Entries tagged with: Sufjan Stevens
Diamond Rings at Europa in June (more by Diana Wong)
As mentioned, My Brightest Diamond opens the first (8/2) of two Sufjan Steven shows at Prospect Park in August. Historically, this is an excellent match-up and her set should suit the show perfectly. Unfortunately, it is sold out. Sufjan's second show (8/3) now has an opener too though, and the addition suits Sufjan's new neon coated electronica (and diamond fetish) pretty well. It's Diamond Rings. Tickets for that show are still available, and we have a pair you can win. Details below.
The website "After Elton" asked Diamond Rings aka John O to describe his fanbase. This is what he said:
"It's really diverse. Short of bugging your own friends to come out and see you, after that it's out of my hands by and large who comes to my show. I can only make the music I want to make, and present the image that I feel represents me and hope that the right people get it. Not that there's wrong people. People who come to my shows are all over the place. Kids in high school, 20 something downtown folks like me, people my parents' age, which is really cool. It's all over the place. I'm trying to reach as many people as I can. I want to try and make the music and put on the kind of show that allows anyone to feel like they can come and express themselves and be themselves and be safe and have fun. I would be really worried if I had a demographic niche and everyone were the same that comes to my show."Diamond Rings will return in October during their tour with Twin Shadow. Updated dates, contest details, and the song "Give It Up" which features vocals by Austra's Katie Stelmanis, below...
photos by Amanda Hatfield words by Zach Pollack
Classical, pop-tinged orchestral group yMusic kicked off the second to last concert of the summer season at Castle Clinton in Battery Park as part of the River to River Festival last night (7/7). The six-players rotated on a variety of instruments including trumpet, viola, clarinet, and violin, possibly improvising as they took cues off of each other.
yMusic stuck around to back My Brightest Diamond (aka Shara Worden) as she took the stage around 7:30PM. Initially seeming shy and reserved, those notions of her were immediately shattered as she opened her mouth to sing. With a large vocal range in her arsenal, Shara's voice is as much of an instrument as the ones the orchestra behind her were using.
Breaking out a harpsichord, Shara and yMusic, backed by drummer Brian Wolfe, played a sonically expansive new track titled, "Escape Routes" off MBD's new chamber pop album LP All Things Will Unwind. The LP will arrive on October 18th via her longtime label Asthmatic Kitty, and they played in its entirety at the NYC show according to a note on Shara's website (though not in the album order). This will mark Shara's third LP under the moniker, and from the taste of what we received at Castle Clinton, it draws strong comparisons to Edith Piaf, Joanna Newsom and label-mate/collaborator Sufjan Stevens. Grab a taste via the MP3 from the album above. Check out the whole tracklist and cover art below.
Between performing cuts off of her new album, Shara donned a creepy mask while yMusic performed instrumental pieces that Shara composed for them and dancer Jessica Dessner who was there dancing to them. Late in her hour-long set Shara performed the track "High Low Middle" which had a New Orleans-feel to it, and had the entire audience engaged in endless hand claps. The group closed out their amazing performance at Castle Clinton by playing new song "Everything Is In Line".
My Brightest Diamond has sporadic dates throughout the summer, including an opening slot for Sufjan Stevens at his first of two nights at the Prospect Park Bandshell (August 2nd & 3rd).
Sufjan also has a new video for "Get Real Get Right." Check that out, along with more pictures from the My Brightest Diamond show, and her album artwork below...
DOWNLOAD: Sufjan Stevens - Get Real, Get Right (MP3)
Sufjan Stevens' Age of Adz show @ Beacon Theater (more by David Andrako)
As previously mentioned, the two Sufjan Stevens Prospect Park shows will be your last chance to experience the AGE OF ADZ tour in all its neon glory. The August 2nd show is still sold out, but tickets are still available for the show on August 3rd. We also have a pair you can win to the second show. Details on how, and a trailer that the Asthmatic Kitty team created for the shows (in which you are encouraged to bring neon, gaff tape and your dancing shoes), below...
Sufjan Stevens @ Beacon Theater in 2010 (more by David Andrako)
Tickets are now on etix/artist presale (password = heirloom) for the just-added Sufjan Stevens show in Prospect Park. The Venue/AEG presale starts on Ticketmaster on Thursday at 10am. Sufjan's label Asthmatic Kitty says, "This will be your last chance to see the Adz tour in all its bright, balloony glory!"
