Day One Evening Performances
I headed back to Gray Area in time for the first AAA performance evening. I was looking forward to it as I had never seen any of the performers play previously, although I knew a few of their recorded works and had seen a few YouTube videos in the past years.
Charlie Roberts was the first performer, and his live coding work did not disappoint. He had a great audience with their ears focused on the sound and their eyes on the screen.
He was followed by Wobbly (Jon Leidecker), who had a slew of gear spread across the table – quite a pile, to be honest: three or more iPads, a device that appeared to be some kind of MIDI playback device, a multisampler keyboard, and numerous other gadgets. Wobbly was busy to say the least, with several of the devices in combinations cross-talking with one another as the sounds transitioned from abrasive density to sparse noise and back again. Wobbly’s performance stood in perfect contrast to Charlie’s set; we were clearly in for as diverse a set of performances and we’d seen panel talks earlier in the day.
Spatial struck a nice mix of live audio and live visuals, playing perhaps one of the most synesthetic performances of the weekend. It took me a minute to refocus following Wobbly’s highly dynamic set, but once I did I was lost. 20 or 30 minutes went by in what felt like 2 or 3, and that’s how I knew Spatial had nailed it. I live for those moments of transcendence during live performance, and this one was on point. I was too spaced out to catch what they were using, but that’s a good thing.
London-based Digital Selves turned in an explosive and dynamic set, and I started to see people move for the first time - some dancing, swaying, walking, really putting the space to use. That’s often not easy in a situation where people are sometimes more fixated on what’s happening on the screen.
The performance space itself was set up in such a way (a kind of octagon) that you got a different sound in almost every corner of the space, regardless if people were playing in multichannel or stereo. It was during Digital Selves set that I really moved around a lot and noticed this - it was quite special.