Sunday, November 14, 2004

bang on a glass

last night avant garde classical ensemble bang on a can came to town with special guest philip glass. i'd known about it for months but i hadn't been planning to go because the tickets start at $25, which is a bit stiff. but bobby vomit called me the other night & asked me if i wanted to go, insisting that he was going even if he went alone. now that i had someone to go with, it was hard to resist the chance to go see a living legend like philip glass. so we went.

bobby vomit, his cousin matt turd, & i arrived mere minutes before the 8pm showtime, & still had to wait in line at the box office. of course, at the box office they try to sell you the most expensive tickets unless you specifically ask for cheaper (which we did). this netted us tickets for the second terrace. when we got up there the show had already begun so we had to wait a couple minutes for bang on a can to finish their first number before the usher would seat us. i thought the seats were good for being on the second terrace: we weren't exactly close to the stage, but the view was very clear.

bang on a can played two more pieces: a michael gordon piece called "light is calling" with some electronic sounds (it sounded almost like an ambient electronic composition: very cool) & a louis andriessen piece called "workers union": this was a very intricate piece full of point & counterpoint & these guys rocked it hard: about as it's possible to rock when you're playing classical instruments like cello, double bass, clarinets, etc. i'm not sure i'd ever been to a show with musicians who has so much classical training playing something so "different".

then came the intermission: at least 20 minutes if not 30 or more. i stayed in my seat for awhile, then bobby v & i went outside for a cigarette. we got back to our seats just in the nick of time, as philip glass was walking onstage. first he played solo on the piano (playing what he called "four metamorphoses", explaining that he was not going to play what was on the program). the composition was exactly what i've come to expect from glass: repetitice, subtle, changing very slowly after time. bv asked me after the show if it was "the best piano piece i'd heard all year" & i had to admit that it was, though that's not very stiff competition considering how few piano pieces i generally hear. really good stuff, but i'm used to glass having more of an organy electronic sound.

next the members of bang on a can came back onstage & joined glass in playing his "music in similar motion". excellent. this was closer to the sound i was expecting: glass on keys, alongside these supremely talented performers, playing an interesting piece full of gradual movement. at one point i looked over & bobby v was literally trembling: i had to check to make sure he wasn't having a seizure.

after that glass left the stage. i guess he wasn't needed for the next piece: his own "music in fifths". despite his absence, this was possibly my favorite piece of the night.

they had suggested that "music in fifths" was the final number of the night, but obviously that was false because they walked offstage but the house lights didn't come up. i've never understood the point of encores: if you plan to play a piece, just put it in your normal set. don't yank the audience around by pretending the show is over & make them "demand" that you come back for more. but within moments they were back onstage, again with philip glass. bv and matt were very excited to hear that the encore would be "closing" from glassworks. again, it was very good. then we were on our way home.

during the ride home there was much mocking of the guitar player: onstage he looked more like he belonged with def leppard or something. he would make what matt called "eddie van halen" moves, which would make sense if he did them at emphasis points, but they seemed to be at totally random intervals. the moves were amusing & distracting, but i couldn't really hear him much so i didn't mind much. matt claimed that as a guitar player he could hear the guitar more clearly, & it was distracting for him, arguing that shouldn't even have a guitar. i can see his point, but it didn't bug me all that much really. and criticisms of the guitar & the high price tags (cds were apparently $20! i might've bought one if they were $15 or less), we all agreed it was a great show & we'd enjoyed it.

then we came back to my house for a bit: bobby vomit rocked out using my gear (one ttx1 turntable, the vcr audio, & my kp2 kaoss pad). i recorded about 40mins of it, with some beautiful moments where he would randomly pull some fantastic audio off of the cartoon network: at one point he switched over right as one character said "bad taste"! fantastic (& i didn't have to pay $25 to see it). then they were off, & i watched adult swim & real sex before turning in for bed.

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