Tonight I was joined by my sister Jill in going to check out Get Weird, part of the exhibition to Brion Gysin: Dream Machine at the New Museum. The event featured a first ever solo performance by guitarist Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth. I had my eyes peeled in hopes of seeing Karen O or Kim Gordon, but no such luck.
Nick Zinner started out quietly strumming. He built up rhythms by looping and as the Dream Machine rotated, the sound became quite melodic and layered. His entire piece was only about 15 minutes after which he stood up and walked to the back tier of the seated area. I wish he played longer…the sounds were entrancing as the Dream Machine enticed those present either to sleep or approach the edge of seizure.
Next was guitarist, Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth. As he walked on stage his grey hair and mild manner peeked my interest of the performance to come. His guitar (which Jill informed me) was a Jaguar, hung from an elastic cord from the ceiling of the space.
He proceeded to manually tap, strum, and swing the guitar across the space. The sound echoed and reverberated from the amplifiers in each corner. I found myself leaning forward as the people seated on the floor had to quickly bend and sway to avoid being entwined in the cord connecting the guitar to the amp and pedals.
Projected images created by his wife and collaborator, Leah Singer, commenced with a quote from Gyson himself, flashed across a screen while the sounds including a strange recorded vocal (played from his iPhone into the guitar) were choreographed in a bizarre yet fluid way.
After a certain period of imagery, the screen went black and the bulb from the Dream Machine (which was removed for the first part of his performance) was replaced filling the room once again with an eerie glow.
This piece lasted about 40 minutes and was filled with action as the guitar flew through the room and was interacted with, using drumsticks, the iPhone, hands, a violin bow, and tinny metallic bells. After about 30 minutes of this Lee removed the guitar from the elastic cord, the volume increased and as a looping, ever changing sound filled the room, a louder distortion emerged as he held the guitar and hit the top of the speaker/amp with the stem. Having a bit of tinnitus, I had to plug my ears a bit as the screeching elevated, but welcomed the quiet as everything slowly audibly descended. The guitar was placed on the ground, pedals on loop machines were stepped on, and the sound from his iPhone (now more audible) was removed from his front pant pocket and turned off.
As always, all photos taken with my iPhone, now/still using the Hipstamtic.
— Posted from my iPhone