Sunday, 5 February 2012

Review: Grouper and Jeffre Cantu-Ledesma

You know how the appropriate length of a concert is something highly subjective. I've been to 20 minute shows that I found too long. I've been to two hour shows that I found too short. But I have never been to a seven hour concert before, so this was sort of a premiere. But was this even a concert after all?

I seriously love Grouper. Her records are awesome. Her collaborations (the Xiu Xiu split 12" for example) are great. The last time I saw her live at West Germany some years ago was a memorable experience. So it was sort of clear to me that I would have to attend this. The show was announced as a "seven hour non-stop performance / sound environment," which, to be honest, sounded a bit 'not sure if interestingly awesome or totally not worth a visit' to me in the first place. Thus I did not really know what to expect when I arrived at HAU. I was surprised that everything was so empty and quiet. There were literally no people in the staircase, no people at the bar, just two security guys and the guy who took my ticket to let me in. I didn't even hear the music trough the closed door. But upon entering the concert room I realized it was pretty much filled with people lying on the floor on big white cushions. Grouper and Jeffre Cantu Ledesma were sitting in the middle of the room in front of their instruments, surrounded by the audience. 

I mean sure, it was a concert somehow. There was an audience. There were musicians playing quiet and drony ambient music. There were dark abstract visuals fitting well to the atmosphere and the music. But to a great deal I think this was more the conceptual opposite of a concert. Like an anti-concert, sort of. There was just nothing happening. There was this audience resembling mass of people lying on the floor in this huge black room. There was this constant drone and noise from the speakers. Sometimes there may have been a slight hint of a melody. There were people leaving the room and people coming in. There were people sleeping. But all in all it seemed like everything was in a state of stagnancy. It was impossible to capture somehow. Everything seemed decelerated to a maximum extent. There were no "songs." Just slight structures of loops and repetitions you sometimes could try to get hold of in order to follow this constant flow of music. There were no pauses. Just phases of increasing or decreasing "speed" and volume. There was no clapping. You couldn't really tell if the audience appreciated or disliked what they were witnessing. And it didn't even matter, because somehow you were in this on your own.

I guess what I'm trying to point out is that this was an intense experience.

I did not stay until the very end and decided to leave after about four hours. The cold and snowy outside did it's part to fit my mood. Good thing I went here and I really hope Grouper comes back again.

...I'm just still wondering if somebody who stayed until the show finished demanded an encore...

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