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LOS ANGELES — I’m at the Hammer Museum in LA for the two-day performance concert, #AllInstrumentsAgree. Stay tuned for my random observations, thoughts, chats with the crowd, etc. The full schedule is posted below.
9:45pm: Glitterbust face a moody performance that concluded the evening’s festivities on a chill note:
8:40pm: The final performance will be Glitterbust with Kim Gordon and Alex Knost, which starts soon.
Some thoughts on the day: There’s been a constant flow of people in and out and the majority of attendees have been young (under 25 by my estimate) and a mix of artist and musician types. I met one older (perhaps retired) man who described himself as “not quite a collector” who wandered over because he lives in the neighborhood after seeing the event on — I think he said, but he was vague — Instagram.
The performance concert appears to be like a mixtape composed of the curator’s favorite musicians sound-based artists. There has been little acoustic performance, and most is electronic or rock. There has been little direct politics, with the exception of Genesis P-Orridge. Many people in the audience appreciated the variety (and the fact that no one seemed to know all those performing).
8:29pm: Landed is pretty great and loud. They make this event feel like a concert and less performance art (overall there has been a healthy mix).
7:45pm: Genesis P-Orridge is performing a poetic piece that verges on stream of consciousness. S/he is blending together issues of alienation (alien, to be specific, but it appears to be more than the extraterrestrial type), gender identity, and artistic practice together into this. It’s quite powerful. The imagery is minimal but the mysterious mood is pervasive, like some unusual occult gathering. Now, s/he is saying: “Humanity is the virus.”
7:33pm: As expected Genesis P-Orridge is amazing, mystical, and a true performance artist.
7:14pm: Just met Scenery Samundri, an artist from Silver Lake, who says she goes to lots of art and music events in LA but when she read about #AlltheInstruments (on Hyperallergic #humblebrag) and saw the schedule, she “couldn’t wait to see it.” So far, she says. Tarek Atoui’s performance was greats, and she really liked Odwalla88 too.
6:50pm: I got to interview Hassan Khan earlier today. He will perform during tomorrow night’s program. Here is a transcript of our conversation:
Hrag Vartanian: I wanted to ask you about what you’re premiering.
Hassan Khan: … it’s the first time I will perform it in the US … It’s a piece called Tarabon. It’s based on two songs from the early 20th century by Youssef El Manialawy, who was a singer at the time.
At the time there was this kind of like, small ensemble of a percussion instrument, maybe a violin, you know the oud? [I nod.] Okay. This music was made with this very very small kind of ensemble. They’re basically these two songs that I think are really interesting structurally.
What I did is I … I mean the same lyrics are being sung and everything, and what I’ve done is I’ve worked with musicians with my own sort of little ensemble of classical Arabic musicians, to find a way to re-articulate these songs. What that practically means is that the music is composed, and it’s not a re-make of these old songs … It’s done in the same language as classical Arabic music of that period, so you know, like similar modes, the musical language is the same, but I’m treating the structure in a different way.
HV: So it’s not a homage or a tribute.
HK: No, it’s a piece on its own. There’s no samples or anything. It’s all completely made from scratch. But it’s based on these two early songs.
HV: Classical language.
HK: More classical language, but it’s being articulated in a different fashion. This is the sort of compositional aspect to it, and I do this with all my sets. I work with musicians, and to compose things, and to record them in the studio, and then turn them into a mix that I can then put together in relation to my other instrument.
One instrument is sort of the composition itself as an instrument, and the recording studio. The other instrument is, in the live situation, is my feedbacking mixer. It’s a mixer that’s feedbacking, but it’s going through many different processors, filters, et cetera. It’s basically a tool to create chaos and to control it. What it does is it generates different frequencies and tones and on and on, but because of the way I split the paths, I am able to shape or sculpt that sort of chaotic output and these two elements, the pre-composed that is being put together live, and this kind of sculpting of chaotic sound are put in relation to each other.
… So I’m able to bounce from one, from the musical, the one with the instruments, you know. Bounce certain instruments into my other system and take it back, and in the end, it’s live, so I do have a pre-set structure, but then everything that’s inside is filled in in the performance.
