Monday, March 4, 2013

The Boise Creative and Improvised Music Festival @ the VaC; The Matildas and Pacific Pride @ the Chamber of Death (3/1/13)

A friend of mine sent me a Facebook invite for this VaC show, and I grew intrigued.  Admittedly, I'm no expert on experimental music or highfalutin' avant-garde stuff, so I wasn't sure how I'd write about this.  That uncertainty gave me a powerful incentive to check this deal out.

I only counted about fifteen people when I arrived at the VaC.  That number included a fair amount of the participants in the evening's activities.  By my count, not much more than twenty civilians showed up while I was there.

As the Boise Creative and Improvised Music Festival progressed, I encountered something humbler and more generous than I'd anticipated.  Some people, I imagine, might have considered it unbearably pretentious.  They'd be wrong.  "Pretentious" implies some lofty intent or ambition.  Conversely, I heard more than one person involved with the project say, "We don't know what we're doing."  That was the point of the show: to throw caution to the wind, try something out and see where the moment took you.  In other words, to have fun.

Musicians who participated this night included Krispen Hartung, Tristan Andreas, Ashley Rose Smith, cellist Melissa Wilson, guitarist Ted Killian and saxophonist/College of Southern Idaho professor Brent Jensen (as well as, in an impromptu cameo, Sam Stimpert on horn).  They tossed back and forth bumps, coos, honks, bleats, squeals, whistles, rattles, groans, chirps and any other kind of noise that they could squeeze out of their respective instruments.  A very pleasant ebb and flow developed as the two acts I saw unfolded.  At one moment, everything would coalesce and sound like something that Tom Ze, John Zorn or Ennio Morricone in his more eccentric moments might come up with.  At the next, it would dissolve into a glorious mess of noise.

Meanwhile, a group of dancers that included Kyle Johnson, Heidi Kraay and my friend Daphne Stanford writhed, shook their hands in the air, scooted across the stage on their butts and basically did anything that the situation seemed to call for.  This included spouting the occasional non sequitur--one especially enjoyable passage involved knocking the word "sh*t" about like a shuttlecock.  The visual component of the show also included a strobelight, the VaC's disco ball and some trippy montages courtesy of Yurek Hansen and Jason Willford.

It really was too bad that more people didn't show up for this.  Hopefully, the following night's show was better attended.

I watched two acts of the BCIMF and then headed out.  I would've liked to have stayed for the finale, but I wanted to catch at least part of the show at the Chamber of Death, a new Boise house venue and sister of sorts to Caldwell's Manor.

I found something sad in the fact that more people crammed into two modest apartments than went down to the VaC.  I estimated that there were about thirty people at the Chamber of Death, and that number could have been low.

I arrived just in time to catch the two sets by a quartet of Denver musicians, who played alternately under the names Pacific Pride and the Matildas.  The Pacific Pride material was your standard jittery surf/garage-punk: manic drumming, tuneful basslines, droning riffs, eerie keyboard.  Nothing I haven't heard two billion times before, and nothing I'd mind hearing again.

The Matildas' material proved more distinctive.  This was thanks in part to the alternating male-female vocals and thanks in part to the slight old-school Ramones feel to their pop-tunes and jangly guitars.  The lyrics weren't too shabby either--sweet, sassy, grounded.  The crowd grinned, jostled each other playfully and clapped to the beat.  I wanted to get a picture of the crowd-surfing, but I was too slow on the draw.

You can find info on these groups and the Boise Creative and Improvised Music Festival on Facebook and elsewhere online.

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