Posted in music | pictures on August 10, 2009

photos by Tim Griffin

Both the Chatham piece and Liquid Liquid were just perfect. (And a nice contrast btw LL's 'less-is-more' and Chatham's 'more-is-more' respective approaches.) What a perfect musical night! Anonymous | August 8, 2009 11:34 PM

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham's A Crimson Grail for 200 Electric Guitars debuted to perfect weather and a packed Damrosch Park on Saturday, August 8th. The NYT estimated a crowd of around 10,000 people. Rhys's piece began a little after 7:30pm and ran about an hour -- it was actually the first act of the night, not counting the Asphalt Orchestra, which played in Lincoln Center's main plaza.

Nothing they played was intrinsically complex; Mr. Chatham's piece dealt in massed sonorities and mingling overtones rather than manual calisthenics. An E major triad rose from nothingness, rumbling and sighing; around eight minutes in, Ryan Sawyer, a drummer onstage with Mr. Chatham, tapped out a steady beat on high-hat cymbals while glistening high notes pealed over a thumping bass line. The music dissolved into feathery whispers, then built to a jet-engine density before bursting at the 35-minute mark, giving way to a gentle coda.

In the work's second part Mr. Chatham shifted iridescent waves of tremolo from corner to corner and side to side within the ensemble. During the final section treble strings maintained a tingly sitarlike drone over a mellow countermelody and Mr. Sawyer's tick-tock pulse, inducing a bucolic Krautrock-style hypnosis. The roaring finale transformed a simple ascending diatonic scale into a vehicle for visceral catharsis, eliciting an approving roar from the audience. [NY Times]

Liquid Liquid closed out the show.
"If you know Grandmaster Melle Mel's White Lines (Don't Don't Do It), you know Liquid Liquid. The hip-hop track's bass line was lifted straight out of the track Cavern, by the Eighties NYC-based post-punk band." [Will you miss me]
More pictures, and some videos from the event, below...

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Rhys Chatham and 200 Guitars

Liquid Liquid

Liquid Liquid

Liquid Liquid

Liquid Liquid

Liquid Liquid

Liquid Liquid

Liquid Liquid

Liquid Liquid

Liquid Liquid

Liquid Liquid

Liquid Liquid

Liquid Liquid

Liquid Liquid

Liquid Liquid

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A Chrimson Grail for 200 Electric Gurtars Lincoln Center 8-9-09

A Crimson Grail (intro)

Rhys Chatham (1 of 8) 200 Electric Guitars

Rhys Chatham (2 of 8) 200 Electric Guitars

Rhys Chatham (3 of 8) 200 Electric Guitars

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Comments (45)

my 'spot the indie rocker on guitar' game is slipping...i could only ID chris brokaw.

man, liquid liquid had to play AFTER that? ouch.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 11:05 AM

Let me say, it was murder trying to talk over those 200 guitars. Yet, somehow me and my friends managed to do it! And we were able to make it to Santo's in time to talk over the spoken word bull shit.

Listen for us tonight somewhere in NYC you losers.

Posted by Gabby | August 10, 2009 11:12 AM

everyone involved looks bored

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 11:15 AM

From where I was standing, it sounded more like two guitars. Unless you got there way ahead of time and got a seat, you couldn't hear a damn thing. Then, Liquid Liquid came on, people went up to the front of the stage, and the police told everyone that they would either have to find a seat or leave.

Lincoln Center=LAME

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 11:17 AM

actually, i think that's Susan Stenger in the green shirt as well...I know Robert Poss was also playing but have no idea what he looks like.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 11:22 AM

anon 11:15. 3/4 of those pictures were taken before anyone even started playing. so, yeah, they were kinda bored waiting to start.

anon 11:17. if Lincoln Center was lame this whole thing COULD NOT have happened in the first place. hugely appreciate the fact that this night was even a possibility.

i had no idea that the dude from Union Pool played the high hat.

Posted by jan janson | August 10, 2009 11:27 AM

From the seats the last crescendo sounded enormous and incredible.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 11:31 AM

@11:17 lincoln center was lame for fucking it up LAST YEAR.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 11:33 AM

boring waste of potential.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 11:33 AM

Sarah Lipstate aka Noveller (22nd pic)

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 11:53 AM

@ 11:17 nailed it.

We got there at 7pm and had to stand on the side. So it was hard to get the full effect of the whole thing. Still some parts were amazing.

Really wish I got there early to snag a good seat in the middle...

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 12:04 PM

yeah, the Lincoln Center is lame for not accomodating 10,000 people w/ prime seats.

stop your bitching, you high maintenance jerkoffs.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 12:11 PM

Anon - 11:53am, that's not Sarah Lipstate, but yeah, she was in the orchestra. David Sims from the Jesus lizard on bass too.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 12:12 PM

@12:11, be nice.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 12:13 PM

In a word: underwhelming.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 12:27 PM

12:27 -- what did you expect, a blowjob?

short of that happening, it was magnificent.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 12:40 PM

Got there way early and snagged seats right in the center by the press section. Sounded pretty incredible from there, especially the beginning of the second part where each quad of guitars was taking turns. Like any quad sound system there was a pretty narrow sweet spot for this piece in order to get the spacial effect. Still it needed a kick drum for the finale.