Sufjan Stevens at Beacon Theater (more by David Andrako)
Tickets for Sufjan Steven's August 2nd's appearance at the Prospect Park Bandshell have flown away. Luckily, the notorious S.O.O.F. will bless the park with a second date on the following night: August 3rd at Prospect Park Bandshell. Tickets for the new Brooklyn show go on AEG/venue presale at 10AM on Thursday (6/17) and noon on Friday (6/17). No word on openers (though we think My Brightest Diamond is opening the first night). We'll keep you posted.
In other SOOF related news, IFC is currently streaming a clip from the film Make:
Directors Scott Ogden and Malcolm Hearn's documentary, "MAKE," is about four artists on the furthest fringes of our society. Isolated by their disabilities, they find a voice and try to make sense of a world that shuns them, through incredible works of art. These are the characters that inspired Sufjan Stevens' album, "The Age of Adz." Stevens, who called the film "a beautiful and insightful look at the sublime task of making art when nothing will else do," based his album's narrative specifically on the life and apocalyptic work of the schizophrenic artist, Prophet Royal Robertson featured in "MAKE."The film's screening and release party will happen at the American Folk Art Museum on June 17th (RSVP info at the link). Screenings happen at 1:00, 3:00, 4:30 & 5:45 pm in the auditorium (lower level 1). The reception is 5:30-8:30 pm in the atrium, with live music by Takka Takka.
..."MAKE" includes a soundtrack with original compositions from Sufjan Stevens and Marc Bianchi (Her Space Holiday), along with music by Jim Guthrie, Oneida, Tommy Guerrero, and Au Revoir Simone.
Check out the 17 minute clip below....
My Brightest Diamond at Bowery Ballroom in 2010 (more by Chris La Putt)
Frequent Sufjan Stevens-collaborator (and now mother) Shara Worden aka My Brightest Diamond is opening for Sufjan at his previously announced Prospect Park show on August 2. Worden recorded vocals on the album epic "Impossible Soul" off Sufjan's The Age of Adz last year. Hopefully she'll come out and play it with him in Brooklyn. Tickets are still available.
My Brightest Diamond, who is busy working on a new album, also plays a free Castle Clinton show in NYC on July 7. Meanwhile she heads to Amsterdam for some performances of the Long Count. All dates are listed below.
Worden provided guest vocals on the recently released The Only She Chapters by Prefuse 73, who just released an EP with The Flaming Lips. Psych Explorations of the Future Heart has YouTube streams of all four songs. Those in Oklahoma can buy a 12" at Guestroom Records.
Check out a new(ish) My Brightest Diamond video and more of her dates below...
"In 2004, Sounds Familyre released Sufjan Stevens' Seven Swans. And [last week], micro-label On Joyful Wings released Sevens Swans Reimagined. They've gathered quite the cabal of artists who have managed to dive into the Seven Swans material and fish from it some intriguing interpretations of the 2004 record. Appearances include Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Unwed Sailor, Inlets, and the David Crowder Band, but also our own Half-handed Cloud, Shannon Stephens, and DM Stith. It's quite good!Sevens Swans Reimagined contributor DM Stith will be touring Europe with Sufjan Stevens himself in late April and May And Sufjan, who last played headlining shows in NYC as part of his November tour, has a NYC show coming up too! He will headline the Prospect Park Bandshell in Brooklyn on August 2nd! Tickets to the Celebrate Brooklyn benefit go on sale Friday at noon.
Profits from the album benefit the Susan G. Komen For The Cure breast cancer foundation." - Asthmatic Kitty
Stream Sevens Swans Reimagined in full below....
photos by David Andrako
"Sufjan did not disappoint us. He came, he played banjo and sang We Were Here, acting in his self-effacing way just any other hired musician. It was a wonderful moment and a delightful surprise. But I don't want to sell Clogs short. The concert was delightful even before Sufjan arrived onstage.More pictures from the Saturday show, and the full setlist, below...
Clogs put on a beautiful show as part of the excellent Ecstatic Music Festival. Wonderfully quirky vocalist Shara Worden, in an extremely colorful ensemble, joined Clogs to sing and play some guitar on several tunes from the latest Clogs album, The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton, on which she appears. The band also did some older tunes and a new song cycle, called Unattended Shadow, by the band's violist, Padma Newsome. (Clogs' lineup is rounded out by Rachael Elliott on bassoon and Thomas Kozumplik on percussion.)
