Basilica SoundScape happened w/ Swans, Deafheaven, White Lung, Meredith Graves’ speech on Andrew WK/Lana Del Rey
Basilica Sound Scape happened this weekend in Hudson, NY. Among the artists playing were Swans, Richard Reed Parry, Deafheaven (who also played MHOW the next night), Tim Hecker and White Lung (who also played the BV-curated Red Bull Sound Select show on Friday night).
I attended Saturday's (9/13) portion, which was presented by Pitchfork's Show No Mercy. I drove to the festival, but Basilica Hudson is also accessible from New York City via the Amtrak, whose Hudson stop is only a block away from the venue.
Basilica Hudson is a gorgeous setting for live music. The venue is a reclaimed 19th century factory with many of the door and window frames left open, creating a pleasant indoor-outdoor ambiance. Most of the food and beer vendors were also outside, allowing attendees to hang in the refreshing autumn weather and rest our ears under the starry Hudson skies. The whole event felt dreamlike and far enough removed from everyday life to really be something memorable.
The mixed media component of the festival further added to the surreal atmosphere. There were record sellers, book sellers, film clips projected in the alcoves of the building - and even a performance artist sleeping in a Buddha booth later in the night. I arrived around 8:45 to find Meredith Graves (of Perfect Pussy) reading from an opening in the wall of the main room, fifteen feet above our heads. Later in the night, Greg Fox (of Liturgy/Guardian Alien) would perform a drum solo in the same space.
Meredith's reading, which has now been posted in full at The Talkhouse, is about Andrew WK, Lana Del Rey and the double standard applied to male and female performers regarding authenticity. Here's an excerpt:
It is twisted that people only seemed to love the idea of Andrew W.K. more after the truth came out. The truth is so interesting! He's fearless, talented, he has a dark theoretical and critical mind. He's on television with Glenn Beck talking about being afraid of abortion. But it was transformation into a party dude at the hands of the music industry that made people pay attention to him. Meanwhile he's up there with Ian Svenonius at the Guggenheim talking about how his early experiences exploring the interstices between "pure music" and "unwanted sound" have shaped his intentionality in the "Andrew W.K. presentation." The kids in Katowice were there to have fun and get wasted. It's Harmony Korine playing dumb for Letterman back in the '90s, over and over and over again. In a way, everybody loses. It's like nobody was listening when he himself told them at point-blank range that he isn't real.
But when a female musician is in any way fake, she's denied creative agency, written off as uninventive and talentless. Beyoncé is accused of lip-synching, even when she isn't. Music rags run articles exposing pop stars' real names, highlighting Lorde, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus. But being that these are the most successful female artists in the world, one has to assume that their fakeness -- or, as we should be calling it, "reinvention" -- is necessary for women to succeed in the music industry. It's the basic principle of survival, period: adapt and evolve, or die. And of the women I listed above, look at what they've done that gets them called fake: taking on more seductive names and more assertive personas, getting breast and butt lifts and lip fillers and wearing makeup, wearing more elaborate, sexy, sometimes borderline-fetish costumes -- everything that men claim they want out of women! But no, that's not good enough -- those qualities have to be both present and completely natural in order for spectators to be satisfied.
Read the whole very interesting thing at The Talkhouse.
I caught the full performances by White Lung, Deafheaven and Swans, who all delivered thunderously rapturous sets. I've come to expect nothing but excellence from these three acts, but it was refreshing to see them in a completely new context - and one that each managed to fit effortlessly among. I caught up with White Lung's Mish Way shortly after her set and restrained myself from telling her how obsessed I've been with "Wrong Star" ever since her Noisey Acoustic Sessions with Katie Crutchfield was released. I did, however, manage to discuss the unfortunate incident from Friday night's show when she was forced to confront an audience member who was harassing and even attempting to punch her during her performance.
"It's been awhile since I've had to do something like that," she said, "but I'm glad it happened. And I'm glad to end our tour here. It feels good. It feels special. And... (smiling) I'm really glad my reading went well."
I'm looking forward to more unique experiences at next year's festival, to which I will certainly be returning.
A few more pictures (by Molly Moltzen) and a few videos below...
Tim Hecker at Basilica
Swans at Basilica
Gold Dime at Bunny Brains Fire Sale Basilica Soundscape