Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Preview: SummerWorks 2015

SummerWorks Performance Festival

August 7-17, 2014

The SummerWorks Festival is increasingly becoming a music destination because there's nothing else like it. Continuing its focus on constructing cross-disciplinary one-off events (rather than just plain ol' gigs), there's a chance here for local musicians to work with artists from other media to create the sort of immersive experience that is hard to assemble on the usual DIY shoestring.

Each of the seven shows in the Music Series would be worth going to just on musical merit alone; but with the special enhancements on offer, they're not to be missed. The thing that makes these compelling is that the tantalizingly vague descriptions are signposts beckoning the audience to one-time only events. Here's what's going down in the Music Series, with a few live recordings from my own archives as a hint of what you might hear:

  • What Happens to JOOJ in 24 Hours: According to Bojana & Alex: Sook-Yin Lee and Adam Litovitz are undertaking a site-specific and time-specific challenge, sequestering themselves in the theatre for an entire day with the show acting as culmination. How directors Bojana Stancic and Alex Wolfson will interpret that day to the audience is a mystery, but do expect some of JOOJ's Suicide-meets-Dietrich cabaret tunes. [Friday August 7th, 10 p.m. @ S--------- Studio Theatre]
    Listen! Jooj - Crushed
  • To Cast a Stone: this sees solo electronic musician Jill Krasnicki (a.k.a. Animalia) attempting "to create a sacred and otherworldly space to weave her songs through a spell casting ritual." Once again, that description is evocatively vague, but given that the show is being presented over five timeslots throughout the evening instead of one big show, you should expect the ritual to be a close-up and intimate experience. [Saturday August 8th, 6:00 PM/7:30 PM/9:00 PM/10:30 PM/midnight @ S--------- Studio Theatre]
  • What Fate Awaits Them?: I didn't make Most People's EP release a couple months back, but its mix of music and large-scale puppetry was described as a knockout. Add alien robot emissaries/entertainment units MATROX and this sounds like fantastic fun. [Sunday, August 9th, 10:00 PM @ S--------- Studio Theatre]
    Listen! Most People - Release
    Listen! MATROX - Thank You
  • Melancholiac: The Music of Scott Walker: Adam Paolozza and Greg Oh combine to try and give shape to an artist whose singular career arc is rather difficult to conceptualize, never mind encapsulate. From teen idol to menacing avant-crooner, this is being billed as "part concert, part spectacle, part existential variety show", mixing "unique sonic and visual interpretations of Walker's music" and including some special guests. [Tuesday August 11th, 6:30 PM/9:30 PM @ S--------- Studio Theatre]
  • all you can hold: musicians like longstanding electro-experimentalists lal operate on the sort of terrain that gets swept under the rug a bit in the music scene's continual fetishization of the new. But they've been audaciously pushing boundaries and recombining various pop strains for long enough to deserve a helluva lot of respect. This show sees them performing a full set of new music embellished by "dance, costumes, digital painting and projections", representing their vision of a musical queer/straight alliance and mix of cultures. [Wednesday, August 12th, 10:00 PM @ S--------- Studio Theatre]
  • Heat Shuts Off Overnight: As Germaphobes, Paul Erlichman and Neil Rankin have been honing the sophisticated pop sounds they were previously pursuing as members of the now-defunct Gay. This show sees them bring a whole batch of new songs to a show that uses shadow puppets, stop motion, and projections for an exploration of quotidian banality and the digital consciousness. Expect a performance by ANAMAI somewhere in there as well. [Thursday, August 13th, 9:00 PM @ S--------- Studio Theatre]
    Listen! Germaphobes - Everybody Else
    Listen! ANAMAI - Lucia
  • 2016 Spring Collection: The unexplainable grinning manifestation that is (are?) Still Boys has been something of a whispered secret for the past while, being shared like a ritual that gladdens the hearts of even the most jaded music fan. Now, with Sasha Van Bon Bon and Jesi the Elder on board, there will be even more to be digested. Possibly even the audience. Don't try to explain, don't try to understand. Just see this. [Friday, August 14th, 10:00 PM @ S--------- Studio Theatre]
    Listen! Still Boys - [popsong]

Meanwhile, outside the Music Series, there's a lot more for music fans to investigate. Counting Sheep, the festival's "production-in-residence" deploys Balkan party-rockers Lemon Bucket Orkestra into the Maidan for an investigation of Ukraine's social revolution. Also, local music sensation (and visual artist) Lido Pimienta moves to the stage in Ayelen, a magical-realist tale of resistance to the exploitation of international mining companies.

There's also lots going on in the festival's wide-ranging Live Art stream. A lot of it's out of my field, but I can recommend the Listening Choir's Listening Songs, put together by Adam Kinner and the always-intriguing Christopher Willes. The practice of these dérivé-based jaunts is to "propose listening as an endangered practice worth reconsidering". Best of all, this little experiment is free (as long as you book a ticket in advance).

I also don't know a lot about the dance world, but the festival has ramped up their offerings on that side of things this year. The good news is that the Dance Series is curated by Amelia Ehrhardt (who chatted with me about dance before her SummerWorks offering last year), whose DIY spirit and enthusiasm for joyful experimentation parallels what I look for in exploring unfamiliar music. In that regard, the curious could have a go at any of the offerings in the Dance Series, but I would especially point people to Aimée Dawn Robinson's Ramble, which blends improvised and choreographed dance to music and live-mixed video. Currently based in Whitehorse, Robinson was a frequent collaborator with the city's creative musicians in her time in Toronto, and this one comes hotly-tipped from friends who know about these things.

The fine print: single-performance tickets are $15, and there are various pass options available. You can find all the ticket information here. Remember (especially for those music events!) that the festival runs on theatre time, so do not be fashionably late!

No comments:

Post a Comment