One of the real treats of the evening, though, was the band's interaction with the fabulous Brooklyn Youth Chorus. They performed guitarist Bryce Dessner's new Tour Eiffel, which was premiered at the Nico Muhly Tell the Way show at St. Ann's Warehouse early in February."
[Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone]
Shara, Sufjan & Bryce @ the Bell House (more by David Andrako)
Tickets are still on sale for Saturday's Clogs/Brooklyn Youth Chorus Ecstatic Music Festival show that Shara Worden (and Sufjan Stevens) is also playing. "The set list includes works from recent Clogs albums as well as a new piece from Bryce Dessner (The National) and a world premiere by Padma Newsome."
Video of Friday night's episode of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, below...
words by David Andrako
night 1 (more)
Sufjan Steven's tour-ending show at The Beacon Theatre took an unexpected turn Monday night at the two hour mark when the subdued, seated audience leapt to its feet and turned the front orchestra section into an impromptu electro-folk hippie-intergalactic dance party. The moment happened at the midway point of the set-closing 25-minute-plus song "Impossible Soul" from Sufjan's latest album "The Age of Adz." The performance started rather inauspiciously when one of the two drummers on stage knocked over one of his snare drums and Sufjan struggled with his effects pedal causing him to nearly miss his guitar solo. A stagehand reset the drum and Sufjan recovered to lead his 11 person backing band into a rollicking, jagged, electronic extended jam that featured, among other things, glow in the dark shorts, hundreds of balloons that dropped from the ceiling, an autotuned Sufjan singing with a glowing headdress and some choreographed (and some most definitely not choreographed) dance moves featuring Sufjan, his two backup singers and frequent collaborator Jessica Dessner. The song, which is more like a mixtape than a traditional folk/rock/pop song, eventually slowed as Sufjan stepped to his microphone with his guitar and sang the final 2-minute reprise. The audience rewarded the band with a lengthy standing ovation and applause that lasted until the band returned to the stage to perform the only song of the encore, "Chicago".
Having attended and photographed Sunday night's show, I was eager to see how both crowds would react to the new material. "Seven Swans", which opened up both shows, set the tone for the evening as the 2010 version featured Sufjan's hushed singing and banjo playing until the halfway point when he stopped playing his banjo and switched over to a synthesizer. As the song reached its final peak, he began jumping up and down and playing with his entire body. The song, long a part of Sufjan's catalog, had been transformed into a bridge between the older more acoustic material and the new digitally influenced work.
The first half of the set featured songs Sufjan has released in 2010 on "The Age of Adz" and the preceeding EP "All Delighted People." Up-tempo, electronic, loud songs ("Age of Adz" and "Vesuvius") were interspersed amongst quieter acoustic songs ("Heirloom" and "Futile Devices"). The setlist was identical to the previous night until the band performed the infrequently played "All Delighted People" to which Sufjan remarked, "destroys us when we play it." The song ended with Sufjan and band taking a deep breath and a quick drink of water before launching into a delicate version of "Enchanting Ghost." DM Stith, who was the opening act for both shows (and the entire tour) and played piano in the backing band, and Cat Martino, who sang backup, both deserve special praise for their performances. Their vocals stood out and complemented Sufjan's voice especially well on "The Owl and The Tanager."
The shows featured digital art that was created by Deborah Johnson and projected behind the band and sometimes projected in front of them on a translucent scrim that was raised and lowered throughout the show. The art (and the music of "The Age Of Adz") was influenced by the work of Prophet Royal Robertson, a Louisiana based sign painter who produced thousands of paintings that feature scenes of the end of the world, monsters and religious imagery. Sufjan frequently bantered between songs, whether it was telling a fantastical story about his grandfather, an onion farmer who was blessed with the ability to shoot lightning out of his hands and feet, or proclaiming his love for trigonometry and algebra. He also thanked the band for playing all of his "32nd and 64th notes" which were the products of, as DM Stith described, some "12 hour band practices."
