And kicking off a series of retrospective posts looking back on the past weekend when I went to SF and droned out. As it were.
My overall post about last year’s festival describes the whole guiding principles behind the festival and the like — it was held in the same location this year, but with some differences. First, instead of concentrated in on a couple of days it was spread out over four days, all shows being in the evening. This was a big plus for me and I think for most of us, if only because it meant we could rest up and/or take it easy all day. Second, most of the shows this time around took place in the Cafe du Nord rather than the Swedish American Hall; while I was certainly grateful to be able to sit down on the final night in the Hall itself, the Cafe space is smaller and a little more comfortable on hot days and/or evenings.
But the key thing remained the same — this was a blast of a time, great performances throughout, in fact I can’t think of one set I didn’t enjoy to one degree or another. Definite sign of quality control at work! I’ll save all the thanks and best wishes for the final post in this sequence but I’ll kick things off pretty much the same as my usual approach — selected photos from my Flickr set and edited descriptions from my Twitter feed.
En — “And On Land officially starts! Maxwell and James with a really big sitar like thing and an electronic setup. This is pure sonic catnip for me, loud blissed out drones….I freely admit to loving music that takes me out of the everyday and this is doing the job very very well.”
Rene Hell — “Catching up with my friend Nari and then Rene Hell kicks in…Rene is in front of the stage with his keyboard setup and playing all sorts of random goodness. Bloops blurts and more besides…playing his last song now, a big majestic evil/exultant whomp of a piece. Must really pick up his new cassette.”
Danny Paul Grody — “He uses the guitar as something to channel sounds not typically guitar…What’s especially nice about Danny’s set is its openess. It almost reminds me of Roy Montgomery’s monumental Terrastock II set. Lots of effect pedals use now — and Danny just plugged in his Nord Electro 2 keyboard. Bring on the looped swirls…Good as the first two sets were, this is the highlight so far. Danny Paul Grody now creating majestic swells of sound.”
Pulse Emitter — “…pretty much living up to his name with a nefarious device. It’s a combination keyboard and effects pedal rig/box, self-contained but massive sounding, creating a serene loud flow…Very much shifting into Jean-Michel Jarre territory now. Or maybe Ash Ra Tempel circa 1976. A compliment…And now into deep swelling drone loops and keening serene blasts. All hail Pulse Emitter!”
Starving Weirdos — “…taking the stage with beer in hand. A good approach…almost like a pocket orchestra version of Pelt, synths, percussion, pulses. Serene…Lots of gear onstage but it’s not limited to it — flutes, recorders, walkie talkies and feedback, all very flowing…Shifting to include clarinets, saxophones, vocals. Everything increasingly unsettled…Interesting seeing the shift from three years ago as hidden in the dark performers to confident, self-contained unit…And now to a variety of percussion instruments and treated vocal keening. Nothing wrong with that.”
(There should be a Barn Owl photo here but I couldn’t seem to find one on my camera! I thought I took one!)
Barn Owl — “…with a drummer, are about to rock. It’s not “it might get loud,” it WILL get loud…It’s all minimal lighting and open ended guitar lines and rumbling drums so far. A laying of groundwork…Okay now it’s getting nuts. Flying hair, drumming roars and guitar feedback fighting through chaos. Didn’t take long!…And from there into big e-bowed drones that are suddenly very beautiful. This band is rapidly becoming a national treasure…Last year I said they created black walls of sound. Here it’s the same black walls with a burning light ripping through…Quieted down and turned all very Pink Floydy all of a sudden. Wish You Were Here/Animals era that is.”