Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Record Crate: The Best Concert I Have Ever Witnessed in Baton Rouge

Iva Bittová and The Bang on a Can All-Stars

All but about 65 of you missed perhaps the best concert I have ever witnessed in Baton Rouge (or maybe anywhere) last Thursday. The Bang on a Can All-Stars ripped through five hours of meditative, thrilling, bizarre and mind-altering music at the LSU Union, expanding the envelope of what accessible means. Take for instance the set with jazz legend Don Byron: He started with a nonchalant clarinet solo that was nothing short of angelic, while his ensemble piece, "Show Him Some Lub," featured the All-Stars intoning details about themselves over a ramshackle funk that seemed to be trying to tear itself apart from the inside. The same goes for the set with spellbinding vocalist and violinist Iva Bittová. She pranced with almost nursery-rhyme charm before descending into a demonic caterwaul or a birdcall, or both. It was gorgeous music that was at once adventurous yet immediate in its emotional impact.

It should be said that the performances from the LSU School of Music faculty that filled out the bill held their own with such auspicious company. For instance, Bret William Dietz's duo for percussion and saxophone (played with brute force and rapier wit by LSU's Griffin Campbell) "Seven Ghosts above the Landscape" was encyclopedic in scope, varying from frenzied powerhouse sections to spare meditative motifs without losing the thread throughout the piece. I know not everyone is up for having their third eye opened by a concert, but I know at least 40 people in town who are, and they were not there. We have to support art with our presence or it simply will not come around anymore. You know how cities with a great "scene" of whatever kind maintain that scene? By people going out to shows, that's how.

Some great interesting touring bands -- namely Beach House, Lowry, Clay McClinton, Cadence Weapon -- as well as an interesting new local act, Cohen & the Ghost are all playing this week, so here's your chance to redeem yourself (I can tell you were worried) and help cool things happen around here. Link with weekly listings of concerts

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