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Favorite Performance of the Festival: Mirel Wagner
Delayed by the torrential rains that dominated early Saturday evening, Finnish/Ethiopian folk singer Mirel Wagner took the opera stage after Lambchop, several hours later than intended. Pushing past 2 AM, Wagner was sort of tangibly tired, but still managed to produce one of the surest, simplest, more gorgeous sets I've ever heard anyone play. Note perfect to her record, but with the added presence of proximity and given an extra dose of weariness by what must have been the mother of all jet lags. Seriously, just wonderful. She plays first on a great bill next Monday at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (w/ Deerhoof and Buke and Gase). GO! GO EARLY!
Least Favorite Performance of the Festival: Sunn O))))
As theater, the impact of doom metal overlords Sunn O))) was hard to ignore. Robed creatures performing inside a column of solid fog, lit with a sick alien green that made it all look like a Broadway production of Stephen King's The Tommyknockers? Not something you'll be quick to forget. Drones so low and sustained that your whole body is vibrating in an invisible Sharper Image massage chair? Again, memorable. As successful performance art? As hilarious camp? As quasi-religious experience? Sure. Totally. Maybe?
Musically? I can't say I got much from it at all. Every song went "MWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH" and held there, loudly. During Northside, I was quite enamored of the dramatic builds and eerie calms inside San Francisco art-metal band Deafheaven's set, but this didn't move me in the same way. Is it too cute to call a drone band "one-note"? That it came on the heels of Wagner's non-theatrical raw talent, probably did it no favors for context. Oh well. Great weekend.
Follow through for some more photos from the various goings on....