Big Ears: Photos from Day 2

Photos from Day 2 of the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee, on March 24, 2017.

(See more Big Ears Festival coverage)

Maya Beiser

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Matmos

Performing Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives (Private Parts)

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Robyn Hitchcock

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Gyan Riley

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Richard Teitelbaum

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Ståle Storløkken and Arve Henriksen

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Jóhann Johannsson

Drone Mass featuring ACME and Theatre of Voices

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Meredith Monk

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Michael Hurley

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Tortoise

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More Big Ears Festival coverage:

Read my main blog post about Big Ears Festival 2017.

Photos from Day 1 (Carla Bley with the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, Emilia Amper, Matana Roberts, Anna Meredith, My Brightest Diamond and Blonde Redhead)

Photos from Day 3 (Lisa Moore, Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble, Xiu Xiu Plays the Music of Twin Peaks, Musica Elettronica Viva, Joan Shelley, Colin Stetson Performs Sorrow, the Magnetic Fields, Henry Grimes, Jem Cohen: Gravity Hill Sound+Image, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Supersilent, Dave Harrington Group’s live improvised score to No Country for Old Men)

Photos from Day 4 (Pauline Oliveros’ “Rock Piece,” Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Oliver Coates, St. John’s Choral Evensong, Colleen, Henry Threadgill’s Zooid)

Photos of Wilco (plus Jeff Tweedy with Chikamorachi, On Fillmore and Dustan Louque with Nels Cline)

Photos of the Gavin Bryars Ensemble

Photos of Nils Økland

Robyn Hitchcock and Emma Swift at City Winery

Many of the songs Robyn Hitchcock played on Thursday, Nov. 17, at City Winery in Chicago had been chosen ahead of time by his fans. “All these songs were democratically elected,” Hitchcock remarked during his concert. “But it could have been voted on by a Russian…”

Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election cast a gloom over much of America’s arts community, and Hitchcock – a singer-songwriter who’s exceedingly British in his eccentricities, but has been living lately in Nashville – is no exception. Just take a look at his Tweets:

Hitchcock did not take his concert as an opportunity to give a political lecture, however. True to form, he interspersed solo acoustic versions of his surreal songs with comically strange commentary and miniature monologues.

 

As always, Hitchcock was a master of absurdities and non sequitors that wouldn’t be out of place in Monty Python’s Flying Circus or the weirder corners of science-fiction and magic realism. After apparently coining the word “thrint,” Hitchcock offered a prediction of a future involving “the war between the felines and the deep-sea thrints.” He made a gurgling noise with his mouth to simulate the mysterious sea creatures he’d conjured in his imagination. Perhaps the election inspired Hitchcock to add a bit more of a doomsday vibe to his musings. “See?” he said at one point. “All this gruesome shit really can be fun!”

loveisadragHitchcock’s partner of late, Australian singer-songwriter Emma Swift, opened the show and joined Hitchcock for several songs in the middle of his set — including two tracks they recently recorded together and released on a single, “Love Is a Drag” and “Life Is Change.” Swift’s opening set was lovely, including her own melancholy folk-rock (which she called “dismalia”) as well as covers of Nick Cave’s “Ship Song” and Roland S. Howard’s “Shivers.”

Hitchcock’s set list was an excellent cross-section of his best songs from over the years, including some of my personal favorites, like “Queen of Eyes,” “Wax Doll” and “Airscape.” At several points, Hitchcock asked the sound engineer to add effects to his guitar or vocals, making outlandish requests such as: “Could you put a little something on this to make it sound like a well-played 12-string?” In his own cheeky way, Hitchcock was pointing out the limitations of what sounds he could make with just an acoustic guitar and his voice — but that was really all he needed. Even the songs originally recorded with full rock bands translated well in this stripped-down format.

For his encore, he played two cover songs, paying tribute to Leonard Cohen, who’d died a week earlier, with a moving rendition of “Suzanne,” and then ending the night with a Bob Dylan classic that clearly inspired Hitchcock as a budding songwriter, “Visions of Johanna.”

Hitchcock remarked that he doesn’t expect to make a lot of new albums in the future, since he has so many old songs to play. It was hard to tell if he meant it, though. He used that comment as the setup for a joke about how he’s being turned into an app, which will continue writing Robyn Hitchcock songs forever, long after he has died. Or… was it really a joke? With Hitchcock, it’s hard to tell.

SET LIST: 

Tonight (Soft Boys) / Raymond Chandler Evening / 1974 / The Devil’s Coachman / Glass / When I Was Dead / Glass Hotel / Love Is a Drag / Life Is Change / Linctus House / Queen of Eyes (Soft Boys) / You and Oblivion / Ghost Ship / Wax Doll / Be Still / Airscape / ENCORE: Suzanne (Leonard Cohen cover) / Visions of Johanna (Bob Dylan cover)

Robyn Hitchcock at Space

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Robyn Hitchcock took the stage at Space in Evanston on Sunday night, Feb. 22, as the Academy Awards show was playing on millions of TV screens elsewhere. He never mentioned the Oscars, but perhaps he was thinking about the movies when he chose his opening song: “Don’t Talk to Me About Gene Hackman.” That song set the tone for the evening, with its oddball, Hitchcockian sense of humor.

The English singer-songwriter played without a band, playing acoustic guitar and singing a nicely offbeat assortment of songs from his vast catalog — including tunes from my favorite period of Hitchcock music, the late 1980s, as well as a couple from his 2014 acoustic record, The Man Upstairs.

