Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Charlemagne Destroyed Williams Hall

Okay, so I went to the second half of a concert yesterday to catch Charlemagne Palestine in action. Now, I didn't know Palestine from a hole in the head, but a trusted friend/colleague said I should check him out.

I'll start with this: What he does is not my bag. I kind of get it, but it's not anything I go gaga over. It seems, however, that he does it very well. In fact, the audience went completely apeshit and wouldn't even come close to quiet for at least 10 minutes after he stopped playing. Of course, he was doing his part to rev up the crowd while thoroughly lubricated. Very amusing.

So here's what he did: He drank nearly a bottle of cognac before and during the performance-0nstage. He had two pianos, keyboards-to-keyboard, and played with a hand on each for most of the performance. Occasionally he switch to one for a brief period, but he spent most of the time playing the two simultaneously.

He TALKED for quite a while while lubricating himself with the cognac. Before you ask: No, I don't know whether he provided the booze or if the concert presenters did. I'm curious as to the answer, though.

He sort-of-droned on the pianos, repeating notes for minutes at a time and occasionally changing pitches. He sang and whispered while playing, frequently in what sounded like Hebrew. I wish one of my Hebrew-speaking students was there to translate, but it seemed religious in nature. (No, I'm not sure why it seemed that way. In all honestly, he could have been conjugating verbs for all I know.)

Oh, apparently "Sound is Sound" as well. I capitalize both iterations of "Sound" because he seemed to be pretty emphatic about this statement...and repeatedly so.

That's my review. Confusing? That's okay...It doesn't really need to make sense. This guy is certainly worth seeing once. You won't be bored. After that, you can decide whether it's your bag.

Oh, by the by: Williams Hall at the New England Conservatory was PACKED. In fact, there were absolutely no seats available for the second half. There were dozens of people standing and sitting in the isles. I have never seen that hall so packed. It was a wonderful thing to see. The NEC administration should take note of what SICPP did on Monday night.


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