Sunday, November 5, 2017

Recording: Grouper

Artist: Grouper

Song: unknown*

Recorded at Artscape Daniels Spectrum (Venus Fest), September 30, 2017.

Grouper - unknown

The idea of a "feminist music festival" might bring to mind an earnest folkie gathering, maybe off in a forest somewhere, but this first annual event was nothing like that, using inclusive and intersectional ideals as guideposts to programming a day of wide-ranging musics. The brainchild of local musician Aerin Fogel, Venus Fest was an ambitious undertaking, presenting a dozen performances in Daniels Spectrum's spacious multi-purpose Regent Park digs. And it all came together quite wonderfully, highlighting a diverse slate of mostly local musicians and incorporating flourishes like Vanessa Rieger's live-mixed visuals. With this first festival completed, there's a new "sessions" series starting up, and lots of energy to build on the positive vibes this day released.

After performances by Lido Pimienta and Weaves, the last segment of the festival felt like a different show entirely. Besides the headliner vibes those two sets gave off, taking in a full dozen acts was clearly not in everyone's agenda, and one could get the sense of one crowd departing and a late shift replacing them. The latter were mostly on hand to see Liz Harris, making a rare local appearance with her Grouper project. Offering hazy, layered ambient pop, Harris sat cross-legged on the stage, and the bulk of crowd followed suit, settling in on the floor to trance out to Harris' gauzy loops. A very pleasing close-your-eyes-and-float sort of experience, the distance of the vocals and guitars doesn't translate as well in this recording — the live set was also enhanced by the visuals, with Harris playing roughly in sync to a series of abstract film vignettes that also managed to suggest distance, separateness, and drift.

* Does anyone know the title to this one? Please leave a comment!

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