Night one pictures HERE. Last night's setlist with some videos below...
photos by David Andrako
With various videos and projections displayed on a backdrop behind the 11-piece band, a contingent of three back-up dancer-singers, and a slew of costume changes (mostly in the way of jackets and headgear, and yards of what appeared to be reflective tape), this show was not the Sufjan you might have expected -- Sufjan himself described the performance as "Avatar meets Cats on Ice." Sufjan stuck to the synthesizer and keyboard during most of the new songs, often joining the backup dancers. It's a shame, however, that Sufjan's development as a multi-media artist has scaled back the other elements that used to be staples of his performance. The best parts of "The Age of Adz," and the best parts of the night, were when Sufjan did what he does best: guitar, vocals, banjo. Sadly, though, even during "Chicago," Sufjan did not even touch his guitar. Perhaps as a concession to Sufjan purists and diehard fans, however, the night ended with "Casimir Pulaski Day," "To Be Alone With You" and "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." in succession, bringing the audience to their feet collectively amidst a shower of beach balls and balloons. -[Trust Me On This]Sufjan Stevens played the first of his two NYC shows at Beacon Theater last night (11/14). The second, and final show on his North American tour for The Age of Adz, happens tonight, Monday, 11/15.
You can also catch Sufjan on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on Friday, 11/19, either on TV or in person if you are lucky enough to win a spot on the "Band Bench".
Soof's tourmate, labelmate and friend, DM Stith opened the sold out show. More pictures, the Sunday setlist, and a video below...
photos by Josh Darr
Sufjan Stevens is now on tour in support of his new album The Age of Adz. That tour, which ends with two shows in NYC, stopped by the Chicago Theatre in Chicago on Friday night. Some pictures from that show are in this post. They continue, with the setlist, below...
"Sufjan Stevens is set to release The Age of Adz, his first full length collection of original songs in five years, October 12 on Asthmatic Kitty Records. The album is available for pre-order now until September 25, with pre-orders receiving music digitally two weeks prior to the physical release date. The Age of Adz comes on the heels of Stevens' All Delighted People EP, available for purchase now from most digital stores, and his 2009 film and musical suite The BQE. Stevens is planning a North American tour of large, elegant venues-including two nights at New York's fabled Beacon Theatre and The Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles-in support of the new record. With a dozen dates already sold out, Stevens will tour with his large ensemble performing alongside projections. "The retun of Sufjan Stevens started with a tour announcement which was followed by an instantly-available EP, and now this.
More album information including the tracklist (the 11th song on the album is over 25 minutes long), along with updated tour dates that list which shows are sold out (tickets are still available for Philly), below...
Asthmatic Kitty Records is releasing Sufjan Stevens' new EP All Delighted People today exclusively via http://sufjanstevens.bandcamp.com for $5.00. Bandcamp is also offering a free stream of the EP. On August 23 the EP will be available for purchase from most digital stores and will appear on CD and vinyl later this year. All Delighted People includes two versions of the title track which debuted on Sufjan's 2009 tour along with six other new songs. The collection is Sufjan's first original song-oriented material since 2006. Included on the EP is the first recording of live-show mainstay "The Owl and the Tanager" and the elegiac "Djohariah." Along with the guitars, piano and banjo that characterize his previous recordings, choirs, strings and brass adorn the melodies. Please see below for track listing."So Sufjan will have new material after all when he goes on tour in October. EP cover art above, trackilst below...
Sufjan Stevens @ Bowery Ballroom in 2009 (more by Vincent Cornelli)
Steve Louie's tickets
Dear Sufjan Stevens Fan,Tickets are now on pre-sale for the Massive Attack and Thievery Corporation shows happening at the Beacon Theatre in October. You can use an AmEx or enter this password: TMMATC or this password: OMMATC. General sale starts Friday at 11am.
Congratulations on successfully purchasing presale tickets to see Sufjan Stevens at Beacon Theatre on Nov 14!
As you may have already noticed, seat locations were not disclosed during the special fan presale. Seating will be assigned within the next 14 days in the order that tickets were purchased; a new order confirmation email will be sent to you to confirm the location of your seats.
If you are receiving this email, your ticket purchase has been confirmed and is guaranteed. As long as all of your tickets were placed together on the same order, all of your seats will be together.
If you have not received your new order confirmation email verifying the exact location of your seats within two weeks, please reply to this email for further assistance.
Thanks for participating in the Sufjan Stevens presale! We hope you enjoy the show!
eTix Customer Support
$3.00 tickets are now on sale for the Wooden Shjips shows at Music Hall of Williamsburg ("All tickets and all drinks only $3 in honor of our 3 year anniversary!").
