrifice be laid –
the bowls of burning incense with their Fibonacci smoke,
the sunflowers with seeds laid out in geometric swirls –
let the songs be sung, those written in your name,
and over the altar let the bells ring out.

Only I see, as I gaze in the flower’s heart,
the sequence of your face picked out in tiny seeds;
and in the thick air the smoke spells out your name,
and every ringing bell repeats: Ada,
Ada, love, the sacrifice is you.

But you will live again, Ada, and in no father’s name
will gifts like yours be sunk and turned to dust.
For you, gifted daughter, let the sacrifice be laid,
and in among the flowers let me lay my humble bloom.

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I should have written this while it was still fresh in my mind, but oh well.  It was that kind of weekend.  On Friday night we went to the Toy Piano Composers’ Collective second concert (I think it was the second), Cage the Bird.

First of all, it’s really, really nice to go to a new music concert and have to sit on the floor.  I mean that.  It’s nice to go to a new music concert that’s so packed that there’s nowhere to sit.  Frequently you go to a new music concert and there are more people on stage than in the audience, which is depressing.  So it was packed.  It was at a place called Gallery 345, which has nice acoustics and a couple of nice pianos – though no toy pianos – and while they didn’t serve free booze at the reception afterwards, it was very classy.  Fuckin’ classy.

Anyway.  On to the music.  I took notes on all the pieces, but can’t exactly remember what they refer to.  (This is why I need to write concert reviews RIGHT AFTER the shows.)  Here are some examples:

– “nice use of silence”
– “hey, that’s my day”
– “cautious conduct?”
– “back to school & argue in class”
– “get players walking around”
– “neo-Strauss”
– “Tom Waits fanfic music?”

So I can only offer a general review of the show.  This particular group of composers works by giving each other restrictions about how/what they have to write for the concert.  For example, one was told to write at least half of the piece while drunk.  Another had to use music from a dream.  Another had to build something, then destroy it.  This creative jump-starting technique can be very fruitful – Lars von Trier, anyone? – and it was effective in this case.  All the music was well put-together and well performed.  Their creative process seems good at helping them create shortish programmatic works (works with a “story” or central idea); if I could offer them some unsolicited and probably clueless advice, I would suggest using it to create works with more development and complex structure.

Also: no toy pianos in this show.  String quartet.

At the door they hand out restrictions to the audience.  Mine was:

Change seats during the intermission, and see if it changes anything else.

That’s how I ended up sitting on the floor, BTW.  I started out with a seat, but gave it up at intermission to a senior citizen who didn’t have one.  Perhaps if I were a nobler person I would have given it up earlier, but you can’t do it all.  And I have to say it didn’t change much of my experience of the concert, other than I had a better view of the players and my butt fell asleep.

Overall, very good.  I recommend going to their next show, though I can’t tell you when it is – no info yet on their website.  I will post the date/time/venue when I know what it is.  I also recommend listening to Ben’s podcast where he interviews them.*  Fun fun fun.

*Ben has redone the website in Flash or something and I can’t figure out how to link to the podcast page, but go there and click on “Podcast” and then listen. Fairly simple.

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I’m not doing anything today. Other than this, and submitting an application for something, though it’s pretty much done – I just need to read it over and click “Submit” – I plan on spending the day in much the same way a basset hound/beagle might, except I will probably be awake for more of it. Maybe I’ll go out and buy a scale.

I think I mentioned The Pillow Book before; I was thinking about it earlier today when I realized that if Sei Shonagon were alive today, she would probably be writing a blog. What is a blog, anyone, but a random collection of anecdote, observation, lists of things, poetry, and invective? So in the spirit of thousand-year-old Japanese literary forms, here is a list of things I don’t like:

Things I don’t like:

1. Eyebrow piercings.
2. Buttons with jocular phrases on them – “I’m only bitchy on days ending in Y!” Yeah, it’s fucking hilarious. HA HA HA.
3. Canadian novels about growing up ___________ in _____________. Fill in the first blank from this list: Japanese, gay, poor, a hippie, psychic, American, extra-terrestrial, and the second blank from this: Newfoundland, Vancouver Island, the Yukon, a small Northern Ontario mining town, a hippie commune in the 60’s, a tony upper-class suburb, a convent. These books usually have mysterious, evocative titles (“The sand of silence”) and feature a close-up photo of an insect in their cover art. Reviews and blurbs always include the words “searing”, “wry humour”, and “impactful”.
4. Podcast advertising. I know, podcasters don’t get paid to podcast (usually), so I won’t complain too much, but there’s something about it…OK, shutting up now.
5. In the same vein: calling writings, music, and broadcasts “content”. I hate that. “Content delivery” sounds so corporate and soulless.
6. Poor diction. Please, people, PRONOUNCE THE LETTER T. It is a consonant, not a glottal stop. It uses your tongue and your teeth. That’s all.
7. Astrology. I don’t need to explain this one.
8. Canadian passive-aggressiveness. I also sort of love this, but it can be annoying. I just watched a hilarious documentary about David Icke in Vancouver. He gets thrown out of bookstores and radio stations, all the time playing up his oppression for the camera. “Don’t you know, you’re throwing away your own freedoms?” he raves at the poor goons at the front desk. And all the goons can say is, “Thanks for coming in. Please, I don’t think this is very productive.” I wish someone would just stand up and yell, “Get the fuck out of here, you insane freak!”
9. Not winning the lottery.
10. People who drive everywhere, then complain about the traffic.
11. Styrofoam meat packaging.
12. Unfriendly hipsters.
13. Purses with no internal pockets.
14. DRM.
15. Music books that are deliberately a little bigger than standard paper sizes. This is sort of a brick-and-mortar form of DRM – making the music a little harder to photocopy to discourage illegal copying and sharing. There’s even a music publisher that prints everything in light red ink just to make it harder to photocopy. But music photocopying is ESSENTIAL for the practice of music: even if you own the score, you have to photocopy it so you can mark it up and carry it around (along with all the other stuff you’re working on) to lessons and coachings and rehearsals. So just like DRM, it inconveniences legitimate users and fails to discourage abuse. And it’s especially galling when the music in question is by a composer who’s been dead for 250 years.
16. The number of calories in Starbucks’ Low-Fat Cranberry Muffins.
17. Not having a funny item with which to round off a list.

