Tuesday, January 24, 2006

best performance of 2005

where was i on december 18th, you were wondering?

as written by Greg McLean:

Didn't make it to the No Wave video fest at Galapagos or The Scene Is Now performance with Yo la tengo at Maxwells but I did make it to see a solo performance by The Scene Is Now's Chris Nelson at Exit Art accompanied by a phalanx of boomboxes of assorted shapes and sizes and a p.a. system. Chris simultaneously played cassette recordings of conversations, music compositions and noise varieties. He messed with volume knobs and passed the p.a. mic across the boomboxes giving "spotlight" performances to whatever bits of tape were passing over the heads at a given moment.

At some point he donned a fur coat and a pink derby and passed a tray around the audience of bourbon in plastic drink glasses. From his pockets came quantities of confetti with which he blessed the crowd. He saved an extra dose for this viewer/listener and an even larger dose for himself. This seriously compromised some of the bourbon.

A number of audience members earlier in the day had presented Chris with random phrases on note cards from which Chris improvised short vocal performances. Mr. Nelson's full range of vocal pyrotechnics were on display; from his delicate croon to the full bodied roar recognizable as his signature style from his no wave -Imformation-era. For extra flavor he also managed to let loose on a little harmolodic horn playing. "loose lips sink ships" was one phrase he sunk his larynx into, segueing into an accapella version of "Ferry Cross The Mercy" the Brit invasion classic made famous by Gerry and the Pacemakers. "It's always good to end a show with a pop song," Chris explained by way of introducing the number. At one point as he intoned the word "people" he got confused and began singing the notes for the Barbara Streisand hit of the same name but he corrected himself and soldiered on. Although fully clothed, his delivery was naked and emotionally raw as only the finest entertainers can pull off.

The cassette recorder is a dying piece of technology that has been with us for quite some time and sadly may be hitting it's moment of obsolescence. The sounds that came from the decks were like so many wailing dinosaurs in the tar pits. In a post show interview Mr. Nelson admitted that the boom boxes had been borrowed from a number of acquaintances who told him it was not necessary to have the boxes returned. Farewell "rewind." As we head into the second half of this first decade of the next century, Chris Nelson's Exit Art performance was enough to give one pause.


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