Sufjan Stevens is back and going on tour this fall. Kicking things off on October 12th in Montreal, he'll end up back in NYC for two shows at Beacon Theatre on November 14th and 15th. Tickets for all shows go on pre-sale Tuesday at 1pm EST. "Sales for some theaters will begin on Friday, August 13th, while others will start later. To avoid scalping, there is a 4 person ticket limit, and the first 20 rows of seats are WILL CALL ONLY."
All dates below...
It's hard to believe that The National headlined last night at Radio City Music Hall (they were the opener a few years ago when the Arcade Fire played there) and harder to believe that the massive space sold out. Sure, their last two albums have done especially well, but really? Radio City? I mean Lady Gaga is playing there in July. In "Little Faith," Matt Berninger sings, "I know what you think. You're waiting for Radio City to sink." Yes, ominous indeed.
The evening began with a rousing set by The Antlers. As if to echo the themes of hospitals, sickness, and funerals found in their solid debut, Hospice, white flowers decorated the stage. The Antlers' performance was bolstered by the addition of a two-man brass section (courtesy of Tim Cronin and Jon Natchez) and lovely female vocalist Sharon Van Etten. They played an extended version of the standout track "Sylvia" in addition to an unnamed new song. After playing a short string of songs from Hospice roughly in chronological order, The Antlers concluded their set with "Wake."
Walking into Radio City, I admit that the prospect of seeing two praise-worthy bands in such a huge space had me both exhilarated and fearful. Would they be able to master the space and overcome the obstacles posed by a seated show? How would they make the experience personal?
Though majestic, the space was a bit stifling. But to help cut down on the formality of a seated show, the majority of the orchestra section stood up when the band walked on stage and remained standing for the entirety of the evening. The National's front man, Matt Berninger, hopped off the stage to cavort with the audience in front during the third song, "Bloodbuzz Ohio." Sure, he only stayed down there for a few seconds, but it boded well for the rest of the show. The third wall came crashing down early.
The National also had some additional musicians on stage to help fill out their sound. Throughout the show, a small brass section again consisting of a trumpet and trombone contributed to the mix. Additional treats came on the seventh song, "Squalor Victoria," when a string section walked on stage. After that, it got almost ridiculous. St. Vincent's Annie Clark hopped on the piano for "Vanderlye Crybaby Geeks" and shared backing vocal responsibilities with Sufjan Stevens for the following song, "Afraid of Everyone." "I'm sorry they're so plain looking. We try to set a standard," Berninger wryly joked. "I wish we could have them on stage all night," replied a Dessner brother.
But the real magic happened during "Abel." At least, it did for me. Berninger jumped off the stage once again and started pulling that oh-so-long mic chord behind him as he walked up the aisle in the theatre. For a few seconds, I lost sight of him. And then, there he was, right outside my row. And then... what? Berninger started climbing over the seats and ended up stumbling right into Row WW, Seat 409 - my seat. As he stood haphazardly balanced on the seat behind me, he leaned over, grabbed my shoulder to steady himself and put the mic right in my face as he sang. And, though I know nearly all of the lyrics to their songs and the chorus to "Abel" in particular is embarrassingly simple, I admit I froze a little and was too stunned to sing along. After my moment had passed, Berninger continued on his way, climbing over the seat in front of me and then heading back to the stage. It's almost as if he knew that this was only going to be a one-paragraph review (since I recently wrote a lengthy one for the BAM show) and wanted to spice it up. After Berninger fled the scene, BrooklynVegan photographer Matt Eisman and I stared at each other in disbelief. Did that just happen?
The show continued with a few more songs and a solid four-song encore that (of course) included "Mr. November". This time when he wandered into the crowd, Berninger climbed the stairs to the first tier of the balcony where people encircled him and furiously sang along. Berninger proceded to walk to the far side of the balcony and back down again, his mic chord dangling over the crowd in the orchestra section below. After over an hour and a half of play, The National concluded their encore with "Terrible Love."