Things I do like:

1. Blog comments.
2. Australia. Not that I’ve ever been there, but I’ve been listening to lots of Australian podcasts and it sounds awesome. Yes, there are thousands of deadly animals and plants, but Christmas is in the middle of the summer, and you can bring your dogs to bars.
3. Central heating. I really, really like this.
4. The Doctor’s Night Guard. I just got one of these because my jaw’s been getting tense again and messing up my whistle register. I used to have a proper, dentist-fitted night guard, but Madeline ate it a while ago and I never got another one, because they cost at minimum $300. The drugstore version costs $30, and seems to work just as well. It’s an awesome improvement.
5. Small, cute boxes.
6. Dogs. Especially mine, but other people’s are good too.
7. The Hitler-RickRoll video.
8. Science.
9. LOLCats/Dogs.
10. The details of Mormon theology. Same with Scientology.
11. Not watching reality TV.
12. Ephemera.
13. Online music publishers. You can pay to download the sheet music of a song for under five dollars, and a lot of them just give you the file as a PDF with no restrictions.
14. The Internet in general.
15. Ebooks. Not the expensive ones, though.
16. Eating breakfast. I should have done that today. I’m getting hungry, and it’s almost time for lunch. Fortunately, though, through the magic of the slow cooker, I’ve already made dinner. Maybe I’ll go out for lunch. Then buy a scale. 17. Spending a whole day goofing off. So. Time to get on with my goofing off.

There’s a couch that crying out for someone to lie on it, and a dog or two on it that needs someone to hang out with.

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This computer, a 2003 iMac which I inherited from my grandfather (well, no one else wanted it…), is starting to make ominous sounds and show signs of advanced age and senility.  For two days the only way I’ve been able to turn it off is to unplug it, which is, you’ll agree, not a good sign, and it has a tendency to freeze whenever I plug in my Ipod.  Its processor is too slow (!) to install Leopard; its hard drive is a measly 17 GB; it has sudden fits of the vapours when trying to play Flash videos with more than one programme running at a time; in short, it’s on its last legs.  I did enquire about its trade-in value at a Mac reseller…but it more or less doesn’t have one.  

But since I own both an Ipod Touch AND an EEE, I don’t really need a real computer.  (Though the amount of money the two of them cost could have bought a real computer…oh well…)  Once this computer loses it, I will go solo and survive on mobile internet devices alone.  And use Ben’s computer to update my website.

So.  New Year’s Day.  I went to a lovely party last night.  There was both a heated argument and some drunken vomiting, but as I was involved in neither, I consider the party a success.  I wore an awesome vaguely superhero-ish outfit.  I will post pictures if any surface and I consider them worthy of your consideration.  I woke up tired but not hungover, which is much better than the last three New Years:


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…because I am lying in bed, blogging from my new Ipod touch! Yes, I do now own both an EEE and this sleek and well-designed little time-sucker. Shut up. I did write the whole vampire novel on the EEE, so you can’t call it a waste.

Anyway. I didn’t go to the anti-Harper rally yesterday, because it was REALLY cold and I was wearing my audition wear. But I’m proud to say that 5000 people did show up (presumably not in semi-formal wear).

The audition went very well, except for one thing. I sang an aria from “The Rake’s Progress”, which is a really neat opera by Stravinsky based on the Higarth engravings. It starts, “No word from Tom,” and ends 7 minutes later with “An ever loving HEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRT!” on a big old high C. I’ve sung thus thing about a million times (it was on my tour), and yesterday in the audition,what did I do? “An ever loving hea-AAAART!”. Yes, I forgot about the high note and started it an octave lower, then jumped up to it. Oops. Other than that it was good, though, and I didn’t make as much of an ass of myself in the interview as I normally do.

And then I went to a party and drank too much and made a bit of an ass of myself there, but oh well. That’s life.

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