Monday, March 21, 2005

nothing and then…

we missed you too

Whole lotta 'minimalism' kept me focused this past weekend...

FIRST there was the Slint show at Irving Plaza…
Dem Slint boys kept the between-banter to nearly nil. I almost hoped for crickets. Instead I got folk shushing the shushers as loud as they could and the self-satisfied ‘real’ fans yelling out obscure references. I’m all for peace but the next time someone yells out the safely ironic song request at a show (“Freebird!”) please smash a bottle over their head…. Or at least throw a ‘bow.
The songs themselves brought that Lynchian twang-and-dread over the off-kilter precision thunder-pops of Britt Walford. Walford and David Pajo linked up like Wonder Twins but the whole group brought the drone (I can’t call it groove), the build and the explosions in astounding synchronicity. It would be a feat to spot the band on stage that broke up a decade ago (but continues in separate entities). One would also think that such ‘minimal’ songs could be handled by a smaller group of musicians (as when Brian McMahan handed guitar duties to brother Michael when he grabbed the mic) but the focus required for each song element became apparent as each ‘piece’ was revealed and having each 'sound' delivered by a separate musician added to the intense mood. Bassist Tony Cook refreshingly ice-grilled the audience while the rest of the band either checked for Walford’s cues or made sure their shoelaces were tied (I kid!).

And who knew that the staging would be equally precise, simple and dramatic. ‘Noir’ lights rake across the stage to highlight a player. Red spotlights eerily blaze on faces. At the end of the tune with Walford on guitar and vocals, Michael McMahan is revealed under a spotlight. The light brightens and dims along with the final buzzing guitar crescendo and fade.

Slint was the first (and maybe only) band I ever described as ‘sublime’. They channeled simple, aching beauty with the spine-tingling unknown; staring into an abyss and seeing the chaos that can spill out of it.

I jacked the photo from ‘Good Morning, Captain’ which also has a great account of the show (and the rest of the tour).

THEN there was the Greater New York show at PS1 and although the artists wouldn't necessariy fall into the 'minimalist' school of work I'm obviously drawn to their work for similar reasons: maximum impact through minimal and/or humble means and/or materials. Someone give these people some money...

Yuken Teruya
Corey McCorkle
Tobias Putrih
Dasha Shishkin
Daniel Zeller
Leo Villareal
Marco Breuer