More pictures, a video and the setlists from Radio City, below...
words by Rachel Kowal, photos by Getty Images for American Express
All week, The National has sponsored nightly events at their "High Violet Annex" to celebrate the release of their highly anticipated fifth album, High Violet. On Friday they even performed a set of National songs at the space. Saturday night's sold-out "ZYNC from American Express Presents The National to Benefit Red Hot" show at BAM capped off the week's festivities which started earlier the same evening at the Annex where 70-or-so lucky attendees were, unexpectedly, given tickets to the BAM show and then bussed to the Brooklyn venue to see the show...
the bus @ BAM
The BAM show began with a brief behind-the-scenes video about their recording process, and then the band launched into "Mistaken for Strangers" and then played a string of new songs. Though the National is technically a quintet, as many as nine additional people joined them on stage to play a variety of string and brass instruments. Sufjan Stevens joined the band to sing backing vocals (like he did on Letterman) on a handful of songs. Sometimes National-members Padma Newsome and Thomas Bartlett (Doveman) made a rare appearance together on stage (usually its one or the other as a member of the band). The biggest surprise band member of the night was the Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry who sang backup and played a variety of instruments throughout the set. Richard, Sufjan and Thomas all also contributed to High Violet which is out now.
With its ornate molding, dramatic curtains, and theater-like seating, BAM may be a bit of an odd choice to host what is essentially a rock show, but the beautiful space complimented the dapperly dressed band and gave them enough room to spread out on stage. Possibly sensing that something was not quite right, lead singer Matt Berninger hopped off the stage and began pulling people up into a standing position early into the show.
Throughout the show, Berninger was a sight to behold. One moment, he'd take a sip of white wine and sing softly into the mic stand and the next, he's wildly pacing back and forth on stage with his head down, pounding his hands together like a mad man. The contrast between Berninger's smooth baritone voice and his manic behavior makes for a dynamic performance. During the four-song encore, Berninger leapt off stage again and rushed the audience in the orchestra section. With his impossibly long mic chord trailing behind him, Berninger climbed desperately over anything in his path - be it chairs or people. From the middle of a row, he stood recklessly on a chair, screaming the chorus to "Mr. November" into the faces of ecstatic fans.
When all was said and done, The National played the entirety of High Violet in addition to a number of older songs. Film directors D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus were on hand to direct the live webcast of the concert that was happening on YouTube (the band addressed the Internet audience a few times), and which you can still watch there (some videos below too).
After the show, a fancy ZYNC-sponsored afterparty was held around the corner at One Hanson Place, aka the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, downstairs in the old bank's bottom floor (now used as an event space). The National, their friends and associates, partied until late with an invite-only crowd that also included members of Grizzly Bear and Beirut, and some celebrities who had attended the show (like Julia Stiles). And there was a lot to party about - recently completed Europe tour and a week of festivities in NYC aside - High Violet is selling really well too. More pictures from the show and the afterparty, with the setlist and some videos below...
As I was saying, The National taped a performance on Letterman yesterday before heading to the High Violet Annex. They brought Sufjan along to both events. The video from Letterman, which aired last night, below...
photos by David Andrako
The Antlers, Phosphorescent, and Sharon Van Etten each played 20-25 minute sets at the High Violet Annex last night (5/13). That was followed by members of The National improvising over projected movies by Margarita Jimeno, Sufjan Stevens, Jonathan Dueck, Deborah Johnson, Ryan Irvin, and Justin Anderson.
The first National-related group was Bryan & Scott Devendorf, trumpet player Kyle Resnick and guitarist/trombonist/Beirut member Ben Lanz (both who also played on Letterman with the National yesterday). The second group was The Dessner Brothers who played along with an 11 minute experimental film that Sufjan Stevens made "using a digital camera while I had insomnia." Sufjan was in attendance (if you haven't figured that out yet) and introduced the song.
It was the third night of the National's temporary venue next door to Other Music. Even more people played live on the second night. It continues for a fourth night tonight/Friday (and ends Saturday) (lineups for those are both TBA, but expect some actual National songs to be played at at least one of them). More pictures from Thursday, below...
by Alex Lewis
Bryce Dessner (we think) @ the Big Ears Festival (more by Andrew Frisicano)
While in Knoxville for the Big Ears Festival (March 26-28, 2010), you knew you were at the right show if Bryce Dessner was in sight. When The Ex performed Friday night, Dessner was in attendance with his entourage that included his twin brother Aaron and Sufjan Stevens. This turned out to be one of the most exciting shows of the weekend. On Saturday, instead of seeing Vampire Weekend at the Tennessee Theater, he was at the Knoxville Museum of Art for the Big Ears film co-op that featured presentations of experimental films with live improvised performances from a number of the festival's artists. Then again, it was hard to miss Bryce completely, as he performed with Clogs, The National, and in a number of other settings.