HV: How does it relate to your other work, I mean your non sound-based work?
HK: This is a concert. It’s music. I don’t think of it as sound work. I’m a musician. Actually I’ve been a musician for over 20 years — a professional musician. I’ve done soundtracks for theater, for film, you know. I’m not like an artist who’s dabbling in music.
HV: Do you consider them separate practices?
HK: I do.
HV: Do they ever sort of mix?
HK: They do intersect, but my relationship to music is then quite different. There are works where music is part of the work, but the way I would treat the music in these works is just framed in a different way, because I’m thinking of the music in that case in relation to the work as a whole. In a situation where I’m just thinking of a concert, or making a piece of music or so, I’m thinking ahead. This is music. I’ll do whatever I want. Do you know what I mean? It’s not being framed by something else.
Or in an art practice, sometimes music is also being worked with … but that’s not my focus in a concert. My focus is in basically what I’m interested in, what I love, what I’m motivated by, you know, I allow these elements to have much more impact on what I’m doing there.
6:40pm: Appropriation or cover band? (Sorry, I didn’t want to lose my seat so I worked the zoom on my smartphone.) I have no idea if they’re broken English is real or part of the act.
6:32pm: I was speaking with Matt Stromberg, who said one of the bartenders told him that he thought LOBOTOMAXXX was pure George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic appropriation. I don’t agree, but I definitely see some P.Funk in their style. Next up … a Kiss cover band from Russia.
6:24pm: I took a little Persian ice cream break because I heard the best ice cream joint in LA is a few blocks away, Saffron and Rose. Got back for the tail end of Concert’s performance though — like so many of the bands on the schedule, I can’t find a website to direct you towards for more info (when you have a band name like Concert, I assume you know that will happen).
The band is made up of artists Chris Evans, Morten Norbye Halvorsen, and Benjamin Seror.
5:45pm: Met Jasmine Nyende, who is a new media artist from South LA. She publishes an art journal called Fit Form Function, and chose to write about this because there’s “a lot going and a great mix of musicians. I didn’t go in expecting much. I knew it would be experimental and things would be interesting.”
5:29pm: Enjoying these guys. They don’t take themselves too seriously but they definitely bring their freak game. The audience is all smiles.
5:25pm: LOBOTOMAXXX are bringing a hipster dada aesthetic to the stage. Best detail is drummer’s cape, which resembles a Morris Louis painting:
5:11pm: Just met an artist from Chicago, Kirby, who came to give her friend (who is performing tomorrow) some support, but she’s enjoying it and says she incorporates performance into her own practice.
4:59pm: There’s something to be said for an artist who knows his audience, and Tarek’s intensity is drawing people in, though people are still far from the stage:
4:55pm: Turns out they are actually handing out earplugs (Hallelujah! Good job, Hammer).
4:48pm: Just noticed Hyperallergic contributor Matt Stromberg, who just joined me, is using earplugs. Probably great idea. Going from one musical performance to another has been jarring at times, specifically between the Xeni Xurner and Odwalla88 performances.
4:40pm: I needed a silence break after that last one. Tarek Atoui is up, and his electronic skills are pretty well known. He’s able to blend the orchestral and the electronic with the “magic” of his hands:
4:12pm: Ok, they seem to have really concentrated on one type of performance. No real idea what their range is.
3:55pm: And Xina dances with the crowd. It was pretty messy/fabulous.
3:44pm: Xina Xurner is pretty powerful. There’s an internal dialogue going on that makes her really effective.
Here is the curator taking a pic of her while she performs:
3:40pm: I rather like that I don’t know what’s going on and that the performer has her back turned to the audience most of the time.
3:34pm: People here seem to be excited to see Xin Xurner. A number of people told me they’re looking forward to her. She’s next.
3:15pm: “I’m sorry about the languages,” Creed said after singing “Fuck-off” for 30 seconds. And now he’s out. This was the most endearing performance and perfect for the bright sunny day with the chill crowd … but now he’s continuing, so who knows what happened.
Just overheard the people next to me say they didn’t know this was happening and just lucked out by showing up.
