Category Archives: performances attented

Gogol Bordello

Gogol Bordello, Valient Thorr, and Dan Sartain
Irving Plaza, December 21, 2006

Irving Plaza, around the corner of Union Square at 14th Street, houses alternative bands with an established name. One of those well established names is Gogol Bordello, the mix of east-European immigrants residing in New York that play a polka version of Manu Chau. That seems less of a stretch that it at first hearing may sound given the simplistic beat of both polka and ska with a folkloristic overtone. And although Irving Plaza is a large venue for alternative standards, the house was not only completely full but moving up and down from beginning to end.

The gypsy punks of Gogol Bordello really know how to rise to the occasion, be it a well oiled machine with an absolute professional sense for entertainment, but the joy pours so directly, straight from the heart, without any pretension, a feature typical of East-European culture perhaps, that you get sucked into the eye of the storm of gypsy joy. Of course, being an immigrant myself, I realize we are all gypsys at heart and the motley crowd of Gogol Bordello onder the tireless lead of Eugene Hutz is a living example of gypsy glory. It is evident that the best place to see the energy explode is here, of all towns, in New York, in the greatest of all gypsy towns, just around the corner from the band’s base at the Bulgarian Bar, where they host after parties that are well known to end with every body dancing on the tables. Continue reading

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Several Observations of a Dadaistic Dance

The dance company of the Dada von Bzdülöw Theatre was founded in 1993 in the Polish harbor city of Gdanksk – the former seat of Solidarnosz – by artistic directors Leszek Bzdyl en Katarzyna Chmielewska. With the performance ‘Several Witty Observations’ Dada von Bzdülöw has its American debut in La Mama Annex Theatre in New York.

The performance ‘Several Witty Observations’ was inspired by the writings of Polish author Witold Gombrowicz. His work is characterized by theme’s like the immaturity of youth and the paradoxes that exist between the norms of the social conventions from which the indivual struggles to liberate itself.

Leszek Bzdyl, the most talented and passionate dancer of the performance, opens with an act in the lobby, where the patient group of spectators is shuffling silently. He directs the docile spectators to make room after which he positions himself in flat, spread out poses on the floor. Dessed in a purple corduroy suit, he directs the space in the shape of a circle with a elongated Montiglianian neck that has been created in front of him, as if he is preparing to speed of into the room. Instead he picks up a blue, metal trash bin with thick, transparent plastic inside, spreads his legs wide to support himself, places his shoulders on the edge, head down into the bin, spreading his arms like a blind eagle. The dance by Bzdyl is being created out of the impulse of the moment. The first act continues with a similar intuition that creates the space and places the body within spontaneously. Such acts confront both the spectator and the dancer with the social conventions that separate audience and performance. Continue reading

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The burial at Thebes

Seamus Heany’s version of Antigone, Sophocles’ classic tragedy about the fate of the blood of Oedipus and the tragedy of Thebes, is an attempt to bring it into the realm and grasp of popular culture. Frankly, I believe this is a loss of effort, because on one hand the spirit of tragedy of the Greek democracies itself is rejected by modern democracies, while on the other the light bearing of Heany’s translation is not targeted at those who love Greek tragedy already. On top of that Heany makes an attempt to stretch his cry for popular attention even further, by emphasizing an interpretation of Antigone, or rather Creon, which takes aim at Bush’ war policies in Iraq. A warm welcome seemed guaranteed, Heany must have thought, a combination of anti-Bushian political arguments and a classic Greek play, except the thought itself was too simple to arouse any interest. This I believe is the tragedy of fame and name in our times, that simple thoughts are placed on a pedastal, flattering the thinker.

The Handcart Ensemble played ‘The burial at Thebes’ by Heany at the Salvation Army’s Theater 315. This small theater off-broadway at 47th Street and 8th Avenue, in a property owned by the Salvation Army attracts a small crowd and has an intimate stage. Of course the text is largely Sophocles’ and the revisions are done skillfully enough not to be disturbing, so not too much can make a performance dreadful. The performance was not spectacular, but the choice to work with a chorus and masked actors was a delightful attempt to revive some of the old Greek theater.

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Child Abuse, Knife Skills, No Things @ Union Pool

At the Union Pool in Williamsburg, NYC I mainly went to see and hear Child Abuse again. I had seen Child Abuse playing at the Asterisk Art Project with Parts & Labor on February 10th.

Given that the latter show had been absolutely phenomenal, the gig at the UP could on forehand already hardly meet my expectations. Although the skill and the songs of Child Abuse stand solid, the acoustics, the PA tuning, and the stage presence fell short to their potentials. The keys sounded not clear enough and much of the atonal compositions did not come through. The drums were solid as they should, a present force, the bass play was again genial, the keys pleasantly disturbing. The stage was lost to Child Abuse this time however. Opening for mediocre bands is never inspiring or incitefull, but the performance seemed too obligatory. Good news however: Child Abuse is recording in the summer. Continue reading

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Parts & Labor, Child Abuse @ Asterisk Art Project

In the new artistic section Bushwick, NYC the Asterisk Art Project presented an evening of progressive music with Child Abuse and Parts & Labor.

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