What if "strange" was cool

January 13, 2016

The original post appears on my personal blog:
http://mathewsjames.blogspot.ca/2016/01/what-if-strangewas-cool.html

Let me start this post to let you know I am going to be launching a non blogger website hopefully in the next few weeks. Writing will very much encompass a great deal of what I do since it is something I enjoy, and something I believe is equally vital to the world as music, and performing. Now that last sentence starts to scratch the surface on this post, what is vital to the world? How are things that are strange different from things that are cool? Is it possible that the outcome of both these things could be the same? Lots of questions, and never enough time.

The first thing I should do is establish what the "outcome" is, at least in regards to this post, and currently in my mind. In the past I have talked about curating performances, and the tradition or expectations of concerts and cultural events. So let's create a hypothetical performance here, and the outcome of that performance is to leave the audience thinking about what they saw/heard. It doesn't mean the go online and start to research it, that they liked it, that they tweeted it just this: reflecting, even momentarily on what they heard.

So what does that mean, where does this put us, the audience, or performers in this hypothetical performance. We clearly need more information. Let's say you take a post-rock performer who will perform say a set of ambiant music, a new music ensemble that will perform works from the radical aesthetic, and a prog-rock group. Put them all on the same bill, throw it in an awesome basement bar with pool tables, beer on tap, conversations, people shouting, etc.. you know, a bar.

Alright, we have our "outcome". that is reflection. We have our, what could be seen as bizarre "hypothetical performance", now we just need an audience. Concerts always have a "target audience", corporations spend tons of money developing their metadata to know exactly who and how to target. So for this show why don't we just say each group will bring their own individual audience. So we have it.. Reflection, genre madness, a bar, and a smorgasbord of an audience who's paths.. honestly may never cross in a cultural sense.

So we should ask ourselves, how could something this strange ever create a harmonious outcome, since that seems to be the real barrier of this concert. We have radically different musical aesthetics, and radically different audiences in age, taste, etc. One of the groups is WAY outside their conventional performance space performing music that is WAY outside the usual fair for the venue. I think at this point we have to take a step back and look for a common ground, or similarity that can be shared with the audiences and groups.

Have you ever gotten a gift, or acquired an item you were really confident you knew how it worked, or how to assemble it. Its like building a Lego kit, at the end the project looks complete but you are left with one extra piece... what is your response. Hopefully not to eat it... maybe you wonder why is this piece here, did you miss something, is it extra, do you have some cool limited edition set with a magical extra piece that will give you unlimited access to a power you can't possibly comprehend? I think, in a strange way I am trying to steer you towards an answer, that answer is curiosity. Something I hold near and dear to myself, it motivates me as an artist, as a human. So maybe that is what links all of these pieces together, these audiences that have not a heck of a lot in common. They can become curious, curious of sounds they never knew existed, hearing music function in a way they didn't know it could.

Now what if I told you this hypothetical concert actually happened. There was an artist from a post-rock band doing an ambiance set named Bryan Buss, a new music ensemble named Timepoint who laid down three pieces, one of them being Peter Ablinger's Black Series, finally, a prog-rock band called Diatessaron launching their newest album. All under the roof of Dicken's Pub in Calgary. The funny thing about music is we are passionate about it. We tend to attach part of ourselves to it, to identify to it. It's an unspoken bond, see someone in the street in a Black Flag T-shirt the same day you wear yours that person is suddenly like kin. When we sit in concert halls hearing our symphonies the same can happen. What was magical to me that night was that these three radically different groups managed to reach outside of the conventional ways we present music to create a night that was described to me after the show as "raw and exciting" "unlike anything I experienced before". At the same time people asked me about Ablinger, who were there for Diatssaron. Someone told me "they had no idea what they head, but it blew my mind".

There is nothing inherently wrong with the "normal way we do things. but wouldn't it be something really unique if these "strange" events became cool?