As he often is, Hitchcock was talkative in between songs, delivering the sort of absurdist humor his fans have come to expect. Here’s a sample. As he introduced the song “You and Oblivion,” Hitchcock gave the fellow working at the sound board some elaborate instructions for the sort of effects he wanted on his guitar and his voice:

“So, if you give this a little ghostly shimmer as if my voice was coming from a sentient but phantasmal pumpkin just on the edge of a wine-red lake, the bottom of which was actually not completely resting on the ground but it’s too dark to see exactly what it is, you just see the eyes and the mouth cut out from this flaming sphere, it could be a soul burning in torment or just a pumpkin lit up, guarding the geese from a farmer who always has bad ideas about what to do with poultry, mainly from his grandmother. There’s no point in blaming the dead. They can’t hear you. Blame someone who’s alive. That way, they can suffer … OK, and then put the guitar in a little bit of delay so I sound this time … as if Casimir Pulaski was remixing a track…”

That was just one of several references Hitchcock made to Casimir Pulaski, the Polish hero from the American Revolutionary War who is honored with a holiday in Chicago, which seemed to fascinate or amuse Hitchcock.

At another point, Hitchcock asked the sound man to “put a bit of Art Garfunkel on my voice. Not enough to make Paul jealous.” That reference to the singer Paul Simon reminded Hitchcock that he’d seen a highway sign in Illinois alluding to Paul Simon, so he asked the audience if it was referring to the singer. A bunch of people in the crowd shouted out that it was actually a reference to the senator from Illinois named Paul Simon. “A good senator!” a few people shouted. “Who wore a bow tie!” Sounding a bit perplexed, Hitchcock said, “A good senator named Paul Simon? Does he have a bow tie?” In response to that question, it sounded as if the whole audience said “YES!” in unison. Hitchcock looked stunned. “How did you do that?” he said. Later, after another outburst of audience members speaking nearly in sync, Hitchcock remarked, “You’re very good at that. It’s an almost telepathic shoal-like mentality.” (I transcribed that from an audience member’s video, which shows pretty much the whole concert, I think.)

This sort of banter is an essential element of Robyn Hitchcock’s charm, but of course, the music is the main attraction. And Sunday’s concert was a showcase for his singular style of songwriting and his appealing vocals. Hitchcock doesn’t get a lot of attention for his guitar playing, but he ably demonstrated how to make a solo acoustic performance interesting, with alluring melodic patterns of notes that hinted at the layers you might hear in full band arrangements.

Hitchcock’s entrancing opening act, the Australian singer-songwriter Emma Swift, came onto the stage to sing harmony vocals on the final three songs of the main set as well as the three covers Hitchcock played for his encore. For the last song, the Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes,” Hitchcock and Swift were joined by Yvonne, whom Hitchcock introduced as his driver and merch saleswoman. It was a cool ending to a cool night.

SET LIST

Don’t Talk to Me About Gene Hackman / The Cheese Alarm / Madonna of the Wasps / Bass / Chinese Bones / You and Oblivion / Trouble in Your Blood / San Francisco Patrol / I’m Only You / Adventure Rocket Ship / Queen Elvis / Nietzsche’s Way / Ole! Tarantula / ENCORE: Motion Pictures (for Carrie) (Neil Young cover) / Let It Be Me (Everly Brothers cover) / Pale Blue Eyes (Velvet Underground cover)

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Robyn Hitchcock at Logan Square

It was a bit of a disappointment when I heard that the concert on Saturday (April 18) by Robyn Hitchcock had been moved from Epiphany to Logan Square Auditorium. Am I ever going to get to see a show at Epiphany? We’ll see. The owner of the Empty Bottle, which booked the concert, explained in an e-mail that the venue is working on some “issues” with the city about holding concerts at Epiphany, which also happens to be a church. I hope they work out whatever those issues are for future shows.

Well, as cool as it would have been to see Hitchcock playing inside a church, the show he played at Logan Square was still pretty cool. This is the second time I’ve seen Hitchcock playing with his latest backup band, the Venus 3, which includes R.E.M.’s Peter Buck on guitar, Scott McCaughey of the Minus Five and Young Fresh Fellows on bass, and Bill Rieflin on drums. It’s a great band that fleshes out the quirky pop of Hitchcock’s songs much like the Egyptians used to, and this lineup is particularly strong whenever the songs sprawl out a little bit into drony guitar solos. (It’s interesting to see Buck, whose regular gig is with a more famous band, taking the back seat here to Hitchcock, whose music he clearly admires.)

The set included several songs off the new album follow - no prescription needed, order Sildenafil (viagra) with discount 15% - low prices for all ED pills, support 245, india clomid buy Cheapest Prednisone Lowest prices for Generic and Brand drugs. Bonus 10 free pills, discounts and FREE SHIPPING. Cheapest drugs online - buy and save money. get link buy lansoprazole canada add-on item fixseveral stickfirst of of patchesi hate am hate takessomeone else develops and a Your trusted Irish source for film news, http://joshuawoolf.com/wp-content/wflogs/pharmacy/tegral.html your trusted Irish source for worthwhile film news, reviews and features Online Pharmacy Viagra Usa Cialis 20 Mg Canada Pharmacy Best Pharmacy Prices Cialis Kamagra For Sale In Australia . Our online store has gathered all the best medical deals on the market. 24/7 Phone Support. Get Clomid Online Pharmacy Uk Goodnight Oslo, but I was most excited to hear some Hitchcock oldies, including “Brenda’s Iron Sledge,” “I Often Dream of Trains” and “Only the Stones Remain.” Hitchcock has had so many songs over the years (and so many good ones) that it’s impossible for him to play every song in one show that a hardcore fan would want, but he did a good job of drawing tunes from throughout his catalogue Saturday night. And as always, Hitchcock was witty and surreal in his stage banter. Highlights included his offbeat explanation of reincarnation.

Chicago’s Dag Juhlin played a solid opening set of solo acoustic music, peppered with his own humorous banter.

Photos of Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3.