Thursday, October 5, 2017

Contest/Preview: X Avant XII


Wednesday, October 11, 2017 – Sunday, October 15, 2017

Marking the unofficial start of autumn as well as the official start of the Music Gallery's season, the X Avant Festival is a good way to take the temperature (so to speak) of goings-on at the MG. Most notable, of course, is the continuing "departure" from their home base at St. George the Martyr, with the festival marking the start of a temporary stay at 918 Bathurst, a former church with a similar sort of vibe and woody roomfeel.

The loose theme of this year's festival is "Resistance", which includes considering the multiplicities of pathways for musicians and musical communities to inoculate themselves against the poisonous discourse in the public realm, trying to make a truthful reckoning of past malfeasances, and trying to build more resilient and inclusive communities. Mapping those threads through the five nights of programming might reveal more interesting patterns than trying to break things down by genre, a concept that the Music Gallery is increasingly shying away from.

Taking a capsulized look at what's going down at the festival:

  • The opening night is a part of the MG's Departures Series, curated by Burn Down The Capital's Tad Michalak. The night is headlined by Man Forever (a.k.a. Oneida drummer Kid Millions), previously best known for his trance/percussion work, though word is that now includes "more prominent use of vocals, harp, violin, and piano." The local percussion response comes from Germaine Liu, creator of thoughtful exercises, this time consisting of "water-based music with fellow percussionists Mark Zurawinski and Joe Sorbara." The night opens with Luyos MC & Reila's "Kill-Sex-Abuse-Culture" kulintang/chant/synth mashup.
  • Thursday sees the MG collaborate with Revolutions Per Minute for an evening of Indigenous futurism with Elisa Harkins, Laura Ortman, and Vancouver’s Mourning Coup — exploring interfaces of new technology and ancient wisdom.
  • Friday combines Chino Amobi's diasporic bass culture grooves with Intérro's cross-disciplinary performance meditating on the meaning of borders in today's world. (The latter also features Constellation Records-affiliated saxophonist Jason Sharp.)
  • Saturday shifts the action over to the Tranzac's Main Hall for a night curated by LAL and Babely Shades — which is really enough information on its own to make this worth seeing. The night includes sets from YT//ST side project Avrha as well as the harmony flow of bizZarh plus Drawing With Knives' decolonizing shadow puppet show.
  • Sunday sees the festival conclude by asking what musical activism means and has meant, with an exploration of some of composer James Tenney's didactic works performed by a range of ensembles. Can politicized "classical music" save the world? Or does it get stale-dated rather too quickly to become any sort of classic at all?

Both the Tenney event and the LAL/Babely Shades showcase will be preceded by panels, giving additional chances to contextualize the music and consider what musical resistance means in 2017, while Saturday includes a remount of last year's Deep Listening Intensive, giving participants a chance to slow down, feel the presence of the world around them and consider their own heartbeats — essential preconditions to any world-changing activities.


Tickets start at $10 for students and Music Gallery members (making this, the start of the season, an excellent time to take out or renew your membership!) and you can grab a festival pass for $50, giving you guaranteed entry to all the shows. Find out more at the MG's website or over on facebook.


Thanks to the Music Gallery, I have one Festival Pass to give away, giving the winner entry to all of the festival's ticketed events.

To enter, shoot me an email to, with "contest" in the title and your name in the body. I'll randomly draw a winner on Monday, October 9th at 5 p.m.

[Full disclosure: I am now a member of the Music Gallery's Artistic Advisory Committee, though that has had no bearing on the content of this preview.]

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