Posted in music | pictures on October 29, 2009

photos by Julieta Cervantes, words by Andrew Frisicano

DOWNLOAD: The Long Count - Bull Run (feat. Kelley Deal) (MP3)

The Long Count

The Long Count premiered last night (10/28) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music while the Yankees were losing to the Phillies up in the Bronx. It's a risky piece - and not just because the pre-show epigraph was a radio broadcast of the last time the Yankees were swept in a World Series. The overarching "Creation" theme guides the piece's rise-collapse-rebuild structure, and its individual songs and their discrete musical worlds make each movement engaging and unexpected. Each part has its own center: At the beginning the band sounds like a chamber ensemble, with the two lead guitars playing in counterpoint. That transitions into a duet between twins Kim and Kelley Deal of the Breeders, whose smiles and lighthearted gait broke through any opening-night tension that might've been present. Their informality went against the general seated-show seriousness of the BAM Opera House. Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), in contrast, was in total performance-art mode, bouncing around lithely in a series of choreographed gestures and rotating costumes. The Deals sang muffled, overdriven harmonies, in their classic style, before splitting to take their own numbers. Kim's song in particular , "Time to play" it might be called, crested into a bass-less din like a staticy AM radio that filled the hall. (Kelley's, "Bull Run," you can hear above.)

While the Dessners sat (and rose at moments) on stage, they trusted the weight of their composed music to the assembled band. For the complexity of the piece, and the precision to which it was arranged, the tightness of the well-rehearsed and conductor-less band was remarkable. The middle of the piece is a series of instrumental arrangements that progress from relative order to menacing crescendo. To transition certain segments, Colin Stetson (on bass clarinet and bari sax) explodes through the hall with freefrom circular breathing figures. For these moments he's wholly alone.

A massive symmetrical backdrop of flowing abstract landscapes looms over the musicians and audience. The final piece, a Morricone-tinged number sung by Kim Deal, plays before a breezy, sun-burnt plain.

The show happens again at BAM on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are still available. More pictures from Wednesday below...

The Long Count

The Long Count

The Long Count

The Long Count

The Long Count

The Long Count

The Long Count

The Long Count

The Long Count

The Long Count

The Long Count

The Long Count

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Comments (22)

Selist?

Posted by Anonymous | October 29, 2009 4:53 PM

it was one long piece and it was good

Posted by Anonymous | October 29, 2009 5:00 PM

was there last night and enjoyed it. was sitting in the balcony, and couldn't make out one word that anyone was singing - still enjoyed the ambient sound.

question - was it any different in other spots? could you understand the lyrics?

Posted by Anonymous | October 29, 2009 5:59 PM

we were in the front row (in the orchestra pit). spoke to some orchestra members afterwards who assured us, "You had the best seats... and the WORST seats in the house." Ha! I think he was exactly on the money. Extremely intense right there in the front, but we were so close to the stage that we were actually behind the speakers! I think we lost a lot of the mix in our seats (and, judging from the photos, we also lost the effect of the plexi-mirrored floors, as well). Any way you cut it, we were extremely impressed. A very layered & intense piece of music. Sit in the rear for the sound. Sit near the front to keep your eyes and ears on the string section. Great night at the theater. Definitely catch it if you can.

Posted by jlk | October 29, 2009 7:07 PM

Beautiful images and on the money writing! Thank you again Brooklyn Vegan!

Posted by Anonymous | October 29, 2009 7:36 PM

can't say about the music as the mix was terrible but the staging was a disaster! One of those embarrassing 'artistic' treatments without any content to back it up - no matter how much Mayan spin was attached. The striving to be oh-so-much-more than rock stars was palpable.

Posted by Anonymous | October 29, 2009 9:32 PM

no, could not make out the lyrics either.

Posted by Anonymous | October 29, 2009 9:55 PM

I could make out the words to most of the songs (not Shara's) about on par with any show. I was center orchestra though...

You couldn't tell what the choruses were to Matt or Kim & Kelley's songs?

Posted by Anonymous | October 29, 2009 10:16 PM

this was amazing

Posted by Anonymous | October 29, 2009 11:30 PM

This was a great experience!

Posted by Anonymous | October 30, 2009 10:39 AM

I'm a huge fan of My Brightest Diamond *and* The National, so I expected a lot. Sadly -- and I say this just to warn people who might be tempted to buy tickets -- it was miserable, even at 65 minutes long. Horrible sound mix, uninteresting music, repetitive visuals, world-class pretentiousness. Details here:

http://worldclassstupid.blogspot.com/2009/10/only-read-this-if-you-googled-long.html

Posted by RomanHans | October 30, 2009 2:03 PM

I wonder if the sound mix varies all over the hall. In the mezzanine it was intensely an beautiful, hypnotic experience. Totally mind-blowing to see the Deals up there singing with an orchestra.

Posted by Anonymous | October 30, 2009 2:26 PM

It's true that if you've convinced yourself that you're going to see The National, The Breeders / Pixies, & My Brightest Diamond, you're going to be disappointed. But, the purpose of this production is obviously to entertain, and with the sight and sound experience of Wednesday night, the negative comments seem planned and ridiculous. The site & sound was breathtaking. Good luck Friday & Saturday!

Posted by Anonymous | October 30, 2009 2:53 PM

> the negative comments seem planned and ridiculous

"Planned"? It's an opinion, not birth control. As for "ridiculous," well, that's just rude.

Posted by RomanHans | October 30, 2009 3:11 PM

RomanHans...

It's nice to see you've found another place to show off your wit, and of course, leave a link to your blog.

Posted by Anonymous | October 30, 2009 3:31 PM

folks who found this an 'amazing', 'breathtaking' experience clearly haven't had many. please, this was a concept rock concert with a looping film for a backdrop and a girl wearing a feather headdress striking silly poses.

Posted by Anonymous | October 31, 2009 1:23 AM

I was second row, center orchestra. great view but sometimes tough to get a complete mix of the sounds from the full ensemble.

overall, it was entertaining. I think the NY Times review was right in saying the full potential of the ensemble was not utilized. but whatever, i thought the whole concept of the Mesoamerican mythology mixed with 'hero twins' and baseball with the Mayan Long Count made it all a good audio/visual learning experience.

solid.

Posted by PDiddly | October 31, 2009 2:06 AM

I found it deeply moving. The songs were beautiful.

Posted by Anonymous | October 31, 2009 9:23 AM

this was a great performance. it was nice to see established musicians step out of their comfort zones and put together something different. agree with above...deeply moving and solid experience.

Posted by Anonymous | October 31, 2009 10:20 AM

hard working orchestra out of view with mostly empty stage flanked by enthroned, boring guitarists. fire the director!

Posted by Anonymous | October 31, 2009 10:57 AM

orchestra was actually very visible

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