The intimate relationship between artists and audience at Big Ears is one of the most unique parts of the experience. This interface takes place partly because Knoxville is small and there are few places for artists to hide. But it's also built into the festival's program and embodied by its co-curator. I met with Bryce at the Knoxville Museum of Art after the film co-op. We discussed the festival, venues in NYC, and more...
How did you get involved with Big Ears?
Ashley [Capps, head of AC Entertainment] called me about a year ago, probably because of Dark Was The Night. But then also because of a much smaller festival that I've run in Ohio for the past 5 years. He was basically just fishing to see if I was interested in coming down [to Knoxville] and doing something. He was very open-minded about what that might be. Originally, he didn't care if The National played. He was more interested in Clogs because we don't often get the opportunity to do something like this. I'm usually wary of curating. Inside Cincinnati I know I can control because it's a very small thing. It's just a very small theater and that's the only venue. It's a very intimate kind of thing and because I've billed it for years now people understand what's going to happen. It's very flexible.
So in the past I've been asked to do other festivals and I've usually said "no", mainly because it's rare to find someone who is open-minded and cool to go with it. So basically Ashley is that person. As much as any musical collaborator that I love and have a great time with, he is that person for this. Working on a festival is so ephemeral and in the moment, that it's kind of my favorite thing in music. More than the commercial side of the industry that's related to releasing records, festivals just happen and then they're over. Especially if there's site-specific going on that's really only happening at that festival. I think that Big Ears is kind of new. It's a different format for hearing music. I got the sense that Ashley was interested in pushing something in that way and that's why I said, "sure".
by Andrew Frisicano
this post concludes our Big Ears 2010 Festival coverage. links to the first two posts are also below...
"When people ask what my favorite place to play is, I tell them about this place. It's like playing inside an Easter egg," quipped My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden, gazing at the deep-sea blue dome overhead at Knoxville's Tennessee Theater. The psychedelic cavern, a mish-mash of decorative styles and colors, served as the home to the Big Ears festival's largest shows, and its final act on Sunday night, with headliner the National.
The National's presence was felt long before they took the stage - in the hand of guitarist Bryce Dessner, who co-curated the fest, in the National members' supporting gigs, playing behind Doveman, Clogs and others, and in the abundance of friends and fellow Brooklyn-ites in the Big Ears lineup. Of course, those are all connected. One look at the stage during the first song of the National's encore - "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" off their forthcoming High Violet - revealed a selection of Big Ears' top acts - Nico Muhly, St. Vincent, Shara Worden and sometimes-National members Padma Newsome and Thomas Bartlett (Sufjan came out for a song, but not during the encore), all of whom performed earlier in the weekend on their own. (Read here about days one and two)
Attendees also had the chance to opt for music outside of that circle. At Big Ears Annex, Tim Hecker and Ben Frost collaborated for a set of fragile, icy noise (they both played on their own earlier too - Hecker opened for Bang on a Can All-Stars' performance of Music For Aiports and the Books at the TN Theater). Trio Konk Pack took the same stage later for improvised noises, pops and whirs - like the soundtrack to an invisible film. The night before, one could choose between Liturgy and Gang Gang Dance - two bands at the top of their respective genres - while Terry Riley's In C filled the Tennessee Theater to its elliptical rafters.
Around the corner from the Annex at the Pilot Light, KnoEars, an unaffiliated, somewhat anti-Big Ears DIY Fest, hosted an all-day lineup that included homemade noise, Replacements-style punk and more emanating into Sunday's rainy street.
Terry Riley, selected to be this year's resident guide, performed four times over the three days - all in different settings. Other repeat acts like Thomas Bartlett (Doveman), who played with Sam Amidon, the fest's first act (interviewed here), and The National, its last, were frequent Knoxville fixtures for the three-day fest, running to their own gigs or enjoying others'.
"Mr. Riley also enjoyed a fair number of other people's shows, especially the art-song band Clogs. ("They were the hit for me," he said, beaming over breakfast on Monday morning. "Great performers, great writing. I'm going to buy their CD when I get home.")" [NY Times]Doveman and Nico Muhly both played earlier Sunday in a set that included material from their recent Peter Pears project, the Footloose soundtrack, and their 802 tour partner Sam Amidon (who had to catch a flight to Germany). That show's headliner, St. Vincent, provided a counterpoint to their pianos with a set of songs steeped in squealing noise and leveling distortion.
More pictures and videos from the fest are below...