3:06pm: Creed just stopped mid-song because he felt like all the songs he’s singing are negative, but he added “I don’t want to be fake” either. So, now he’s moving onto love songs.
2:52pm: Martin Creed says he feels like he repeats things all the time so this song is about that (?) — did I get that right?
The crowd seems scared of the stage so they’re so far back:
And here’s a close-up:
2:49pm: Sorry for the lag time but just got to do a short interview with Hassan Khan about his performance that will be tomorrow night. Now, Martin Creed is up!
2:09pm: I kind of want to do a cumulative tattoo count for each band. So far, LAFMS Show would win because of the male singer on stage. I’ve counted 20 tattoos on him so far and he’s mostly covered.
2:05pm: Next up, the curiously named LAFMS Shoe. Gotta love any band that brings a saw to the stage.
1:51pm: Julia Paull just mentioned that one of the reasons she came was she attended a Mike Kelley performance about 15 years ago and her partner, who accompanied her, forced her to leave and she always regretted not staying for the whole thing. So here she is. Let’s see how long she lasts.
1:34pm: Ok, did I just hear a strange lyric about her brother/lover? Otherwise, judging by the crowd there’s a mix of artists, music people, and then the random people who I can’t place (I’ll ask them during the course of the day who they are).
The crowd is filling up slowly:
1:28pm: Simone Forti just announced that she will be singing hippie gospel and Italian folk songs. Curator Aram Moshayedi suggested people come closer to the stage — I’m guessing because it’s a more ambient performance.
Her voice has a sweetness that’s endearing and approaches spoken poetry.
1:18pm: I’m really curious who is here so I asked someone seated near me (btw, I’m not joined by Hyperallergic contributor Abe Ahn, who lives in LA) and I found Julia Paull of Baldwin Hills, who is an artist and a teacher. She said she heard about the festival from a friend and had only heard of about half a dozen performers. “I was forwarded the schedule and love music, particularly punk rock, so I was looking forwarding to this. Nice to see something like this happen,” she said. “Can’t think of anything at this scale of artists performing, mostly small venues.”
12:56pm: Wish I could give you all a link to their site but I can’t find one. But I can offer you a clip of what they sound like:
12:45pm: And Waiting to Exhale begins. Crowd is filling and I’m guessing because of the sound it’s pretty loud, I’ll only be able to talk to people between sets:
12:31pm: Judging by the schedule and finally seeing how things will work, it appears there will be roughly 15 minutes between each performance.
12:25pm: A taste of French Vanilla:
12:05pm PST: The festivities have begun with French Vanilla, who look so young I would think they’re still in art school. Not sure why but they remind of a mix of Bikini Kill and Pansy Division (do people still remember them?).
Singer just said, “We’re so happy to be performing at the opening of the Broad Museum” (she pronounced ‘broad’ the other way).
Afternoon (12–4 pm)
- French Vanilla (Max Albeck, Ali Day, Sally Spitz, Daniel Trautfield)
- Waiting to Exhale (Frank Benson, Erik Frydenborg, Ernest Gibson, Matt Johnson)
- Simone Forti
- The LAFMS Shoe (Dennis Duck, Ace Farren Ford, Joseph Hammer, Paul McCarthy,
- Fredrik Nilsen, Joe Potts, Rick Potts, Tom Recchion, Vetza)
- Martin Creed
- Xina Xurner (Marvin Astorga, Young Joon Kwak)
Evening (4–7 pm)
- Odwalla 88 (Chloe Maratta, Flannery Silva)
- Tarek Atoui
- LOBOTOMAXXX featuring Ron Littles (Nathan Carter, Tony Cox, Matthew Ronay)\
- Concert (Chris Evans, Morten Norbye Halvorsen, Benjamin Seror)
- Kisk (Paul Cherwick, Tony Fernandez, Antonio Ortiz, Jon Pylypchuk)
Night (7–10 pm)
- Genesis Breyer P-Orridge
- Landed (Bjorn Copeland, Shawn Greenlee, Matthew Johnson, Joel Kyack, Rick Pelletier, Dan St. Jacques)
- GLITTERBUST (Kim Gordon, Alex Knost)