Posted by DaveP | August 10, 2009 12:41 PM

The music was terrific. Members of the audience got a good laugh from observing Rhys Chatham's ridiculous gestures. At one point, he scratched his head like a monkey.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 12:44 PM

I found "Crimson Grail with 200 guitars" really underwhelming. I agree with the previous poster that it squandered potential. While I'm not an orchestral music guy (more indie and techno), I expected something rare and unheard. From where I stood on both sides of the orchestra, the piece never took off, and never really utilized the 200 guitars. I overheard someone say, "I want to hear 200 guitar solos." I guess I wanted some riffs too and not the drone. It wasn't bad at all, but I expected more from it. Maybe I just had a bad spot.

On a side note, it was packed to the gills. When the security tried to get people from trampling on the wires and flowerbeds, the sanctimonious attitude from some of the attendees, young-ish and old, was deplorable.

Liquid Liquid was awesome and should play more often.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 1:27 PM

although sarah lipstate did play in the event, that is not her in photo 22 as stated above by a previous post.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 1:28 PM

I have a copy of the Crimson Grail on CD from when it was performed in Paris and the performance we heard Saturday night was a good one. Unfortunately, for whatever reason the overall volume for the show was lacking to say the least. I guess they have no problem pumping up the volume for dance nights but heaven forbid they turn it up for some guitars. After last summer's fiasco I'm grateful to have experienced it.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 1:40 PM

sit down=boring

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 1:41 PM

I'm the old guy with the purple bag and it was awesome...

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 1:41 PM

@1:27
"I overheard someone say, "I want to hear 200 guitar solos." I guess I wanted some riffs too and not the drone. It wasn't bad at all, but I expected more from it."

it probably would have served you better had you been more familiar w/ Mr. Chatham's work.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 1:42 PM

shout out to all the bald spots in the audience

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 1:43 PM

I can tell you, as one of the 200 guitarists, that the reason it was not that loud was because we were under a specific noise restriction by the NYC Parks Dep't. We were not allowed to go above 102 db at any point, and while we definately did get above that, it was not loud enough for my tastes. This year's soundcheck we were watched by a Parks Dep't official who sat there with a decibel meter ensuring our compliance. We did not play any of the really loud parts and we were still at 90-95 db.

Last year during our soundcheck we were at 112. It is kind of funny that liquid liquid was far louder than us with the PA system. Maybe the Parks Dep't doesnt like droney guitar goodness....

Posted by Ian | August 10, 2009 2:04 PM

the work that goes into planning and executing an event like this is pretty unparalleled and the musicians who volunteered their time (more than just saturday afternoon) did so without any compensation except for the privilege of being part of something cool.

the fact that this sort of event can take place at all speaks to the energy, talent and passion of the people involved. to me, mentions of boredom and wasted potential miss the point entirely (though i wish it had been louder, too; we have nyc noise ordinances to thank for that).

new yorkers are spoiled having access to these kind of free concerts happening all over the city. this was a special night, and i won't be forgetting anytime soon.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 2:12 PM

12:40,

Predictable snark aside, the volume was too low, there were too few speakers and it lacked peak energy. (2:04 explains why.)

I think it could have been very cool in an indoor space with good acoustics. But that's not where it was. It was not the right venue for that piece.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 2:32 PM

next time do 200 guitars and 88 drummers at the same time.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 2:43 PM

288 trombones

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 2:54 PM

The volume seemed fine to me, although I was sitting very close to some of the guitarists. I liked how the set up made it a different experience for everyone all over the venue. Sections that seemed distant to me would have sounded remarkably different to those sitting elsewhere, meaning everyone exited the venue having had a wonderfully inconsistent experience of the piece.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 2:59 PM

Who knew Artie Lange could play guitar?

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 3:00 PM

15,000 triangles

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 3:05 PM

I thought it was wonderful how I couldn't hear a damn thing. it probably would have served me better if I had been more familiar with not being able to hear a damn thing.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 3:34 PM

Sarah Lipstate aka Noveller (22nd pic)


re: She's kinda yummy!! I'd like to "Explorer".

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 3:35 PM

I was there. It was magnificent.

Check out my own video clips:

http://www.youtube.com/davecromwell

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Posted by Dave Cromwell | August 10, 2009 4:25 PM

I was there. It was magnificent.

Check out my own video clips:

http://www.youtube.com/davecromwell


Oh, yeah - 8th picture in - that's me standing right behind the box fan in by John King's section. ;-)

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Posted by Dave Cromwell | August 10, 2009 4:47 PM

Excellent evening of music. Anyone who got into the main concert area and complains about the Chatham piece has some serious psychological problems.

(If you complain about the music and did not get into the main concert area, isn't that like complaining about how shitty a movie was because you didn't get into the theater?)

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 5:12 PM

ernie brooks from the modern lovers and david sims from the jesus lizard were two of the sixteen bassists

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2009 6:06 PM

homemade tele deluxe FTW

Posted by Anonymous | August 11, 2009 9:55 AM

Yes - there were things that could have been better, but overall, I did quite enjoy the experience.

Though...what I will say about the crowd, not the performance is that for the most part (where I was standing) the group was enthusiastic and pleasant. However, there should be some unspoken rule that if you are very, very tall, you shouldn't physically move a 5'6" person and then stand directly in front of them.

Posted by Jamie Davis | August 11, 2009 5:59 PM

more cowbell!

Posted by Anonymous | August 11, 2009 10:48 PM

what about that one dude?

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2009 10:24 PM

hey creepy @Anonymous 3:35 PM - that is NOT Sarah Lipstate in photo #22.

Posted by Anonymous | August 14, 2009 2:14 PM

The guitarist in the green shirt is Val Opielski(http://www.myspace.com/valopielski) not Susan Stenger (http://www.distortionistruth.com/music_susan_stenger.html). Susan lives in London and was there in spirit.

Posted by R.P. | August 15, 2009 6:04 AM

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