Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Like a vapor



I was talking to my friend after eating brunch in Market Square on Sunday. It was gorgeous outside and there were some musicians playing bluegrass next to the lawn. I was taking all this in, like I take in every Sunday in Knoxville (it's my favorite) and I was sort of gushing about how proud I was of Knoxville this past weekend in regards to the Big Ears Festival:

"...so progressive, and all these people came in from out of town..."

My friend made the pretty picture I was painting fall apart when he said very sarcastically, "Yeah, but I also feel like I've been cheated on by this city."

It's funny how I was going on and on about how great the festival was when all I attended was 10 minutes of a drum workshop in the Woodruff Building. My only friend who actually went to several shows did so because she works at the Bistro, and she got in for free.

When I asked other Knoxvillians why they didn't go to any shows they said they just didn't understand what a big deal this all was and they never grasped what Big Ears was until it was all over. Or they said it was too expensive. Did anyone else get the feeling that this was a festival more for out-of-towners than it was for Knoxville?

I admit I probably missed it all due to ignorance about the bands. I know I'm not as progressive as I'd like to think, but is the rest of Knoxville? I'd hate to think down here in East Tennessee we're too busy running around without our shoes on to know about avant-garde music. Or do we just not care?

I did experience the residual effects of Big Ears. I worked Saturday night, and one of my tables was John Hassel and Maarifa Street, guys from all over the world. They were very praiseworthy of Knoxville and the Bijou Theatre. Matmos sat on our patio and I overheard them talking about not being able to play at the Square Room.

From the crowd we saw, Big Ears was a huge success.

I hope Ashley Capps intends to do this again next year. I thought it was great for Knoxville. I just wish I knew that before the fact.

check out what pitchfork media and the new york times had to say:

6 comments:

benjamin said...

all i know is that antony and the johnsons played the bijou on saturday, and i wish i could have been there so much.

it does seem like a strange group of musicians to overtake knoxville for a weekend. maybe it wasn't the good old roots influenced music that we're used to seeing around downtown, but it says something about our city if we can appreciate the avant garde music of our day.

i, of course, don't know what i'm talking about because i wasn't there... but i hope it was enjoyed by more than just outsiders.

i think my brother went to a show or two. i dunno.

Audrey said...

your bro went to antony...it was $40

The Modern Gal said...

i'm completely guilty here of crowing about how wonderful i thought it was that knoxville was having such an event and then not getting off my lazy ass and going to the shows. but, i still do appreciate the fact knoxville was trying to do something different and it went of favorably.

i have been bombarded with all the aftermath gossip, though, and the only unfavorable thing that seemed to come out of it was the matmos ordeal, which metro pulse did a good job of blogging about.

i hate that matmos took away the impression of bigotry and narrowmindedness (see their comments in the metro pulse post), but part of their visual production was at odds with the Square Room's mission. i don't think Square Room was trying to shut down the show because two of the Matmos members are gay, as a number of people have claimed. they just didn't want clips of gay porn shown because it's contrary to their beliefs and practices.

in the end everyone got what they wanted -- matmos was moved to catalyst, which was probably a better venue for it anyway, Square Room didn't have to stray from its mission and the show went on.

so instead of crying foul, i hope instead everyone realizes how wonderful it is that we have such a diverse offering of venues that allowed knoxville to host an event like big ears.

phew, i'm spent.

Anonymous said...

Although I love experimental music, this festival was just too expensive, especially considering the current state of the economy. I've been to other festivals in other cities that had far more adventurous acts for a much more reasonable price. Even so, I hope Big Ears continues. With enough notice, I'll probably be able to attend if there's a next time.

As far as the Square Room fiasco goes, I was under the impression that the fault of the cancellation/censorship lies with the owner of the building, not the Square Room itself. Either way, it's really lame and backwards.

Michael said...

I too was excited by Big Ears when it was too late. I did attend a workshop, but I was unfortunately unable to go due to the price. I wish I had made more of an effort to afford tiks, and hope that Big Ears continues.

benjamin said...

i didn't know the show was that expensive.... that seems a little pricy.